All Pumped Up

Ranting about pond pumps has been one of my favourite preoccupations during my time as editor of Practical Fishkeeping. So a visit to the largest UK Garden trade show - GLEE - which features many fishkeeping and pond manufacturers (as well as halls full of lawnmowers, tractors, seeds, plants - you name it - for the garden) was very rewarding.

Most of my rants have been based on our readers' complaints (plus a lot of personal experience of lousy pumps) and the manufacturers have finally started to listen to their customers (I'd like to think it was me but it wasn't...) and really do something about their products.

On various stands, the likes of Hozelock Cyprio, Petmate and Tetra proudly took their new pond pumps apart and went through the demonstration routines. People I normally chat to as friends suddenly become automatons as they try not to forget a single item on the list of innovations on their latest equipment. And this year, you couldn't really blame them - there was a lot to report.

A list of complaints about pumps might be as follows:

  • They cost too much to run.
  • They clog incessantly due to those naff little pre-filter sponges.
  • Use a pump without a sponge and you can trap wildlife and small fish.
  • The impellors don't last very long.
  • If the pumps overheat they switch off until they cool down - then switch on and overheat again until they break.
  • They come with crap instructions.
  • The fittings leak water in all direction and therefore waste energy as water that should go to your fountain or filter escapes back into the pond.

So all credit to the above manufacturers, and several others, who all had new developments to show us. These included new impellor styles to last longer, to keep grit out of the works, and to lubricate and cool themselves with pondwater but without destructive build-ups of limescale. They included new outer cage styles and new inner filter styles that clog less easily. They even included one outer cage with large slats that can be closed down in the spring and summer to protect wildlife from being trapped.

Most outlets are now threaded - there are fewer push-fit fittings and more and improved control valves on the fittings. A new thermal switch mechanism on one pump doesn't reset until you've had a chance to sort out the pump and switch back on.

Wattages are creeping lower and lower so the equipment is cheaper to run. Guarantee periods are creeping out longer and longer. New packaging has to overcome international language problems and as a consequence has made more and more use of comprehendible pictograms. My right arm lady, Deputy Editor Karen Youngs, summed it all up perfectly when she said to her husband, "Daft isn't it - all these manufacturers are competing with each other - but put all their ideas together into a single package and they'd produce the perfect pond pump..." I wonder how long we'll have to wait for its arrival?

© Steve Windsor. May not be reproduced in part, or whole, without permission.