How to Choose a Pump for Fountains, Bubbling Boulders, and Water Features

Choosing a pump for a bubbling boulder fountain, free standing waterfall, and other water features can be somewhat confusing at first, but, determining a couple of easy factors regarding the project eases the complexity of choosing a pump for a fountain, waterfall, or water feature.

If the project is converting a pot, pottery, vase, urn, or other garden container into a fountain, the single most important factor needed is the height of the container. Most of these types of water features only require 200-300 gallons per hour so choose a pump that delivers this amount of water at the height of the garden container. Fountain pumps will list how much water each pump moves at different heights.


Keep in mind the terms “fountain pump”, “pond pump”, and “waterfall pump” are all terms given to pumps are more geared to marketing than to the actual purpose of the pump. Depending on the size of the fountain, a “waterfall pump” may be selected due to the amount of water that needs to be moved. Conversely, a “fountain pump” may be selected for a preformed pond because of the low amount of volume in the pond. Typically, pumps labeled as a fountain pump, pond pump, and/or waterfall pump are manufactured to be continuous duty, non-oil filled, and are made to run for several years 24/7.

For free standing waterfalls and LED waterfall spillways, determining how to choose a pump is easy: select the waterfall spillway or LED waterfall spillway. Each model has a recommended flow rate at various heights. For custom applications, remember that for every foot the elevation is increased with regards to waterfall spillway placement, the waterfall (actual sheet of water) tends to become narrower as it falls. Therefore, pumps have to be up sized when placing these types of waterfall spillways higher than the recommended or rated placement.