Two brands have really set themselves apart from the rest when it comes to circulation. Those two brands are Tunze and EcoTech Marine. They have been in the business for a long time, have their own research and development facilities, and perhaps most importantly, have some of the best customer service in the industry. Sometimes problems can happen with any product and it's important to buy from a brand that will stand behind their product and offer up a responsive and appropriate solution.
When choosing a device for circulation, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Circulation powerheads should not just be thought of as a function of flow rate. Sometimes people purchase one pump over another just because they are rated to push the most gallons per hour. However, what about flow pattern? If it's pushing 1600GPH, but it's only mixing the majority of the water up to 3 feet away when your tank is 6 feet long, that's probably not very helpful!
Please use our buying guide below! If you need more advice, just ask! Your question may help many other people that are wondering the same thing!
Most powerheads are composed of two parts. These two parts magnetically clamp together on some surface and the powerhead is then considered mounted. In our opinion, Tunze currently has the best design for flexible mounting options.
Tunze's magnetic base couples with another base that attaches to the powerhead. Both parts of the magnetic base are safe to be submersed underwater, which means that you can actually mount the powerhead to the inside of an overflow box! Furthermore, the base for the powerhead permits orienting the powerhead in a large range of directions.
Tunze has basic simple powerheads which just plug in and provide flow and electronic powerheads which can be controlled through a controller to provide random flow and other patterns.
EcoTech Marine is the only maker of an externally driven powerhead. Their powerhead is separated into two parts, a dry and a wet side. The dry side contains the propeller and the wet side contains the electronics and motor. By separating the two parts, more tank space is freed up for your inhabitants and heat is exchanged with the ambient space instead of with the tank water.
In addition to this novel design, the vortech pumps are driven with a controller which can provide several different flow patterns including random flow and wave motion. The wireless-equipped models can communicate each other, as well as with other EcoTech Marine equipment. The pumps can operate in sync and anti-sync modes with each other.