Fluval Spec Aquarium: How to Install and Orient the Pump

Putting together our Fluval Spec aquarium was straightforward enough; the only part of assembly and setup that had be a bit stumped was how to orient the pump and get it installed in the bottom of the pump section. A few factors made me wonder how best to accomplish this:

  • This pump section is really small – how do I get the pump down in there?
  • There are several ways to orient the pump – what’s the best way?  Does it matter?
  • I’m trying to fit a heater in this same section – where will it fit?

How to Install the pump:

The easiest way to put the pump in is to assemble the necessary pieces first outside the aquarium. Place the neck fitting in the outlet of the pump and put the outlet tube on the neck. If you are modifying your outlet tube with holes to improve flow, now is the time to do this.

Fluval Spec Aquarim Pump and Fill Tube

It’s easiest to lower the pump into place by hanging onto both the outlet tube and the power cord. Once you get it roughly into place, there is no way you can get hands down to adjust the position a little or to press it down to suction it onto the bottom of the aquarium (unless you have super tiny hands). I used a wooden spoon to scoot it around into the best place and then press down on the top of the pump to suction it down.

using a wooden spoon or spatula to press a spec iii or v pump down into place

Once you get the pump into place, assemble the upper elbow and collar through the wall and install the outlet nozzle.  When I got it all together, it seemed that the outlet tube was a bit longer than it needed to be.  I took it out and cut the smallest bit off, reassembled, and it was perfect.  If you need to do this, take care to only take off a tiny bit and re-fit to check.  You don’t want to end up with a tube that is too short.

What’s the Best Way to Orient the Pump:

I was a little confused trying to read the instructions and decipher if there was a correct way to orient the pump. The side opposite the cord is the inlet and it seemed to me that the best place to put the inlet is toward the center of the aquarium, where the inlet is direct toward the water that is coming from the filter section.

After messing around with the pump in several rotations, I don’t think it matters much if the pump is oriented with the inlet pointed toward a wall instead of the filter section.

Pump and Filer Section of a Fluval Spec V

In the end, this is how I placed the pump. The inlet is pointed toward the back wall. I scooted the pump away from the wall a bit (using my trusty wooden spoon) to ensure water could flow into it.

Where to Place the Heater:

In short, the heater goes wherever you can fit it and will probably be different from model to model. I came to the above pump orientation because it led to a nice spot for the heater – wedged in between the center wall and the outlet tube.  I have detailed pictures of the heater installed in my Hydor Theo Aquarium Heater review.

How to Remove the Pump from a Spec Aquarium

This might be obvious to most, but it took me a minute.  You might feel trapped once you get the pump wedged down into the pump section and then discover you need to take it out.  If you want to remove the pump, it is easy.  Don’t pull up from the silicone tube.  Instead, just pull up on the electric cord.  It is plenty sturdy to lift the pump up from the suction cups on the bottom and get it out.  Sometimes it may get wedged because the plug pulls the unit up crooked.  In that case, pull up gently at the same time on both the flow tube and the electric cord.

30 thoughts on “Fluval Spec Aquarium: How to Install and Orient the Pump

  1. Hi Nate,

    I recently bought a Fluval Spec V and I’m kind of disappointed in the strength of the pump and would prefer a stronger one. I’m doing research and came across your blog and wondered if you have any suggestions for a better pump for the Spec?

    1. Most people are looking to reduce flow, but I can respect you having an application where you want more.

      I don’t know an answer for sure, but my search lends to two options:

      1) Marineland Mini-Jet 606 Powerhead: Two disadvantages. It is so large it will require modification of the pump (removing part of the housing) to get it fit. Also, it appears to be discontinued, so availability is an issue.

      2) Rio Plus 800: I can’t say for sure, but it looks like a similar issue; larger and would require some work to get it to fit.

      I haven’t tried either of these so you will have to do some more research and work to get it to work. Comment back on what you come up with – Thanks!

  2. I just purchased & set up the spec 3 & have had it running for almost 2 days. I used aquarium stone instead of regular gravel, added piece of driftwood (cured) with Java Moss & Anacharis. Will be adding a moss ball & my veiltail betta….Blue (once I know it’s safe for him). My question is how long should I let it cycle? Currently the water is cloudy kind of milky looking, is that normal (the tap water was treated)? I’m not sure if I didn’t rinse something well enough or if it’s just the process? I did modify the tubing by punching holes in it to help slow the flow of water (thanks for the how to…was very helpful!) & instead of using the included carbon filter I added a purigen 100ml filter bag instead (read some reviews & it was highly recommended to use instead of the carbon for this tank). I checked the water with test strips & everything’s fine. I did order the api master water test kit & will test again when I receive it in a couple of days. I’m new to all of this & want to make sure I do things right. Sorry for the long post just wanted to explain as clearly as I could. Thanks!

    1. Cloudiness is normal and should clear up over time.

      I have been hoping to put up a page on cycling a tank but alas, not up yet. I’m not equipped to direct you here so you need to go elsewhere for instruction on how to do this. Do you have anything producing ammonia in the tank now (living creatures)? If you don’t, then your levels will appear fine as nothing is producing toxins. After you add anything, ammonia will show up in tests. Consider a method where you dose small quantities of ammonia to ‘feed’ the good bacteria and get the cycle going. This is called a ‘fishless cycle’ and is what I did. It took me about 5 weeks to complete my fishless cycle and I don’t expect anyone to get a tank cycled in less than 4 weeks when starting from scratch (no added bacteria from an established tank).

  3. Hi, how do I fix the noisy pump? I tried repositioning it in different ways, cleaning it, and making sure the propeller is in place. If I can’t fix it is there another pump other than the fluval brand? Please and thanks.

    1. Similar to another comment, make sure it’s not touching the sides of the tank and that the pump cord doesn’t rattle against the lid where it exits the tank. If it truly is a noisy pump, I’d suggest contacting Hagen (Fluval) customer service to see about a replacement. There are other pumps available, but I would suggest you use the stock pump. I have information for replacement parts here.

  4. I just ordered my Spec V with a Fluval Marina Submersible 50 watt heater. Two questions: First, is there any risk that placing the heater in the pump compartment may result in damage to the tank or the silicone intake tube? I was warned by a representative in a LFS that placing the heater in this compartment may result in the tank blowing out due to temperature differentials between chambers. Second, I am reluctant to cut holes in the silicone tube. Is this necessary in order to have sufficient water circulation in the chamber (with the pump turned to the lower flow)? Can replacement tubes be obtained if desired? Thanks.

    1. If you are going to put the heater in the pump section, you need some holes in that tube. You can get a replacement for the tube.

      The advice from the fish store person is ridiculous, especially if you follow my advice with the flow tube modification. However, if all of this makes you uncomfortable (and it seems to) then just put the heater in the main display section.

      1. Thanks, Nate. I feel much more comfortable knowing that I can easily get a replacement tube if I make a mistake or don’t like the configuration. I had searched high and low on the internet and found no other references or warnings to the advise I received at the LFS. One would think that Fluval would provide a warning if the placement of a small heater in the pump compartment is contra-indicated. I should be set up within the week!

  5. Thanks. It seems simple enough when you read the manual on a .pdf file while you patiently for Petco to ship it… when you get it though- not so much. When I put the cover on it made a little more sense as to why they put the cord in one corner of the pump and the outlet where they did.

  6. We put some water in our tanks already before installing the pump. Will it be possible to install it with water in there? We wanted to check for leaks and just used the same water we’ll be using for the fish (no fish yet, will be doing a fishless cycle soon).

  7. Nate, Thank you so much for the pump fitting info, I was beginning to think I’d gone mad! your time and patience has saved my sanity.
    Honestly who designed that thing.

  8. Hi Nate, hope you can help! Could you tell me the best positioning for the pump nozzles? I had both of them down diagonally, one along the back wall and the other along the side wall of the tank. My neon tetras died over night and my two gourami and two guppies were swimming slow at the very top of the water (any higher and they would have been out of the water). Last night, I positioned the nozzles so they were a little out of the water… I am now seeing tiny air bubbles throughout the tank and my fish appear to be swimming around better.
    Also, in the empty compartment in the back of the tank, is it safe for me to put in some filter sponge to cover the slots to prevent little fish getting through?
    The tank is new, we done what we were told to do by staff at Pets at Home: place in decorations, water, filter etc, tap water conditioner and crystal water, let it run like that for three days then put fish in.
    Thanks for any help!

  9. Hi how do we reduce the flow, there doesn’t seem to be a switch on the pump. Poor betta is finding tough with this pump.

    1. Never mind found your post on the tube modification! Many thanks for that.

  10. Hi There I have the 15 Gallon Fluval Flex. Have it for a month cleaned it vaccumed washed out filter etc.and I cannot get rid of the iron no matter what I try.Any tips would be greatly appreciated…do I need to empty and start from scratch?

    1. I’m stumped. Iron? How did the Iron get in your aquarium water? Is it at high levels from your tap water?

  11. I can’t get my pump out no matter how I try. I did what you suggested and ended up pulling the tube off. Ugh. It was a nightmare trying to reconnect it. Is there some obvious way that I am missing to remove one of the partitions to gain access to the pump?

    1. Try pulling it out by the cord. If it gets jammed (at an angle) you may need to coerce it back straight (with something long and thin, like a wooden spoon) and then continue gently pulling up by the cord.

  12. Hi. Trying to find your article on reducing the pump speed. I tried adjusting the little speed button on the side of the black box but my goldfish still seem to be struggling. Thanks!

  13. Hi, had some danio fish in a for a few days and they all seem to be hanging in one corner of the tank. Is this normal?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *