10 Best Sponge Filter For Aquarium – The Comprehensive Buying & Maintenance Guide

Best Sponge Filter For Aquarium by Aquarium Tales

When it comes to breeding killifish and guppies, you need to make sure that everything is working according to the plan. That includes maintaining a suitable pH level, oxygen, and clean water every day.

And only the Best Sponge Filter For Aquarium can create the perfect world for your aquatic buddies! 

So, if your aquarium has accumulated fish waste and other organic debris, consider switching to sponge filters from the basic HOBs

Their bio-filtration formula keeps those toxic bacteria and particles at bay! Ultimately, they are quiet and gentle, and they keep the aquarium 24/7 oxygenated.

Today we’re going to talk about sponge filters for fish tanks and if they’re any good after all! So, stay with us and enjoy! 

Contents show

What is A Sponge Filter?

A sponge filter is a vital fish tank accessory that cleanses the entire aquarium and oxygenates the water inside. Casting our first glance at this gadget, we were more than surprised to see how simple it is.

If you’re wondering what a sponge filter is made of, we can show you the way!

Foam Sponge

This is the most crucial part of a sponge filter. It’s actually a more refined and porous version of the sponge we see in our everyday lives. 

This foam sponge doubles up as a colony of good bacteria. So, not only does the sponge draw in floating wastes but also produces beneficial bacteria.

Anatomy of a sponge filter

Weighted Base

A weighted base is the bottom part of the sponge filter. It’s made sturdy and heavy so that the water flow or your betta fish don’t move the filter around. It also keeps the sponge filter in its exact location.

Strainer and Bull’s Eye

The strainer prevents the filtered wastes and parasites from entering the aquarium water once again. Now, the bull’s eye connects the sponge filter to the airline tubing. 

It’s also where the air pump outlet opens. So, you’ll see that many people place an air stone on the bull’s eye to control the water flow and bubbles.

Lift Tube

A lift tube is a part that moves water from the filter to the aquarium. It also connects the product to a powerhead on the more expensive sponge filters. Besides, a high-quality lift tube means a less noisy output.

10 Best Sponge Filter Reviews

This is where we talk about the 10 excellent sponge filters that worked for aquarium lovers and aquascapes worldwide. We tried to include sponge filters for every occasion, ecosystem, and fishkeeping style. So, there are high chances that you’ll find one that you like!

If you’re looking for an excellent sponge filter to help your betta and guppies breathe, AQUANEAT has a smart solution to that.

This one here is a high-quality biochemical filter that provides effective filtration and oxygen circulation for your fish. 

For starters, this sponge filter for aquariums is the perfect size for a 60-gallon fish tank. It produces a minimum amount of current so that little fish can stay healthy in their aquarium.

You get a 4-foot airline tubing along with 4 suction cups, a check valve, and a control valve. 

The most remarkable thing about the AQUANEAT sponge filter is that it will not suck in baby fish or harm them. It makes the product ideal for shrimp, guppy, killifish, dwarf cichlid, and betta fish keepers.  

Positives

  • Suitable for aquariums, maternity tanks, fry tanks, and small hatcheries
  • The air chamber generates minute bubbles for increasing oxygen solubility 
  • Ideal for tanks up to 60 gallon 
  • You can use it for saltwater tanks

Negatives

  • Doesn’t come with an air stone 

The Aquatop aqua flow sponge filter is going to blend beautifully with your aquascape, featuring high-quality foam and laid-back aesthetics. Keeping a healthy environment in your betta fish aquarium just got easier with this Classic Aqua Flow sponge!

To begin with, this quality sponge filter has a 5-inch diameter. So, even if your fish tank is a bit small, you shouldn’t have any problem adding the product. 

It’s recommended that the filter stays a few inches below the water line for creating bubbles. All you need to do is add an air pump and an air tube.

Now, if you’re working with a taller tank, you can easily swap its lift tube for a larger size. This AquaTop sponge filter promotes healthy bacteria growth inside the aquarium. As for the bubbles, they produce a good amount of surface agitation for oxygenating the water.

Positives

  • Allows biological and mechanical filtration 
  • You can use AquaTop as a stand-alone filter for breeding tanks and hatcheries 
  • Doesn’t produce a lot of noise 
  • Easy to install 

Negatives

  • Doesn’t come with an air tube 

UPETTOOLS here has a top-notch biochemical sponge filter that keeps your aquarium water clean and breathable.
First of all, it’s a pack of four sponge filters. Considering their durability, you won’t need to buy sponge filters in a long time.

Now, if you’re a betta lover, you already know how they hate strong currents. Shrimps make good betta fish tank companions, and they too require gentle filtration to thrive.

That said, you need a soft sponge filter like UPETTOOLS so that you don’t get harsh bubbles and currents.
Each UPETTOOLS sponge easily lasts six months and gives your beloved betta fish a healthy place to swim and mate.

Got a supersized 20-gallon tank? No problem! This filter is effective in up to 20-gallon aquariums and hatcheries.
It’s now available in single-sponge and double-sponge systems for goldfish, angelfish, shrimp, and fry!

Positives

  • Each sponge can last up to 6 months 
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 60 gallon 
  • Breaks down harmful ammonia 
  • A pack of 4 single sponges 

Negatives

  • It might leak from the seal after a few months 

If your sponge filter keeps the whole house awake, you can give Huijukon a shot. This one is tranquil and leaves a beautiful stream of tiny bubbles behind.

The Huijukon sponge filter is a great choice for 10-to-60-gallon aquariums. We think this is the best sponge filter because it features two exclusive bio-media containers.

So, if your aquarium pollution is off the charts, you can have Huijukon take care of it. 

Apart from breaking down toxic ammonia with beneficial bacteria, it also offers mechanical filtration that traps floating wastes. 

We recommend the Huijukon sponge filter for a betta tank with snails, shrimps, crayfish, fry, discus, and angelfish. The material is highly porous, and it’s made of a double 9-layered, ribbed sponge.

Lastly, maintaining this sponge filter for aquariums is pretty straightforward. It’s going to last over a year and give you good value for your money! 

Positives

  • Oxygenates the tank for promoting healthy fish growth 
  • Two 9-layered, high-porosity sponges for better bacteria colonization 
  • Includes two bio-media containers for adding pumice, filter pads, and gravel 
  • An adjustable air-water outlet for changing filter height and direction
  • Suitable for fish tanks up to 60 gallons

Negatives

  • Average quality bio media 

Here we have another high-density sponge filter that keeps your betta fins safe and your troops healthy! This foam filter by BACTO-SURGE is for the teensiest aquariums and nano tanks. 

You can use it as a dedicated tank where you keep the fry. This filter is excellent for hospital tanks and quarantine tanks for its gentle yet effective output. It keeps the floating debris and harmful nitrates away from your fish. 

Maintaining a suitable ecosystem in your fish tank is easier than you think. From oxygenating the water to breaking down harmful wastes, BACTO-SURGE sponge filters got everything covered.

You also don’t need an airline extension for this one. Its airflow performance was way impressive compared to many top-tier sponge filters on the market.

In short, this is the best sponge filter for grow-out tanks because it effectively cleans the water without sucking in small fish. 

Positives

  • Excellent biochemical and mechanical filtration
  • Suitable for small-sized aquariums and fry tanks 
  • Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria 
  • Maintains a proper pH in freshwater aquariums

Negatives

  • You need to make manual adjustments for making it work with heads and power filters 

Whether it’s a betta tank or a grow-out tank, you can’t deny that good sponge filters keep your fish healthy and happy. This Hydro-Sponge is made of a patented sponge foam with the highest debris-catching quality.

To begin with, the Hydro-Sponge traps floating waste and debris so that your fish can thrive in clean water. It mechanically cleans the aquarium water without harming baby fry in the process.

What’s unique about this sponge filter is that you can use it either horizontally or vertically. Since it comes with a heavy base, it comfortably submerges into the water. If you ask us, we had our fair share of floating sponge filter problems to know which products will work.

Finally, its roomy lift tube makes it possible for the filter to move a high volume of water. And the best part? You don’t need an adapter for using a powerhead!

Positives

  • Build from patented sponge foam for catching all the debris 
  • Features a raised bottom and a heavier base for proper submersion 
  • High-volume water flow for better oxygenation 
  • Doesn’t require powerhead adapters

Negatives

  • Might not be able to control ammonia levels for larger fish.

This all-in-one sponge filter by Hygger offers excellent bio-filtration, physical filtration, and oxygenation to your fish tank. Let’s face it; the water in your aquarium can get super stale and unhygienic if you don’t install a sponge filter.

Well, Hygger brings you the best sponge filter you can get for the price. The fine 60ppi sponge filters can be an incredible surface for bacterial colonization. Although it’s suitable for 15 to 55-gal aquariums, you can get two for larger ones.

To top it all off, Hygger includes a bag of high-quality ceramic media balls. You’re going to need these bio-media balls to remove dangerous ammonia and nitrates from your aquarium.

Positives

  • Maintains a stable pH value 
  • Absorbs wastes for cultivating good bacteria 
  • Removes toxic impurities from your fish tank
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater tanks 
  • Comes with ceramic media balls and 2 filter media containers 

Negatives

  • It can be a little noisy at times

From purifying the water to removing harmful debris, these sponge filters take good care of your betta fish and guppies. And what better way to keep your aquarium ecosystem in order than getting the best sponge filter for the job?

It also produces a gentle water flow alongside small bubbles to give your fish a fun experience! What’s more, the bubbles aren’t too harsh for fry tanks. But if you think they’re a bit much for your shrimps, you can face the exhaust line to the back of the tank.

As for the last step, you can clean the sponge in an old aquarium and make it last up to six months and more!

Positives

  • Ideal for breeding guppies, dwarf cichlid, killifish, and discus
  • Helps maintain the nitrogen cycle 
  • Gets rid of cloudy water with mechanical filtration 
  • Doesn’t trap baby fish 

Negatives

  • Not suitable for aquariums over 10 gallons 

If your otherwise playful and cheery betta fish are rising to the top for breathing, you know it’s time to get them the sponge filter they deserve! This sponge filter by Uxcell ensures all-around mechanical and biological filtration for your aquarium.

Next, it filters out all the visible and microscopic waste to clean the aquarium water again. We especially like the Uxcell one because it really keeps a healthy nitrogen cycle going.

After all, a sponge filter that breaks down ammonia and keeps your tank well-oxygenated is hands down the best sponge filter there is! Besides, Uxcell is one of those rare fish products you can get under a ten-dollar ceiling.

Positives

  • Gets rid of worms and parasites 
  • The fine-pore sponge is gentle enough for fry tanks 
  • Works well as a pre-filter on a canister filter  
  • Compatible with all power filter intake tubes 

Negatives

  • Takes up a lot of aquarium space 

Suppose you’re looking for a sponge filter with the best aesthetics. In that case, you’re going to love this AquaCity corner filter for its looks and qualities.

First of all, it comes with an air-driven filter and multi-layered bio media. The top layer is made of high-quality filter pads to expel day-to-day aquarium wastes and keep the water visibly clean.

Moving on, the black bio-sponge is there to sprout beneficial bacteria inside the tank. They get the natural nitrogen cycle in shape by turning unhealthy ammonia into useful nitrates!

And finally, the ceramic rings and gravel put forward an overall bio-filtration. This is another reason why we think this AquaCity product is the best sponge filter for you!

Positives

  • Ceramic rings and gravels filter out the organic wastes 
  • The top filter pad removes mechanical debris 
  • Comes with necessary bio media for better filtration 
  • You can replace the gravel with the more effective sintered glass 

Negatives

  • Average quality plastic casing 

How to Set Up A Sponge Filter

Installing a sponge filter in a crooked way can lead to leaks and minimized bubble production. In the worst-case scenario, the set-up can be so noisy that it keeps you awake all night.

Well, setting up a sponge filter is actually not that hard. Because we are just about to show you how to get the sponge filter started in a few easy steps!

A point to note- the installation process is pretty much the same for all types of aquariums, such as fish tanks, breeder tanks, hospital tanks, and fry tanks.

Assemble the Sponge Filter

First of all, find the plastic strainer inside the sponge filter and take out the bull’s eye. Place an air stone inside the strainer and connect it to the bull’s eye directly or with a small piece of airline tubing.

Now snap the bulls-eye back on the strainer and put the strainer back into the sponge. Connect the other end of the strainer to the sponge filter’s weighted base.

Squeeze Out Air Before Submerging

You need to connect the nipple of the bull’s eye to the airline tubing for this part. Now, place the lift tube over the airline tubing and clamp it on the bull’s eye.

Squeeze the sponge in your palm and submerge it into the aquarium water. The sponge will absorb water and stay well-put inside the aquarium. If it’s floating back up, it means you couldn’t get rid of all the air outside.

Connect the Air Pump

The airline tube protruding from the sponge filter should now be connected to the air pump. If the airline tube is too long, cut it to the correct size.

To prevent water from entering the airline tubing, cut a part of the airline tubing that is outside the fish tank. Now, this is where you install a check valve so that whenever the air pump is turned off, water doesn’t flow into the wrong places.

Plug it in!

If you’ve followed everything so far, you are just one step away from getting the sponge filter in action. We recommend that you make a drip loop with the air pump’s power cord. It keeps moisture away from the plug.

Plugin the pump, and you’ll see bubbles coming out of your new sponge filter within seconds! Check the video to understand the sponge filter setup better. 

Things to Consider Before Buying

Honestly, there are tons of sponge filters for aquariums on the market. But only a few will be as effective as you want them to be.

 Suppose you want to make the most out of your sponge filter, head over to our guide below! We have listed everything you need to know about aquarium sponge filters to give your betta and guppies the best life!

Aquarium Size

The aquarium size and type matter a great deal because sponge filters come in different materials (fine or coarse) for different aquariums. You don’t want a coarse sponge filter for a fry tank.

Chances are, your fry and baby fish will straight get sucked into the sponge. We recommend fine, high-porous sponge filters for fish tanks up to 60 gallons.

Types

Well, the different types of sponge filters include freshwater and saltwater sponge filters, HOB filters, stand-alone, double, or canister filters. HOB, or Hang on Back filters, is quite simple. They don’t provide the best-in-class filtration.

On the other hand, canister filters are low maintenance. But they don’t work efficiently in reef or saltwater aquariums. Stand-alone filters are usually compatible with both types of aquatic ecosystems.

Advanced Features

Did you know that your betta fish, guppy, and killifish require plenty of good bacteria to thrive?

There are a few sponge filters that include bio-media compartments for better bacteria growth. And we find these products extremely useful. Some of them come with filter pads on the top and ceramic rings on the bottom.

Your budget

It all comes down to how much you’re willing to spend on sponge filters for aquariums. HOB filters will work to a certain extent, but breeder, fry, and hospital tanks require intensive care and a daily nutrition boost.

The good news is, most stand-alone sponge filters cost no more than fifteen dollars. You can get value packs of four sponge filters as well.

Installation

We had extensively covered the sponge filter installation process a while ago. And if you’ve already given it a read, you know how easy it is to set up these filters. Seriously though, setting up sponge filters is a no-brainer task.

Performance

The performance of a sponge filter goes beyond bio-filtration and mechanical filtration.

Yes, it has to produce a good number of beneficial bacteria and cultivate them naturally. You also need your sponge filter to trap small to big fish wastes and other debris.

You need to remember that a sponge filter that produces gentle bubbles and keeps the water oxygenated over its life is ultimately the best sponge filter.

Quality and Design

As we’ve mentioned before, there are stand-alone sponge filters and double filter options. There are sponge filters that rotate full 360 degrees, and there are filters that go both horizontally and vertically.

Apart from the differences in layout and location, a high-quality sponge filter also has a 60ppi, highly porous material. It helps the product draw in wastes and unhealthy parasites.

Ease of Cleaning

Here’s the thing- a cheap sponge filter will easily break apart when you squeeze it for cleaning. 

Other than that, cleaning sponge filters doesn’t require expensive solvents. You need to run it in old tank water, wring it a few times, and put it back in!

Sponge Filter Maintenance (How to Clean A Sponge Filter)

If you see that the bubbles have decreased in your aquarium with the same air pump power, it means that your sponge filter is all clogged up inside.

No worries. This is where we show you the easy and effective ways to clean a sponge filter. Keep reading!

Disassemble the Sponge Filter

First, take the bull’s eye out of the filter’s strainer. It will clear up space for you to scoop out the sponge from the filter. We suggest using a plastic bag for removal because the detritus can spread into the aquarium water if you’re not careful.

Place It in an Old Tank

Never clean your sponge filter in anything other than old tank water. It might take away the beneficial bacteria that have grown inside the sponge. Repeat after us- never clean sponge filters in clean tap water!

Gently Wring the Sponge Several Times

After you’ve placed the sponge filter in old aquarium water, squeeze it a couple of times. You’ll see some wastes (and even worms!) floating on the water. After it’s all clean, put the sponge back in the filter, and you’re good to go! Watch the video below for more clear understanding.

Sponge Filter Tips and Tricks

At this point, you might think that you know everything about sponge filters. But we have come up with 3 exciting facts we bet you didn’t know about sponge filters!

Your Aquarium Air Pump Matters A Lot!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought the best sponge filter on the market. Pairing it up with a low-quality air pump will produce a minimum number of bubbles and surface tension. Both of which are extremely important for maintaining good fish health at all times.

So, take our advice and invest in a quality air pump. Keep your aquarium and fish size in mind before you make a purchase!

Consider a Sponge Filter For Power Back-Up Purposes

If your air pump connects to a power outlet, it’s not going to work during a blackout. Besides, you might not know when the power comes back. That’s why keeping a battery-powered pump and a secondary sponge filter is always a good decision!

Your Sponge Material Matters

Like we’ve said many times before, your sponge material matters! For example, a fine sponge is a great choice for fry tanks and hospital tanks. When fry swims too close to the filter, it can get dragged into the coarse sponge and injure their little fins. However, it’s not a problem for larger, adult fish.

How Often Should You Clean A Sponge Filter?

Depending on your sponge filter quality and the aquarium state, you should clean the sponge filter every 3 to 4 weeks! If the sponge material is good enough, you can move it to 5 weeks.

Honestly, instead of following a strict timetable, you can look out for stains, cloudy water, a shortage of bubbles, and so on. These are the too 3 indicators that your sponge filter needs a wash.

Taking care of your sponge filter can keep the product nicely functional from 6 months to a whole year.

Do I Need an Air Stone for Sponge Filters?

It depends on what type of fish you are keeping in your aquarium. A general rule of thumb is to get an air stone for your new sponge filters. It’s basically a small accessory that diffuses tiny air bubbles into the aquarium.

See, if the air pump is directly in contact with the aquarium water, it might produce large bubbles at incredible speeds. It can damage the gills and fins of your betta fish and make them sick and agitated.

Having an air stone can gently move water and help oxygenate the fish tank. You can do without one, but you should definitely install an air stone in warmer seasons since oxygen levels are naturally lower in those periods. sponge filter is always a good decision!

Final Words

At the end of the day, sponge filters are an inexpensive solution to keep your aquarium clean and your fish healthy. We hope that you’ll find the best sponge filter for aquariums from our list. All the best! 

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