Which Fish Tank Filter Media Should You Get

What would you do if your tank was with fish waste, excess food, or dirt? Replace the whole water of tanks and clean them. Or solve this problem via filter media? The latter option is time-saving and energy-saving, right? Today, we will discuss the topic of filter media in fish tanks.

Quick Content

Before getting down to business, we would like to talk about the definition of fish tank filter media first. Filter media refers to any material in a filter that could improve water quality. That is to say, once water flows through the filter media, it will prove the water quality.

Types of fish tank filter media

There are three different types of aquarium filter medium, including mechanical media, biological media, and chemical media. And they should be put in random order. Next, let’s learn more about them.

types of filter media in tank

types of filter media in tank

Mechanical Media

Mechanical media is usually placed first. It can remove water-insoluble impurities and block debris, including fish excrement, uneaten food, dust, and sludge.

Types of mechanical media include sponge, gravel, foam block, filter floss, and filter pad. Once the water in tanks flows through these mediums, the impurity and debris will be filtered.

Be attentive, mechanical media needs regular cleaning, or build-up will come. After cleaning, some bacterial colonies will be lost.

Biological Media

Biological media is often placed second, and it is also called bio filter media. It can provide a favorable growth environment for nitrifying bacteria. Via the biological function of nitrifying bacteria, it can transform the toxic substances of fish and aquatic plants into non-toxic substances. Besides, it is the most critical part to keep the water quality stable. Types of biological media include ceramic rings, sponges, pads, foam, and bio balls. These mediums are poriferous and with high surface areas. It provides a comfortable and excellent environment for bacteria exactly.

We should reduce the time to clean the biological mediums, and unless necessary, do not replace them. Because the older the medium, the better the filtration.

Chemical Media

Chemical media is usually placed last. Because if we install it first, it would be clogged. And if we install it before biological media, what we feed bacterial colonies would be removed. So only place it at the final, can the bacterial colonies not be affected.

Chemical media can remove the harmful substance that can dissolve in water and would adjust the PH value. Types of chemical media include activated carbon, zeolite, crushed coral, poly filter, and various resins.

Besides, there are tips for you. When your fish is sick, do not use carbon in your tank. Because carbon can absorb or remove chemicals in water, as well as medicines.

Why is filter media necessary in an aquarium?

In all, the filter media could provide a better environment for creatures in aquariums. The necessity of it is for the following points:

  • Promote the nitrogen cycle
  • Keep the water quality stable
  • Keep creatures in tanks healthy
  • Help to increase the dissolved oxygen
  • Improve the generation of beneficial bacteria
  • Convert the harmful substance into a harmless one

What type of filtration does your tank need?

Mechanical and biological filtration systems are applied in almost all filtration systems. However, the appropriate filtration systems for tanks are often determined by the size of the tanks and the specific needs of fish and plants. And there are some ideas for you.

Sponge filter

Sponge filter

Sponge filter

The sponge filter is not recommended as a primary filtration system, even if it is effective. It is simple and inexpensive. And it is usually applied in small fish tanks. It can collect debris and bacteria when the water goes through the porous sponge. When you set up a quarantine tank, a sponge filter is a good option.

Power filter

Power filter

Power filter

At present, power filtration is a popular one. It provides mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. It has commonly believed that the power filters are most suitable for tanks of fifty or fewer gallons. The power filter is also a good choice because it is easy to maintain and inexpensive.

Canister filter

If your tanks are large, the canister filter is a perfect option exactly. Because it can filter water quickly. Besides, the filter is placed under aquariums. Although the canister filter requires more preservation and is relatively more expensive, it is still a good choice if your tanks are large. Because it can make your tank a completely natural look.

Wet/Dry filter

If there are larger amounts of fish in your tank, the wet/dry filter is one perfect option because it can increase the dissolved oxygen and
keep the water quality. Besides, biological filtration is pretty superior.

Why are filter media blocks not installed in a saltwater tank?

Years before, the mechanical filter is best for aquariums. Later the canister filter comes out. But the canister filter is most suitable for freshwater aquariums. It can keep water quality stable. However, it is not a good choice for reef aquariums or saltwater tanks. Because the filter can not reduce NO3 but promote its generation, the debris attached to the media will decompose into NO3, which is harmless to fish but harmful to conch, sea urchins, crabs, sea shrimp, and coral. If the concentration is above 20 ppm, these creatures will be to die.

Using and cleaning filter media

At the beginning of this part, two tips for you first:

First, when you remove the filter from the water or do maintenance, do not forget to keep it turned off. Second, to make sure the filtration works effectively, you need to clean or replace the filter cotton and activated carbon regularly.

Mechanical media: It needs regular and frequent cleaning. It can be washed with strong currents. But it is better to wash part of it at a time.
Biological and chemical media: They do not need frequent cleaning. You can put them in clean water and just pinch them a few times. Please remember that do not make it too clean, because if you do that, the bacteria attached to them need to reproduce again, and it will make the water in your tank not clear.


Filter media is particularly important for fish tanks, right? After reading this article, you exactly know the types of filter mediums in tanks, the ways to use and clean these filter mediums, and the necessity of filter mediums for aquariums. Besides, you can choose suitable filtration for your tanks too. We hope you have gained some useful information. Any other questions? Please go NEED HELP and leave your messages, Hygger is glad to give you a hand!

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