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Best Aquarium Fish Tank Water Pumps Review Rio Pumps

Updated on July 7, 2016

My Story and Experiences with Rio Aquarium Pumps & Powerheads

Welcome to my Hub Page on Rio aquarium submersible pumps & power heads, Here you will find a quick overview of the brand and most importantly my experiences with the pumps over my fifteen plus years as a aquarium hobbits.

I wanted to created this Hub Page after the overwhelming positive feedback i had from another hub i wrote "Best salt water pool chlorinator review The Compu Pool Infinity Series" which incidentally i learnt much of my knowledge from being an aquarium hobbyist. For over 15 years now i have been a hobbyist and was even working as a Marine Biologist for a number of years too. And like most people interested in aquariums i started out with a very simple set up as a kid keeping sword tails,and slowly graduating from tropical tanks to eventually coral reef marine tanks.

And during my journey i have tried many brands of pumps and filters including Fluval, Eheim, unbranded ones and of course Rio's aquarium pumps. And over the years again and again i have tended to go back to the Rio's as my working horse for my systems. So this is my Hub detailing some of the simple tips and experiences i have had with this reliable and great value for money brand.

Aquarium filter systems vary tremendously with set ups and personal preference so to put this Hub into context i tended to build systems with a sump. And thus have relied on Rio's as my main submersible sump pump, but also in the case of my Marine tanks for use with the protein skimmer as well as in side of the main tank for extra water flow power heads.

Rio Aqua Pumps i have used & owned in the past include:

  • Rio 800HP
  • Rio Aqua Pump 1100
  • Rio Aqua Pump 1200
  • Rio Plus 1400
  • Rio 1800
  • Rio Plus 2500

While i am a big fan of the Rio brand, i can not say that they are not without issues and incidences over the years. The most frequent for me has been with damaged impellers in that debris large or small wreck the blades, sure best practice is to do your best to "filter" for them but still the blades themselves can crack and break off for unknown or preventable reasons.

While this does not happen often its a reason i tend to keep an extra pump on hand or impeller replacement. Beside this issue and i imagine it would be common for other brands too is once i've had my pump melt due to over heating, So if you have never taking apart your pumps and i imagine most reading my Hub would have unless your a beginner, The power heads a filled with a plastic resin encasing the motor, So when my pump melted i had bubbles forming from the resin and a large chuck of the resin melted away. That was the end of that pump.

Finally another issue worth mentioning and with all submersible pumps is that as they get older the impeller tend to not be as silence and make a bit more noise, some hobbyist may not like it but unless its very loud the ripples in the tank tends to mask the noise and are not noticeable.

Now is back to the Rio's pumps and why i think they are great value and one of the best aquarium pumps around.

Different Types of Aquarium Pumps

About The Rio Brand

The Rio brand of aquarium pumps have been around for as long as i can remember, however there is not much information about the manufactures online. from what i have founds they are made from a manufacturer called TAAM which stands for "Technological Aquatic Associated Manufacturing" based out of Camarillo, California.

The Rio's themselves are however made in Taiwan and now days made in china as well for some models. Personally i have no issues with products made in China, And there are some great quality products around and hence why i tried a few unbranded pumps. Its just a matter of trial and error.

Rio Aqua Pumps come in a wide range of sizes and models suitable for every aquarium need. So i will not mention them here, The official website has a wonderful collection of products and helpful information to help you choose. For my aquarium which range from 4, 5 & 6 foot tanks i tended to use Rio power heads between the 1100 to 2500 model range. Note that for beginner the model number reflects the pumps general water flow out put per hour.

Simple Design and Easy to Use Rio Aqua Pump Powerheads

My first praise for Rio's power heads would have to be they are simple in design and ease of use. They are not over engineered like others pumps and just does the job well. Beside a few accessories the power heads are very basic and for much of what i need from them that's all is needed. By simple design i mean they lack screws and multiple parts when disassembled. Most parts and add on's are just clicked on or with a twist, so no need for screw drivers and other tools for maintenance.

I mainly use my power heads as a main return sump pump and so i tend to strip the Rio's down with no attachments and place them on a piece of foam medium to prevent vibrations. In the past ive had used the suctions cups attachments but found them too troublesome when i wanted to remove the pumps.

I have done this with all my tank set ups, and i have tried other brands of pumps like Eheim's for a 6 foot marine tank too however i found that they did not last as long. It was in fact more expensive but only lasted just over a year, so i went back to a Rio instead. I believe a small bit of plastic from the intake screen caused it to short out.

So after a few experiences with other pumps, i have just stuck with the principle of less complicated parts equals less issues and bits of the power head breaking off.

Rio's Good Value for Price

As a kid and teen one of the main things that attached me to the Rio's brand was its price, sure back them i wanted to get more well known brands at the time such as some of the German brands but could not afford to all the time. So in compromising i choose Rio's for its good price point for durability. Another consideration i has too especially when i was setting up my marine tanks was electrical consumption and i believe Rio may use a bit more per water flow but in the end it was negligible and i am sure technology has improved since those days too.

Of course like most pumps they come with a range of accessories for different functions which adds to the values as well as replacement parts or even generic parts are reality available. Basically Rio power heads have a smooth and simple design, with less component parts prone to fail. Making them great value.

Looks at Rio Plus 2500 Powerhead Pump

Powerhead Pump Maintenance Tips

One of the main reasons i like Rio's is they are easy to maintain, and requires little or none at all. But this can be true for other brands too with the key being to do a weekly inspections if not daily during your tanks feeding time. However here are a few other tips i use to prevent futures issues.

In most of my tanks and when i can afford it i would use a back up return pump, that is i tend to use two power heads when possible over just one which is just good practice. This can be done with heaters too.

Do your best to re-filter or stop debris going near your pumps intake and use the screen guides provided by Rio. However i avoid using the tubular intake screen guides when possible as this were the plastic pieces tend to comes from and got sucked in and wrecked my pump's impellers. I suspect heat from heaters was a causing fact to them breaking off.

Also avoid using suctions cups if possible especially for your return pumps, they tend to degrade and generally make it adhere to move your pump in the sump. This happened much quicker in my Marine tanks then my freshwater ones. Of course you can not avoid them if you using the pumps as water flow power heads.

I often check for any noises too, most of the time its just the impeller moving around too much in its chamber but other times it could be because the blades of the impeller have broken off. Which should be fixed immediately to prevent further damage.

Finally regarding the impellers, use ones with the most simple designs, i believe in the newer and hyper flow series of Rio's you can get impeller blades with extra moving hing joint, while they are great and probably give you higher flow, they tend to break off of get damaged quicker. I have gone through many more of these impeller then the regard ones for the Aqua Pump or Rio Plus series and they are not cheap too. But if you are using this design much more care should be taken in order to prevent debris getting sucked in.

One trick is use to achieve the same rate of flow is use two slightly smaller volumes pumps with the simple impeller designs. Which acts as a nice back up too.

Generally if you start to implement a few of the tips above you should have little issue with your submersible pumps and power heads, be they Rio or other brands.

Tells us your Rio Experience

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