Bio Balls: Three methods to extend organic filtration

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A few years ago, bio-balls were considered to be the best type of filter media you could get for your aquarium. They provide extra surface for beneficial bacteria to grow and can even help your water be better aerated. The main problem many hobbyists found was that they just caught too much waste. There are still a number of great reasons today to use bio-balls in your filtration without creating excess nutrients!

Read on to find out everything you need to know about aquarium bio-balls, how they can benefit your filtration, and the best 3 bio-balls for your freshwater or saltwater aquarium or pond!

What are bio balls?

Today, many hobbyists often refer to organic balls as a "nitrate factory". This is because the ball has a lot of holes and grooves in it to increase the surface area. However, as a result, there are many stagnant areas in which detritus can easily become entangled. This detritus eventually breaks down and begins to leak ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates into the system, which can ultimately affect aquarium fish and other farm animals. Because of this, many hobbyists have switched from them to other bio-media.

However, there are still many hobbyists out there who view organic balls as an efficient and beneficial addition to their aquarium filter. The real trick is knowing how to set up your mechanical filtration filter so that minimal waste gets through the bio-spheres. An easy way to do this is to place a filter pad in place before the water circulates through the bio-balls. This mechanical filter pad typically needs cleaning every few weeks.

It's also important to keep in mind that bio-balls are not meant to be kept underwater. They are designed to have water drip over them, so beneficial bacteria stay moist while the tank water is aerated. This will also help wash away loose waste and keep the bio-balls cleaner for longer.

However, bio-balls must also be cleaned regularly. This can easily be achieved by removing small pieces of it from the filter and rinsing it in used aquarium water to keep the bacteria alive. In addition, these bio-spheres harbor a lot of bacteria that can easily be transferred to the sowing of a new tank structure.

How long does it take for bacteria to grow on bio-spheres?

If you already have an established bacterial population in your aquarium, it shouldn't take long for bacteria to colonize a new surface. Within a few weeks, the new bio-balls should show signs of bacterial colonies.

However, if you are fully setting up a new system, it may take a little longer for bacteria to establish and stabilize. Most new aquariums take 3-6 weeks to fully circulate, which means the nitrogen cycle can successfully process ammonia into nitrates.

Do bio balls need to be replaced?

Bio-spheres do not need to be replaced as long as they are kept clean and show no signs of breaking apart. Replacing bioballs actually has a detrimental effect on your system as they make up a good part of your biological filter that allows your aquarium to sustain itself.

The best 3 bio balls for your aquarium filter

If you are looking to try bio-ball filtration in your aquarium system, one of these listed products may be the best for you. These are the three bio balls currently available based on design, applicability, customer ratings, and price.

Marineland bio filter balls, supports biological aquarium filtration and fits all canister filters of the C series

These Marineland bio filter balls have been specially developed for all C-series filters and Magniflow canisters, but can also be used to hang on the back filters and for wet / dry sump systems. This package contains 90 plastic bio-balls, which are diverse for optimal bacterial growth. Marineland Bio Filter Balls are from a trusted aquarium brand and are best for use with the recommended equipment.

When hobbyists use these bio-balls for other purposes, they have found that they are a bit small in a swamp. Reviews have also found that the total number included in the package is typically less than 90. The plastic material is not permeable and does not take into account the additional deeper surface area required by the bacteria that do the denitrification.

What we like:

  • Specific design for certain filters
  • Smaller design for more space around the number
  • Inexpensive

What would be better:

  • Plastic material does not allow some bacteria to grow
  • The total number of packages is usually less than stated

Bio Balls Filter Media – 1.5 inch Bio Balls for Pond Filters – Perfect Bio Balls for Aquarium and Pond Filter Media – Made in the USA

Aquatic Experts Bio Balls Filter Media with Mesh Bag – 300 Count – 1.5 Inch Bio Ball for Pond …

  • OUTSTANDING FILTRATION! Each bio-ball is covered with spikes to dramatically increase the surface area of ​​each ball to nearly 2 square feet and make room for a large number of beneficial bacteria to …
  • HARD AND UNIQUE! The spherical shape and the precise placement of the spine of our bioballs allow them to pack tightly into any shape or filter type without losing surface. Molded from high density plastic, …
  • TRUSTED POND MEDIA! Our bio balls are made from 100% polypropylene and are therefore a safe and reliable bio filter medium for fresh and salt water. They are used in koi and water garden ponds, fresh water …

If you have a goldfish or koi pond, Bio Balls Filter Media – 1.5 inch Bio Balls for Pond Filters may fit your system exactly. With this product, the customer can choose between 100 large bio balls with a supplied 25.4 x 30.5 cm mesh bag, a 33.0 x 50.8 cm mesh bag and three 33.0 x 13 x 20 inch mesh balls 50, 8 cm) mesh bag or 300 large bio-balls with a 33.0 x 50.8 cm mesh bag supplied; 300 large bio-spheres handle 1,000 gallons (3785 L).

These plastic bio-balls are 1.5 (3.8 cm) in diameter and have spikes to allow most debris to pass through. At the same time, they offer a considerable surface area for bacteria to grow and for tight packing. The mesh bags are tightly closed with a plastic zipper and have wide seams so that most residues can flow through.

Despite advertising little to no debris, customer reviews have found that this design catches a lot of waste that needs to be cleaned regularly. Otherwise, hobbyists have successfully used this organic medium for goldfish and koi pond setups.

What we like:

  • 100% polypropylene material in aquarium quality for freshwater and saltwater purposes
  • Different product options depending on system demand and needs; Filter media bag included or sold separately
  • Larger bio-balls with a liquid design and a secure mesh bag
  • Packaged and designed with goldfish and koi ponds in mind

What would be better:

  • Customers noticed that the bio-balls clog easily
  • Relative expensive

AQUANEAT Aquarium 1 ″ Bio Balls Aquarium Media Sump Pond Canister Filter Media Free Media Bag 500 / 1000pc

AQUANEAT Aquarium 1 ″ Bio Balls are ideal for aquarium or pond structures. These bio-spheres are 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter and packaged in 40.6 cm (16 by 16 inch) media bags. Product options include 500 pieces in one media bag, 1,000 pieces in two media bags, or 4,000 pieces in eight media bags.

Every single bio-ball is equipped with a bio-sponge which increases the surface area and helps to filter out additional residues by mechanical means. The media pocket can be closed with a nylon zipper.

Customers find that these bioballs tend to be a bit more expensive than the competition, but the internal sponge and groove design has proven to provide adequate biological filtration for most large aquarium and pond systems.

What we like:

  • Bio balls have an internal sponge and a grooved design for optimal bacterial coverage
  • The number of bioballs is evenly distributed over the filter media bags
  • 100% aquarium-safe product with polypropylene bio-balls

What would be better:

  • The inner sponge can cause more dirt to build up and make cleaning more difficult
  • One size fits all for media bags
  • Relative expensive

Are Bio Balls Better Than Ceramic Filter Media?

To answer this question, you need to evaluate what would best support your tank. In most small systems, ceramic rings and noodles are better than organic balls. However, bio-balls may be a better option if you have a filter or sump tank with high water flow rates, such as those often found in large aquariums and ponds.

Bio-spheres, when used correctly, can provide an additional surface for beneficial bacteria to grow. This bacterium is largely aerobic, which means that oxygen is needed to convert ammonia to nitrite and eventually to nitrate. When placed in a high-flow filter or sump, moving water filled with dissolved oxygen is continually flushed past this medium, allowing bacteria to complete these processes.

The bacteria that convert these nitrates back into nitrogen through denitrification in anaerobically. This means that these bacteria can only colonize areas that do not have free oxygen in order to carry out denitrification. Bio-spheres do not create anaerobic conditions and due to the non-porous surface of the plastic and the entire spiral construction, no denitrification is carried out.

On the other hand, ceramic rings and noodles are very porous and allow denitrifying bacteria to colonize the medium, allowing all forms of nitrogen to be processed. However, for most hobbyists, nitrates are usually removed with regular water changes. Good tank maintenance is still the best way to keep water parameters in check, and filter media should only support the bacteria necessary to run the system.

Bacterial populations only grow by what the system can support. This means that bacteria do not have a lot to process with little waste input and the populations therefore remain smaller and vice versa. In particularly large systems with large organic loads, each additional surface area helps ensure that your aquarium is more balanced overall. Both organic balls and ceramic rings and noodles ensure the required space and keep the water parameters under control as long as regular maintenance is continued.


Organic balls may have vanished from aquarium fashion a few years ago, but many hobbyists still find them perfectly efficient in wet / dry swamp and pond environments, especially. Before using Bio-Ball media in your aquarium, there are a few things to consider, such as: B. the size and design and the way in which they are packed in media bags. You also need to take into account that bioballs require additional cleaning and will not grow the necessary bacteria to do denitrification.

If you have any questions about bio-ball filtration, the best type of filtration for your aquarium, or if you have any experience using bio-balls in your own aquarium, don't hesitate to leave a comment below!


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