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Best Filter Media for Aquariums: Our Top Picks 2023

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No aquarium filter is complete without filter media. Therefore, this is exactly what I’m going to help you find right now, the best filter media for aquariums. 

Best Filter Media for Aquariums

Top 5 Best Filtration Medias for Aquariums: Reviews

Let’s now go over each of the top five best filtration media options for your aquarium.

1. Aquatic Experts Aquarium Polishing Filter Pad: Our Top Pick

Aquatic Experts Aquarium Polishing Filter Pad, Aquarium Filter Pad, Aquarium…
  • SPARKLING CLEAR WATER: Our 100 micron filter pad has a dense fiber network to effectively trap fine…
  • CLEARS TANK WATER FAST: Fine particles pass through most aquarium filter media. Our aquarium…

This is a 100 micron floss polishing filter pad. It is made out of a dense network of fibers that are very effective at trapping fine and extra-fine particles that float in your aquarium water. This is designed to remove a variety of solid debris such as uneaten fish food, fish waste, decaying plant matter, and more.

You should see visibly clearer water with less debris floating around in it shortly after putting this filter media in your aquarium filter. What is really nice is that this is a universal aquarium filter media option that should work in virtually all filters. It works in canister filters, hang on back filters, wet dry filters, sumps, and more.

 Here, you just get a really long roll of it, with this one being 24 by 36 inches long, which you can then cut to size using your scissors. As far as mechanical filtration media to remove fish waste and other solid debris from the water goes, this is by far one of my favorite options out there. This is not only the case due to how well it works, but also thanks to its price.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Cut to size
  • Universal
  • Removes fine debris
  • Many micron sizes to choose from

Cons

  • Gets dirty very quickly

When it comes to basic mechanical filtration media, this is a perfectly affordable and effective option to consider.


2. Aquarium Filter Pad

Aquarium Filter Pad – FilterFirst Aquarium Filter Floss for Fish Tank Filters…
  • 2 LAYERS EQUALS CLEAR WATER: This unique 2 Layers in 1 filter media pad combines a typical aquarium…
  • SEE THE DIFFERENCE: When you clean this true dual density filter pad, see how much more debris it…

Here you have some more aquarium floss that is designed to perform mechanical filtration. Mechanical filtration of this nature is ideal for removing all sorts of solid debris from the water, such as fish waste, and eating fish food, and decaying plant matter.

 Furthermore, you actually get two layers here, a layer of regular floss media as well as a polishing pad. There is a top layer which is designed to catch larger particles, as well as a bottom layer that is designed to catch much finer particles. This kind of two-in-one mechanical filtration mechanism is very effective at creating clean and clear water.

What’s pretty cool is that this is also universal media, which means that you can put it in internal filters, canister filters, hang on back filters, and into your sumps as well. 

You can simply cut it to size as you see fit, and it also works for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. What’s also beneficial is that it is made out of durable polyester fibers, so you can actually wash it and use it several times over.

Pros

  • Dual density
  • Effective mechanical filtration
  • Very affordable
  • Cut to size
  • Works for most filters
  • Can be reused a few times

Cons

  • Not the cheapest

If you want mechanical filtration at its best, then this particular aquarium filtration pad is probably the best option on our list today.


3. Aquatic Experts Aquarium Carbon Pad

Aquatic Experts Aquarium Carbon Pad – Activated Carbon Filter Pad – Cut to Fit…
  • EASY TO USE – This carbon media pad replaces loose carbon in your aquarium. Our charcoal aquarium…
  • CUT TO FIT – The carbon aquarium filter media can be CUT TO FIT VIRTUALLY ANY FILTER. They work well…

As far as chemical filtration goes, activated carbon is really the only choice that you have at your disposal. However, the problem with regular activated carbon or charcoal pieces is that they produce a whole lot of dust and mess that can make your aquarium cloudy, plus they are difficult to handle.

This is where a simple carbon pad like this one comes into play. This is more or less a piece of mechanical filtration media, such as the floss pads reviewed above, along with carbon infused into it.

This means that it performs both mechanical and chemical filtration at once. In terms of mechanical filtration, it removes all sorts of solid debris from the water, and as far as chemical filtration goes, it removes odors, colors, and a variety of unwanted substances and chemicals from the water.

Even better is that it is designed to be extremely durable, so you can actually reuse it a couple of times after washing it. These pads come in at 10.5 by 36 inches, so you can just cut them to size, and they should be fairly universal in terms of the types of aquarium filters that they fit.

Pros

  • Universal fit
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Mechanical and chemical filtration
  • Can be washed and reused a few times
  • Great price

Cons

  • Chemical filtration is not quite as effective as with regular carbon filters

If you need something simple and effective, this is it!


4. SimiAqua Biological Filter Media

SimiAqua Biological Filter Media – Bio Balls Ceramic Rings Set with Mesh Bag for…
  • Biological filter media that provides superior filtration
  • Helps reduce and control ammonia and nitrate

Here is some biological media, which comes complete with 12 different types. This includes, but is not limited to, ammonia removers, coral sand, nano bacterial rings, volcanic rock, breathing rings, ceramic rings, bacteria balls, activated carbon, and quartz balls.

Together, these help to perform high quality biological filtration, which removes ammonia, nitrates, and other such organic compounds from the water. Because it also comes with activated carbon, it also performs a bit of chemical filtration as well.

When it comes to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and other such materials from the water, this is by far one of the best options out there, and it doesn’t even cost very much.

Another good thing about biological media like this is that as long as you have the right kind of container or bag to hold it in, it should work in virtually any type of aquarium filter.

Pros

  • Great for biological filtration
  • Performs some chemical filtration as well
  • Should work in most filters
  • Good price
  • Lasts for a long time

Cons

  • Does not perform mechanical filtration

If high-quality biological filtration is what you need, then this is likely the best media to consider.


5. EDOTFISH Aquarium Filter Bio Balls

EDOTFISH Aquarium Filter Bio Balls Filter Aquarium Fish Tank Filter Media…
  • Effectively absorbs particles and debris;Suitable for crystal clear aquarium water,freshwater and…
  • Resolve impurities,Stabilize PH,Clarify your water naturally and cultivate beneficial bacteria with…

Here is some more biological filtration media, with this one including medical stones, bio balls, volcanic rocks, infrared microspheres, red breathing rings, coral sand, nanometer bacterial rings, and ceramic rings. All of these items come together to perform what is essentially some of the most effective biological filtration that any aquarium could possibly have.

However, unlike the above product, this one does not contain any carbon, so it doesn’t perform chemical filtration, but it’s really not designed to do so anyway.

What’s also nice is that this product should help to stabilize the pH level in the water as well as to remove a wide variety of impurities. 

Furthermore, it comes in at a very reasonable price, and it already comes contained in a bag. This is a mesh bag, so you can easily insert it right into your filter of choice.

Pros

  • Comes with the bag
  • Many types of bio media
  • Great price
  • Works very well
  • Can be washed

Cons

  • Does not perform chemical or mechanical filtration

These are some of the very best biological filtration products out there, and I’d certainly recommend them!


Filtration Media for Aquariums Buyers Guide: What To Look Out For

Before I wrap things up for the day, let’s quickly talk about some of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing any kind of aquarium filtration media.

The Type of Filtration

What it really all comes down to here is the type of filtration media that you get, of which there are three, including mechanical, biological, and chemical.

Mechanical

First, we have mechanical filtration. These are special types of filters that are designed to remove physical debris from the water. This includes things like uneaten fish food, fish waste, and decaying plant magic.

Close up of a hand showing the foam of a fish tank filter after cleaning it

This helps to keep the water clear, and also helps to prevent these organic materials from breaking down and releasing toxic substances into the water. You have two main options at your disposal here, including filtration sponges and mechanical floss filter pads.

Sponges work just fine, but they’re usually designed for specific filters, whereas floss pads, particularly the ones reviewed today, usually allow you to cut them to size.

Biological

We then have biological filtration, which is characterized by beneficial bacteria that break down and remove toxic substances such as ammonia and nitrates from the water. 

For the record, ammonia and nitrates are released by organic matter, such as uneaten fish food and fish waste. Ammonia and nitrates are very poisonous to your fish, so biological filtration is important.

As far as the media goes, various types such as volcanic rocks, bio balls, medical stones, ceramic rings, coral sand, and more may all be used. 

The point is that these materials are very porous and able to house beneficial bacteria colonies. If you want something exceedingly simple, many people would just use bio balls.

Chemical

We then have chemical filtration, which is designed to remove odors, colors, and some toxic substances such as heavy metals from the water. Chemical filtration usually always takes the form of activated carbon, as this is one of the only you know that has this capability.

As you can see from our reviews however, you don’t necessarily just have to get activated carbon, because there are plenty of activated carbon infused floss pads out there that perform both mechanical and chemical filtration.

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