11 Benefits Of Having An Aquarium Wavemaker

In this article I will show you 11 benefits of having an aquarium wavemaker in your saltwater tank.

No matter what size aquarium you have, it is crucial to have proper water movement in order for the tank to stay healthy. Fish, corals, rocks, all need water movement to thrive. Without water movement, your corals will not survive.

benefits of having an aquarium wavemaker

There are many other benefits to having water movement in your tank. An aquarium wavemaker, powerhead, or circulation pump will provide natural wave currents in your tank that it needs.

Benefits of an aquarium wavemaker include:

  • Promotes gas exchange
  • Keeps coral tissues healthy
  • Better coral growth and colors
  • Provides corals with foods (phytoplankton, zooplankton)
  • Removes waste from around the corals
  • Removes detritus from the tank
  • Eliminates dead spots in your tank
  • Gives your tank a more natural look
  • Keeps fish active and healthy
  • Aquarium will stay clean and healthy
  • Live rocks will benefit



#1. Promotes gas exchange


Water flow promotes gas exchange, which increases oxygen and decreases carbon dioxide. Fish need oxygen to survive. But they don’t get it from the air like we do, they get it from the water they live in. Water flow will allow them to get the sufficient oxygen they require.

Did you know? Air can contain 33% more oxygen than water! It’s important that we create plenty of current in the water for fish to breathe.  


#2. Keeps coral tissues healthy


Water flow has a positive effect on keeping corals healthy. Coral tissues will benefit from water flow by removing detritus and keeping the tissues clean. Corals love to move with the water flow. Stagnant water that doesn’t move is a recipe for disaster. All corals will appreciate water flow and they will thank you for it.


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#3. Better coral growth and colors


frogspawn coral


According to Nature.com, “Flow has been reported to play an important role in limiting the sensitivity of corals to bleaching under elevated temperature, which likely is due to reduced oxidative stress under high flow”.

Some corals require more water movement than others and it’s important to understand the demands of the corals you plan to keep. For example, most SPS corals will require higher flow than soft corals or LPS. Providing them with the proper water flow they need will allow them to show off their amazing colors.


#4. Provides corals with foods (phytoplankton, zooplankton)


All corals will depend on the flow of water to deliver foods to them. It is easier for the corals to absorb foods like phytoplankton and zooplankton when the tank has plenty of water movement. Without it, corals can struggle to get the necessary foods they require.

#5. Removes waste from around the corals


When water sits stagnant and doesn’t move, waste and detritus can form around corals causing them to suffer. It’s crucial that waste is removed from around coral tissues in order for them to stay healthy, have proper growth and colors.


#6. Removes detritus from the tank



Not only does good water flow remove detritus from your corals, but it also removes it from your tank. How many times have you seen a saltwater tank with dirty sand, rocks, glass bottoms? Normally this happens when there is very little water movement in the tank. Providing plenty of flow will prevent waste from clumping up and sitting still which will directly affect your water quality and overall health of your livestock.

Water flow will keep waste suspended in the water column so it can be removed by your filtration. Also, manual removal is important to ensure waste doesn’t collect in your tank.

If you have a bare bottom tank, you can use water flow to keep the glass looking clean and avoid waste from settling on it.


#7. Eliminates dead spots in your tank


One of the problems people have with saltwater tanks is preventing dead zones in the tank where there is no water movement. With plenty of rock and corals in the tank, it is easy to have areas of the tank that don’t receive much water movement. Proper placement of wavemakers or powerheads is important to ensure there are no dead spots and all areas of your tank have some water movement. Do the best you can to eliminate dead spots by using wavemakers.


#8. Gives your tank a more natural look


I love the look of a reef tank with lots of water movement. It just looks so natural. The wavemakers will give your tank a natural look of waves and water current just like the ocean. It’s a natural environment for your livestock and looks so much better than a glass box with stagnant water in it!

#9. Keeps fish active and healthy


foxface rabbitfish pair


Most fish love to swim in water currents. It’s more enjoyable for them and it will keep them very active in the tank. It’s natural for them to swim in the current, it’s a form of exercise for them and will help keep them healthy.  Some fish like the Clown Tang, require a strong water flow where others do not. So it’s important to adjust your water flow rate for the different types of livestock you are keeping. A huge consideration of choosing livestock for your tank is water movement requirements.

If you notice that your fish is hiding and staying in certain areas of the tank, it could be due to the amount of current in your tank. But for the most part, having wavemakers to provide regular current patterns in the tank is beneficial for your fish.

#10. Aquarium will stay clean and healthy


Having a wavemaker in your tank will also help with keeping it clean and healthy. From keeping algae off your glass and equipment to removing waste from your sand, rocks, and corals, an aquarium wavemaker is an important piece of equipment all saltwater tanks need to keep it looking clean and help sustain an overall healthy environment.


#11. Live rocks will benefit


Any saltwater tank that contains live rock requires a certain amount of water movement. The porous surface of live rock contains millions of populating bacteria responsible for breaking down ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Keeping your aquarium properly cycled.

Water movement brings dissolved pollutants to the rock so the bacteria can do their job.

Live rock is also a saltwater tanks main source of life and filtration. The rock will be more efficient when there is plenty of water flow in the tank.


Do you need a wavemaker in saltwater tanks?


All saltwater tanks require water movement to stay healthy. I have seen many smaller saltwater tanks without a wavemaker, but larger tanks will defiantly need them. Smaller tanks can get away with using the flow from return pumps and filters to create water flow.

It also depends on the types of livestock you are keeping. As mentioned earlier, certain fish and corals require more water movement than others.

But generally speaking, you should plan to have a wavemaker, powerhead, or circulation pump in your saltwater tank.


Should I leave my wavemaker on all the time?


Yes considering how important water movement is to have in your tank, you can run your wavemakers 24/7. Some people like to turn them down at night and most wavemakers have different settings and timers to adjust the flow rate at certain times. But you should not turn them off completely. I always run my wavemakers 24/7 and leave them on all the time.


What size wavemaker do I need?



There are a few considerations when deciding on the size of the wavemaker for your tank. This includes tank size, livestock, turnover rate. You should plan to have a turnover rate of 20-30X the water volume of your system.

For example, if your tank has 100 gallons of water volume, you should aim to have a 2000-3000 GPH wavemaker which will give you the turnover rate you desire. You may need to increase this if you are keeping SPS corals or certain fish that need higher water flow.


Wavemaker vs Powerhead – What’s the difference?


Choosing a wavemaker or powerhead for your tank is something that you should decide on based on your tanks needs. A wavemaker is generally more desired as it will move a larger body of water at variable rates creating a wave motion. It can move a whole body of water back and forth.

A powerhead will move a much smaller body of water or part of the water. Powerheads are much smaller and are basically a propeller inside of a cage that pushes water. They are great as they provide essential water movement in your tank.

But if you want to provide better water movement that reaches all areas of the tank easier, a wavemaker is a better choice.




As you can see, there are many benefits to having a wavemaker in your saltwater tank. All sizes of tanks will benefit. getting the proper flow rate for your tank is important and keep in mind that not all corals or fish require the same flow. But now that you know how important it is to have a wavemaker, you can choose the one that suits your tank the best!