The World of Water Pumps: Choosing the Right Pump for Ponds, Waterfalls and Fountains

Posted by Bill Hoffman on Mar 3rd 2020

The World of Water Pumps: Choosing the Right Pump for Ponds, Waterfalls and Fountains

Water pumps, so many to choose from...

…with so many different brands, sizes and types of water pumps on the market these days how are you supposed to know which is the best pond pump. Knowing which one is best to use for your water feature can be tricky so let’s dive into the world of pumps together.


Submersible Pond Pumps are designed to operate completely submerged in your pond water. Many need that water to keep it from overheating and to work properly. There are 3 types of submersible pond pumps and each have their own application as well.

Direct Drive Pump1.) Direct Drive Pumps are best used when an application calls for high water volume at high elevations.

  • The impeller (a unit that spins and moves the water inside the pump) are connected directly to the motor itself.
  • This gives a stronger “push” to the water, creating more pressure to reach greater heights.
  • These pumps are filled with oil for lubrication and sometimes require resistance (back pressure) to operate optimally.
    • Imagine sitting in your car with it in neutral and keeping your foot on the accelerator…. without the resistance of the road or drive forward, eventually your motor will blow. This is how the back pressure is important to the direct drive pump.
  • There are direct drive pumps designed for passing solids up to 1 ¼” to reduce clogging and decrease maintenance.

Magnetic Drive Pump2.) Magnetic Drive Pumps use a balanced magnetic field to create the rotation of its impeller.

  • These are more energy efficient than a direct drive pump.
  • It is designed to run continuously without seals that wear out.
  • Having too much back pressure can slow the spin of the impeller resulting in less water flow. Therefore, mag drive pumps are much more useful where elevations are low.
  • They contain ceramic shaft impellers - which are replaceable if they get broken from any passing debris.

Asynchronous Pump3.) Asynchronous Pumps are essentially mag drive pumps, but its impeller spins only in one direction like in a direct drive. This is different than the true magnetic drive pump which changes direction (synchronous) each time the pump is restarted.

  • A-synch pumps are energy efficient - like the mag-drive pumps, but can be as productive as direct drive pumps.
  • These pumps are great for using in low to medium height applications that require a larger water volume.
  • They feature replaceable pump parts that help make pump maintenance easier and less expensive than replacing the entire pump.


Fountain PumpFountain Pumps are submersible pond pumps designed specifically for smaller applications, such as stand-alone yard fountains.

  • These pumps are built physically smaller in the body style but still push enough water to maintain your fountain.
  • They also come with shorter power cords and typically a smaller plug size for easier pump installation.


External (In-line) PumpsExternal (In-line) Pumps are water pumps designed to draw from the water source while being located outside of the pond water.

  • They are installed “in-line” with the plumbing of your pond.
  • Most times they are hard-wired to the electrical source.
  • This type of pond pump is best used in larger water features or commercial projects.

Atlantic's Choosing the Perfect Pump Guide Handout

Whatever your application, choosing the right pump for the job is very important. 

Check out the links below for more information.


Related Blog Post:
"How to Choose the Perfect Pump for the Perfect Waterfall: Choosing the Best Flow to Fit your Design

Related Media:
Atlantic Water Garden's "Choosing the Perfect Pump Guide"