Best Livewell Pumps Reviewed

Gary Johnson
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So here you are, you've decided to take up the hobby of fishing. So you've gone out and spent a hundred bucks on a rod and reel. You've also invested in some lures, a nice little forecaster and you are good to go right?

Well, no you're not.

What do you mean, you don't have livewell pumps?

I mean if you are a true angler you've just spent 100+ dollars on the latest rods and reels. I mean you should be spending just as much on a decent livewell pump to help you carry the fish to shore and the motor to get you to the spot in the first place?

If you are an extreme fisherman, who believes in no fish left behind, you are likely going to need a livewell pump or two.

In this guide I've shared everything you need to know about finding the best livewell pump for a boat, plus reviews of the best livewell pump available by each criteria.

Livewell pumps are usually rated and advertised in different ways. I've explained all of that here, so that you know what you're looking at when comparing pumps.

NameCategoryProduct
Johnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator PumpBest OverallJohnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator Pump
attwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500GphBudget Pickattwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500Gph
SHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. InletUpgrade PickSHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. Inlet

1. Johnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator Pump

Our rating: 9 / 10

Johnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator Pump

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Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Pumps water quickly
  • Durable even against low-quality water
  • Protected from fire
  • Made in the USA

Cons:

  • Not suitable for deeper aquariums
  • The valves are flimsy
  • There’s no on/off switch
  • Each pump is made individually and there isn’t much consistency from one pump to another
  • Gets clogged easily

The Johnson brand is known for its quality and affordability. This pump is great for small aquariums and ponds up to 30 gallons. It also doesn’t require any tools for assembly and can be put together in just a matter of a few minutes.

One of the best things about the Johnson Pumps of America Aqua Max is its self-priming feature. This means you don’t have to sit around and wait for it to fill up with water. You can easily pump water out of the pond or aquarium and into the mud pit to fill it up if needed.

2. attwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500Gph

Our rating: 8 / 10

attwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500Gph

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Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy and simple to use

Available in either a 50-GPH or a 500-GPH model, the Tsunami livewell aerator pump from Attwood is a great tool to have for adding air to ponds, lakes, and marine tanks.

Whether you have one fish tank in your home or you want to keep a commercial koi pond going, getting the water moving can help to feed your aquatic pets, which will help them live longer.

This aerator also operates very quietly, so you won’t disturb your neighbors while you get your fish tank setup to operate as it should.

3. Attwood 4253-7 T-500 Tsunami Recirq Aerator Kit

Our rating: 8 / 10

Attwood 4253-7 T-500 Tsunami Recirq Aerator Kit

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Pros:

  • Easy installation
  • Great aeration
  • No major issues reported
  • Compact size that is lightweight and portable

This pump from Attwood is one of the best livewell pumps for certain activities, including large fish like catfish, walleye, and more. It’s great for use in large ponds, tanks, and aquariums, and performs well as an aerator pump.

It can be used in both fresh and salt water and comes with a heavy duty stainless steel strainer basket and hose. It’s also very easy to install and operate. Considering its size, that’s quite a feat.

This might not be a professional-grade pump, but it will still pump 2.1 GPH with a water depth of up to five feet. It’s the perfect size for large fish, but you might find that you need to replace the pump after extended use.

4. Rule Marine Tournament Series Livewell Pump

Our rating: 8 / 10

Rule Marine Tournament Series Livewell Pump

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Pros:

  • Excellent suction
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • High-quality materials
  • Crystal clear instructions

The Rule Marine Tournament Series Livewell Pump is full of cool features like a quick connect high-pressure Lance, and stainless-steel shaft for durability and corrosion resistance.

Reviewers love that the pump is easy to hook-up. The livewell pump’s suction is fantastic, and many satisfied Amazon shoppers say it’s the best boat pump they’ve ever used. This is significant because you want your livewell pump to have strong suction to keep unwanted and possibly harmful bacteria from filling your boat.

The rule has a lifetime warranty that Rule Marine stands behind. The company says the proper maintenance, no matter how long it lasts, is your proof of purchase. The pump can handle water’s temperature all the way down to 36 degrees, and it’s capable of moving 0.1gpm at 0 psi to 2gpm at 3000 psi. Be advised that it’s necessary to lift the pump up to completely remove it from the water because it sticks to the hull.

5. Rule Marine Tournament Livewell Pump

Our rating: 8 / 10

Rule Marine Tournament Livewell Pump

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Pros:

  • Price-friendly
  • Quality craftsmanship
  • Wide opening basket
  • Good suction
  • Can use with other accessories and dockside
  • Reliable
  • Can be used for large and shallow livewells
  • Dual-inlet design
  • Heats up and cools down quickly enough for both freshwater and saltwater use
  • Made to withstand heavy exposure to the elements

Cons:

  • Extra power cord costs extra
  • Doesn’t have a waterproof plug
  • Doesn’t drain automatically

When we reviewed livewell pumps for sale, this model from Rule was a standout for us. The main things we loved about it are its reasonably-priced price tag and surprising versatility.

The pump comes with an inline 12 volt, and you may also use it with a 24 volt or 120 volt connection, too. It’s also the type that can be used on thru-hull fittings, not unlike what you might find on a boat. It works with freshwater both brackish, and salt water.

6. Johnson Pumps 48903 1000 GPH Aerator/Livewell Pump

Our rating: 7 / 10

Johnson Pumps 48903 1000 GPH Aerator/Livewell Pump

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Pros:

  • A lower-cost, full-featured livewell pump
  • Easy to maintain thanks to the removable diaphragm
  • Awesome for both fresh and saltwater
  • Blades have been redesigned for less cavitation
  • Excellent for circulation and aeration

Requires 50-amp shore power. If you’re in a dry camp, it’s likely unavailable, and you’ll need an inverter and a 20-amp adapter

If you’re looking for a good livewell pump for a fair price, consider the Johnson Pumps 48903 Aerator and Livewell Pump. This pump features a durable, rust-free aluminum cylinder and steel impeller. The rubber impeller grip can be taken off and replaced as needed, and the pump can be disassembled for easy maintenance.

7. SHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. Inlet

Our rating: 5 / 10

SHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. Inlet

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Pros:

  • Reliable and Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick installation
  • Provides constant aeration
  • Handles kayaks and canoes
  • 8” Flexible shaft
  • Quiet. Over 73 decibels
  • 900-hour duty cycle

Cons:

  • Short cord
  • Sometime doesn’t work for gasoline engines

This best livewell pump is meant to work well, and its size and strength efficiently what it was meant to do. Most reviews on this product were positive and reliable. The product comes with 75‡ of cable which might not be enough for some, but it has the potential to be adjusted to ensure your satisfaction.

The installation should not take long because all necessary fittings are provided for your convenience. The hose is flexible enough to give you the room you need for installation. However, some do not like how the hose is designed, saying that installation can be more difficult than expected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best livewell pump?

If you're in need of a livewell pump, you're likely looking for a device that can effectively move water, without putting an unnecessary load on your boat's electrical system. There are two main types of livewell pumps on the market: mechanical and electric. Among the two, an electric livewell pump is the best, but not always practical.

Mechanical livewell pumps are independent, self-powered devices that need no additional device to operate. There are multiple sub-types of mechanical pumps, including water rocker, centrifugal, and diaphragm pumps. Each type uses a different form of power generation.

How many GPH does a livewell need?

The number of gallons per hour that you need from your livewell pump depends on several factors including: the number of livewell compartments, their volume, and the size of your livewell tank. For example, if your livewell is half-filled, then you are going to need a stronger pump than if it was completely full.

Additionally, if you fill your livewell with water from the lake, then you will likely be using a bilge pump to remove water. All pumps have the ability to pump at a higher volume than they were actually designed for. For example, your livewell might say it needs 1.5 GPH of power, but it can actually produce 2 GPH.

Best place to start is with your livewell manufacturer. Standard livewell pumps are not designed for river or lake water, so look for a marine livewell pump if you plan on using your livewell for fishing.

Can I use a bilge pump for a livewell?

The short answer is yes, however, the label may be misleading. Bilge pumps, as you probably know, are pumps used to to remove water from the space beneath a boat, typically via a discharge tube into the water. Thus, bilge pumps alone do not have the power to operate a livewell. The good news is that bilge pumps can be used to power a livewell, but you may need to purchase a supplemental pump to supplement the output of the bilge pump to meet the demands of a livewell.

For example, bilge pumps usually pump out at 2-5 gallons per minute. To create that level of flow, the pump may need to be installed at a high point such as a corner of the boat. If the pump is lower down, then the flow rate will decrease.

How live well pumps work?

Live-wells are used to hold additional water that is pumped from the main tank, kept within the live-well box, and held at a temperature different than the main tank water. This is a very useful tool in helping keep your livestock healthy. Livewells also allow you to swap water out, keeping it fresh and clean.

Livewells can come in many different shapes, sizes, and functionalities. Some simply pump water from the tank(s) and into the box. Some livewells have UV lights installed, which destroy algae and other organic life forms that could harm or stress the fish. The most popular livewells have filtration systems installed, which filter the water inside the livewell as well as the main tank water.

Conclusion

Livewell pumps are critical parts of any boat. They’re capable of delivering precisely the right amount of water, while at the same time maintaining a healthy and balanced environment for your fish. However, there are too many livewell pumps on the market for you to know which one is best for you. That’s why we decided to write this guide, to give you a hand in selecting the best livewell pump for your needs. Follow our advice and you won’t have any trouble finding the right pump for the right price.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Johnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator PumpBest OverallJohnson Pumps of America 38502 Marine 90 Degree 500 GPH Cartridge Aerator Pump
attwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500GphBudget Pickattwood Corporation Pump Aerator Tsunami 500Gph
SHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. InletUpgrade PickSHURFLO 800 GPH Livewell Aerator Pump; 3/4" Dia. Inlet