Best bio media - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Best bio media

I was in search for some bio media and I stumbled upon this thing called Bio Home media. Instantly, I got them. Now, I was asking around in the fish keeping groups and I was told that they are just hype, which is on me.
But, while looking around, I was told that if I put those coarse sponges from aquarium coop only, then I would not need anything other media at all. Maybe a polyfill for finer particles, but as far as bio media and mechanical cleaning concerns, thats all I really need.
This is mind blowing to me as I am kind of nervous to try it out. So what do you guys think? If I just stack bunch of very pourus coarse sponge filters, will that be enough to handle both my bio media need and mechanical cleaning? I can find small space for poly fill for the final touch if this is really the case.
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 02:35 AM
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Can't beat foam or simple plastic pot scrubbies. Try here for a review and full testing of all the major bio media.

https://aquariumscience.org/index.php/7-filter-media/
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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 01:15 PM
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I'm also intrigued by this same question! I have always bought into the "hype" of brand name bio-media (Seachem Matrix) and have found that it has done its job as expected. But when I read the website that @Somefishguy linked above, I wondered whether pot scrubbers, foam or the K1 extruded plastic could be just as good, if not better. I came across some K1 media on sale recently so bought a couple of bags to take a look at and maybe see about trying to replace existing Matrix with it in a canister filter (given that the article says it should be more than 4x better than Matrix!).

I asked here if anyone had used K1 as static media (i.e. not in a moving bed setup), but so far zero replies:
Anyone us K1 as static media in a canister?

I know that people do use pot scrubbers and foam as their only biomedia, but I wonder how common this actually is.

In short, if foam, pot scrubbers and K1 media are soooo much better, than why aren't we all using them?

Really interested in hearing personal experience from the many experienced (dare I say expert?) people on this forum!
So what do people actually think - are these cheaper alterantives actually so much better than the commercial bio-medias????
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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by en7jos View Post
Really interested in hearing personal experience from the many experienced (dare I say expert?) people on this forum!
So what do people actually think - are these cheaper alterantives actually so much better than the commercial bio-medias????

I posted this a while back...


https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/8...l#post11383899
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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 10:49 PM
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What is best changes with different tanks and different situations and does take some judgement as there is no one "best" for all things.
Some of the factors involved are size of tank and waste load, age of tank and how much time effort you want to put in for cleaning, etc. Lots of small points to think about.
First is what do you want/need the media of all types in your filter to do for you. Not important what others want done in their tank!
If you have a newish tank, less than maybe six months old, there will be different levels of bacteria, depending on how you have worked the nitrogen cycle to build those colonies of bacteria.
Bio media is simple "something" that provides a place for lots of bacteria to live. The more tiny spaces for them to hang on is often considered "better" for bio. That leaves things like ceramic and many of the Special stuff better for lots more bacteria but then if we look at whether we need that much bacteria, we may find a different answer.
If you have a newish tank and lots of big messy fish, you may need a lot more bio to take care of the waste processing, but if you have an older tank and lots of plants as well as few or small, far less messy fish, you don't need a lot or very good bio media as you have other things taking care of the job!
spong is often considered mechanical and it does do that but it also has a fair amount of small spaces for bacteria so it is also bio media.
That leaves us open to slanting the media to fit what we find works best for us. Specific great bio media is okay but not needed if you really find your big old messy fish needs more water straining to remove the floating debris he kicks up!
What is best is what works for you and the time you want to spend cleaning the filter and media.
I normally start a tank with a mix of bio and mech but over time, I do change out some things like spong if they begin to be too much work due to stopping up flow too quickly.
Spong and filter floss are often too time consuming if I have a reasonable fish load, so I go for things that don't stop up so quick, once I know for sure there are tons of good bacteria all over the tank. Just not to throw out too much of the media at one time to create a spike due to loss of bacteria.
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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 11:07 PM
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Some of us use no bio-media in our filters at all.
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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-16-2020, 11:46 PM
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You can basically use anything that is non-toxic with sufficient surface area. The bio media topic gets overthought for sure. I have used all kinds of bio media over the years with no material, discernible or detectable difference. Lastly, I certainly wouldn't overpay for something like Matrix (works just fine, but way overpriced)
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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Some of us use no bio-media in our filters at all.
So is that just a foam in there then @Deanna?


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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 04:21 AM
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Everyone above is essentially correct. I havenít purchased bio media in sometime and the only two tanks of mine that use it use it because it came with it and my other hang on backs use a coarse sponge prefilter and filter floss inside (these are the cartridge hobs). All my other tanks use under gravel filters. I really think of filters now as just water movers. Most planted tanks that are doing ok have more than enough surface area in the substrate and combined with plant growth handle all forms of ammonia. Of course if your tank is super stocked with little to no plants and minimal water changes and minimal substrate then yes an appropriate filter will benefit you. As far as what you fill it with it really doesnít matter, sponge, ceramic/plastic media. LRB Aquatics runs 250 tanks all filterless and just uses the principals I spoke of and manages everything via water changes.


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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 04:37 AM
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So is that just a foam in there then @Deanna?
Nope. All of the BB is in the substrate or on the surfaces throughout the tank and supporting systems. The only media in the canister is some filter floss for mechanical filtration, and that is discarded every week or so.
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post #11 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 12:49 PM
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I really think of filters now as just water movers. Most planted tanks that are doing ok have more than enough surface area in the substrate and combined with plant growth handle all forms of ammonia.
So my next question is then.... if the filter is pretty much just a "water mover", why not get rid of the filter completely and just have a in-tank water mover (wave maker)? That would simplify the setup a whole lot for an established tank wouldn't it? I guess the filter is still required for the mechanical 'polishing' (filter floss) even if all the important BB is in the tank?

Thanks all, really interesting to hear how others go about things, especially when it contradicts what I thought I knew!
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post #12 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 02:12 PM
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So my next question is then.... if the filter is pretty much just a "water mover", why not get rid of the filter completely and just have a in-tank water mover (wave maker)? That would simplify the setup a whole lot for an established tank wouldn't it? I guess the filter is still required for the mechanical 'polishing' (filter floss) even if all the important BB is in the tank?

Thanks all, really interesting to hear how others go about things, especially when it contradicts what I thought I knew!
I think that's certainly doable, but you would lose the mechanical polishing, as you noted. You also lose the additional water volume -- maybe not as big of a deal with a canister, but my sump adds about 8 gallons to the system water volume, which is nice. A sump or canister also allows you to remove equipment from the tank.
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post #13 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 02:46 PM
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So my next question is then.... if the filter is pretty much just a "water mover", why not get rid of the filter completely and just have a in-tank water mover (wave maker)? That would simplify the setup a whole lot for an established tank wouldn't it? I guess the filter is still required for the mechanical 'polishing' (filter floss) even if all the important BB is in the tank?

Thanks all, really interesting to hear how others go about things, especially when it contradicts what I thought I knew!

It just completely depends on the setup. High tech, high light youíll want a setup that evenly distributes co2/nutrients around to each plant which is easier with two points of water movement (intake and output) but in lower tech it matters less because of less demand by the plants. Itís a fun hobby because there are many ways to do the same thing.


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post #14 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 03:15 PM
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I like to keep from walking too close to eht edge and filtering seems very easy to do that. One point to the filter is that we never want to do things which totally disrupt the bacteria and having bacteria in a filter is one way to have some added safety.
What can happen if you only have bacteria in the tank and none in the filter and you decide to do a really good cleaning of the sub and scrub down the walls? You can be running very close to an ammonia spike! But you can get away with doing a couple foolish things if you hedge your bet and have some bacteria in the tank and some in the filter. In that case, you only have to remember to NOT clean both at the same time!
Keep a little slack in your operation as I have found I WILL screw it up at times!
Human is to error once in a while, smarter human assumes it will happen and prepares for it!
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post #15 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-17-2020, 09:11 PM
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I've been running my 29 gal this last 9-11 months with HOB filter and only thing in it is a coarse sponge and a pre-filter sponge on the intake. Just Saturday I ordered bio rings. Half the filter has bio rings, and I folded the sponge in half and tucked it in at the top. There is also a small sponge filter in the tank I added maybe 6 months ago. Doing fine so far. Did I need the bio rings? probably not. I figured I would give them a try though to add more surface area for bacteria since I am hoping to add some more fishes soon. Plus if ever I need to quickly cycle a new tank I can either pluck out half the bio rings or the sponge filter and borrow them to the new tank.
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