Aquarium Water Circulation

Water circulation throughout your aquarium is very important. The stagnant water currents and little water movement inside of an aquarium can cause all kinds of problems such as poor water conditions and excess waste buildup.

Many aquariums have a single intake and a single return point for the main filtration system. A single point of water flow within an aquarium will probably not efficiently circulate water throughout the aquarium. The trick is to have several points of water flow within your aquarium to keep circulation through all areas of the aquarium optimal.

Negative Effects of Poor Water Circulation

What are the negative effects of poor water circulation in an aquarium? If the water is not moving well inside the tank, the following can happen:

  • Debris and waste settles into the rocks more easily. Good water circulation will lift waste out of the rocks and allow it to be pulled through the filters in the aquarium.
  • Dead spots can occur where nuisance algae begins to grow more easily and waste build up.
  • Poor water quality and high levels of toxins can occur if waste is allowed to build up. This is not a good thing for fish.
  • Fish may not be as active withing your aquarium if the water movement is dead. Moving water promotes the fish swimming due to the currents and forces within the aquarium.
  • Heat is not evenly distributed. Poor water circulation will not allow the heater within your aquarium to have an optimal effect on all areas of the aquarium. Temperatures may fluctuate from area to area inside the aquarium.

As you can see, there are at least a few negative effects. What can be done to prevent poor water circulation within an aquarium?

Adding Powerheads

In addition to the main water return from your filter you could implement an extra powerhead or two to help move water around within your aquarium. Powerheads typically can run independent from your main filtration system and simply will just add current to your aquarium.

In smaller aquariums, 1 powerhead in addition to the main water return might provide enough extra circulation. In larger aquariums, you may need to add 2-4 powerheads to keep water moving, depending on how large your aquarium is.

Splitting Up Water Outflow Points

If you have a single cannister filter, for example, you probably have one intake and one outflow point in your aquarium. Instead of adding powerheads, you could possible split up the outflow points.

Use plumbing parts such as splitters and extra tubing to create more than one outflow from your filter. The multiple water return points in your aquarium will allow for better overall water circulation than just one water return.