What’s The Best Canister Filter Media?

In Aquarium Filtersby PaulK

What’s Nice About Canister Filters

With canister filters, you don’t have to go with the media that comes with the unit. All the trays can be filled with whatever media you choose and there’s plenty more room to add more than enough. You can experiment with canister filters. With power filters, you’re sort of limited because of the lack of space.

Much of the media that comes with the canister filter that you buy is pretty much worthless.

There is only one type of mechanical filtration when there should be two or three (coarse, medium, and fine), but you only get coarse. Then you get some type of polished ceramic rings or plastic balls for biological media. These types are very limited for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Mechanical Media For a Canister Filter

The first media that your aquarium water should pass through is mechanical media. You should have two or three stages of media. The first should be coarse like a porous sponge. Most canister filters come with this so you can use that.

Next should be a medium filter with lots of surface area. Packaging sponge is perfect for this because it has bumps that provide plenty of surface area.

Finally, you should have a fine media filter. Poly-fil like you find in pillow stuffing works great for that.

Here you can get mechanical filtration that is already layered and is chemical-free so it’s safe for your fish.

Biological Media For a Canister Filter

The next filter the aquarium water should pass through is your biological media. Most of the stuff you get with a normal canister filter is like smooth ceramic or plastic. This is not the greatest media for growing all the beneficial bacteria needed.

Biohome Maxi Media, Premium Large Media for Aquarium (2 LBS)

Biohome Biological Media Click photo for pricing.

The absolute best stuff to use is a very porous ceramic-like Bio-home. This type of biological media provides lots of crevices for the bacteria to grow in. Not just the anaerobic Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter that break down ammonia and nitrite, but other beneficial aerobic bacteria that breaks down nitrate. A byproduct of ammonia break-down.

Certain plastic biological media like K1 and helix are specifically designed for a moving bed filter which is a different type of filter than a canister. These types of biological media should not be used in a canister filter because there is not enough space for the plastic helix to bump around.

Top 5 Biological media for a canister filter

BioHome – very porous ceramic material that allows much more surface area for both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to grow
BioHome Plus – same as the biohome standard, but comes in smaller sizes to fit in smaller spaces.
BioHome Ultra – super big cylinders that are good for koi ponds and larger aquariums.
Lava Rock – Lots of surface area for bacteria to grow, but can also be used as decoration providing even more bacteria in your fish tank.
MarinePure – Very similar to the Bio Home only it comes in balls if you prefer that.

Chemical Filters for a Canister Filter

After the biological media, the water can pass through your chemical filters. Many people use the carbon filter that comes with the canister filter you purchased. You can add more things like SecChem Purigen or a phosphate filter if your aquarium experiences algae. There are many options depending on your particular situation. You may not even need any additional filtration beyond the bio media. If you have plenty of bio media, that could be sufficient.

This Poly-filter works in all types of aquarium filters. It changes color so you can see the pollutants that it’s catching and alerts you when the filter should be changed. It removes all sorts of heavy metals, toxic ammonia, and phosphates from the water for a crystal clean, toxic-free fish tank.

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