There are different types of pond pumps available and the choice for someone who's new to pond keeping can cause confusion, hopefully my FAQs guide will clear things up for you.
First Choice of Pond Equipment
A pond pump is usually the first piece of equipment you'd add to a garden pond, it allows water to be moved to a filter and helps keep the pond healthy and fresh.
There are different variants of pond pumps including fountain pumps and solids handling pumps which have different purposes.
Do I Need a Pond Pump?
Ideally I would say yes, if it's a fish pond then I'd always suggest you have one, whether it's to circulate the water or to feed a filter, it's going to be beneficial. If it's a wildlife pond then you do not need a pump as wildlife such as frogs prefer a bog pond type habitat.
What is a Solids Handling Pump?
A solids handling pump is also known as a filter pump or waterfall pump, this is because it can feed either of those usually without a problem.
You'll find that it can accept a larger hose size diameter because it can pump larger volumes of water.
They are able to handle solids, which is where they get their name from, because they are much more robust than a standard pond pump.
What is a Fountain Pump?
A fountain pump is a pump which will give you a decorative spray
of water, normally a 3 tier, 2 tier and bell type fountain jet. Sometimes fountain pumps will come with a secondary outlet which allows you to pump water through a pipe as well as running your fountain spray.
These are great for small ponds with common goldfish but, if you have koi or a large pond, the silt and sludge can clog these fountain pumps up quickly requiring frequent maintenance.
Will a Fountain Pump Run a Waterfall or Feed a Filter?
You can, however they will have a strainer cage which has very small holes, this is to protect the pump and because the fountain head will block if the holes are larger.
This can cause problems with the pump cage clogging in larger, dirtier ponds which is why I always suggest customers keep it off the very bottom of the pond to protect it and prevent frequent maintenance demands.
Will a Fountain Pump Keep my Pond Clean?
A fountain pump alone will not keep your pond clean but it will help to a certain degree. The increased oxygen in the pond water due to surface movement, whether that's from a spray, ripples or a waterfall will increase good bacteria, this bacteria will in turn eat away pond silt. I would always suggest a pond filter with a UV clarifier to keep a pond crystal clear though.
Should I Have Two Pumps?
In an ideal pond set up yes, I understand that cost can be a big factor in equipment choice but the best option in my opinion would be to purchase a solids handling pump to feed your filter, or buy a filter kit which includes a solids handling pump. If you want to, you can always add the fountain pump at a later date if you want more life in the pond.
This means you've got a healthy pond set up and that decoration can be added when you feel like it. Another plus point about this is that you have the flexibility to turn off your fountain wihtout detrimental effects to your filter and the bacteria which is housed in it.
What Size Pump Should I Buy?
I would never suggest buying an underpowered pump or one that's only just powerful enough for the job. A pump which is not powerful enough could be a useless waste of money for you and only cause more cost in the future. If you buy one that only just does the job, clogging due to lots of debris or other issues could cause problems.
For waterfalls I have a guide to Calculating Waterfall Flow Rates.
My Instructions Mention a 'Hosetail' What is This?
The hosetail is a fitting which is connected to the pump and the hose will push onto, the water is then pumped through the hose. Many pumps come with stepped hosetails, these hosetails allow for different sizes of pipe to be added, when using larger hose the smaller parts can be cut off using a hacksaw.
Where Should my Pump be in the Pond?
With a solids handling pump I'd suggest locating it the furthest distance away from the filter or waterfall, this allows for maximum circulation. Fountain pumps are slightly different because they can't be near the edge or your water will not drop back into the pond. Just remember to allow for easy maintenance access and never use the electrical cable to get the pump out of the pond.
Garden Pond Filters FAQs.