Mastering Freshwater Aquarium Ecosystems
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Aquarium Equipment

Power Head Pumps

Catalina Aquarium Pump

Catalina Aquarium's 4000 Aqua Pump / Powerhead can be used as a power head, sump pump, or create additional current. Catalina pumps can also be used to inject CO2 into the water.

Power heads have four common functions in the aquarium systems, to power under gravel filtration, power a particulate filter, create current, and sump pump. Power heads come in many sizes and you should make sure that you use the correct size for the application. Power heads are also sometimes used the create more current in the aquarium. Power heads may not be a good choice for aquariums that house calm water loving fish like gouramis and angelfish, or floating plants.

Some aquarium manufacturers make pre-filters for particulate filtration that can be connected to the intake of the power head. The intake should never be left uncapped as it can suck in fish.


Aquarium heaters are available in many styles:

  • In-line
  • Submersible
  • Hang on the rim
  • Titanium
Fluval E 50 Watt Advanced Electronic Heater

Hagen's Fluval "E" Advanced Electronic Heater is a favorite of the authors. Photo from Hagen.

The most popular heaters are submersible and titanium. When selecting a heater you will want it to be between two and five watts per gallon (4 l). You will need to consider how warm you keep your home in winter. If you keep your home very cool, you may need closer to five watts per gallon. Having more than one heater in a large aquarium of lower wattage is a smart safety feature to incorporate in the system design. Aquarium heaters have been known to fail on, resulting in extremely high temperatures that have killed fish. Having two smaller heaters can help prevent a stuck on heater from overheating the aquarium.

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