Pioneer Ceramic Drinking Fountain Big Max
This is THE pet fountain you've been looking for.
We had a plastic fountain for the last two years. Overall, I had no complaints. It *did* have some cleanliness issues though (it needed to be periodically scrubbed for algae, and the filter would clog with fur), and my cat did not help the problem because when she drank, she preferred to let the flow of the fountain flow over the top of her head. It only pooped out recently, and it might have been our own fault for letting it run too dry... but either way, once it pooped out, we started investigating ALL our options, wondering if just buying a new pump was really worth it...
This new fountain does NOT flow in a way where she can get her head wet. It also is whisper-quiet. I hear nothing... the old fountain made a distinct bubbling sound, and even louder if it had a low water level. People were rather grossed-out looking at the algae build-up, which was only removeable to a certain degree.
The new ceramic fountain will NOT be accumulating buildup in the same way, and it makes no bubbling noise at all. Best yet is how easy it is to refill... we just pour more water in, compared to the Drinkwell we had, where we had to remove the tank, refill it, and then carefully realign it without it spilling again. The pieces on this fountain are just so much more practical: two ceramic pieces and an easily-disassembled motor/filter. There were soooo many crevices on our Drinkwell that would clog with fur. Not so on this new fountain.
I LOVE it. It's even attractive, and nobody walks in and says, "Hmmmm....what's that moldy looking plastic thing with all the gurgly water??"
Update: The only criticism I have of this fountain is that it does not fully cycle the water. There are points around the outside of the bowl where there is water that seems to become somewhat stagnant if the bowl is not cleaned routinely. All fountains seem to have a "three week" or so time limit on filters, but on this bowl I would say it is even more vital. The bowl does accumulate algae, hard water deposits, and quite a bit of "floaties" around the outside perimeter of the bowl. When it gets to this point, the only "fresh" looking water is what is coming directly out of the pump.
It is still a better choice than the plastic because it is easier to clean, but it does have some cleaning needs that are inescapable. Keep it clean on a routine basis and there will be no issues... Go longer than your 3 weeks or so, and you will have a pretty gunky looking bowl...
Pioneer Fountain Big Max- Stainless Steel
I have read many reviews on Amazon about the Pioneer Pumps and how they 'die' after a month of use, so I wanted to post how this problem can be remedied. There are thousands of fountains sold per month, and based on information from the manufacturer, only about 2% are returned - the amount of hair, debris and clogging in the pump is the majority of why the pumps are dying. The pumps do require a weekly cleaning. They are absorbing hair that has fallen in your pets dish, pieces of food, treats, and other debris. The directions included in the manual from the manufacturer are not exactly the most helpful so I am posting this in hopes that customers will be able to fix these problems on their own - if not, you can always call the manufacturer who offers a one year warranty on the pump.
First, remove the pump from the white housing unit. Please note the direction that the pump is suctioned within the housing unit (at an angle). ALL 3 HOLES MUST BE ALIGNED WHEN YOU PUT IT BACK TOGETHER. There are 4 pieces to the pump - the end cap, the pump itself, the impeller cover, and the impeller. Take all 4 pieces of the pump apart and clean of any debris. When replacing, please ensure all pieces are pushed back into place properly. If you do not push the impeller (it is a round magnet piece that is yellow or white on the end) back in properly, the magnets will not align to spin the pump, and your pump will not work. Snap all pieces back into place. There is a little black switch on the side of your pump that should be set in the middle - if it is off to one side, the pump will not flow. Off to the other side, and the flow seems very strong, where it can cause water to splash if your dish if full - so we recommend the middle.
When placing the pump back into the white housing unit, make sure you can see the hole to the top of the pump, in the hole of the top of your white housing unit. Putting this together a few times the routine becomes very easy - however, many customers, even seasoned veterans (haha... I've done it) have been known to put the pump back in the incorrect position. If you do this, you will have NO WATER FLOW. The hole of the pump should be at the TOP of your white housing unit before you replace the cover. The white housing unit then snaps back into place and aligns with the hole to your fountain. When you have the fountain assembled properly - you should be able to look down the top of the fountain and see the hole that leads to the pump motor. Last, prime your pump. I always pour a little water down the top of the hole when refilling it, this allows the pump to prime and your fountain should be working again.
If it does not work, the manufacturer, whose number is on your manual (866-31-SMART)- replaces the motor for one year from date of purchase. I have friends who thought their pumps were broken, they were not, they were simply installeed incorrectly. Try it and see.... you'll be surprised.
Drinkwell Original Pet Fountain
I bought one of these Drinkwells through Amazon. I got the optional resevoir and cleaning kit and with shipping it cost me $70. The Drinkwell has a relatively loud pump noise that comes from under the bowl part which spooked the cats the first few days (ands drives me nuts so I have to unplug it at night even though it's three rooms away from my bedroom). Once they got over the noise, the cats loved it so much that I would have liked a second (I have multiple food/water stations) but the price made that impossible.
The other day I was at my local grocery store and they had a similar product called the Bubbler for $14.99. I couldn't believe it and snatched one up.
Let me say, the Bubbler is not only considerably cheaper, but holds more water than the Drinkwell, is easier to clean than the Drinkwell and is quieter than the Drinkwell. I so regret spending that much money on the Drinkwell now.
The Bubbler air pump is not in the bowl, it connects to it by a hose so the little bit of noise from it is far enough away as to not spook the cats. All you really hear from the Bubbler is the bubbling water which reminds me of those water fountains people put in their homes now.
The Drinkwell pump is in the back of the bowl and it recirculates the water so you hear the pump itself and then the running water sound. As it pulls water from the bowl and recirculates it, any pet hair or dropped food that goes into the bowl gets pulled into the inlet and clogs it. Some hair goes right through these little pieces and then clogs the pump. I pulled a big hair clog out of the center of the pump already. Plus it uses filters so there's that extra cost. I have run it without the filters, so that is an option.
There's only three pieces to clean in the Bubbler, the bowl and tank/lid, and they go in my dishwasher. The Drinkwell has 4 major pieces, 2 lids, three small pieces, and the pump itself which need to be cleaned with the brushes by hand.
The Drinkwell is great and the cats do like it, and I would have gladly given it 5 stars prior to owning the Bubbler, but that would have been based soley on cats loving it and not because I had any true basis for comparison. Now I have two to compare and so my Drinkwell is no longer all that great. Even if they dropped the price in half, I'd still get another Bubbler just for the ease of cleaning and the water capacity it holds.