Placing a Pond Pump: Sun, Shade, Bottom, or Top?

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Keeping a pump in your pond can be extremely helpful to the health of your pond’s ecosystem. However, many people don’t know the optimal placement for their pond pump.

Most pond pumps are submersible, meaning that they are meant to be placed under water. The best place to put them is on the bottom of the pond as far away from the filter or waterfall as possible. This maximizes the flow of water through the pond, making it more habitable.

But what if you don’t have a submersible pump? And is there anything else that you should take into account when it comes to pump placement?

Kinds Of Pond Pump

There are a lot of different kinds of pond pump, but they all fall into two distinct categories: External and Submersible.

External pumps are placed outside or directly on the surface of the pond. They are significantly less common than submersible pumps, since they tend to overheat a lot easier and can be a little bit less reliable.

External pumps are easy to clean and to hook up with other important pieces of garden equipment. However, because they sit out of the water, they tend to be fairly loud. There are all sorts of ways to mitigate this noise, but it still can be a problem.

Submersible pumps are meant to be placed under the water. Because they are always underwater they overheat very rarely. This is especially useful since a pond pump needs to run 24/7.

Submersible pumps can easily be hidden or placed inside of filtration systems, which adds to their appeal.

These pumps can come in all sorts of different varieties. Notably, both can be purchased in eco-friendly solar versions, and some pumps are designed specifically for fountains, statuary, or waterfalls. Some submersible pumps also come with filters to make them a little bit easier to clean.

Most pumps work in largely the same way. An impeller spins incredibly quickly, pulling water in and pushing it through a plumbing system. An impeller is kind of like the opposite of a propeller. You can think of this part of the pump as a kind of underwater fan.

The water is expelled out the other side of the pump, wherever that is. This allows your pond to recycle the same water without it getting dirty, especially when combined with a water feature like a fountain or a waterfall.

Where Does It Go?

In order for the pump to be useful, it needs to be far away from its output end. If it isn’t, it’ll suck up the same little section of pond water that it just spat out over and over again ad infinitum, which will provide little or no benefit to your pond.

In order to get the most possible utility from your pump, you should place the intake on the opposite side of the pond from the output. But how deep under water should the pump be?

This will depend on the type of pump you have. An external pump will need to be placed on the surface of the water. If you have control, you should make sure that the output is under-water in order to have the optimal flow. Even an external pump needs to be placed opposite to its output.

A submersible might be a little bit more complicated. By the numbers, the best place to put your pump is usually as deep into the pond as you can without making it impossible to take out for maintenence.

However, when there’s a failure somewhere in your pond system, your pump will quickly drain the entire pond if it’s on the floor of the pond. This is one easy way to accidentally kill all of your fish.

Instead, it’s sometimes a good idea to put the pump about a foot above the bottom of the pond. This will give your fish a little bit of time while you try and figure out how to fix the problem.

Pond Skimmers?

There is a camp of people who believe that the pond pump should always be placed inside of a pond skimmer. This allows the skimmer to do the work of filtration for the pump, which can help prevent the pump from clogging up with leaves or some other obstruction.

The problem with this is that pond skimmers need to be placed on the surface of the water, which negates a lot of the hydraulic benefits of having a submersible pump.

Instead, I would reccomend building a little mesh cage for your pump to live in to help filter big objects that could stick to the in-built filtration system.

This allows you to keep the pump as deep under water as you are comfortable with while also protecting your pump from potential clogging hazards or curious fish.

Shade Or Sun

A wise man once said, “The sun is a deadly laser.” He was correct. Sunlight can have the same destructive effect on plastic that it can have on your skin. If you have a choice, you should put your pump in the shade to increase its lifespan.

However, this really isn’t that big of a deal. Most pumps won’t melt in the sunlight or anything, and if they do then you probably would have needed to replace them anyways. It’s far more important for your pod to have an adequate amount of water flowing through it, so if the best spot for your intake is in the sun, just leave it out in the sun.

The only exception to this is if you have a solar powered pump. Solar pumps take their energy from the sun like some kind of photosynthesizing nerds. If you put those things in the shade, they won’t work. That means you’ll need to place them somewhere the sun will be able to get to them.

Some ponds may be cloudy because of natural algae. If they are, you should place your solar pump a little closer to the surface than you normally would so that it isn’t starving for electricity.

Pump Maintanence

Pond pumps need to be cleaned about once a week, no matter what kind you have. If your pump is submersible, this can be something of a pain especially if your pond is deeper than your arm is long.

The easiest way to clean a pond pump is to simply take it out of the water and wipe all of the gunk off of the intake. It’s important to remember, though, that in the pursuit of getting your pump out of the pond you should never pull the pump out by its piping, even if this looks like it would be easy to do.

Instead, it’s a good idea to tie a string or a rope around the pump if it looks like it’ll be difficult to reach by hand . You can then use the string to safely hoist the pump from the bottom of the pond.

Adding An Extra Pump

If you’re feeling really crazy, you can try adding an extra pump into your pond. Most ponds won’t need two pumps, but there are a few benefits to be had if you’re finding that the one pump isn’t cutting it.

For one thing, you can keep a pump running even if one of them needs to be cleaned. For another, it gives a little bit of flexibility in terms of adding a little bit of extra pumping power on rainy days.

If you want to add an extra pump, there are two set ups you could do to provide a solid flow.

1: You could place the new pump adjacent to but not lower than the original. The two pumps together will cycle through a lot more water than the first one could on its own. This setup is good in situations where you want to use the second pump as a kind of occasional use device, since it won’t really change the way that water flows through the pond.

2: You could place the two pumps equidistant from their shared output. This allows both pumps to operate at their full capacity at the same time, but could cause problems should one of the pumps need to be turned off.

The change in current may also have an effect on fish or plants in your pond, which should certainly play into your decision.

Why Do You Need A Pump?

Pumps perform a couple of important functions. If you have fish, the pump can take the excrement from the whisk it away to somewhere it won’t bother them. This helps to keep your fish healthy.

It also discourages agae blooms, since algae are much more likely to grow in places where the water is still than where the water is constantly moving.

If you are insistent on keeping a pond without a pump, you can mitigate a lot of the problems that can cause by keeping a good balance of fish and plants. Plants will add oxygen in the water, clean out pollutants, and prevent algae growth in a fairly natural way.

However, especially if your pond is situated in a place where it gets a lot of sun, you may want a pump otherwise. If the pond is in direct sunlight, it takes a lot of effort to prevent algae from growing in it and a pump can go a long way towards keeping the pond clean.

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We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

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