Buying an aquarium comes with much more than the tank. Additions like wavemakers are beneficial to fish and create a more natural environment.
Using a wave maker means water gets circulated to help everything in your tank get oxygen. It also helps anything that can’t move in your tank, from invertebrates to living décor, get nutrients.
Aquariums can also accumulate waste in hard to reach areas, especially in large tanks. Circulation from a wavemaker stops this from occurring.
There are many options to look for when buying a wavemaker. From smooth to rough waves, if it has day and night options, feeding modes, and wave cycles you have many choices.
Wave Makers for Aquarium Reviews
One of the biggest things with the Jebao update is that they now use a four-pole, rather than two, magnet impeller. The addition increases the power of the wavemaker without changing the size.
This wavemaker comes with an external controller. It also has a wireless mode so you can synch several wavemakers and use one main remote. Everything being external means it will last longer and won’t break as easily.
Its head has a large rotation angle that makes it easy to change the direction of the water. This way you have more freedom over the outflow angle to what you need in your tank.
The OW design comes with eight flow rates so that one wavemaker can fit different tanks. It also has a feeding mode, where the pumps will be slower for 10 minutes.
- Very quiet design.
- External controller for simple adjustment.
- Small with a magnet mount to go wherever you need it in a tank.
- Confusing instruction manual.
- Sometimes doesn’t last more than a year.
This model doesn’t include a controller. By itself, it only works as a pump. With the separate Hydor Smart Wave Controller, you can turn it into part of a wavemaker.
The pump comes with a cable connector, cable protector, and instructions on how to position it. This is good for anything in your aquarium that can damage cables.
It uses a magnet with suction cup support for the mount. The magnet uses a part that attaches from the outside for easy movement. Also, the suction cup is there so that it sticks more easily, especially while moving the magnet.
This pump is best for nano aquariums, tanks that are generally less than 10 gallons and have small fish. To match this, it’s also very small. Even so, it also goes with slightly bigger tanks.
- Small design.
- Magnet and suction cup mount used together.
- Detailed instruction manual on installation and maintenance.
- Tends to run in reverse once worn down.
- A little loud when it first starts spinning.
The controller for this wavemaker has many options for the types of waves and the rate of flow. It comes with four different wave patterns and six levels of water flow.
Adjusting the frequency of the wave is also simple using the dial on the controller. It makes it easy to fine-tune how often your waves appear along with the wave modes.
While this design also has a feeding feature, it makes the wavemaker turn off for 10 minutes. This makes it as easy as possible for what’s in your tank to eat. This is instead of just slowing down the flow rate, so the food still moves slightly.
The GBGS also features a day and night mode, making the waves gentler at night. The difference simulates how waves change in the ocean depending on the time of day.
- Adjustable frequency with dial.
- Completely off feeding function.
- Has day and night mode.
- You can only adjust 90 degrees.
- A little noisy.
This model uses a ball joint for 360 degrees of motion to adjust the direction of the flow. Through this, it can reach any corner of your aquarium if you shift it.
The magnetically propelled motor gives it power and circulates 1300 gallons an hour. It has a single setting for a large volume of flow, which is an advantage for large tanks over 100 gallons. At the same time, this wouldn’t be the best option for small tanks.
Also, the motor doesn’t use grease or oil. This makes it a great option if you’re looking for one that’s quieter and won’t bother your fish or pollute the tank.
Its mount uses a suction cup with a tightening clamp. This can be more difficult to maneuver in the aquarium. But, it doesn’t have the possibility of scratching or cracking glass like the magnetic ones.
- Very strong motor.
- Wide motion range.
- Not much noise.
- No control over flow.
- Can’t be connected to timer or controller.
- Only uses a suction cup for the mount.
A water flow switch is on the side of the outlet so you can choose the output rate. It’s easy to reach and stands out on the outlet. This means that you would either need to pull it out or reach in the tank to change the settings.
The motor is made of copper alloy, which has high corrosion resistance. Copper also keeps the wavemaker from heating up and influencing the temperature of your tank.
The mount uses a very strong magnet, which needs extra care while putting on or moving but will keep it in place once on. The life in your aquarium can’t get into it and knock it down.
The pump it comes with can also be moved from the outside with a magnet, so you don’t have to reach in. Any movement or repositioning becomes much easier.
- Strong magnet.
- Adjustable flow.
- Powerful motor.
- Makes noise when it turns on and off.
- The cord is short.
- You can’t point the double head separately; they can only face the same direction.
This wave pump is cross flow, so it’s 360 degrees without you having to shift the output. The flow directly goes back to the pump so as not to miss any parts of the tank.
Jebao includes several modes so that the flow rate is distributed evenly. This is with any kind of wave you want out of the options available. It also comes with a feeding mode to make it easier for your aquatic critters to eat.
The controller has diagrams of each mode to show exactly what each one does. Rather than trying to figure out what each mode is yourself, you can see the pictures in a convenient spot.
Along with the modes, the controller uses a timer, this way you can leave it on consistently or put it on a limit. It ranges from 4 to 99 minutes, aside from the separate 10-minute feeding function.
- Has five different modes.
- Comes with a timer and separate feeding mode.
- Even flow distribution.
- Hard to disassemble for cleaning.
- Not the best for long-term.
The PULACO is a mini submersible pump and wave maker. Because of its size, it’s meant for a small aquarium. You can also choose to put this option into fountains, to increase the water height, or ponds.
The small size also makes it easy to hide in whatever space you put it in. It’s not as intrusive and can blend in when in the water, behind coral or hidden in a corner.
Instead of using modes to pick the water flow rate, this design has a knob for specifying exactly what you want. The rate goes up to 50 gallons in an hour which is great for any tank less than 10 gallons.
This wavemaker is completely detachable and easy to clean. The pieces come apart without any tools, making it simple to separate. It makes sure no time gets wasted on trying to figure out how to get all the parts out.
- Small and unobtrusive.
- Can use it indoors and outdoors.
- Very easy to clean and take apart.
- Doesn’t last long.
- Only good for very small tanks.
The JVP-110 can rotate 360 degrees with ball joints for full flow in any direction. The positioning can change easily making sure you don’t miss any dead spots in your aquarium.
The flow is also wide and gentle. It’s not meant for a nano aquarium but perfect for small waves to match a small to medium tank. Gentle means it’s spread out and consistent, it still has a strong output.
Its range makes it ideal for marine reef aquariums. This is especially since it simulates nature and acts as a large ocean wave.
The grate comes off easily to directly show the propellers. Perfect for cleaning them without any hassle or having to take apart the entire thing. Cleaning it often keeps it from wearing down and becoming loud.
- Full rotation.
- Strong output for its size.
- Good for leaving on consistently.
- Low durability.
- The slots can suck in small fish and may need a piece of foam or something else to fill it.
As a smart wavemaker, the built-in control has options to set frequencies, flow modes, and power. You can customize the best combination for day, night, daylight, sunrise, and sunset. This gives you the most options for simulating a natural environment.
The LED controller shows what your set gallons per hour is and has four percentage options. It also includes a button for feeding and turning the wavemaker off for 10 minutes.
The mini wavemaker goes up to 1600 gallons in an hour, which is good for up to 60-gallon tanks. Although small, it’s packed with a good amount of power for its size.
The wavemaker also circulates water 360 degrees without adjustments, like a cross flow product. This way it’s compact and easier to place without having to shift anything later.
- LED controller.
- Customizable combinations.
- Easier to adjust.
- Controller does not work with multiple pumps.
- Instructions to use the controller are confusing.
For its size, the Uniclife has a very strong flow rate of up to 3400 gallons per hour. With that amount of power, it’s definitely for a large tank about 60-150 gallons.
The motor uses six poles for the largest output while staying the same size as other competitors. The most common wavemaker uses a four or two-pole powerhead.
Unlike many other products, this design uses a magnet without the suction cup for the mount. The aquarium glass can be up to 15mm thick for the magnet to stay on.
The flow speed and frequency control are both easily adjusted with the controller. The options allow for multiple sea waves and includes an auto light sensor. The sensor also comes with a switch, so you can do it manually or let it be automatic.
- Very strong output.
- Small size.
- Strong magnet.
- Not good for small tanks, or medium tanks on the smaller side.
- Wide guard spacing, small fish would get sucked in.
How to Select a Wavemaker
These are the most important factors to consider when selecting a wavemaker.
Tank size: This is the first thing to look at when trying to pick a wavemaker. There are online converters where you can see how many gallons per hour your aquarium needs based on how big it is. The conversion is about 5 gallons per hour (GPH) for every gallon. You’ll need less power for a tank full of plants.
Adjustability: Depending on how much control you’d like over the waves in your tank, you can look for ones with a controller or ones with a single power level. The adjustability also includes the frequency of waves and flow rate of the water. If you’re going to leave it on and not change it afterwards then it’s fine to get one without a controller. Otherwise, the controller is going to be the only way to get the exact waves you want.
Magnet or suction cup: For some, a suction cup is easier to deal with because you just place your arm in and put it on the glass yourself. Some buyers find suction cups are more likely to fall and sink in your aquarium, making it hard to find later. With the magnets, it’s highly unlikely that anything would cause it to fall or move. However, if you’re not careful the stronger magnets can crack glass depending on how you put it on.
Noise: A loud wavemaker is annoying for both you and your pets. Certain brands are more likely to be loud, if not while on, then some time while you’re using it. The noise makes it harder for your fish to enjoy themselves and for you to enjoy the fish.
Types of Wavemakers
Often sellers will list powerheads as wavemakers. This is because if you have more than one you can have a similar effect. Normally it’s best to have both instead of one or the other. Anything that involves moving water is listed under the same category. They both come up if you look for one or the other.
Another one that has a similar effect and gets put together with the rest are circulation pumps. Circulation pumps are closer to powerheads than wavemakers. They focus on a large output of water instead of the force behind it. Again, many of these get marketed as the same product.
Circulation pumps will bring a consistent flow to your aquarium. A wavemaker should move back and forth, changing the direction of the water a lot and simulating what water does in a natural habitat.
Several companies are also trying to make their product multipurpose. This way it can do most if not all the things that these items do separately. If you’re looking for a specific movement, it’s best to be careful with the names of these products and to read their descriptions individually.
Maintaining a Wavemaker
Maintenance is an important part of using wavemakers, as they will wear down quickly if you don’t do any upkeep. Leaving anything on the wavemaker for a long time causes damage and can make it stop working or noisy.
When left for too long, and you can’t just scrub everything off anymore, there are solution mixes you can buy. For these, you normally mix a certain ratio with water and let it soak. There are also several homemade cleaning recipes online.
All you need at home is water and vinegar and to look up the ratio, that’s normally enough to get off most coralline. Some don’t dilute the vinegar at all and just soak the whole thing.
For any small spots, especially the propellers and in between the guards, you can use a toothbrush or a Q-Tip. The small areas are the most important to clean because anything stuck there is likely to cause damage.
If you do it often, once a month for example, all you need to get off are moss and other small bits. Nothing difficult and nothing that would need a soak in a vinegar solution.
Some wavemakers that are stronger won’t be as held up over anything that grows on it or gets stuck inside it. So, you can sometimes leave those a bit longer. However, less powerful or small ones can’t handle the extra weight and can get jammed completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I put my wavemaker in the tank?
Keep anything that flows on its own and is small enough to fit through the spacers away from the wavemaker. Those can get sucked up and injured (this also includes small fish). If you don’t have enough space, you can put on your own mesh on the guard. You should also keep them slightly away from LPS corals or invertebrates with tentacles so that they don’t get hit directly by the flow. Generally, each one will have their own instructions. Closer to the top and towards the back are popular if you have lots of space for wavemakers.
What’s the difference between a powerhead and a wavemaker?
A powerhead just pushes water in one direction, so some people prefer to use two to get an effect like a wavemaker. Powerheads also focus on a single stream or part of the water, making them better at picking up detritus from pockets. Wavemakers move the whole tank of water forward and back and are more adjustable than that.
Why do I need a wavemaker?
Coral and fish both use current and natural water movement in the wild. It’s more natural, and it’s healthier for them as well. Going with and against currents is like exercise for fish. It helps make sure that they aren’t building up too much fat. The water moving also prevents dead pockets of unhealthy things growing. For example, detritus. Even so, it won’t pick up and move all of what was already there.
What flow mode do I pick?
This is different for every tank and requires some experimenting on your part. Always start on the weakest level, some wavemakers are more powerful than you would think and can hurt your aquarium if too strong. Make sure that no water splashes out of your tank even if it’s left for a while. Of course, it shouldn’t be kicking up your sand or blowing away your fish, either.
Installing a Wavemaker Instructional Video
To sum it all up, make sure to check the size of your tank and what kind of adjustability you’d like before buying a wavemaker. Also, check that what you’re buying does the motion in your tank that you’re looking for.
Try out what you buy for your tank on the weakest level first and work your way up as necessary. Make sure you have everything your aquarium needs to be healthy, even if that includes a few more products than you thought (like a powerhead).
Have you owned a wavemaker before? Let me know if I hit all the important points and describe your experience in the comments!