Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Pump Energy Use

Related Articles: Pump Specification Chart (by maker/URL, power use, flow, head, fitting size), by James Gasta, Wavemaker Pump Specification Chart (by maker/URL, power use, flow), by James Gasta, External Water Pump Impressions: Move Some Serious Water By Steven Pro,  Submersible Pump Selection, Efficiency and Price Assessments by Steven Pro, Circulation, Aeration, Inexpensive Wavemaker Impressions, by Steven Pro, Water Flow, How Much is Enough, Marine System ComponentsRefugiums, Central FiltrationFlow-through Live-holding Systems, Refugiums, Business Set-Up

Related FAQs: Electricity 1, Electricity 2, Electricity 3, Energy Consumption/Conservation, Electrical Consumption Measure, Electricity Back-up/Generation, Lighting Costs, Pump Energy Use, Heating/Chilling Costs, Shorts/Shocks, Dangers! Grounding Probes, Power Outages, GFCIs and Marine AquariumsSurge Devices, Grounding Probes, & Pump Selection 1, Pump Selection 2, Pump Selection 3, Pump Selection 4, Pump Selection 5, Circulation Pumps, Marine Circulation 1, Marine Circulation 2, Marine Circulation 3, AerationPumps, Powerheads, Installation/Arrangement, PlumbingMake Up Water Systems, Sumps RefugiumsSurge Devices, FAQs on Pump Selection by Brand/Manufacturer:  Eheim Pumps, Dolphin, Hydor/Koralia Pumps, Mag (Supreme) Pumps, OceanRunner, Quiet One (Pentair) Pumps, RK2 Pumps, Sequence (Dart), Tunze, Vortech, Rio Pumps


tank restructure. Saving (mostly electrical) cost on SW sys. op.    9/8/10
Hi there
<Howdy Ian>
I have at present a 2700 litre marine reef set up. My display tank is 2700mm x 1200mm x 800mm in size. Due to huge costs for electricity (which has gone up by 100% over the last five years and set to double again over the next three)
<Too likely so>
as well as chemicals, equipment and ongoing replacement of fish etc I am seriously thinking of either changing to, a) fresh water system same size or b) a same size marine fish only system. I need to drastically reduce my costs if I am to remain in the hobby and can only do this if I reduce the pump and lighting load. The other option is simply to close down completely.
I have also looked at downsizing but this would not suit me in terms of the visual aspect inside the house. I could I suppose retreat to the garage and keep something going there. All quite sad but I have to do something and I was wondering whether you would be able to in a nutshell tell me which set up would be the most cost effective way to go?
<Have seen a friend's talk (James Fatherree) on reducing costs of operation/maintenance of marine systems recently... Metal halide lighting is out, and the cost of LEDs too high to switch out presently. I'd look into T 5 fluorescents... and what they'll accommodate at depth... moving higher intensity light-need invertebrates higher up in the water column.
Pumps should be checked for "draw" electricity-wise (not just their rating) and replaced with either high efficiency (lower pressure, moderate pressure), like the Sequence line, and/or internal "prop" type pumps... see WWM re Vortech. These are the major sources, but there are other savings to be realized by reading about such on WWM, the Net in general. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for your help.

Higher Electric Bill--Need a More Efficient Pump -- 02/01/10
Hello all,
<<Greetings Shannon>>
I have a dilemma I'm hoping you can help me with.
<<I shall try>>
I'm just starting up my very first saltwater tank and I think I need a new system pump. Since the pump--a Little Giant 4MDQX-SC, has been running, I have noticed a significant increase in my electric bill over the past month, and since I haven't done anything different I'm sure it's got to be the pump.
<<Mmm, well'¦I don't know what your definition of 'significant increase' is'¦but if the recent cold-snap isn't to blame, then likely so>>
This has got me thinking I definitely need something more energy efficient!
<<You will likely need to 'downsize' a bit, and maybe even go with a 'submersible' pump, to realize any 'significant savings''¦especially once you factor in 'the cost of a replacement pump'>>
Here's how everything is set up: This is a sump return pump with 1" inlet/outlets, and teed off of it are the protein skimmer, refugium, and ozone reactor, which is not running yet.
<<You will find it much easier to keep the skimmer 'tuned' if provided with its own dedicated pump>>
I have been looking at the Reeflo Super Dart Gold, which seems more energy efficient than what I have.
<<Hmm'¦this pump actually consumes 20 watts 'more' than the pump you have now'¦and produces nearly twice the flow. It's true it is more efficient re watts per gallon of flow rate'¦but overall electrical consumption will be more than what you are experiencing now. I don't think this is the direction you want to take>>
What do you suggest?
<<It's hard to make a suggestion without knowing more about your system and the details (flow requirements) of its components. But if you can get by with a bit less flow, say something in the 900gph range, and can utilize a submersible pump, then switching to an Eheim 1262 will give you almost a 50% savings in electricity over the Little Giant pump you have now'¦and it will be quieter, more reliable, and likely last much longer to boot. Otherwise'¦unless noise is a problem'¦you are probably better off from an economic standpoint to stick with the pump you have already paid for>>
As always, I will be most grateful for all the help you guys have given. Please help!
Thanks in advance,
Old Bridge, NJ
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR in Columbia, SC>>

Re: Higher Electric Bill--Need a More Efficient Pump -- 02/03/10
Hi Eric,
<<Hello Shannon>>
Thanks so much for the reply--you've given me some things to think about.
<<Ah good'¦you're quite welcome>>
Here's some more specifics on my system--total combined water volume of my system which includes the tank, sump, and refugium, is 191 gallons. The Little Giant pump has its own system manifold that controls the connected components via their own ball valves--one goes to the refugium, one to the skimmer, one to the ozone reactor, and the final one to the return bulkhead under the tank. So I'm able to regulate flow this way.
<<Mmm, I see'¦ I think you will find, especially over time as a bio-film builds within the plumbing, that regulating/balancing flow in this manner will require a lot of 'fiddling' with those valves>>
I don't have the skimmer running yet, but I know it requires a gph of 225, and the ozone reactor, which also is not running yet, requires between 100-300 gph. The way my sump is designed I can't fit a submersible pump,
so I'd have to use an external one. Would the Eheim 1262 work as an external pump in this situation?
<<The Eheim can be plumbed for external use, yes>>
Right now the system manifold is connected to the Little Giant with a 1" FPT PVC fitting. Can the Eheim accommodate this?
<<I believe the input is 1' and the output is 5/8''¦but it is a simple matter to use an adapter fitting>>
What you've said got me interested--since the Little Giant has been running I've noticed a $100.00 increase in the electric bill!
<<Wow, that seems excessive to me'¦I don't think my 'entire' reef system consumes that much electricity in a month>>
It has been very cold and we've had the heat cranked here, but as we use gas heat I don't think this could be the reason.
<<Mmm, don't discount the energy required to run the furnace/blower'¦but still'¦>>
Let me know if the Eheim or any other pump would work
<<If you can get by with the lower flow rate of the Eheim it will certainly 'run' cheaper than the Little Giant pump you have now'¦and probably a lot quieter to boot>>
--if you need more info please let me know.
Thanks again,
Old Bridge, NJ
<<Considering the design of your system, this is probably about the most you can do. Although, if it were possible to arrange the refugium; and maybe that skimmer too, to receive raw tank water directly from the display, you could do away with a couple of those valves, increasing the efficiency of the pump and eliminating the tedium of trying to keep 'all' balanced/regulated with that valve manifold. Cheers'¦ Eric Russell>>

R2: Higher Electric Bill--Need a More Efficient Pump -- 02/04/10
Thank you Eric! I feel like there's hope yet!
Thanks again,
<<You are welcome my friend... EricR>>

A question on pump options. 12/30/09
Hello WWM crew!
I am trying to reduce tank/ drain noise as much as possible and have succeeded using two options. The first is to use an Eheim 1250 for my return.
<Good pumps>
The second is to use an Eheim 1260 dialed down using a ball valve to roughly the same level the 1250 puts out (a little less than 3/4 closed).
I own both pumps already so there will be no additional cost to me.
<For purchase... but operation... Better to... Oh!>
I do know that when experimenting with my Kill-A-Watt (my new Christmas toy), the dialed down 1260 draws almost the same wattage as the 1250.
With that being said, which is actually the better option in terms of pump longevity and heat? I am unsure if the 1250 would work harder to keep up with the head loss/ pressure, creating more heat than the dialed down 1260 makes. I understand dialing down pumps is the norm, but most likely not as much I have done with my 1260.
<Better to have "just enough" pump/ing and not dial down anything. I'd be running either just the 1260 or looking for another pump>
Thanks for all of your help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Large System Re-evaluation -- 10/19/2009
Hi Guys
<Hey Ian! JustinN here!>
For the last 5 yrs I (and my visitors) have been enjoying my tank.
I have a total 2500l setup (main tank: 2500mmx1200mmx800mm) and trying to house a full reef system. I say trying because I have had various successes with corals, soft and hard. The costs to run this size setup are quite high with food, water, replacing lights, fish and corals etc.
<Absolutely understood -- that's quite the volume of water!>
The government in South Africa however are proving to be my biggest challenge! In many different ways but now I have a serious problem. The cost of electricity has already increased over the last year by 35% and is set to increase a further +-40% per year for the next three years!!!!! This is needed to pay for a couple of power stations which no one seems to know when will be on line. It's the usual story about mismanagement of a national resource but of course it's nobody's fault.
<Ahh yes.>
The electricity cost to run this setup I have is about 60% of my total monthly electricity bill so it is becoming quite an issue. It is already more than the acceptable minimum wage!
Rather than shut down the whole system I am looking to restructure the tank in such a way that these costs can be dramatically reduced and somehow still keep the visual appeal.
<Understood -- lets see what we can do.>
* Do I just go much smaller? Problem is I have this huge purpose built void in the wall to fill so will look a little silly. However I imagine a 700l tank would be manageable in terms of costs.
<I wouldn't -- if power is your main concern, see the next commentary.>
* To maintain the size I imagine I have to remove all the live rock, all the corals so that I can cut right back on the amount of light. At present I have 8x T5 39watt tubes as well as 4x 25watt MHalides which I have just changed down from 400watt MHalides. I imagine and hope fish only do not require anything special? The moment the light is for the Aquarium trade it seems to be 3x the price!!
<Just in Metal Halides, we're already looking at 1600 watts of power draw -- this doesn't include the 312 Watts of T5 lighting. If you are no longer planning on keeping the corals, just remove the Halides from the system...
Even if you kept all the T5's active, you'd still be looking at 1600 watts less draw per hour running. Fish only tanks do not require any kind of special lighting -- the light is purely for aesthetics in these configurations. The same goes for live rock -- you might not get some of the stellar growths off your live rock like you can with full reef lighting, but this does not affect the efficiency/function of the live rock, only the colorful aesthetics.>
* The main electricity thieves are the pumps. How much do I need? At the moment I have 1x .75KW running 24hrs as a main pump for circulation, 1x .75KW running 16hrs a day as the extra wave/turbulence as well as a .45KW running 24hrs on the skimming. Various smaller pumps running all the other bits and pieces.
<This is largely subjective -- you won't need as vigorous of a flow in a fish only tank, but this is all your personal tastes... I wouldn't personally drop the skimmer, but perhaps the wave generation can be dropped?>
* Or do I look at keeping fresh water and try doing something completely different?
<You could -- if you chose to go with a planted tank in this situation, you'd be still looking at a lot of the same costs at the end of the day though.>
Please advise on how best to cut out all these crazy costs and yet still allow me to participate in this wonderful hobby.
<Well Ian, based on your commentary, my thought is for you to move to a fish only tank -- you can easily reduce the overall flow, and definitely reduce the lighting -- the lighting here only needs to be enough to complete your aesthetics, so you can see your livestock and enjoy it. Good luck! -JustinN>

Re: Large System Re-evaluation -- 10/19/2009
Hi Justin
<Hey again!>
Thanks for the advice.
<Glad to provide it>
I have been thinking along those lines, fish only, but wanted to get another opinion. The lighting I understand. What do you recommend regarding the water flow? As you said I could drop the wave generator pump, what could I do about the other pump which at present is pushing out about 20 000 LPH. However the actual volume returned to the tank is less, perhaps half that?
<Hmm... Now I'm a bit confused -- are you performing a balancing act, per se, between the tanks? Pushing water from the display to the sump with one pump, and returning it with a separate pump? I apologize if I'm densely misreading this, but if this is the situation -- this is a configuration destined for problems... There should be an overflow of some sort to accommodate the drainage from the tank, simply by using the reliable powers of gravity, and this outflow is then returned via the sump pump. If you're doing the balancing act here, removing and replacing both mechanically, that alone could be a great savings in power. Unfortunately, as big of a volume as you've got here, I'm not sure there's many solutions for circulation outside of using larger pumps -- traditional powerheads are clearly going to be fruitless, and even the newer propeller-drive style powerheads, like Hydor Koralia's, would likely be relatively weak with this size. There's always the option of slowing down the output from the tank to the sump, and likewise the return to the tank, but I'd say you're in about the optimal range if you're moving 20,000GPH.>
What return volume would you say I need to keep
the tank healthy? Would I have to get rid of my anemones, the clowns will be heartbroken!!!
<They'll find something else to 'host' -- they always do. My black and white Ocellaris has been having a long-term affair with my in-tank Tunze nano skimmer -- just don't tell his day-girl, the frilly mushroom! ;)>
My system also has a 200L refugium, another 100L tank filled with fine sand and of course the sump at 300L.
<Excellent -- hopefully my previous fear here is unfounded...>
How important is the control of Temperature in a fish only? Would they panic if the fluctuation was say between 24-29 deg C? Because then I can cut out my chiller.
<That's a pretty hefty shift in temperature daily -- if you can maintain this to a 1-2 degree max shift, you should be ok... stable is always better though.>
Thanks for your time, much appreciated.
<Glad to provide it! -JustinN>

Float switch I am trying to locate a float valve that turns the power on and off to your pump.  Do you have any of these or know where I might find one? Thank you for your time. <We don't have them but our sponsors do! There are a couple different models/manufacturers. They start at around $59 up to $150 or so. They use either physical floats or electronic/light sensors.  Enjoy!  Craig>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: