IceCap 3K Gyre Pump: Assembly, Installation & Operation

ompared to traditional powerheads and wavemakers that have a propeller nozzle style flow, the IceCap 3K is based on advanced crossflow technology that produces massive horizontal water movement capable of creating the iconic gyre flow pattern.

Most propeller pumps out on the market are based on Propeller nozzle style flow technology, which produces flow from a single point.   This is great for speedboats and water skiing but not for the delicate creatures in our tanks.

Single point water flow pumps create a hot zone… an area of fast and abrasive flow that will damage anything in its path rendering the valued tank space unusable as any corals in the immediate vicinity of the pump will get stripped of all flesh and die.

Crossflow Pumps on the other hand spread the energy over a large horizontal area. This allows the pump to push massive amounts of water but still be gentle to our corals even when placed near the pump.

The IceCap 3K is a great pump that uses the latest in crossflow technology at a reasonable price. It is durable and features a very efficient motor consuming a mere 8-40 watts (depending on the intensity of the flow) with a maximum flow of 3000 gallons per hour. A single 3K pump is suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons and multiple 3K pumps can easily handle larger systems.

The box should include:

  • 3K Pump
  • Power adapter
  • Controller with mount
  • Protective sleeves
  • Spare set of propeller bushings
  • Instruction manual


Assembling and Installing the 3K Pump

Assembling and installing the pump is fairly straightforward but we must carefully choose the location and orientation of the pump within our tank.

Horizontal Side Mount

We can mount the 3K pump horizontally near the water surface. So water is pushed across the surface and returns in the familiar Gyre flow pattern.

Or, we can choose to set the pump vertically on the rear glass and push water across the back or side of the aquarium.

On very long or wide aquariums the Gyre can be placed vertically on the back wall and cycle to the front of the aquarium and back.


Once we have selected the optimal spot for the 3K, it is time to install the pump. First, ensure that the glass thickness is no more than ½ inch.  Then, using a simple razor, we must clean the selected area to remove any algae from the surface.

Separate the pump from its magnet bracket and install it in your desired location. These magnets are very strong so PLEASE be careful not to pinch your fingers or have the magnet slip out of your hands as it may damage the glass or acrylic.  

Once installed, we may rotate the flow cages clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust the water flow angle and take note to where the water is directed. When mounting the IceCap 3K vertically, please be sure to rotate the cages so that the water intake is AWAY from the glass or acrylic walls.

Once the pump has been installed, it is time to mount the controller. Choose a location that is away from heat, excessive humidity and NEVER mount the controller over open water.

Affix the rear-mounting frame to a flat surface such as the wall or outside your aquarium stand. Please, be sure that the cable reaches the pump and the cable connections have proper drip loops to prevent any components from getting wet.

Connect the cable from the controller to the 3K pump and then, connect the cable from the power supply to the controller. Finally, connect the pump to the power outlet and run the pump for the first time.

Now that the pump is running, let’s take a look at the controller and its features.

The controller box has two buttons, a dial, and a display.

The power/setup button, allows you to turn the controller and pumps ON and OFF, engage FEED mode as well as set the controller’s internal clock.

The Switch Mode button allows you to switch between each of the available options while, the control dial lets you toggle between the different flow speed and pulse frequency.

The controller features 5 different flow modes:

  • Constant Speed Mode
  • Pulsing Mode
  • Gradual Pulsing Mode
  • Random Mode
  • And Alternating Gyre Mode

We suggest you start with Constant Speed Mode to configure your pumps flow pattern, water flow speed, positioning and direction of the flow cages.

The second available flow mode is Pulsing. Here you can set the pump to automatically switch on and off at different preset times to recreate a surging effect.  

Gradual pulsing mode is similar to pulse mode as the pump will turn ON and OFF at a set frequency. The difference is that each time the pump turns ON and OFF, it will increase the speed until it reaches the maximum speed we specified. Then, it will gradually slow down and start the cycle again.

In Random Mode you set the max speed and the controller will randomly select and run different modes to create an unpredictable flow pattern within your aquarium.

The fifth and last water flow mode is the Alternating Gyre. Running in reverse is one of this pump’s most unique features. In this mode and in stock configuration, the pump is capable of pushing water forward and then when running in reverse, create a turbulent flow.

Now, in this video we will not cover the details of Alternating Gyre Mode. This video is more of a quick overview meant to get your IceCap 3K up and running for the first time.

If you would like a more in-depth view of the Alternating Gyre Mode and the different flow patterns it can create, please watch our upcoming video IceCap Gyre 3K: Alternating Gyre Mode.


Operational Modes

In addition to the flow modes, the controller comes with two Operational Modes. Manual Mode that allows you to configure a single flow mode to run 24/7 and, Automatic Mode, which allows you to create a customized flow regimen in a 24-hr continuous cycle.


Manual Mode

To setup manual mode, press and hold the power button for 4 seconds to turn the controller ON. Now press and hold the Switch Mode Button for 4 seconds until the controller displays an M letter. If the controller displays an A letter instead, then press and hold the Switch Mode button again until the letter A switches to M.

Now press and release the Switch Mode button once again to enter the setup screen. The screen will flash a gear icon indicating that the controller is in setup mode.

The controller will now let you set up the pump. Rotate the dial clockwise to select the desired flow mode. Once the controller flashes the desired flow icon, press the center dial once to save and continue to the next available option.

Depending on the flow mode you have selected, you will now be asked to set different flow variables. Since the pump can run in both forward and reverse, the direction will be shown by a plus or minus sign next to the flow speed percentage.

Rotate the dial clockwise to select forward and counterclockwise to select reverse. Once you have reached the desired flow speed and direction, press the center dial once to save and move on to the next available variable. Continue this process through all required variables.


Automatic Mode

Automatic Mode is set up very similar to manual mode. In fact, the only difference is that you can select how long a particular setup will run.

To select automatic mode, press and hold the Switch Mode button for 4 seconds until you see an A icon on the right side of the display screen.

Now, press and release both power and switch mode buttons at the same time. This will allow you to set the controllers internal clock. Rotate the dial to the correct hour and press the dial in to set up minutes. When done, press and release the switch mode button to save.

Press and release the switch mode button once again to enter setup mode. The display will now flash a gear icon.

As you enter setup mode, you will see the left side of the display flash a number 1. Next to the number one you will also see a time stamp set to zero.   The number 1 indicates a set point in the scheduling. The controller can have up to 24 different set points. The time stamp indicates the STARTING point of such set point.

For example, here is a simple 3-point 24 hour schedule:

  1. Set first set point to run a pattern from 8am to 2pm
  2. Then a new pattern to run from 2pm to 10pm
  3. and the last pattern to run from 10pm to 8am the next day.

You will need to set the first number to 1 with a time stamp of 08:00. Then, proceed to set the pump up the same way we set them up in manual mode. After setting up all the variables for point one and you have pressed the center dial to return to the flashing number 1.

Carefully turn the dial clockwise until the number one changes to number 2.

Set up point 2 to 14:00 and following the same sequence as before, create point 3 with a starting time of 22:00.

Once you have created all the desired set points, go ahead and press the Switch Mode button once to return to the main screen. The left side of the display will confirm the new program and the gear icon will fade away.

Feeding Mode

The controller also comes equipped with a feeding mode. When activated, the controller will shut down the pump for 10 minutes.

To activate feed mode, just press and release the Mode Setting button and the controller will display a countdown confirming that the feed mode has been activated. The pump will resume it’s previous operating mode after 10 minutes.



What is the best mounting orientation for my new IceCap 3K?

I get this question asked all the time and unfortunately there isn’t a straight forward answer. Every tank is different. Different rockwork, random shapes and different corals.

What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Test different locations and flows patterns until you find something that BOTH YOU and YOUR corals are happy with.

As a starting point, we recommend mounting the pump horizontally near the water surface on the side of the aquarium. Move it around and pay attention to your corals. THEY will tell you when they are happy.


I am running my gyre in Alternating Gyre Mode but it does not move any water when running at 100% reverse. What’s going on?

The pump is producing turbulent flow. If you wish to run the pump as if you had two pumps you will require a second set of cages and propellers to modify the way the pump is assembled.


My pump did not come with a spare set of cages and propellers. How do I run Alternating Gyre Mode without them?

The IceCap 3K pump does not include a spare set of propellers and cages. These are sold separately. To purchase the IceCap 3K Alternating Gyre Mode Kit that includes a set of propellers and cages, please head over to


If you would like to learn more about the IceCap 3K flow pump including detailed specs, beautiful high quality pictures and replacement parts, head on over to  

Author: PR Manager

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