Last updated: August 7, 2021

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A fountain pump takes water and presses it out at another point - very simple. The principle is the same as for any pump. However, the most important function of this pump is not to move water from place to place, but to create a small oasis. So it's not about pumping pools and cellars dry or filling heaters. It creates fountains, cascades and springs for your pond, fountain, bird bath or stream.

If it is your desire to have a little more water rippling through your life, this great fountain test 2021 will help you make it happen. All your questions will be answered to make your decision for a fountain pump as easy as possible. Purchase criteria, product comparisons and care instructions: These and other important information about buying a fountain pump are compiled here for you.




The most important facts

  • Fountain pumps move water upwards from a catch basin through a hose, creating unique water features in the garden or indoors.
  • With risers and attachments, the shape and height of these can be controlled. Pumps should be regularly maintained and cleaned to ensure their longevity.
  • The most important parameter to consider when buying a fountain pump is the output. This determines the flow rate and delivery head. Basically, the higher the output, the greater the amount of water that is circulated per hour.

The best fountain pump: Our picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for fountain pumps

Fountain pumps should be a purchase that gives pleasure. Therefore, you should think about some criteria beforehand. Some of them are the same as those that play a role in an ordinary pump. But there are also new points, such as the choice of attachments with which you can give your water fountain a special look. See for yourself:

Since simply naming these criteria can only help you a little, you will now find all the important details on the individual points.

Drive

A fountain pump cannot move the water into the air under its own power. It needs energy from an external source to do so. Whether it is connected to the mains by a cable or uses solar energy depends on environmental criteria and your individual needs.

Power connection

Usually, the pump gets its energy from the socket, like most of our electrical appliances. However, this comes with advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages
  • Operation independent of weather conditions
  • Can be operated at night
  • Can be controlled with a timer
  • No panel needs to be installed and placed
Disadvantages
  • Running costs of 5 to 20 euros per season
  • Location-dependent, because electricity connection is necessary
  • Cable length must be considered
  • Dangerous source of electricity and water

Electricity connection is particularly dangerous, as electricity and water are directly connected. Caution is advised especially with children playing.

Conventional pumps for draining pools or houses depend on this power connection. Our fountain pumps, however, can also get their energy from a natural source: the sun.

Solar-powered:

Solar-powered water pumps are now trendy. For water fountains, the energy that the sun can produce is perfectly sufficient. A cable transmits it from the solar module directly to the pump. However, even with this alternative energy supplier, not everything is as rosy as it sounds at first.

Advantages
  • No running costs
  • largely independent of location, no mains connection
  • energy-saving and environmentally friendly
Disadvantages
  • Weather and sun dependency
  • Limited operation in the dark
  • Solar panel must be installed
  • Connection cable &
  • panel visible
  • Constant new start-up

Solar-powered fountain pumps are often equipped with an additional battery. This allows them to store solar energy so that they do not have to reduce their output when clouds appear. This also prevents constant restarting, which is associated with unsightly bubbling and spitting noises.

If the batteries are of high quality, they can still provide a cosy splashing sound up to an hour after sunset. However, if you want to enjoy your fountain all night and on grey days, you have to go for a pump with a mains plug.

Output

The power is the core variable of a water pump of any kind. It also plays a decisive role for the fountain pump. It is specified in watts.

Fountains tend to have a lower output than conventional pumps, as this is already sufficient for their functions. The value varies between 11 and 80 watts.

The most powerful pump is not necessarily the ideal pump for you. It depends on your individual needs how many watts your fountain pump should have.

Pumps that have a higher output are usually more expensive. Nevertheless, you should not calculate too tightly.

It is better to choose a model with a slightly higher output and then throttle it down if necessary.

But what is this abstract parameter actually relevant for? For the most part, it regulates the two decisive pump values, head and flow rate. Both of these values increase as the output of the fountain pump increases. You can find out what is behind this important information here.

Delivery rate

This parameter has many names: It is also called flow rate or delivery volume. In short, it is the maximum amount that a pump can deliver in one hour. To help you find the pump with the perfect maximum flow rate, here are some guidelines:

  • For mini ponds or indoor fountains, a delivery rate of 150 litres per hour is sufficient.
  • For the average outdoor fountain, a delivery volume of 500 litres per hour should be aimed for.
  • There are pumps that can circulate up to 10,000 litres per hour.
  • Your fountain pump should be able to pump the entire contents of the pond or fountain in two hours.
  • The maximum flow rate should be achieved by using the lowest possible wattage.

For fountain pumps, a lower flow rate is usually sufficient than for a conventional pump. For a fountain, less water needs to be moved at once than if you want to pump a pool empty.

Delivery head

The maximum head describes the maximum distance that the pump can move the water. In other words, it is the difference in height that the water can travel from the surface of the reservoir to the highest point in the water column. Here, too, there are some points that serve as orientation:

  • For birdbaths, medium-sized ponds or small indoor fountains, a height of up to 60 centimetres is quite sufficient.
  • Particularly powerful pumps can reach delivery heights of more than 6 metres
  • The greater the value of the delivery height, the more the flow rate decreases. The maximum delivery height of your pump should be above your desired delivery height. If the pump runs for its maximum head, usually only a very small volume is pumped and the fountain just drips.
  • The lower the fountain starts below the water surface, the more water it takes with it. However, this makes it shallower.
  • A pump discharge directly below the water surface causes a higher water fountain. However, the delivery volume is lower because less water is carried along.
  • The thinner the hose, the higher the resistance and the water cannot be pumped very high.
  • If the hose ends at the same distance from the water surface, the depth of the pond is irrelevant because there is no pressure difference between the environment and the hose and no water is carried along.
  • The height should not be calculated too tightly, because wind can quickly cause a fountain that is too high to splash over the edge of the fountain or pond.

It becomes clear that both variables are strongly dependent on each other. The height and volume can be adjusted directly on the pump or via a remote control. Riser pipes regulate the height. For this purpose, either several different sizes are supplied, or the height of one riser tube can be adjusted. If the height is increased, less water volume is automatically pumped.

Attachments

Fountain pumps are usually supplied with a number of accessories. These include various attachments. These inconspicuous-looking individual parts have a pretty cool function: they regulate the shape in which the water jet sprays upwards.

jet shape Suitability Remarks
bell fountain (multi-position, wide-spreading fountain) Only suitable for outdoor use and mainly for large ponds The pump should be placed so that the water does not come up outside the pool, water lilies or other sensitive plants should not be hit by it, as the powerful water can damage them.
opening goblet or closed water bell particularly suitable for small pools the water is pressed against a baffle surface, creating a bell-shaped film of water. Due to the large surface area, this jet form absorbs a lot of oxygen
Individual columns Particularly suitable for gargoyles Even low pump power is sufficient, simple installation
Cascades Can be used for streams Requires high power depending on width and quantity

Inexpensive pumps are usually only equipped with one attachment. For extensive design options, you should budget a little more money.

The more attachments there are, the more variation you can add to your water feature later on. From a simple, idyllic spring to an exciting fountain, everything is available.

The different formats also change the sound that the fountain makes. This, too, can be used creatively to appeal to a broader sense. Sound and form together create the final effect of your fountain.

Housing

The housing completes the fountain pump and holds all the individual parts together. There are a few points to consider for this important function.

  • Material: The pump housing can be made of various materials. All of them are guaranteed to be waterproof, as this is a necessary basic requirement. Nevertheless, there are small differences. A housing made of ceramic is about 3 times as hard as stainless steel and thus much more durable. Aluminium is characterised by excellent corrosion resistance.
  • Size: The size of fountain pumps varies. A larger pump does not necessarily mean higher performance. The decisive factor is the size of the fountain or pond in which you want to place the water feature. Smaller models can be better hidden in the water.

Most ordinary pumps do not have a waterproof housing. A heating pump, for example, does not need this protection. External pumps must also be carefully protected from water, as this can damage them. They are therefore hardly suitable for a fountain, even though they often have high pump capacities.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a fountain pump

Now that you know what criteria to look for when buying a fountain pump, there are probably still some unanswered questions. No problem, because that's exactly what this guide is for. In the following, all your doubts will be cleared away comprehensively. This way you can choose your perfect fountain pump without hesitation.

What is special about a fountain pump and what advantages does it offer?

You want an enchanting, rippling water source in your garden or an exciting fountain? That's exactly what a fountain pump is all about!

Its design function clearly distinguishes the fountain pump from conventional pumps.

Heating pumps transport hot water through pipes. Other models empty pools after a long summer. Similar ones are used for overflowing cellars. There is no question that these pumps are very useful. They make your life easier. But fountain pumps make it more beautiful!

springbrunnenpumpe-test

When the rising or setting sun transforms the many small drops of a fountain into points of light, a magical moment is created. A water feature is a work of art and the fountain pump plays the biggest part in creating it. (Image source: David Monje / Unsplash)

Fountains make for an enchanting eye-catcher in your garden. They attract the attention of passers-by and visitors and they make an individual statement.

The sound of rippling water also has a calming effect. So a fountain is ideal for feeling good and relaxing. And the heart of these are the pumps!
So these seem to be very desirable. Let's take a closer look:

Advantages
  • Visual eye-catcher
  • Versatile use for fountains, streams, aquariums and ponds
  • Enriching the water with oxygen
  • Creating movement, which keeps mosquitoes from laying their eggs
Disadvantages
  • Careful choice between numerous models required
  • Costs for purchase, maintenance, care and upkeep
  • Pumps themselves are not visually attractive
  • Possibly disturbing pumping noises
  • Can damage water plants

The robust design, optimised for constant exposure to water, also clearly distinguishes the fountain pump from conventional models.

Not only can they be stored in water for a long time, they are even supposed to do so. At the same time, they are corrosion-resistant and remain rust-free. Safety standards are also set very high to prevent hazards that can arise when electronics and water collide.

In part, the advantages and disadvantages depend very much on the choice of model. Knowing what is generally associated with a fountain pump is not enough.

For whom is a fountain pump suitable?

The fountain pump is exactly the right thing for you if you want to work creatively with water. You can create a pretty bird bath or a gently rippling fountain. It is possible to place the basin outdoors as well as indoors.

You can also create the source of a stream or powerful waterfalls with this pump. Spring stones and water-spouting statues can, if necessary, be excellently complemented with a water feature.

If you want to create a creative water feature oasis, a fountain pump is essential.

But if you want to transport huge amounts of water from one place to another, you should go for a high-performance pump. As the name suggests, this is designed for high performance and not for the appearance of the water jet. Therefore, the focus is on the utility function.

The water is pushed to another place without forming exciting formations when it comes out. A high flow volume is desirable, as it is about fast transport and not about a handsome, idyllic atmosphere.

A fountain pump is also not intended to filter the water. On the contrary, it too needs clean water and additional filtration is essential, especially for fish ponds. Here you should purchase a filter pump and install it as well. In a few, more expensive fountain pump models, such a filter is already integrated.

What types of fountain pumps are there?

Water is a wonderful design element. With a fountain pump, you can use it in many individual ways. Not only the power and nozzles can play a role, but also the type of pump.

Remote-controlled models or those with a filter can make it much easier for you to use them. Floating pumps and those with LED add an original touch to your fountain.

Fountain pump with filter

An ordinary fountain pump is not equipped with a filter function, but only transports water and retains coarse dirt to protect the pump. It does provide a small amount of oxygenation, but it does not purify. If you want this function, you should choose a pump with an integrated filter.

Advantages
  • Purification of water
  • Oxygenation
  • Improvement of water quality for fish and plants
  • Clear water
  • Prevention of bad smell
  • Prevention of algae formation
Disadvantages
  • Increased power required
  • Too little power can reduce filter results
  • Source of danger for small fish
  • Not suitable for fish breeding tanks
  • High-priced model

This small addition makes your pump not only decorative, but also ecologically valuable. It takes over tasks that are especially important for plants and fish in water basins. In addition, the pump itself is protected from dirt particles, thus extending its service life. Great multifunctionality!

Fountain pump with LED lighting

LED effects can be the icing on the cake of your fountain project. Light and water together create fantastic effects. Would you like even more relaxation? Or perhaps cool lighting details for cool garden parties? You'll find a wide range of possibilities for decorative effects.

Advantages
  • Individual design options
  • Exciting or relaxing effects
  • Light source
  • Power supply directly via the pump is usually energy-efficient
Disadvantages
  • Increased energy consumption
  • Increased long-term costs
  • High-priced models
  • Damage to connections of Leds and pump possible

You can buy your fountain pumps with different numbers of LEDs in different colours. Particularly exciting are those with a colour-changing function. Depending on how strong you want your light to be, you should choose LEDs with different strengths. When buying, you should decide whether you want inconspicuous effects or radiant light sources.

springbrunnenpumpe-test

This is not a private fountain, but it is clear how different coloured LEDs create an enchanting picture. It is up to you whether you want just as much variety in your garden or whether you choose a uniform and subdued colour. (Image source: Jose G. Ortega Castro / Unsplash)

Maybe you're creative and have a bit of design talent. Then you can also buy LEDs independently of your pump to round off the image of your fountain. In this case, however, you will have to provide a separate connection to the power supply, as this does not run via the pump.

Fountain pump with remote control

For very convenient operation, there are fountain pumps that allow you to control all functions from your deck chair. They can be controlled with a remote control.

With a few presses of a button, you can quickly adjust the flow rate, delivery height and water pattern to your current wishes. This enhances the relaxing effect of the rippling water.

Advantages
  • Convenient operation
  • submersible pumps do not have to be taken out of the pond to change settings
  • checking performance and energy efficiency possible
Disadvantages
  • Additional defects of the remote control possible
  • High-priced models
  • Range of the remote control must be considered

For some time now, there have been models that are controlled by a motion detector. You can even switch them on without using a remote control. However, you will need the time you save for manual adjustment of other settings.

Floating fountain pump

In addition to permanently installed fountain pumps, there are also models that float completely freely on the water. They basically work with solar energy. The solar module is integrated on the surface of the housing.

Advantages
  • No power connection or solar panel needed
  • No unsightly connection cable
  • No complex installation
  • Easy to remove for cleaning
Disadvantages
  • Highly dependent on the sun
  • Sucking in surface dirt from the water
  • Regular cleaning important
  • Pump tends to drift towards the edge of the fountain as it is not fixed
  • No mixing of water, circulation of surface water only

As with the fixed solar pump, a lack of sunlight can quickly lead to a short-term loss of power. In this case, an integrated battery can also ensure that your fountain continues to splash despite clouds.

The drifting of a floating pump should be prevented, as this can lead to damage and effects.

If the floating pump drifts, it can not only look unsightly. It also often causes water to splash over the edge of your fountain. Especially with indoor fountains, this can lead to unwanted damage.

The fountain water needs to be refilled more often and this results in high water consumption. If you are not there to check the water level, you should switch off the pump. Otherwise, the basin may be emptied heavily, causing the pump to touch the ground and cause defects.

A floating pump can therefore not only be an enrichment but also a burden for your fountain design. You must weigh up the advantages and disadvantages specifically for your location.

What does a fountain pump cost?

This question is not so easy to answer, because the price range of the different pumps is large. Inexpensive models are available for less than 10 euros, but you can just as quickly pay more than 1000 euros for a fountain pump.

This difference is due to the different types and equipment. The number of attachments included, the quality of the workmanship and the amount of power also play a role. More expensive models are characterised by more reliable durability.

Type price
Small pump with low power, ideal for mini ponds 10 to 50 euros
Solar-powered fountain pump 20 to 300 euros
High-performance fountain pumps for large circulation volumes 100 to 600 euros

Even more power is provided by conventional pumps. Here, however, there is no need for attachments and waterproof housings. That is why they are not much more expensive than high-quality fountain pumps.

How do I install a fountain pump?

Most fountain pumps arrive in pieces and need to be assembled and installed in the right place. This is not always easy. In the end, everything should work perfectly and sources of danger and defects should be avoided. Therefore, here you will find an overview of what you should pay attention to during installation.

Installation step What you should pay attention to
Planning and preparation Think carefully about where you want to place your well pump. If you do not have a storage basin, dig a hole, insert a basin from the DIY store and fill it with water.
Assemble the pump Familiarise yourself with the parts of your pump and assemble them as described in the enclosed instructions. If instructions are missing, contact the manufacturer directly.
Test run the pump Never do this in dry conditions! The water flowing through the pump has an important cooling function. Use a small water basin to check for defects resulting from the manufacturing process.
Electrical installation The power cable must be led out of the basin to the mains connection. Electricity and water do not mix, so all cable connections should remain dry and be suitable for outdoor use. You can purchase special sealing boxes for connections and waterproof cables for this purpose.
Place and change settings in the water be sure to unplug all power cables. Do not place the pump directly on the bottom of the pool, but preferably on a stone.
Defective cable or housing If you find such a defect, you must not connect the pump under any circumstances, as there is an increased risk of electric shock
Installing a solar fountain pump To do this, you must fix the pump in the water and place the solar module, which is connected by a cable, in a place that is exposed to intensive sunlight. Screws are included in some cases so that you can fix the module to a wall

If you want to integrate your pump into a source stone or a water spout, you should make sure that you buy a pump with suitable hoses. These should fit through the openings in the stones and the connections such as glands should still be fixable.

If you pay attention to these few things, you should succeed in the installation without any obstacles. You can quickly enjoy a great fountain.

What are the alternatives to a fountain pump?

As already explained, installing a fountain pump is not always easy. If you don't have the courage, you can turn to alternatives that reduce the likelihood of making a bad purchase.

springbrunnenpumpe-test

A simple alternative to a fountain pump is to buy a water spout in which the pump is already integrated. This saves a lot of effort during installation. (Image source: Rafael Garcin / Unsplash)

There are pump models in which the design has already been taken care of. This prevents hoses and attachments from being purchased in the wrong sizes.

  • Gargoyles: Figures that spit water fountains can be a great eye-catcher. Most include the pumps for the spitting effect. With some, it is even possible to set a rhythm for individual water fountains to shoot out. This ensures individuality and easy installation.
  • Bubbling or spring stones: These stones are ideal for starting a stream. So that you don't accidentally buy a fountain pump whose hose doesn't fit through the opening in the stone, they are also available as a fully assembled set. This is ideal for those who are less handy and want to save time.
  • Foam bubbler: Whether you want to count the foam bubbler as an alternative or a type of fountain pump is up to you. Here, the water jet is deflected in the nozzle in such a way that as many air bubbles as possible are entrained. This gives the impression of more water volume than is actually transported. The bubbler requires little power and provides extra oxygen in fish ponds.

If you do not want a special format for your water jet and you are more interested in circulating a lot of water, a conventional pump may be the alternative you are looking for. However, you must be aware that it is not always waterproof.

How do I care for a fountain pump?

As with almost all technical devices that are used frequently, the fountain pump also requires some maintenance. However, this is hardly time-consuming and in return you will be able to enjoy a reliable water feature for a long time. So it is worth it.

Not only fish and plants suffer from a lack of water hygiene, but also your fountain pump. Maintaining good water quality is therefore also part of its care.

For this purpose, it is best to install another specific pump. The filter pump removes coarse and fine dirt particles from the water. This prevents them from getting into the housing of the fountain pump and causing damage.

You should maintain and clean your pump at least once a year. This is essential if it is to have a long life.

However, a few impurities cannot be prevented. You should service your pump regularly to detect possible defects and remove impurities.

To do this, you can check the energy use of the pump. If this is unusually high at the same or lower performance, you can expect signs of use, defects and contamination.

Even without observable changes in performance, you should take your water pump out of its pool once a year and clean it. To do this, open the housing as described by the manufacturer. It is important that you do not use any cleaning agents containing vinegar or acid, as these can damage the material.

In addition to dirt and mud, lime deposits are very likely. Often you will see a white layer covering the entire pump.

If this is the case, or at least once a year, you should put it in a descaling bath. You can find appropriate descaling agents in specialist shops. After some time, the limescale will dissolve and you can reassemble the pump after carefully rinsing and drying it.

The water pump has a waterproof housing, of course, but it does not cope well with frost. So when the cold season approaches, you should fish your pump out of the water and move it to a warm, frost-free place.

To ensure that it survives the time outside its pool, it is best to store it indoors in a filled water bucket. Uninterrupted water storage prolongs the longevity of your fountain pump.

Why doesn't my fountain pump work and what can I do?

You may notice that your fountain pump is suddenly pumping less water. You may also hear unusual operating noises or nothing at all may happen. There are several reasons why your pump may be defective.

Fault Source of fault Measures
Pump does not start Blocked drive unit Check fuses and current-carrying elements. Check whether a short circuit has occurred
Significant drop in pump performance Water level too low Top up with water so that a submersible pump is always covered and a floating pump does not touch the ground. When buying, pay attention to integrated switch-off protection, then the pump stops automatically, if there is not enough water
Irreparable damage or tearing of the fountain pump Too high working temperature, due to cavitation: alternation of high and low pressure in the pump leads to steam bubbles, which exert a high force on the pump due to rapid collapse When buying, pay attention to integrated thermal protection. Check whether continuous operation of the pump is possible or whether breaks are necessary for cooling down.
Changed fountain shape or lack of water delivery with high power consumption dirty inlets or outlets, limescale deposits on inlets or outlets, damage to the pump housing, exceeding the maximum delivery head clean inlets and outlets, as well as any filters present, check the maximum delivery head

All these defects have one thing in common: You should act quickly! If you correct the source of the problem immediately, you can usually prevent long-term damage. You can purchase models with various protective devices that guarantee a longer service life. However, you should always remain attentive so that you can enjoy your fountain for a long time.

Conclusion

As you can see, a fountain pump is primarily intended to create design effects in your garden. It should create a feel-good atmosphere and invite you to relax. It is not an ordinary utility object like a conventional pump. The fountain pump is a luxury for your home that doesn't even have to be very expensive. Such a pump should make your life more beautiful. If you pay attention to the criteria mentioned above, it will be able to do this for a long time. If you then follow the tips for care, hardly anything can go wrong.

Picture source: 123rf / 45899401

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