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About to set up a 125 as a species tank of Rummy Nose Tetra (first tank) and I have these two Eheim Pro 3E 700 canister filters to work with. Is there some kind of cheaper alternative filter media I can use? Eheim's media is gonna cost a small fortune. Thanks
 

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I used lava rock in my waterfall filter for years, it works awesome as a home for BB. I always just put a few layers of the blue bonded filter pads, and then I had 6 bags of lava rocks I purchased at Lowe's and placed them in mesh, and then they went right on top of the pads. Cheap and effective. Lowe's has a 7lb bag of lava rock for 5 bucks, and you can get filter pads fairly cheap at any store (Petco, Petsmart, etc.).
 

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Mechanical filtration:
A couple of cell sizes of sponge, perhaps purchase a larger piece and cut to size. Pond products tend to be coarser, so one like this, then a somewhat finer one.
Quilt batting (pillow stuffing) is very good, polyester floss. It does tend to mat together after a while, but having a lifetime supply (enough to make a quilt!) is cheap.
In between these in density is a blue and white bonded material that is available on line at places like Big Als, or Drs Foster and Smith. You would buy a sheet and cut to fit. It also mats down over time, so would need replacing.

Chemical media:
You need to figure out what you need in this department, but rechargeable media (like Seachem Purigen) seems a better buy than disposable.
If you need to make the water harder you can buy dolomite sand in rock/masonry yards, or oystershell grit in feed stores (sold as grit for chickens)
If you want to add organic acids to the water to make a blackwater habitat, then peat moss, sold in the garden department is good.

Bacteria lodging sites: As noted above, lava is good. I got a 1 cubic foot bag of 3/8" lava from a rock (landscape) yard pretty cheap. It really needs a lot of rinsing, but is not sharp, it was no problem to stir it by hand.

Media bags: I find nylon stockings work well for fine media.

I start with whatever media comes with the filter. Often there are cut-to-fit sponges that fit the trays. Then I add some of the above materials.
 

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Look up "Bio Bale" on the Bay. Cheap if you shop instead of just grabbing the first one.
Made for canister filters. I use it along/w the Fluval ceramic rings(actually the stuff that is hexigon shaped which they call pre-filter) in my DIY built in bio-only filter.
I put a layer of the Fluval on the bottom and the Bio Bale on the top and it draws through it downward through the Bio Bale first.
 
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