Best Sponge Filter For Betta And Other Small Fish – 2016
The aquarium sponge filter may have a bad reputation as an ugly filter that doesn’t have enough filteration for most aquariums.
In this post we will cover everything you will need to know when selecting the best sponge filter for betta fish and even provide you with a few different options.
Here Are A Few Benefits Of The Sponge Filter
- The most simple of all filters to use. They can run on basic air pumps or power heads.
- They provide excellent biological filtration.
- The best filter for a Betta with their long fins as the filter won’t catch the fins
- Inexpensive and cost-effective.
- Best filter to use for breeding and hospital or quarantine tanks as they won’t suck up the fry or weak sick fish into the filter.
- Very easy to clean. Remove the sponge and squeeze or rinse in old aquarium water.
- Probably the best choice of filtration for delicate Discus or Angel tanks due to the fact that they do not attract noxious bacteria when used in a bare bottom tank.
- Can be combined with most HOB filters as a pre-filter option.
- Great for plants as they maintain higher CO2 levels in the aquarium.
Note: If you are considering using a sponge filter you will also require the following items:
All can be purchased on Amazon.
What Is A Sponge Filter (Bio sponge filter)?
A sponge filter is typically made up of an air tube and a porous spongy material that is used as the filtering mechanism.
Aquarium sponge filters can be used to provide biological & mechanical filtration of waste, byproducts and solid particles in the water.
It should be noted that sponge filters do not provide any form of chemical filtration.
However, you can always attached a carbon bag to the sponge when you need the chemical filtration, like after a treatment period. See example.
How Do Sponge Filters Work?
A sponge filter works by sucking water through a porous sponge which acts as the mechanical filter and traps any large debris in the water.
The spongy material also provides a great place for beneficial bacteria to grow. This beneficial bacteria will convert nitrates into nitrates which is less toxic to your fish and can be controlled/removed by regular water changes.
An air stone is used to create the suction which will draw the water through the sponge. You can also use a power head to create the suction effect.
This suction effect is called “up-lift” and pulls the water through the sponge, filters it and discharges it back into your aquarium.
To give you an idea of when to use an air pump or power head see below.
Use an air pump when:
- Hospital/quarantine tank
- Breeding tank
- When low flow filters are required.
- Simplicity for beginners.
Use a power head when:
- Higher flow rates are desired
- Cross current is necessary, especially for long tanks
Why Choose a Sponge Filter for Your Aquarium – Main Benefits.
- Sponge filters provide a much more gentle current if using an air stone. This is great for small sensitive inhabitants like a betta fish, fish fry, or freshwater shrimp.
- In many cases sponge filters can provide much higher biological filtration.
- Sponge filters can also be combined with HOB filters as a pre-filter. This helps keep the large debris from entering the HOB canister and also will allow the filter cartridges within the HOB to last longer.
The Only Two Negatives Of The Sponge Filter
- One obvious negative of the sponge filter is how they look! Big bulky and ugly, your best to try to hide them behind some rocks or decor if possible.
- Another drawback is their lack of chemical filtration which is typically done through the use of media like activated carbon.
However, as mentioned above if needed you can attach a bag of carbon to a sponge as needed when medicating your fish.
How To Use A Sponge Filter
In all honesty there is noting easier to use than a sponge filter. Most sponge filters are pre assembled and all you need to do is attach an air line & a pump or a power head.
If you are going to use an air pump try using a Tetra Whisper Air Pump.
How To Set Up A Sponge Filter
Thor gives a great overview of how to set up a sponge filter the right way and even shows you two options for control valve installation where you can run multiple sponges from one air pump.
How To Make A Sponge Filter In 4 Easy Steps.
If you are the DIY type you’re in luck because sponge filters are VERY easy to make. Here is a great video on how to make your own sponge filter.
How To Clean A Sponge Filter
When using a sponge filter regular maintenance is a must as one of the biggest problems with sponge filters is clogging.
In general you should try to clean your sponge every two weeks. However, depending on the sponge type you are using and the bioload in your aquarium more frequent cleanings may be required.
You can always tell when its time to clean your sponge when the water around the sponge media begins to slow. This means you need to clean your sponge filter.
When you are ready to remove your sponge, place a small container of bowl below your sponge as you pull it out of your aquarium.
This will help prevent all the dirty water and debris from falling back into your aquarium as you pull the out filter.
Once the filter has been removed, all you need to do is fill up a small bucket with some used aquarium water. Then place the sponge into the bucket and give it a few squeezes until noting comes off the sponge.
Place the sponge back in your aquarium, dispose of the dirty water in the bucket and add new conditioned water as needed.
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Jack Dempsey has over 20 years of experience with freshwater aquariums, his goal is to help beginners avoid the biggest mistakes when getting started. If you find something helpful please share it on your favourite social network. If you need help with anything send Jack a question.