Wavemakers: 12 Important Questions You Should Know

If you are a new tank enthusiast, you should probably be very excited to set up a new home for your aquatic pets.

Aside from the basics, you might have seen other tank owners putting wavemakers in their aquarium which made you think whether you need one too.

But first, you must be familiar with wavemakers, of course!

Are Wavemakers Necessary?

Wavemakers are not really necessary, but they are providing a comprehensive and positive environment that closely resembles the natural habitat of marine life inside the aquarium.

You may often hear or see other aquarists putting wavemakers in their tanks. And if you are not familiar with the uses of these devices, you might ask if they are a requirement that cannot be disregarded.

Basically, wavemakers are not necessary. Some aquariums or fish bowls do not have wavemakers and the aquatic organisms living in them are fairly safe and sound.

Although, you should greatly consider the numerous benefits of having wavemakers. They simply turn the dull setting of a tank into an exciting, healthier, and realistic home for your marine pets.

Wavemakers help in creating a more realistic environment through the circulation of water. They recreate the water currents of oceans, rivers, and lakes that are essential for the wellness of different aquatic organisms.

Wavemakers offer your fishes a chance again to swim into water tides. In the bodies of water, they are constantly surrounded by moving water and encountering waves.

Through swimming against the current, they have the opportunity to play and exercise, which can positively boost their mood too!

You can also expect that the water in different parts of your tank is circulating. This means oxygen and heat are evenly distributed which is highly advantageous for big aquariums.

Likewise, the currents will transport the food and nutrients within the tank which is beneficial to those organisms that cannot swim around like shells and corals.

You will not worry if your fish and other creatures might not be getting their needs sufficiently.

Wavemakers help in the cleaning too as the circulation of water will transport wastes in every corner of your tank closer to the skimmer.

What Is The Difference Between A Powerhead And A Wavemaker?

The difference between a powerhead and a wavemaker is the type and direction of their flow. A wavemaker provides a wider circulation of water while a powerhead is only moving a part of the water in a straight motion.

Both a powerhead and a wavemaker are devices that you can use to imitate water currents in your aquarium.

They may serve the same benefits, yet they differ in the way they perform their tasks.

A powerhead has a limited extent when it comes to circulating water. It has a high velocity which enables it to pump water strongly, but only in a straight course.

A powerhead can do strong, concentrated pumps of water in just a single part of your aquarium.

Meanwhile, a wavemaker can move the water inside your tank back and forth. It is not circulating water only in a single area but has a wider reach that can guarantee a better flowing of water in your tank.

Do African Cichlids Need Wavemakers?

African Cichlids do not necessarily need wavemakers as most of them are from Lake Malawi where water currents are not so strong. But adding wavemakers that form just the appropriate flow is better as these lake cichlids are used to a dispersed water movement.

Most African cichlids are from Lake Malawi where water flow is only minimal. Yet, just like other fish, they also like water movement.

If you will get African cichlids, it would be up to you whether you want to put wavemakers or not.

They can be fine without this device, but most aquarists are recommending putting one as this can make your African cichlids feel closer to their natural home.

For recreating water, it would be best to have wavemakers as they bring dispersed current compared to powerheads that make strong straight flow.

At night, it would be better to turn down your wavemakers a little bit as lake fish like African cichlids prefer to settle down as they sleep. High water movements can distract them from resting peacefully.

Do Cichlids Like Wavemakers?

Cichlids like wavemakers as they love and are used to water movements in lakes and rivers.

Cichlids are freshwater fishes that are used to encountering water circulation around them; thus, they will like wavemakers as these enable them to swim into swirling water inside tanks.

Do Cichlids Like Water Movement?

Cichlids like water movements.

If you have cichlids that came from lakes, they would prefer water that has a circular motion. In the lake, they are used to diffused water currents.

Meanwhile, river cichlids are the opposite of lake cichlids.

Since rivers are continuously flowing, either rapidly or smoothly, river cichlids like directional water movements. They are at ease with a strong current of water rather than the calm ones.

Do I Need A Wavemaker In My Cichlid Tank?

Yes. You need a wavemaker in your cichlid tank as this eliminates dead spots and help in making cichlids comfortable and easily adapt to their new environment.

Since wavemakers imitate the natural motion of water in rivers and lakes, they will be a big help in making your aquarium more lively and healthier for your cichlid.

Wavemakers reduce the dead spots in your aquarium. These spots are those that have stagnant water and are less occupied by your fish.

With not enough currents, these are the tank parts that can get dirty, have less oxygen and less heat too.

Just remember that if you have lake cichlids, it is better not to have a strong water motion which is the opposite of river cichlids that love powerful currents.

Do Clownfish Need A Wavemaker?

Clownfish need wavemakers as they are saltwater fishes used to water currents in the ocean.

Clownfish are living in vast oceans so you can expect that they would prefer an aquarium with water movements that are similar to these.

And wavemakers would be perfect for replicating these currents that would make them feel comfortable and at home.

Do Oscars Like Wavemakers?

Oscars do like wavemakers as they are active swimmers and used to places that have strong currents.

If you are wondering where Oscars can usually be spotted in the wild, you should go check the Amazon Basin.

In this wild nature, Oscars are used to strong movements of water. They like moderate to strong water currents so having wavemakers in their aquarium will surely make them more festive.

Oscars are agile swimmers too so you really need to produce some quite strong currents as they adore going against the water and cruising too.

Does Arowana Need A Wavemaker?

An Arowana does not need a wavemaker but having one can provide a more stimulating living environment for it.

Arowanas require a lot of space. The larger the tank the better as they can grow into a really large fish.

They can share a space with specific types of fish of the same size, but once they get bigger, these smaller fish will be their food.

Basically, they do not need wavemakers as they are fine with minimal flow of water caused by other aquatic devices.

But adding these into their tanks will not do any harm, but will benefit them.

Arowanas are territorial so they will fight for their space. They can be aggressive which can be stressful and dangerous for their tank mates.

With the help of wavemakers, the Arowana’s attention will be diverted as they will be busy swimming and enjoying the currents.

However, it is important to remember that too strong currents can cause damage to their highly sensitive gills.

Are Wavemakers Noisy?

Some wavemakers are noisy while some are not.

Not all wavemakers are the same as they have different features and are manufactured by different companies.

Others may seriously sound loud despite your efforts in troubleshooting them.

Some noisy wavemakers can possibly be blocked or clogged. You may need to open it to check the impeller and shaft.

Some may be positioned incorrectly inside the aquarium. Or, they may simply be defective.

If none of your personal efforts work, then you should contact the customer service team of the brand that you have purchased.

Most of the wavemakers today are designed to be as quiet as possible as manufacturers addressed the concern of the customers regarding the wavemakers before that were noisy.

How Do You Slow Down A Wavemaker?

To slow down a wavemaker, you can simply press the slow button on it. If none, you should get the flow more disseminated.

Some wavemakers have a slow button that you can just press if you want them to make only slow currents. Some wavemakers have a setting for the strength of the waves they are producing.

However, not all wavemakers are designed with this convenience.

If you have a wavemaker that has no slow button, you should make its flow more diffused.

You can do this by adding something that will quite block the water flow such as a sponge.

Or, you can simply direct the wavemaker towards the water surface.

You can also steer it to the glass so the flow will bounce off to the glass, causing slower currents after.

Thankfully, some of the newest designs today have night sensors already.

If you want to slow down the currents of your wavemakers at night since you have sensitive lake fishes, you must get those that have a night sensor.

This sensor will automatically identify the need to slow down the pump once the lights inside the tank are turned off.

Below are the most popular wavemakers in consideration of their durability, price, safety, and of course, warranty.


Edmond, A. (2018, May 21). Benefits of having an aquarium wavemaker. The Aquarium Guide. https://theaquariumguide.com/articles/benefits-aquarium-wavemaker

Jones, T. (2020, May 20). What do Oscar fish like in their tank? (A complete guide). Aqua Goodness. https://aquagoodness.com/what-do-oscar-fish-like-in-their-tank/

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