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Moving More Water with an External Pond Pump

When choosing a pump for your pond project, you have the choice of either an external pond pump, or a submersible pump. As the names imply, an external pump sits outside of the pond in a dry location, whereas a submersible pump is submersed beneath the surface of the water. Whatever system you end up deciding on, be sure to purchase a reliable, good-quality pump that is able to run 24-7, 365 days per year. Since pumps often drive the ecosystem in a pond, if the main pump fails, water imbalances can quickly occur, endangering fish and other life in your pond.

1) Small to Medium External Pumps

Sequence 750 Series (External) - The Sequence 750 series pumps are small external pumps meant for low to medium flow rates. They are extremely reliable and energy efficient pumps with a 3 year warranty. Meant for ponds with a total head pressure of 12' or less, they are meant for powering ponds and waterfalls needing a flow rate between 1200 to 3000 gph.

Model4' head6' head8' head10' headVoltsWattsPrice 
3600 2820 gph 2400 gph 1860 gph 1200 gph 115 139 $359.99 More Info
4200 3240 gph 2700 gph 2160 gph 1500 gph 115 160 $369.99 More Info

Waterfall Rocks

2) Medium to Large External Pumps 2500+ gph

Sequence Energy Efficient 4K Series External Pumps - The Sequence 4K series pumps are medium sized external pumps meant for flow rates over 2500 gph. They are extremely reliable and energy efficient pumps with a 3 year warranty. Meant for ponds with a total head pressure of 22' or less, they are meant for powering ponds and waterfalls in medium head pressure situations.

Model5' head10' head15' head20' headVoltsWattsPrice 
3600 3100 gph 2400 gph 1600 gph 300 gph 115 227 $559.99 More Info
5000 4350 gph 3500 gph 2500 gph 500 gph 115 263 $581.99 More Info
5800 5400 gph 4200 gph 3000 gph 1000 gph 115 296 $600.99 More Info
6800 6400 gph 5250 gph 4100 gph 2500 gph 115 367 $689.99 More Info
8200 7250 gph 6250 gph 5000 gph 3200 gph 230 450 $702.99 More Info

Waterfall Rocks

3) Large / Very Large 7000+ gph - External Pumps

Sequence Power Series External Pumps - When we encounter a pond or waterfall application that needs very large amounts of water flow in hiigh head pressure situaitons, our goto pump is the Power Series by Sequence.

Model10' head20' head30' head40' headVoltsWattsPrice 
8500 7800 gph 7080 gph 6000 gph 4800 gph 230 1385 $829.99 More Info
9200 8580 gph 7800 gph 7020 gph 6000 gph 230 1744 $872.99 More Info
11,000 10,380 gph 9540 gph 8640 gph 7500 gph 230 2056 $959.99 More Info
18,000 16,500 gph 14,280 gph 11,520 gph 7500 gph 230 2315 $2,539.99 More Info

How Pumps Work

Pond pumps run on a fairly simple principle. An electric motor is used to turn an impeller, which draws water in one side of the pump, and expels water out another. The amount of flow is determined by the size and power of the impeller, which in turn will require a certain power output from the electric motor.

Water Pump Diagram
How Pond Pumps Work
Waterfall Rocks

Why Use an External Pond Pump?

External pond pumps are generally used to draw water through a skimmer, which helps filter out debris floating on the surface of the pond, before pumping the water onto further filtration stages. Submersible pumps could possibly be used in this application, but due to space limitations inside the skimmer, it is much easier to fit the water intake of an external pump inside the skimmer, rather than trying to fit an entire submersible pump directly inside the skimmer. That being said, if your pond is small, it may be possible to fit a submersible pump inside the skimmer depending on the size of the skimmer and pump you purchase.

Limitations of External Pumps

Because external pond pumps are located outside of the pond, if the pump is elevated above the water level, initially there will be air in the pipe from the pond up to the pump. If you were to fill the pipe with water to remidy the situation, the water will naturally drain back into the pond because of gravity. To get around this, you must fit a non-return valve at the intake to prevent the water from draining out when the pump is turned off. After installation, or whenever the pipes are drained, it will be necessary to manually fill the piping with water so that the pump will be charged for use. Naturally this requirement can be ignored if your pump is below the level of the surface of the pond, in which case gravity will naturally charge the pump. In the case of a submersible pump, a non-return valve is not necessary due to the pump being submersed in the pond.

External Pond Pump
A Typical External Pump

Determining the Size of Pump

The amount of water in your pond will determine the size of pump you require. As a bare minimum for proper biological filtration, your pump should be capable of turning over the entire contents of your pond every two hours. If the flow rate is allowed to fall below this benchmark, either because of an insufficient pump, or because of a clogged pump, various problems can be introduced. These problems can include low oxygen levels, accelerated algae growth and higher than allowable ammonia and nitrite levels. Any of these problems are capable of endangering the fish and/or other life in your pond, so try your best to avoid them by starting with the right pump for your application. Also keep in mind that pump flow rates are measured assuming no strain on the pump due to pipe fittings, or gravity. Since any pond will include pipe fittings and a potential change in elevation from the pump intake to the pump system discharge (such as in the case of a waterfall), head pressure will be introduced to your pump system which will reduce the flow of your pump. To learn more about head pressure, please see our guide on pump head pressure.

Other Considerations

Please keep in mind that pumping the entire contents of your pond every two hours is a minimum. If you plan on installing a waterfall or stream of some kind, you may need to pump more than this to achieve the desired effect. For this reason, when choosing an external pond pump, we always recommend going a little larger than required to plan for any tweaks or unexpected changes later.

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