Water Movement 101
There are tons of different forms of pumps out there, but only one real rule when it comes to how much water a tank should be moving – that is 8 to 10 times the tank volume, usually more. You don’t want things blowing all over your tank from the pumps you purchase. You do however want it keeping things from settling on your tank members. Corals, Clams, and Fish also need water movement to maintain their health in general. Proper water movement causes the tank to blow around particulates to feed everything in your reef between feeding times. Water movement also is vital as it keeps oxygen circulating around aquariums; which is necessary for keeping a tank healthy.
Pumps these days are outward/stationary, return, and wavemaker. Stationary pumps are 100% constant flow and can be used to create good circulation in any tank. Given the right equipment outward pumps can be adjusted to slightly mimic reef conditions with items such as Sea Swirls, FLO heads, or even outlets that switch these pumps off and on. However, outward pumps will always be limited in the spread of the water being pushed out of the pumps. These include Rossmont, Korallia, MaxiJet and in our opinion Sicce.
Returns Pumps are just as they sound. These are the pumps that take water from your sump, and return it to the main display tank. Some of these pumps are constantly moving water; while others, also known as Digital Control or DC, can be programmed to nearly replicate the conditions of an actual reef. For instance some of these pumps can be set up to simulate lower water movement tide pools, high water movement such as reef crests (to mimic turbulent conditions), and even options to reverse the currents from clockwise to counterclockwise. These are the pumps such as Vectra, Waveline, and PanWorld. Please refer to each pump to find out what they are capable of.
The second type of pump, wavemakers, create turbulence inside an aquarium that is remarkably similar to the way the current draws in and out over an actual coral reef. They accomplish this by switching on and off at different times to push and pull water around the tank. We will always recommend wavemakers over outward pumps; because wavemakers can be programmed to simulate a number of flow patterns. Outward can only push straight, while pumps such as the Ecotech VorTech series and Maxspect Gyres have a 3 dimensional spread. The flow on these pumps is almost infinitely broader.
To sum up, Water Movement is an absolute necessity to all tanks. Without it, water would just come to a stand still, causing oxygen levels to drop and harmful nutrient levels to rise. Should you have any further questions about Water Movement, or which pump might be right for your tank based on stocking, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you further.