The #1 Wave Maker for Your Aquarium

Published: May 14, 2022

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In nature, fish feel the water moving around them. Swimming against the current helps them build strength. Circulating water keeps your fish active, increases the oxygen in the tank, and avoids the build-up of waste.

Wave makers support living décor such as shells or coral, helping them get the nutrients they need and survive longer. Shells and coral depend on the movement of the water for food.

The size of wave maker you need will depend on your tank. A general rule of thumb is a turnover rate of 20 to 30 times. For example, a 100-gallon tank would call for a wave maker that can turn over 2000 to 3000 GPH (gallons per hour). However, depending on the kinds of fish, plants, and coral in your tank, you might not need that much flow.

Our 2022 reviews are updated to include the best wave makers for a beautiful and dynamic fish tank.

A-ZAnimals Top Picks for a Wave Maker for Your Aquarium

  1. hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker
  2. hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker
    • Very easy to install
    • Comes with different settings for types of waves
    • Mimics the cycles of the ocean
    • Ultra-quiet
    Check Amazon
  3. Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump with Controller for Marine Reef Aquarium
  4. Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump with Controller for Marine Reef Aquarium
    • Eight possible flow rates
    • One-touch feed mode
    • Energy efficient
    • Silent design
    Check Amazon
  5. SICCE Voyager Nano 1000 Stream Pump
  6. SICCE Voyager Nano 1000 Stream Pump
    • Features an ultra-low-energy SICCE stream pump
    • Magnet mounting system
    • Easy to take apart and clean
    • Comes with a self-cleaning impeller
    Check Amazon
  7. hygger 1050GPH 2100GPH Aquarium Wave Maker
  8. hygger 1050GPH 2100GPH Aquarium Wave Maker
    • Features a 360-degree rotating head
    • Quiet and efficient
    • Improve the oxygen level
    • Provides a gentle flow 
    Check Amazon
  9. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
  10. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
    • Compact design
    • Easy to install
    • Natural water motion
    • Low energy consumption 
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

1. Overall Best: hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker

In our review, the overall best wave maker is the hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker for its compact size, powerful wave action, and affordable price. 

Simulate the changeable currents of the ocean and provide a healthy environment for your fish and corals. The design, the flow rate, and the wave pattern are an outstanding match for a nano reef.

You can program the wave maker to use different preset waves in five separate time intervals each day, which mimics the cycles of the ocean. It’s quiet compared to many wavemakers.

The 1600GPH model is made for a smaller tank of three to 25 gallons. The 2600GPH model fits a medium tank between 26 to 55 gallons. This submersible pump mounts with a magnet on glass up to 4.7 inches thick. 

Overall Best
hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker
  • Very easy to install
  • Comes with different settings for types of waves
  • Mimics the cycles of the ocean
  • Ultra-quiet
Check Amazon

2. Best for Variable Flow: Jebao OW Wave Maker With Controller and Magnet Mount

This tiny, silent powerhead is about the size of a golf ball and has eight possible flow rates. Your fish will love the current it creates. 

The wired controller has a one-touch feed mode that slows the pump for a period of ten minutes. It allows you to stop the current for feedings, so you don’t waste or lose food to the currents. 

Available in three power levels for different sized tanks, this little wave maker is energy efficient in both fresh water and marine water.

Best for Variable Flow
Jebao OW Wave Maker Flow Pump with Controller for Marine Reef Aquarium
  • Eight possible flow rates
  • One-touch feed mode
  • Energy efficient
  • Silent design
Check Amazon

3. Best for a Small Footprint: SICCE Voyager Nano 1000 Stream Pump 

Simulate waves in your tank with the ultra-low-energy SICCE stream pump. This small and quiet wave maker has a magnet mounting system and stays where you aim it. You can mount it on any tank with glass up to ¾ of an inch thick.

With a stainless steel shaft, the SICCE is easy to take apart and clean. You cannot program different flow rates like with some more expensive wave makers, but you can change the flow manually using the flow adjuster.

Best for a Small Footprint
SICCE Voyager Nano 1000 Stream Pump
  • Features an ultra-low-energy SICCE stream pump
  • Magnet mounting system
  • Easy to take apart and clean
  • Comes with a self-cleaning impeller
Check Amazon

4. Best Value: hygger Aquarium Wave Maker Pump, Ultra-Quiet 360 Degree Rotating Head

Select the direction of the current through your tank with this ultra-quiet 360-degree rotating head. Strong magnetic brackets pair with suction cups to keep this wave maker attached to your tank.

Quiet and efficient, you can create movement and improve the oxygen level in your freshwater or saltwater tank. This wave maker does not have variable flow rates, but you can swivel the head and direct the flow.

Best Value
hygger 1050GPH 2100GPH Aquarium Wave Maker
  • Features a 360-degree rotating head
  • Quiet and efficient
  • Improve the oxygen level
  • Provides a gentle flow 
Check Amazon

5. Best for Small to Medium Tanks: Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Pump

Get lots of water movement with this compact design. Easy to adjust position and use, this wave maker is quiet, smooth, and easy to install. Unlike other nano wave makers, the flow isn’t in a narrow cone but creates water movement over a much larger area.

Made in Italy, you can set this wavemaker to work in intervals of seconds, minutes, or hours. Install it with a magnet-suction cup and swivel the pump to work in your tank.

Best for Small to Medium Tanks
Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump
  • Compact design
  • Easy to install
  • Natural water motion
  • Low energy consumption 
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

When choosing the best wave maker, there are three factors you will want to consider. Specifically:

  • Does this have the right turnover rate for my tank size?
  • Can I install it in my tank?
  • Does it have the features that matter most to me?

Does This Have the Right Turnover Rate for My Tank Size?

Although you may want a gentler flow in your tank, in general, you want the wave maker to be able to turn over your water 20 to 30 times an hour. So, for a 20-gallon tank, you want about 400 to 600GPH (gallons per hour). Several wave makers come in different speeds and sizes, and you want to make sure and get the right one for your tank. You can also use two in a single tank. So, for a 40-gallon tank, you might use two wave makers that are 400 to 600GPH or a single wave maker at 800 to 1200GPH.

Can I Install It in My Tank?

Many wave makers use a magnet that attaches on either side of the tank’s glass. Some are rated for thicker glass than others, so you want to make sure the magnet is strong enough for your tank. 

Does It Have the Features That Matter Most to Me?

You can get a simple wave maker very affordably, but if you want to program different flow rates, you’ll need to spend more. Features that may matter to you include color, size, and whether it is a single rate of flow or can vary.

The Different Types of Wave Makers: Pros and Cons Compared

There are two basic types of wave makers, variable and constant rate. Here are some pros and cons of each type.

Programmable Variable Rate

PROSCONS
Changes water flow periodically to mimic natural water conditions like rivers and oceansMore expensive
Some have a one-touch pause to allow for calmer water while feeding
Adaptable to your tank’s fish, plants, and coral

Constant Rate With Swivel Head

PROSCONS
Less expensiveLacks variability
Some can be paired with an automatic timer to turn on and off periodically throughout the day
Simple way to add water movement to any tank

Verified Review: User Experience

Users of the hygger Quiet Magnetic Aquarium Wave Maker With Digital Led Display Controller, 1600GPH or 2600GPH like the auto set feature and that they can set it up to mimic nature and then let it do its thing. Reviewers like how it fits inside the tank without taking up a lot of space but still makes a great wave pattern. Users say it is quiet. 

Reviewers say the Jebao OW Wave Maker With Controller and Magnet Mount is effective and quiet. Some say it was noisy at first but quieted down after a while to be totally silent. They like the pulsing flow and say it gets rid of dead spots in the tank. A few mention that it is a great value. One reviewer said it killed his small fish, but other users with small fish had no problem. 

Users of the SICCE Voyager Nano 1000 Stream Pump like how easy it is to set up. Some say it is surprisingly powerful, more than they expected. One user had to use an extra magnet to attach it on glass that is ½ thick. One user says it is not designed to work well near plants (sucks them in) or small fish.

Reviewers are surprised how powerful the hygger Aquarium Wave Maker Pump, Ultra-Quiet 360 Degree Rotating Head is, especially based on its size. One user says they have some Dojo Loaches that love to swim against the current and do backflips. They say the mounting magnet is powerful, and the wave maker is easy to install.

Users say the Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Pump is incredibly inexpensive for its quality. One reviewer who is keeping aggressive Exodon Paradoxus in his tank reports that having the currents to swim against reduced the aggression between the fish. Others report it is quiet, smooth, and easy to install.

About the Author

Joan Weisman is an experienced content strategist and copywriter across various industries, from financial services to personal growth. She loves animals and dotes on her cat and dog.

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