How To Improve Water Circulation in Your Aquarium

It’s no secret that oxygenating your water is crucial to keeping your fish happy and your aquarium in balance. This step is an essential part of giving your fish the oxygen they need to survive. Keep in mind that a lack of oxygenation is also one of the main culprits of algae blooms, as algae thrive in stagnant water. Read on to learn more about how you can improve the water circulation in your aquarium to improve your tank’s overall health.


Powerheads are great at moving a large amount of water in one direction. This consistent directional movement provides a significant amount of oxygenation. However, powerheads only move one area of water, so you’ll need to position them correctly. If you have a larger tank, you’ll also likely need to buy more than one to fully oxygenate the water.

Ideally, you’ll put your powerheads toward the back of the tank near the filter. But if you have a planted tank, make sure the power head moves water in a direction that will allow the gentle movement of the plant without causing excess turbulence.


Wavemakers are also excellent at water oxygenation because they move the entire body of water. The best place to put your wave maker is at the top of the tank near the intake portion of your filter, as this will cause the most surface agitation. However, it’s important to make sure that your wavemaker isn’t too strong, as you don’t want your fish to struggle with swimming. Luckily, there are many types of wavemakers for different tanks, meaning you can easily control the strength of the flow in your setup.

Air Pumps

Air pumps are a staple tool for promoting gas exchange and surface agitation. While air pumps will not directly put oxygen into the water, they will promote circulation in the same way that pouring water into the tank at a high distance will. Throughout the process, the bubbles that form push carbon dioxide to the surface. This creates surface agitation and promotes the necessary gas exchange.

Now that you know how to improve the water circulation in your aquarium, you can choose the right tool to give your fish the oxygen they need to survive. However, before adding anything new to your aquarium, make sure to consult your local fish keepers to ensure that the species of your fish prefer moving water.

Image credit: Freshwater aquarium decorated in pseudo-sea style By Andrey Nikitin