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How to Choose the Right Wavemaker for Your Reef Tank

How to Choose the Right Wavemaker for Your Reef Tank

Often ignored when starting a new fish tank, a wavemaker is one of the essential tools to keeping a successful aquarium. Creating enough current and water flow is important for your corals and fish to thrive. These animals require not just stable parameters but also in required quantities.

There are a few things to put in mind when purchasing a wavemaker, such as efficiency ratings, pattern, and budget.

Keep reading to discover all you need to know about wavemakers; from choosing the right one for your tank to the best suitable types on the market.

What is an Aquarium Wavemaker?

A wavemaker is also called a powerhead, though they are slightly different from each other. A wavemaker works like a water pump. By using a motorized propeller or fan, it recreates the motion of waves in an aquarium.

In comparison, powerheads direct strong concentrated water unidirectionally. They are best used with a wavemaker where each causes turbulence towards the other.

Depending on your setup and desired results, you can use multiple wavemakers together to generate currents or waves around each corner of the aquarium.



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Benefits of using a wavemaker

In addition to creating circulation in the tank, a wavemaker or powerhead is useful in facilitating gas exchange in the water. Basically, it works by enhancing a natural environment for your corals and other invertebrates.

You may be wondering but my filter does a similar function, why then do I need a wavemaker?

That’s right! While your filter might look dependable, its flow tends to be uniform and doesn’t reach all corners of the aquarium.  A wavemaker can help you break this unidirectional movement. Thereby introducing circulation to all areas of the tank.

Wavemakers and powerheads can help create a better aquatic environment. When used right, it prevents the growth of algae and aids the general health of corals and fish.


How to Choose a Wavemaker for Your Saltwater Reef Tank

Most wavemaker manufacturers give a tank size rating and flow rates with their products. Here are a few more factors to consider:

How much water flow do you need?

Certainly, this factor depends on the type of corals you plan to have in your aquarium. Generally, LPS corals require low-medium flow, while SPS corals prefer high flow. You will want to consider other inverts you want to have in the tank.

What is your aquarium size?

Another thing you want to consider is the size of the aquarium. It’s common for larger tanks to demand more wavemakers while smaller tanks require less. A 400-gallon tank, for example, may require 4-5 1000+ GPH (gallons per hour) rated wavemakers to have the desired turnover rate.

Similarly, a smaller tank will only need one wavemaker, say one with 600GPH ratings. In most cases, multiple smaller units are advisable than one larger unit.

What do you use for the substrate?

If what you have for a substrate is fine sand, then consider using a wavemaker with low blowing power. This is intended so the wavemaker doesn’t blow away your substrate. However, if you’ve more demanding SPS corals that need a high flow rate, you may consider using glass instead of fine sand.


Finally, what are the types of wavemakers available

There are 2 options available:

  • AC wavemakers
  • DC wavemakers

AC wavemakers

AC wavemakers are the archaic plug-and-play types. Lacking special features, you’ll even need to manually plug them to power. Although they can be cheap, their operation is usually very loud.

DC wavemakers

These are the modern types of wavemakers with newer technology. They have many advanced features and benefits over the AC wavemakers. In addition to being quiet when working, they are more powerful.

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