Aquarium filters clean water mechanically, chemically, and biologically. They are crucial to keeping your aquarium environment healthy by removing things that can be lethal for fish.
Bio media is a type of filtration media that provides an environment for beneficial bacteria to grow and helps keep your tank clean.
Bio-media will allow the filter to do its job more efficiently in terms of biological filtration.
There are many types of bio-media available, but not all work equally well.
So, what are the best aquarium bio-media? You’ll find out in this blog post!
Importance of Biological Filtration
It’s important to keep your fish tank clean, but there are certain things that can’t be removed in the traditional way. For example, while your fish live happily in their aquariums, harmful ammonia nitrite and nitrate accumulate in the water by natural process.
A biological filter media contains bacteria colonies that will consume ammonia and nitrite to keep these levels in check.
To understand the process better, let’s focus on the following aspects:
Why Is Bio Filter Media Needed?
Fish create poops as they digest the food that is given to them. This should be expected! Food leftovers also accumulate at the bottom of tanks, and all these wastes decompose into the toxic matter in aquariums.
The primary one, and the most concerning for pet owners like myself, ammonia can be very harmful if in any amount at all; this’s why it’s crucial to remove it quickly from your tank water!
The nitrogen cycle is nature’s way to get rid of toxic substances in aquariums, helping convert ammonia into nitrates. Nitrate is less harmful than ammonia or nitrite and can be eliminated by water changes!
However, the conversion occurs by nitrifying bacteria- typically referred to as beneficial bacteria- promoting the nitrogen cycle process to better our fish friends.
Why Is Bacteria So Important?
Have you ever noticed that slimy, slippery film on everything when cleaning your fish tank? This is actually biofilm or bacteria. These are our friends who encourage the nitrogen cycle to eliminate ammonia and nitrite.
The problem is that most bacteria are removed or disturbed from the flat surfaces as we clean the aquarium.
Bio-media is a type of porous material that people use to grow bacteria in aquariums. An important aspect of bio-media is how much surface area it has. This allows beneficial bacteria to grow more easily, making a better home for them to thrive and create healthier aquariums!
Types of Bio Media
You already know that bio-media materials are used in aquarium filters because they provide surface area so bacteria can grow well enough, filtering toxins such as ammonia from our fish tanks!
Ceramic, sintered glass, and plastic are just a few of the materials that can be found in bio media for aquarium filters. These types of material all serve to provide as much surface area possible for bacteria to grow, which then cleanses your water!
6 Best Aquarium Bio Media Reviewed
EHEIM Substrat Pro Biological Filter Media
- Made of highly porous artifiical sintered glass material
- Unbeatable surface area structure of 1800 sq ft per gallon
- Can be reused by lightly rinsing with aquarium water every 1 to 3 months and replaced every 3 to 6 months
- Provides longer intervals between required maintenance
- For use in all EHEIM filters (Classic, Ecco, Pro 3, Pro 3e)
Eheim Substrat Pro is a biological filter media of the highest quality. Purchasing this product will give you the opportunity to filter your water in an unprecedented way. The sintered glass media is considered some of the best types of bio media due to their high porosity, which means more room for beneficial bacteria that aid with filtration! This type of material is an innovation of Eheim filters.
It has an unbelievable surface area structure of 1800 sq ft per gallon! This means it provides longer intervals between required maintenance. For example, Substrat Pro can be reused by lightly rinsing with aquarium water every 1 to 3 months and replaced every 3 to 6 months.
The open structure of this filter media allows water to penetrate the media more efficiently, meaning your bacteria colony will grow quicker, and you’ll be able to get the benefit sooner.
You can use EHEIM Substrat Pro Biological Filter Media for all types of freshwater and marine aquaria. This product is manufactured in Germany and is suitable for experts as well as new hobbyists to use.
- Porous structure to support tons of bacteria
- EHEIM brand name
- Reliable in quality
- Suitable for most filters
- Relatively pricy
Fluval Biomax Filter Media
- Filter Compatibility: Compatible with Fluval Filter Series 106, 206, 306, 406, FX5, FX6, 105, 205, 305, 405, 104, 204,...
- Water Clarification: BioMax is a premium-grade biological filter media that provides superior filtration and helps...
- Ideal Environment: BioMax helps create crystal clear water, making ideal conditions for fish and plants in your tank....
- Versatile: This filter media is suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Replace monthly for best results....
- Additional Features: Will not affect water characteristics.
The Fluval Biomax can be used by anyone with any type of aquarium – even saltwater ones- though they are freshwater-based. It is potent enough to clean all of the toxicity out of your tanks.
This unique porous structure provides superior filtration while providing beneficial bacteria growth. In addition, the complex porous design ensures optimal contact time as water passes through.
Fluval Biomax helps reduce and control ammonia and nitrate to provide a healthy environment for your fish. Replenish only half the filter media at one time to allow proper seeding of beneficial bacteria in the tank.
Fluval has developed this unique filtration system that can keep your sensitive fish healthy in freshwater environments. Many fish species quickly die in moderate contamination, so this comes as an incredible help to keeping such kinds of fish!
- Trusted brand
- Porous hollow cylinder design
- Relatively inexpensive
- Too large for smaller filters
Biohome Ultimate Filter Media
- 2 Pound of Biohome Ultimate Filter Media
- Please note: Amazon prime does not come with starter Balls
- Made from Premium quality sintered glass
- Extremely porous with unique structure, excellent water absorption
- Great for canister, HOB and sump filters.
Biohome Ultimate Filter Media is made from premium quality sintered glass, which combines silica sand and recycled glass that has been oven-fired to create an extremely porous pellet with small spaces for bacteria to thrive.
The highly porous with a unique structure is excellent for water absorption and is easy to clean up by back-flushing.
The package I’m introducing here contains 2 LBS of biological media that you can use for 20-30 gallons. So you’ll never have to worry about running out again!
It provides excellent filtration for canister, HOB, and sump filter setups. This filter media can be used in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
Biohome claims its media will support both aerobic and anaerobic types, which are critical for a healthy tank because anaerobic bacteria control nitrates by reducing them through their natural processes. This allows aquariums with less frequent water changes.
- Promotes nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria
- Suitable for all types of filters
- Useable in canister filters
- Natural recycled materials
- Results cloudy water initially
Seachem Matrix Biological Media
- Filtration: Seachem Matrix Is High Porosity, Inorganic Solid Bio-Media That Provides Efficient Biofiltration For The...
- Diameter: Measuring About 10Mm In Diameter, Each Liter Of Matrix Provides As Much Surface As 170 Liters Of Plastic...
- Macropores: These Matrix Macropores Are Ideally Sized For The Support Of Nitrifying And Denitrifying Bacteria, Allowing...
- Matrix May Be Placed In Any Kind Of Filter And Is Particularly Effective In A Canister Filter
- Country Of Origin : United States
Seachem offers many different media types in their lineup, and they’re all specially chosen for certain qualities. One such type is Seachem Matrix Bio Media, which comes with a very specific set of qualifications: high porosity, pore size, durability, and non-toxic nature are just some examples that make it stand out from the rest!
The grain size of this media varies, but each piece is about 10 mm (0.4 inches) in diameter, providing both an external and internal surface area for bacteria to grow. So it can support nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, but you will need a large amount of media if you want the benefit of the latter variety!
You might be surprised that this product can work in freshwater, saltwater, and reef aquariums. It’s also great because the pH value of the water where it is used won’t change.
The media you are purchasing is made from naturally mined substances. This will enable the bacteria colony to grow, and because it’s organic, there may be slight variations in size or coloration.
- Well-researched product
- Promotes nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria
- Fit in most filters
- Long life
- Quality degrades with non-pumice stones
BrightWater Bio Media Ceramic Sphere
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BrightWater Bio Media Ceramic Sphere is a natural media that improves the biological filtration process of aquariums. The ceramic sphere creates an environment for bacteria to grow, removing nitrate and other harmful toxins from the water.
Bacteria colonize on the surface of the sphere, creating a perfect home for beneficial bacteria. In addition, it reduces ammonia and nitrite levels by up to 50%.
It also helps reduce chlorine and chloramine levels when used with BrightWater Filter Cartridges or Chlorine Remover.
Besides the standard ammonia and nitrate removal property, it comes with Ion exchange to improve your fish’s appetite as well as their activity levels more than ever before in an aquarium.
This media is made of a ceramic material that’s non-flaking and 99% dust-free. In addition, it has an optimum pore structure which helps water flow through it easily, enabling the bacteria colony to grow and thrive!
This biomedia is also suitable for freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums.
- Well-researched product
- Promotes nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria
- Fit in most filters
- Long life
- Quality degrades with non-pumice stones
Marineland Bio-Filter Balls
- BIO-FILTER BALLS: Provide a larger, multi-faceted area for the growth of beneficial Bio-Spira bacteria.
- FOR BIOLOGICAL FILTRATION: An important component of maintaining a clean and healthy aquatic environment.
- COMPATIBILITY: Fits all Marineland C-Series Canister Filters – Rite-Size S and T.
- QUANTITY: Contains 90 Marineland Bio-Filter Balls.
- MARINELAND FILTRATION PRODUCTS: Count on Marineland brand for the most reliable, technically advanced aquariums and...
Marineland Bio-Balls are the ideal filter media for aquariums up to 55 gallons. The hollow core design of these filter media balls provides a more extensive, multi-faceted area for the growth of beneficial Bio-Spira bacteria.
They have been designed this way to provide the best possible conditions for bacterial growth while not providing as much surface area as ceramic, pumice, or sintered glass media.
These filter balls also help remove and prevent the cloudiness caused by organic waste, keeping your water crystal clear. In addition, Marineland Bio-Balls provide superior mechanical filtration, trapping particles as small as two microns.
Bio balls are a cheaper, more efficient option than traditional filter media. They also have the potential to last for decades!
The Marineland Bio-Filter balls are small in size, so you may need to buy multiple boxes if your filter is large. However, unlike some larger bio balls, these will also fit into smaller filters without a problem.
- Not dusty
- Extremely long life
- Easy to clean
- Less porous than other media
How To Setup Bio Media In The Filter?
Once you have found a media that would work for your specific needs, it is time to open up the filter system and prepare it just as instructed by whichever manufacturer’s instructions come with their particular model. However, this will vary depending on which brand’s product you buy.
Bio media is the first line of defense for your tank, so it’s essential to have a mechanical pre-filter installed in order to support the biological media. And it should be placed before the bio media because that will offer some protection against dirt particles getting into contact with porous bio media.
Bio-media that lets water flow through it easily is important because of one key aspect – bio-media consists of bacteria colonies. So you need the maximum amount of water that comes in contact with them.
Cleaning and Replacing Bio Media
Cleaning or replacing your bio-media can be confusing because there are many different opinions on how often you should do it. Some say every couple of weeks, while others suggest a month may suffice depending on the setup in your aquarium.
Whatever you decide to go with is up to personal preference and what works best based on your specific situation!
When you do need to rinse your bio media, use only water from the fish tank. Tap water will kill those beneficial bacteria that are living in it!
You will only need to gently rinse your bio media when it is covered in waste if there isn’t any visible buildup on the media; no need to take a hassle.
When it comes to replacing your old media, don’t change all of them at once! Instead, replace one-third to half of them and wait a week or two before changing the rest. It takes some time for new bacteria colonies to take hold in an aquarium filter, so make sure you keep enough around while the replacement process continues.
There are many ways to keep your fish tank clean and healthy, but the most important one is that a bio-media will remove all the ammonia and nitrates from the water, which could sicken your fish.
So it’s of utmost importance to put in place a proper bio-filter. To get you started on this endeavor, I went through 6 different types of biological media for a fish tank and talked about what they do best.
It was a tough call to pick the best, but the Biohome Ultimate Filter Media is my top pick of aquarium bio media. It makes the water cloudy when initially installed, but I find its benefits outweigh this initial annoyance tenfold!
If you have anything more to know, please leave us a comment below!
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