Top Biological Filter Materials for Aquariums

Reef aquarium.


There are many forms of biological filter materials (balls, ceramic rings, foam, pellets, stars) used for aquariums. Some are more efficient than others, while some are easier to maintain. Here are some of the top biological filter media on the market today.

  • 01 of 08

    Bio Balls Biological Filter Media

    Bio balls in containment bags.

    Aquaneat/CLL Pet Supplies

    "Bio Balls" are available in many sizes (1" to 2" in diameter) and designs (bio-pin, bio-ball). Offering an excellent surface area to volume ratio, bio balls are most frequently used in wet/dry trickle filters, they can also be used in almost any filtration area. Most filter material of the bio ball design is durable, fairly easy to use, and should never have to be replaced. Rinse in tank water occasionally to remove debris.

  • 02 of 08

    Bio-Mate Filter Media Balls

    Bio-Mate Solid Media Balls.

    Lifegard Aquatics 

    By Lifegard, the Bio-Mate Filter Media Balls take bio balls one step further. These refillable plastic balls come in 1" and 1 1/2" sizes. Choose from Solid, Carbon-Filled, Foam-Filled, or Ceramic-Filled. Mix and match the materials to get the e ffect to want from your wet/dry trickle, canister or corner box aquarium filtration system.

  • 03 of 08

    Odyssey Bio-Glass

    Super Porous Bio-Glass Media.


    Bio-Glass by Odyssey is made from natural silicate fused at a high temperature. Its pore structure gives it up to 8 times more surface area, compared to other bio-rings. It can be used in a wide variety of filtration systems like ​a submersible, canister, wet-dry, and power filters. For fresh or saltwater aquariums.

  • 04 of 08

    Ehfisubstrat Pro

    Eheim Ehfisubstrat Pro.


    Ehfisubstrat Pro by Eheim has an improved spherical shape which prevents clogging or compacting in your filter! It is still made of sintered glass for long-term use. Simply rinse well with aquarium water and reuse. Enormous surface area; ideal for the colonization of nitrifying bacteria.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Filstar Bio-Chem Stars

    Filstar Bio-Chem Stars.


    Bio-Chem Stars by API is a biological filter media for aquarium canister filters. Made of porous polymer material, Filstar Bio-Chem Stars provide a substrate for the optimum growth of beneficial bacteria, including nitrifying bacteria that convert toxic ammonia and nitrite. For use in either fresh or saltwater aquariums. To clean the Stars, just rinse in tank water and return to the filter.

  • 06 of 08

    Fluval BIOMAX Filter Media

    BioMax Rings.


    The Fluval BIOMAX Filter Media was designed specifically for Fluval Multi-Stage Canister Filters, however, they can be used in a wide variety of filter types. The porous ceramic cylindrical design allows a large population of bacteria to grow in a minimal space while pores are perfectly sized for bacteria colonies. Each ceramic cylinder measures approximately 5/8" diameter x 3/4" long. The 17.63 oz box contains approximately 100 ceramic cylinders. To clean the filter media, just rinse in tank water and return to the filter.

  • 07 of 08

    Fluval Bio-Foam



    Fluval Bio-Foam was originally created for use in Fluval Canister filter models 04, 05 & 06, however, it can also be used in other applications. This "3-Dimensional" media features a pore structure that increases surface area for nitrifying bacterial colonization which is essential for the break down of toxic ammonia and nitrate. Shaped like egg crate foam, the Bio-Foam effectively traps smaller particles and debris for greater mechanical filtration. To clean the Bio-Foam, just remove it from the canister filter and rinse (squeeze tank water through it) and replace it in the filter.

  • 08 of 08

    Premium Pelleted Carbon

    Sunsun 3-Pack Plus Coarse Fine Filter Pad.


    Activated carbon was originally designed for effective aquarium water purification. While not frequently advertised as such, due to its porosity and stability, pelleted activated carbon also makes an excellent biological filter media. Even when its adsorption capabilities are depleted, it can continue to provide an excellent platform for nitrifying bacteria. When the carbon becomes clogged, rinse in tank water to retain a majority of the bacteria population. Pelletized carbon will compact and become clogged over time, so agitating the carbon to break up the clog is a good idea.