Best return pumps in the industry: Who gets your vote?

Ecotech Marine

Best Return Pump in the Industry

  • Abyzz

  • Blueline

  • Danner Mag Drive

  • Dolphin / Poseidon

  • Ecotech Vectra

  • Eheim

  • Fluval

  • Iwaki

  • Jebao / Jecod

  • Neptune

  • Pan World

  • Red Dragon

  • Reeflo

  • Reef Octopus VarioS

  • Sicce

  • Simplicity

  • Skimz

  • Waterblaster

  • Waveline

  • Other


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Bruce Burnett

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I bought a sicce for the 5 year warranty, love how quiet it is and the control panel for it is really slick design.
One of the reasons I purchased as so many of the pump failures seem to be close to or right after the warranty expired. I figured 5 years if it fails after that who knows. I have ready where a number of people say they have not cleaned their pump in over a year and still rumming fine not to many DC pumps can say that. Actually not dc pumps they are dc controlled and then vary ac frequency to pump to change speed
 

zalick

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Iwaki, eheim, mag drive will all last 15-20 years.
For pure reliability, you can’t beat this list. I have pretty much every mag version, an eheim 1262 and an iwaki. All have many years of continuous use. Iwaki is my favorite.
 

PhreeByrd

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Basically, all of the pumps mentioned or listed are almost identical in design - potted armatures, loose rotors (impellers), and a volute. Almost the only thing that will cause one of these potted, submersible pumps to truly fail is compromise of the housing due to poor quality manufacturing, poor quality materials, or physical damage.
External, inline pumps are a somewhat different matter, though.
 

shred5

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Basically, all of the pumps mentioned or listed are almost identical in design - potted armatures, loose rotors (impellers), and a volute. Almost the only thing that will cause one of these potted, submersible pumps to truly fail is compromise of the housing due to poor quality manufacturing, poor quality materials, or physical damage.
External, inline pumps are a somewhat different matter, though.


Well that is what people do not get is with A/C pumps there is not much to fail.
D/C pumps are more unreliable because they throw in controllers and power supplies. Controller is a extra part to fail and most use cheap Chinese power supplies.
That is a downside to the D/C pumps but the plus side is you get controllability. I have never had a issue with VarioS pumps yet. I have some originals I still run. That said I would never think they would make 20 + years like my Tunze pumps.


With most A/C pumps the magnet can wear out. I have Maxi jets, Tunze and Sicce pumps that are 20+ years old.
Some external A/C pumps need to be maintained or lubricated in order to last for a long time.

Honestly other than impeller issues I think I have only had three A/C pumps that actually failed. I have been doing reefs almost 35 years and saltwater longer. I have been keeping fish since I was like 9 or something and I am 55 so a long time. One was a Mag drive and it just blew. I was lucky I was home. I was siting there and the lights dimmed and I heard this noise coming out of my fish room. There was smoke just billowing out of my sump. This Mag drive had dumped all this black sludge in my water. Another was I forget what brand but they did not seal it well with epoxy well and this thing dumped so much rust in my water. Another was a little giant external pump, I do not remember what happened there.
 
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iggy

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I definately agree with Shred5. There is so much reef junk being sold these days. I had a L1 Vectra DC fail in one year and Sicce AC pro on ten years with no issues at all. The poll results above is just absurb thinking Ecotech makes the best sump pumps. The have the glossiest ads in Coral magazine. Most hobbyists stay one or two years and leave so may not know better.

I have retired danner mag 12 pumps 20+ years old that are now just utlity pumps that change water and still going on light duty. I would still say even with AC pumps you should have a spare on hand. The difference in AC pumps is often how loose the rotor is. I run them slightly dirty with silicone tubing to hard piping and they are quiet.

The better question is "Does ANYONE have a DC runing more than 5 years / 10 years? "
 
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Bruce Burnett

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Well that is what people do not get is with A/C pumps there is not much to fail.
D/C pumps are more unreliable because they throw in controllers and power supplies. Controller is a extra part to fail and most use cheap Chinese power supplies.
That is a downside to the D/C pumps but the plus side is you get controllability. I have never had a issue with VarioS pumps yet. I have some originals I still run. That said I would never think they would make 20 + years like my Tunze pumps.


With most A/C pumps the magnet can wear out. I have Maxi jets, Tunze and Sicce pumps that are 20+ years old.
Some external A/C pumps need to be maintained or lubricated in order to last for a long time.

Honestly other than impeller issues I think I have only had three A/C pumps that actually failed. I have been doing reefs almost 35 years and saltwater longer. I have been keeping fish since I was like 9 or something and I am 55 so a long time. One was a Mag drive and it just blew. I was lucky I was home. I was siting there and the lights dimmed and I heard this noise coming out of my fish room. There was smoke just billowing out of my sump. This Mag drive had dumped all this black sludge in my water. Another was I forget what brand but they did not seal it well with epoxy well and this thing dumped so much rust in my water. Another was a little giant external pump, I do not remember what happened there.
Yes cheap power supplies, they are what failed on every Jebao I had. Pumps would stop running if they got a little dirty. After having two Jebao pumps as returns freeze up, I went to using an old mag drive for return. Everything about the Sicce sdc pumps look like quality and the power supplies are rated for higher power draw than the pumps can draw that way less heat longer life.
 

shred5

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Yes cheap power supplies, they are what failed on every Jebao I had. Pumps would stop running if they got a little dirty. After having two Jebao pumps as returns freeze up, I went to using an old mag drive for return. Everything about the Sicce sdc pumps look like quality and the power supplies are rated for higher power draw than the pumps can draw that way less heat longer life.

Yea I have some Ecotech MP40's and they are really old. Based on the same tech as their return pumps.
Everyone of the power supplies has failed more than once not the pump though. So anyone who has had a Vectra fail check the DC power supply. They are very cheap to replace as long as you do not buy one from them.

I bet if I opened them up probably dried capacitors. They fail eventually no matter what. Capacitors only last so long.
 

alton

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Glad to see the thread still going on.
Mag pumps. Got my first one with my Urchin Pro skimmer, last along time but with age they draw more power and heat the water
On return pumps I started with Little Giant - Too noisy
Moved to Pan World, to me they where quieter than Iwaki and a better paint job on the case
A few years ago I bought a Vectra M1. After almost a year it started a whining sound. I sent it in and received a new pump that pumped 50% more water than the original and has been flawless for several years. If it does go out I still have my old Pan World as a back up.
On my 64 gallon Planet Tank it came with a Sicce but after a week I traded my LFS for a Rio because the Sicce was too noisy. I guess I got a bad one?
 

iggy

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This is a bit off topic going to power supplies for pumps.

I picked up used commercial grade power supplies from one vendor off ebay and have spares. They come out of water treatment plants after 5 years and are good for 10-15 years. I don't recommend it for everyone as you have to sort of know electronics but they are cheap and dependable, well vented etc. They have some surge protection fetures too. Original cost for each are 500-700 sold to industry so they should be bullet proof.

I will DIN rail mount more 24V spares since I have spaces on hand. These units have a closed loop relay that the breakout box can monitor as well! DC Ok light can be seen from webcam as well. They could void warranties if you tell on yourself but my experience is the opposite. They last forever.

I am retiring old radions in a few months and will likely retire the used 36v power supplies too. 5 years with no issues and used too! I use AC sump pumps as they never break either. Basement stay cool so does not matter much. DC pumps have power supplies and controllers. The ricks of failure on vacation are multiplied.

20210605_074213.jpg
 
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Bruce Burnett

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This is a bit off topic going to power supplies for pumps.

I picked up used commercial grade power supplies from one vendor off ebay and have spares. They come out of water treatment plants after 5 years and are good for 10-15 years. I don't recommend it for everyone as you have to sort of know electronics but they are cheap and dependable, well vented etc. They have some surge protection fetures too. Original cost for each are 500-700 sold to industry so they should be bullet proof.

I will DIN rail mount more 24V spares since I have spaces on hand. These units have a closed loop relay that the breakout box can monitor as well! DC Ok light can be seen from webcam as well. They could void warranties if you tell on yourself but my experience is the opposite. They last forever.

I am retiring old radions in a few months and will likely retire the used 36v power supplies too. 5 years with no issues and used too! I use AC sump pumps as they never break either. Basement stay cool so does not matter much. DC pumps have power supplies and controllers. The ricks of failure on vacation are multiplied.

20210605_074213.jpg
Yes I looked at them then just bought a regular power brick rated for twice the Jebao pump and it bare got warm. It had the same connector. Did the same for the jebao wave pumps. But they were as much as the pumps, heat kills the cheap power transformers
 

Sleepydoc

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Well that is what people do not get is with A/C pumps there is not much to fail.
D/C pumps are more unreliable because they throw in controllers and power supplies. Controller is a extra part to fail and most use cheap Chinese power supplies.
This. To the average person, the supplies all look the same - it’s just a box with some buttons and lights, but there can be a big difference in circuit design, component quality and heat dissipation, all of which can lead to premature failure.

LIke you said, though, DC pumps have the big advantage of controllability. I have a COR20 that I set to 6% when in feed mode. Just enough to keep a trickle of water flowing so it doesn’t drain back into the sump. Much less splashing on startup and less disruptive to the tank. You can’t really do that with an AC pump.

Pretty comical that the two most reliable manufacturers (Iwaki and Eheim) on this poll - combined - have lower results than Ecotech when they'll last 20+ years longer.

Polls such as this are not worth much anyway - many newer pumps haven’t been around long enough to have the same history that Iwaki and Eheim have. Beyond that, you get a non-random sample that is weighted towards the more commonly sold pumps.

What you want to know is failure rate and mean time between failures for a given pump, but to do that you would either need to do a random sample of owners or get data from the manufacturers or retailers to find out return rates. The manufacturers are never going to release their data. The retailers likely wouldn’t either because it would damage their relationship with their suppliers. Retailer data would also only show the early failures, anyway.

My LFS actually started out as an aquarium maintenance company. They sell pumps that they put in systems that they set up for clients and one of their criteria is reliability, since a failed pump means an extra headache for them. FWIW, they use a lot of Varios pumps and stay away from ecotechs.
 

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