Monday, May 16, 2011

Product Review: AquaticLife 3700L High Head Submersible Pump vs Mag-Drive 9.5

Item Code: AK01025
Dimensions: 7.5" x 3.5" x 5.1"
Inlet / Outlet: 3/4" FPT, 3/4" MPT
Power Cord: 6.5 ft
Voltage: 120V, 60Hz
Watts: 82
Maximum Head Height: 12.3 ft

AquaticLife Marine Utility Pump 3700 (976 GPH)

Package contents include: AquaticLife 3700 Pump, Slide-on Rubber Feet, Product CD, Registration Card, and Yellow Important notice stating: PLEASE DO NOT RETURN THIS PRODUCT TO PLACE OF PURCHASE. Call AquaticLife for support.

Pump fully assembled with the rubber feet
Frontal view, stylish inlet cover
Rear view, nice two tone color. Power cord is well placed at the top of the pump. Bravo AquaticLife!
Rubber feet plate easily slides in and out of the base of the pump and locks in with a clip.
Rubber feet absorbs vibrations and dampens noise.
Front cover is held on by four clips and easily detaches from the pump.
Front intake cover is well designed. You have the screen that blocks large debris from potentially clogging or damaging the pump, but still large enough to allow copepods and beneficial particles to flow through the pump. AquaticLife has incorporated an low water level dome that allows the pump to continue to run in very shallow applications.
Frontal view without the intake cover. Inlet and Outlet are both threaded 3/4".
Side view without the intake cover. Comparable footprint to other pumps in its class. 
AquaticLife 3700 (976 GPH) vs Mag-Drive 9.5 (950 GPH). Both pumps are very similar in design. The AquaticLife is shorter, but longer than the Mag-Drive 9.5. 
Side profile view
Rear profile view. Notice the power cord exiting at the top of the AquaticLife pump versus the rear of the Mag-Drive pump. While it may seem like a minor difference, the AquaticLife power cord placement is designed for a better fit that will sit flush to the back wall of any application.
Fully assembled AquaticLife 3700 vs the Mag-Drive 9.5
Side profile view of the fully assembled AquaticLife 3700 vs Mag-Drive 9.5
Bottom view. The AquaticLife pump has the optional rubber feet plate that slides in and reduces vibrations, whereas the Mag-Drive 9.5 does not come with any suction mounts or padding.
Impeller cap of the AquaticLife 3700 pump
Impeller cap of the Mag-Drive 9.5
Frontal view of the AquaticLife 3700 impeller. Notice the webbed blade which I believe adds support and durability.
Side view of the AquaticLife 3700 impeller
Frontal view of the Mag-Drive 9.5 Impeller.
The Mag-Drive 9.5 impeller blades are slightly thicker than the AquaticLife impeller blades.
Magnet casing on both impellers approximately the same size.
Frontal view of both pumps without the impellers.
AquaticLife 3700
Mag-Drive 9.5
AquaticLife 3700 Ceramic Shaft (left), and the slightly thicker diameter Mag-Drive 9.5 Ceramic Shaft (right).
AquaticLife (left), Mag-Drive (right). Both approximately the same length.
Frontal view of the installed AquaticLife 3700 as my return pump in my sump.
Frontal view of the old installed Mag-Drive 9.5 pump
Overview of the installed AquaticLife 3700 pump. With the intake cover installed, it occupies almost the entire return sump compartment.
Overview of the installed Mag-Drive 9.5 pump.

The AquaticLife 3700 is rated at 976 GPH and the Mag-Drive 9.5 at 950 GPH. I did notice the slight difference in my aquarium's water level when I switched the pumps, so I believe the ratings on both pumps are pretty accurate on the same plumbing setup. Keep in mind that I did not use a flow meter so this is based on my observation. The AquaticLife pump is a slightly stronger pump at only 82 watts versus the 93 watts from the Mag-Drive.


While the core design of the pumps are quite similar, it seems like AquaticLife took the design to the next level with their added rubber feet plate which actually helped reduce noise from vibrations, the uniquely designed intake cover, and the placement of the power cord. Again, this is without an actual decibel meter and purely from my ears. The Mag-Drive 9.5 is slightly noisier than the AquaticLife 3700 pump.

Intake Cover:

The intake screen cover on the AquaticLife is a much better design than the strainer and pre-filter sponge that is included with the Mag-Drive pumps. The intake screen is large enough to allow beneficial copepods and particles to flow through the pump. The Mag-Drive sponge filter may block copepods and particles, lose performance as it gets clogged or produce excess nitrates if not cleaned regularly. Lets not forget about the low water shallow dome that is built-in the intake cover which allows the water levels in the return chamber to be lower, great for sump water changes or when used as a reservoir pump. To be fair, a simple elbow fitting can be screwed onto the intake FPT on both pumps, but its nice that AquaticLife added that feature to their intake cover.

Power Cord:

The power cord placement at the top of the AquaticLife pump is a big plus compared to the Mag-Drive and other comparable pumps. While it may seem minor, it allows for cleaner installations, and an overall better fit. The length of the power cord on the AquaticLife pump is 6.5ft versus the 10ft power cord from the Mag-Drive. For my application, I actually like the shorter power cord better.

Final Thoughts:

Since there are very few reviews on the AquaticLife pumps, I was very hesitant on getting one. My main concern is the availability of replacement impellers. After searching online I was unable to find any stores carrying replacement impellers, however I am confident AquaticLife will be happy to assist me when the time comes as they have excellent customer support.

I would like to add that the Mag-Drive 9.5 is still a great and reliable pump. Danner pumps continue to be popular pumps that are used in various aquarium and pond applications. Replacement parts are widely available which is a huge plus. I use the Mag-Drive 3 in addition to my Mag-Drive 9.5 and I've been happy with its performance.

With that said, I really like the design and accessories that are included with the AquaticLife pumps. I also like the instructional material that AquaticLife provides with their products. They are filled with pictures and diagrams that makes it easy to understand and setup. I highly recommend AquaticLife pumps after installing one on my system. I will post updates on the pump as I continue running it on my system.

Visit the entire AquaticLife submersible pumps at AquaticLife Pumps