Aquarium Filter Media – Is There Such A Thing As The Best One

The function of the filtration is to ensure that the relevant nutrients in the water are processed. These nutrients occur due to the inhabitants being kept in a closed environment – the aquarium.

Of course life in the ocean also creates waste yet the ocean is so vast that the waste/nutrients are controlled. Look at the oceans filtration – huge sumps, loads of live rock, the biggest deep sand beds ever, mangrove swamps etc.

In our aquariums fish and food are the biggest problems. As soon as you add fish to the aquarium there is a requirement for you to feed it. The trouble is the majority of aquarists unfortunately overfeed. Not on purpose I hasten to add feeding is a pleasurable time and as aquarists we all want to ensure that our fish are well fed.

Fish being fish though will just eat. This is a natural response and is primarily because they do not know when their next meal will come, therefore the gorge.

This causes the problem. There is a lot of food which does not get eaten and starts to decay, other food is passed through the fish’s digestive system either un-digested or partially digested as they ate to much, normal faeces plus urine.

Unless this waste is broken down and processed by the aquariums filtration system then before long the fish will be living in a nutrient loaded soup.

Not nice as I am sure you will agree.

This is why it is so important that a good filtration system is implemented. There are various types of filtration which can be utilised in the aquarium some of which are listed below:

  • Canister Filter
  • Internal Filter
  • Fluidised Filter
  • Plenum
  • Deep Sand Bed
  • Live Rock

In the above examples there are some of these which require filter media. Filter media can be many things – sponge, ceramic rings, plastic balls etc, however it can also be sand or even rock. For example the filter media used in a deep sand bed is the sand itself and the filter media used in live rock is rock.

There are a lot of people who see filter media as being something which is man-made which is added to the aquarium. It is of my opinion that filter media is anything where the required bacteria can function.

Any type of filter media can and will work. The issue is not about where the bacteria live it is how the filtration itself is maintained and how efficient the filtration is.

A good example of this is a sponge filter media. When the filter media is working efficiently the sponge will be clean and not clogged in any way, however over time the sponge if not maintained correctly will become clogged and the efficiency of the filtration will decline.

Another example would be live rock. If the live rock is not kept clean by either manual methods or by the introduction of a natural clean up crew then the filtration may not work at a level of efficiency which is could do if it was clean.

I do admit that there are some filtration media which does allow for more nutrients to be converted. The majority of filtration media finishes at the creation of nitrate. A deep sand bed, live rock or the two combined when maintained correctly will allow for the processing of nitrate as well.

Maybe the article should have been titled ‘Aquarium Filter Media – Which is The Most Efficient as it is of my opinion that there is no such thing as the best filter media…just the most efficient.


Aquarium Filter Media – Is There Such A Thing As The Best One
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