Water Movement 101
Water movement is something absolutely crucial to every single aquarium. It prevents dead spots from forming in your tank which can lead to issues such as Nitrate spikes and sulfur dioxide pockets. The goal is to achieve a tank where there is no areas in your aquarium that do not have ample flow going through them. This actually is not that hard to achieve even if you're using lower end pumps.
Rule of thumb for selecting pumps is that you want about 8-10 times your total tank volume being turned over by your pumps every hour. What that means is if your tank is 200 gallons, you want your water pumps that run your tank to be going at least 1600-2000 gallons per hour. We actually don't factor in sump return water as part of the total tank turnover here. We believe your tank should be doing that 8-10 times the amount of your tank just from the pumps housed within your tank. You probably want closer to 15-20 times turnover if you're including your return pump.
The idea of achieving a good flow is to have intermittent "pulsing" from the water within your tank that acts like a sea swell. You don't want it constantly blasting at your corals because then the corals can become stressed and eventually damaged. Most people make the mistake the first time setting up pumps of thinking they're supposed to have some ridiculous amount consistently blasting their tank at all times. We do recommend wavemakers over laminar flow pumps though. In the end pumps such as the Ecotech Marine Vortech pumps or the Maxspect Gyre pumps do a better job then just the regular pumps that offer no user control. Are these pumps actually worth the price tag though? For the most part yes. The can help prevent unnecessary tank loss and even cause your corals to grow faster.
When it comes to return pumps we have never really seen a need for the more expensive ones. We like the Simplicity DC return pumps and obviously make considerably less on those than any other pump; but they work and perform extremely well. Most pumps that have things such as "feed timers", those things can come in handy to some people, but we usually just shut off our power during feeding here. We also make sure to have great quality check-valves installed when we do that though. All in all we just don't see a need for a $350 return pumps over a $150 return pumps because after using them for years we have seen that they all last about the same amount of time.
Water Movement is one of the top 3 things needed to keep your tank healthy. It actually shouldn't even be an option because your tanks will continue to fail if you're not giving it proper water circulation. Without it, oxygen levels drop, water becomes stagnant, and it begins to affect the health of every living thing in your tank. Check out our full line of Wavemakers HERE or our Return Pumps HERE. Should you have any further questions about Water Movement, or which pump might be right for your tank based on stocking, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you further.