A Guide to the Best Aquarium Wave Maker | With Review & Buying Guide

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Fish thrive better in a water body that has waves and currents. Well, naturally, they are used to live in such conditions. The good news is that you can create such an environment artificially with a wave maker.

A wavemaker is not just a tool to enhance the looks of the aquarium set up but also balances the water condition. To get your hands on the best aquarium wave maker, you must know everything about this device.

So, I am going to give you a “wave maker – 101” lesson first then start the review of the best aquarium wave makers in the market. Don’t you will get the very-desired buying guide too.

Let’s start then, shall we?

The name of the equipment is pretty self-explanatory. An aquarium wavemaker is a device that creates waves in a confined water body (aquarium) by means of mechanical force.

Most of the wave makers comprise of powerhead that performs the task of a pump to create the wave in the aquarium.

A high-end aquarium wave maker even comes with variable flow controllers that you can adjust according to your needs. Such a feature is crucial as different kinds of fish prefer different wave frequencies. Well, you can change the monotonous frequency as well. 

Okay, so how does an aquarium wave maker work?  

To understand the basic functionality, you must look at nature. The mechanical wave makers try to mimic the causes that create waves in nature. 

Suppose water is flowing from point A to point B, and the air is flowing from the opposite direction, from point B to A. The contradictory forces act against each other cause friction in the water surface. Such collisions are responsible for waves in nature.

Other actions, such as movements of fish, boats, people swimming in a water body, will also cause waves.

A wave maker uses a pump to creates repetitive pulses that thrust the water surface. The thrusts then create continuous waves in an aquarium.

The operation methodology is quite simple.

Why Should You Use a Wave Maker? What Are the Benefits?

In an aquarium, a fish moves around, constantly creating waves naturally. So, why should you bother adding a wave maker?

The first reason that comes to my mind is that waves make the movement of the fish much easier. That means your fish will thrive and live more comfortably.

However, many other reasons make the installment of a wavemaker a smart choice. Check them out :

  • ​- Aquariums are artificial water bodies where water remains stagnant. Naturally, the fish live in an environment that has waves.

  • So, you will be creating an almost natural habitat for your fish.
  • ​- When you pour nutrients, it remains in a particular position in high concentration. The fish in the tank then eat them up. The problem is that corals and invertebrates can't enjoy the benefit of the nutrients.

  • A wave maker helps the nutrients to spread evenly in the whole tank. So, the corals and the invertebrates enjoy the benefit of the nutrients better.
  • ​- The stagnant water body in the aquariums has several dead spots due to the lack of circulation. These spots lack oxygen.

  • ​These spots are very unhealthy for the fish, and they avoid these areas. You can eliminate the dead spots by using a wave maker.

    ​- The final reason is the enhancement of beautification. Well, you got to admit that seeing waves in your aquarium does sound quite appealing!

    Type of Aquarium Pumps?

    All wave makers, in fact, are aquarium pumps. So, by that definition, a wave maker is a type of aquarium pump.

    Now the big question is, how many types of aquarium pumps are there?

    In the market, you can find four types of aquarium pumps;

    1. ​1. Filtration pumps
    2. 2. Circulation pumps
    3. 3. Powerheads
    4. 4. Wave makers

    ​1. A Filtration Pump

    An aquarium filter sucks the water in the tank in the filter so that all the contaminated water can get treated equally. However, the high-pressure suction can be harmful to the fish in the tank.

    So, to mitigate the high-pressure suction, another equally powerful high-pressure thrust is necessary. It balances out the equation.

    A filtration pump serves the exact purpose. It works with the powerful filters so that the pressure in the water can be in some kind of equilibrium. You can see such kind of pumps in comparatively larger tanks.

    As you can imagine, these huge pumps will require a massive amount of electricity as well. 

    ​2. A Circulation Pump

    Circulation pumps follow the same operational ideologies of the filtration pumps, but they are smaller in size.

    Rather than creating high pressure in the aquarium, these pumps focus on better circulation. You should use these pumps in a planted tank or if you have coral reefs.

    The circulation pumps serve two main purposes –

    ​- Ensure richness of oxygen eliminating the dead spots

    ​- Better nutrient distribution in all corners in the tank

    ​However, a circulation pump will only participate in the water circulation, not filtration.

    ​3. Powerheads

    A powerhead is not exactly a pump but a device that produces narrow and sharp high-pressure water streams.

    However, using a powerhead alone without supporting devices to soften the blow might not be the smartest idea. Maybe that’s why most of the powerheads come with additional current diverting tools.

    You might even use the powerheads facing the glass walls so that the high-pressure streams don’t hurt the fish.

    Most of the best aquarium powerheads follow the design principle of a filtration pump and come in different sizes and shapes. If you are determined to use a powerhead, make sure not to aim the stream at the fish or the corals and use diverting devices.

    ​4. Wave Makers

    In my opinion, the wave makers are the smartest option that you should choose. Rather than following the high-pressure thrusting motto, they follow the low-pressure design principle.

    Moreover, they can channel a huge volume of water due to the high flow rates.

    All the elements of your aquarium – plants, corals, and fish will get benefits from the wave makers. They tend to possess all the goodness of other kinds of pumps.

    For example, you are getting the low-pressure and high-volume combination, adjustable speed or flow rate controlling capability, and rhythmic wave pulses.

    What more can you expect from the pumps?

    Where to Place Powerheads in Freshwater Aquarium?

    Now that you are interested in getting an aquarium wave maker, you should know where to place it for optimum results.

    The goal is to create mild and pseudo-realistic waves, not a hurricane in the tank!

    So, aquarium wavemaker placement is crucial. But the sad news is that there is no fixed rule that you can apply. It’s mainly because everyone decorates uniquely and chooses different sizes of tanks.  

    Think of using the trial and error method.

    The general rule of thumb is to select a spot that allows the wave maker to create uniform waves that reach every corner of the aquarium. But remember not to create strong thrusts. It would definitely cause discomfort among the fish in the tank.

    Best Aquarium Wave Maker Reviews – The Ultimate Showdown!

    1. Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump – The Overall Best Aquarium Wave Maker

    Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump

    Jebao is already one of the most well-known names in the aquatic device suppliers in the market. This is a brand that you can trust for better quality and superior products.

    Among all the products in this category, Jebao wave maker will offer you numerous features that you can’t find in others.

    Jebao wavemaker stands above all for some good reasons. Just check out the notable features in the following section, and you will know why!

    Other than being a bit noisy and plastic body, I didn’t find a single negative issue with this product.

    ​Notable Features

    ​- Comes with a modern design that has a motor can sustain minor physical damages

    ​- ​Has the modern 4-pole impeller design

    ​- ​Has the option of flow rate adjustability with 8 preset flow rates offering fast power and slow pump option

    ​- ​The wireless mode offers master and slave functionality

    ​- ​Has a one-touch feed mode that turns down the flow rate for 10 minutes

    ​​The wired controller feature is available

    ​​Magnetic mount option

    ​​Comes in 4 different variants offering 132 to 5283 GPH flow rate

    ​Pros

    • ​Modern and superior design
    • ​Has both wireless and wired controlling option
    • ​Comes with night time sensor
    • ​Easy to install
    • ​Tons of features
    • ​Budget-friendly option

    ​Cons

    • ​Slightly poor build quality
    • ​Not the most silent option
    Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump

    This Italian brand has created a lot of loyal fans over the years. Mainly because of their smaller form factor, fish keepers often use it in the smaller tanks for bettas or guppies.

    Hydor Koralia Nano wave maker is a specially designed wave maker that is suitable for corals and plants. This pump doesn’t create much havoc in the water, making it suitable for almost all kinds of fish. 

    You will definitely love the superior build quality of this tiny powerhouse!

    The only thing that bothered me is the inability to adjust the flow rates, which is a crucial factor.

    ​Notable Features

    ​- Follows the shaftless impeller design and comes with an energy-efficient motor

    ​- ​Incorporates the third-gen EVO circulator that can flow massive amount of water compared to the size

    ​- ​The robust cage surrounding the pump keeps away the debris and other chunked elements eliminating the chances of accidents

    ​- ​Designed specifically for smaller or “nano” tanks

    ​- ​Has a ball joint hinge that allows multi-directional pressure flow

    ​- ​Comes in three different sizes that offer 240, 425, and 565 GPH flow rates respectively

    ​Pros

    • ​Superior build quality
    • ​Easy magnet-suction style setup with vibration-free technology
    • ​Almost silent
    • ​Suitable for smaller tanks
    • ​Compact design doesn’t take much space in the tank
    • ​Doesn’t pose any harm towards the corals and reefs

    ​Cons

    • ​Has only two flow rate variations, lacks adjustability
    • ​You need to get the controller separately

    3. KEDSUM 2642GPH Wave Maker – The Value Champ!

    KEDSUM 2642GPH Wave Maker

    This is the value king on my list today. But don't make the mistake of thinking it to be a "low quality" product. You will definitely get the highest value from this product at this price point.

    There are two special things that KEDSUM 2642GPH wave maker does better than other products in this category – the 360° rotation capability and better oxygen distribution.

    The flow rate of this product is absolutely insane! It can reach a whopping 2642 GPH flow rate at max.

    However, you will not be getting adjustability so that the high flow rate can be an issue for the corals and the plants. Also, you shouldn’t use it in a small tank or for smaller fish.

    The manufacturers suggest the ideal aquarium wave maker size to be somewhere between 100 to 135 gallons.

    Notable Features

    ​- Offers 360° rotation ensuring a close-to-natural wave flow in every direction

    ​- ​Has a high flow rate that can reach 2542 GPH

    ​- ​Easy to use that comes with strong suction cups

    ​- ​Offers ultra-quiet operation

    ​- ​Ensures better water circulation throughout the tank meaning the oxygen level remains constant in every corner

    ​- ​Energy-efficient that consumes on 20W power while running​

    ​Pros

    • ​Mimics natural wave flows throughout the tank
    • ​Great flow rate
    • ​Almost silent
    • ​Superior water circulation
    • ​Low power consumption

    ​Cons

    • ​Not suitable for smaller tanks
    • ​Can be deadly for small fish too

    4. Reef Octopus Octo Pulse 4 – The Perfect Big Tank Option (100+ gallons)

    Reef Octopus Octo Pulse 4

    While we are on the topic of large tank wave makers, why not talk about the best big tank option. Yes, it might be a bit expensive compared to others, but you are looking at an engineering marvel!

    So, how much water can the wave maker handle?

    We are looking at a pump that is designed for even 500-gallon tanks! So, yeah, you don’t have to worry about the quality and performance!

    Octo Pulse 4 is a special wave maker targeted towards the reef aquarists offering better care for the corals and plants. There are great safety measurements too.

    ​Notable Features

    ​- The Pulse 4 pump comes with powerful rare-earth magnet impellers

    ​- ​Low profile magnetic mount ensures 25° adjustability with full 360° flow coverage

    ​- ​Has a maximum flow rate of 4,500 GPH

    ​- ​Comes with 4 predesigned flow patterns – Constant, Stream, Tide, and Random

    ​- ​Has a dual-feed mode slowing down the wave flow from 15 to 60 minutes

    ​- ​Low power consumption; need 11 to 32 watts depending on the size of the tank

    ​- Syncs with most of the third-party controllers as it has 0-10v external controller connection

    ​Pros

    • ​Superior build quality
    • ​Ceramic/rare-earth impeller materials
    • ​Full 360° flow coverage
    • ​High flow rate
    • ​Offers unique wave pulses to remove monotony
    • ​Low power consumption
    • ​Has separate feed mode

    ​Cons

    • ​Lacks wireless control
    • ​Very expensive

    5. Sunsun Sun JVP-110 Wave Maker – The Cheaper Solution

    Sunsun Sun JVP-110 Wave Maker

    If you limited budget for your aquarium setup, Sunsun Sun JVP-110 should be on your must-have list. Especially if you are in search of the perfect wave maker for a tropical fish tank.

    The ball joint feature makes the pump rotate in every single direction allowing 360° wave flow. Moreover, you are getting a fully-submersible and oil-free motor that will never cause any harm to your fish and the corals.

    So, you are looking at a wave maker that is both cheap and reliable – a surprisingly great combo!

    ​Notable Features

    ​- Suitable for smaller 30 to 60-gallon tanks

    ​- ​Has a 360° wave flow option due to the ball joint feature

    ​- ​Completely submersible design that comes with a long power cable

    ​- ​The oil-free motor ensures a safer aquatic environment for the fish


    ​Pros

    • ​Budget-friendly
    • ​Comes with all the basic features
    • ​360° flow
    • ​Perfect for small tanks
    • ​Compact design

    ​Cons

    • ​Doesn’t have the flow rate adjustability option
    • ​Build quality is mediocre
    • ​Doesn’t have any controller

    6. Ecotech Marine MP40W QD Wireless Smart Wave Maker – The Supreme Modern Option

    Ecotech Marine MP40W QD Wireless Smart Wave Maker

    Okay, now let’s take your interest to a wave maker coming out of a sci-fi novel – a truly “smart” option.

    It comes with a wireless controller that gives you're the ultimate flexibility. EcoTech is also the brand that introduced wave modes or the flow modes in the wave makers that other brands adopted later.

    You can use this wave maker in tanks capable of storing 50 to 500 gallons of water. Moreover, you can expect more than 4,500 GPH flow rate this beast!

    It has even 9 flow modes that are the highest that you can see in any wave makers in the maker. Here is the list of the modes that you can get –


  • Lagoon Mode – Recreates gentle, lagoon-like currents
  • Reef Crest Mode – Creates random high-energy currents imitating ocean splashes
  • Gyre Mode – Periodically changes the wave flow in clockwise and counterclockwise directions
  • Short Pulse Mode – Gives wave pulses at 0.2 and 2 seconds interval rate
  • Tidal Swell Mode – Mimics natural tides following a routined ebb and flow pattern
  • Nutrient Transport Mode – Follows a two-phase nutrient gathering and spreading pattern
  • Feed Mode – Pauses the wave flow temporarily so that fish can eat comfortably
  • Night Mode – Creates a calm environment so that fish can rest and sleep
  • ​Wave Auto-Tune – Creates a strong and powerful wave


    ​Notable Features

    ​- Capable enough to create powerful waves in the aquarium with the VorTech QuietDrive technology

    ​- ​Doesn’t disrupt the natural growth of corals and eliminate the hot spots

    ​- ​Fully wireless control and magnetic coupling

    ​- ​Doesn’t discharge any harmful chemical to the tank ensuring better safety

    ​- ​Nine intelligent flow modes

    ​- ​Can deliver high flow rate up to 4,500 GPH

    ​- ​Comes with Multi-Pump Communication technology

    ​- ​You can control it using your smartphone

    ​- ​Has a battery backup mode so that you get undisrupted flow even in a power blackout

    ​Pros

    • ​Superior build quality
    • ​Stacked with tons of unique features
    • ​High flow rate
    • ​Accurate and precise water flow
    • ​Easier control

    Cons

    • ​Extremely expensive

    7. IceCap Generation Aquarium Flow Pump – The Gadget You Need!

    IceCap Generation Aquarium Flow Pump

    There is one thing for sure; you will love the design ideology of this wavemaker. Rather than going for the typical small pear-shaped design, Icecap went for the rod-like design.

    They did it not only for aesthetic reasons but also for having better functionality. The rod-shape wave maker can easily cover up the whole aquarium, ensuring constant and equal wave flow.

    Just like the previous option, you will be getting a number of flow modes. Five different flow modes can ensure better living conditions for your fish.

    Although, you can’t use in a large aquarium. You will have to use it in a small or medium-sized tank.

    ​Notable Features

    ​- Incorporates the Crossflow Technology that makes wider waves rather than narrow, sharp waves

    ​- Provides horizontal wave patterns or gyre wave patterns

    ​Has a Gyre Advanced Controller with a smart OLED display panel

    ​Comes with five preset wave patterns

    ​Has a 10-minute feeding timer

    ​Suitable for small and medium tanks

    ​Pros

    • ​Mount style magnetic wave maker
    • ​Propels a massive amount of water and remove the dead spots
    • ​Reef flushing technology
    • ​Loaded with features
    • ​OLED display
    • ​24-hour timer feature

    ​Cons

    • ​Makes a humming noise while running
    • ​Impellers can fall victim to algae infestation

    Buying guide: What to Consider Before Making the Buying Decision

    By now, you should know almost everything about the best of the best aquarium wave makers in the market right now. It's going to give you enough information to paint the whole picture.

    Although, I must include some critical parameters that you should consider before making the purchase.

    Take a look –

    Price

    I have said it thousands of times before and will say it again – pricing matters! Some of the wave makers are pricier than others, obviously for having additional features.

    You will have to make a list of "must-haves" that you wish to see in your wave maker. You don’t need to hit all the features and get a wave maker from a sci-fi novel. Try settling for a decent one that offers quality over features.

    More: Best Nitrate Remover

    Is It Easy to Install?

    A wave maker is a simple gadget that improves the water quality in your fish tank. In fact, it’s one of the simplest ones.

    So, it should never be too complicated. Most of the wave makers have suction cups that you can just stick to the inner wall of the aquarium.

    Avoid the ones that require you to be an MIT engineer!

    Is It Durable?

    I know pricing matters, but don't settle for cheap quality that won't even last for a couple of months. A good one should survive at least a year or two.

    Nobody wants to buy wave makers every other month!

    Safety First!

    You certainly don't want your fish injured or dead because of a wave maker, do you? Before making up your mind, check for the safety measurements that the wave maker offers.

    Just remember, you are plugging in a pump inside your aquarium. Things can go south due to a number of reasons.

    More: Best HOB Protein Skimmer

    Better Efficiency Is Always Nice to Have!

    You can measure the efficiency of a wave maker, just like any other electrical device – turnover per wattage. The lower the power consumption, the better!

    The turnover, in this case, is the flow rate. How much water can it circulate per hour?

    Typically, the manufacturers give the gallons per hour (GPH) or the liter per hour (LPH) rate in the package. You should be checking the rating very carefully.

    A decent wave maker should pump out 20x the total volume of water.

    So, if you have 20 gallons of water in the tank, the pumping rate should be 400 GPH or higher.

    Also, check the power consumption rate against this value.

    Being in Total Control – The Adjustability

    The thrusts from the pump should never be too much for the fish or too small either. So, you need to find a sweet spot for your fish to thrive.

    That’s why the smart idea is to get a wave maker that you can control fully. Adjustability is a great feature that should never ignore.

    Conclusion

    So, it’s time to round up our discussion today. Who sits in the first place? I would give that spot to Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump.

    Then, Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump will get the second place. I know there are wave makers with a wider range of features on my list today. But they can't make it due to their hefty price tag!

    Reef Octopus Octo Pulse 4 claims the third spot for being the best large aquarium wave maker.

    So, do you agree with my picks? Leave a comment below with your opinion!

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