Are Sponge Filters Good Filters?

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Are Sponge Filters Good Filters?

What Are Sponge Filters?

The name says it all. A sponge filter is a type of filter that uses a sponge and an air pump to draw aquarium water through the porous sponges. This action filters the fish tank. Mostly used by the advanced hobbyist who know the secret of these awesome filters. Unfortunately, many new aquarium hobbyists have no idea of their existence or don't know that sponge filters are up to the task of filtering their fish tank just as effectively as their more fancier filter counterparts.

So, why are the vast majority of new fish keepers kept in the dark? If I were to blame of group of people, I would blame the big pet store chains who don’t offer sponge filters and try to promote their other more expensive filters. They also upsell these expensive filters by selling “refillable cartridges” that need to be replaced monthly. In other words, sponge filters don’t make them a whole lot of money compared to other filters.

This type of filter provides two types of filtration. The mechanical filtration comes into play when debris gets lodged into the sponge. The second form of filtration comes into play when the sponge starts to grow an active bacteria colony on the sponge which provides a huge surface area for the bacteria to grow on.

What Type Of Aquariums Are Good For Sponge Filters?

Generally, sponge filters are good for most fish tanks. However, there are instances where they really shine. Sponge filters are excellent due to their gentle flow. This allows for set-ups for fry, betta and shrimp tanks that thrive in low-flow filtration.

Downsides Of Sponge Filters?

One of the biggest concerns that people have with sponge filters is that they are not aesthetically appealing. People who like show tanks may not want to have a bulky black sponge sitting in their tank. Along with this, I’ve noticed from my experience they can be a little loud due to the air pump needed. So, I wouldn’t recommend these type of filters in the bedroom (Unless you’re the type of person that finds the noise soothing) Although, there are air pumps on the market that are made to be quiet. (Quiet Air Pumps)

Sponge Filter Maintenance?

Sponge filters need some maintenance from time to time. The maintenance required is rather simple but it’s important that you follow it correctly otherwise you run the risk of killing off the good bacteria colony. The best way to clean sponge filters is to remove the filter from the aquarium and put it in a little bucket with old tank water and gently squeeze the sponge in the old tank water. Do not rinse your sponge filter in tap water. Tap water has chlorine and chloramines that will kill your good bacteria colony. After getting rid of the debris, simply put the sponge filter back into the aquarium.


Sponge filters are a great choice for a wide range of fish aquariums. They have many positive benefits. If you can manage it and don’t mind the sight of them in your fish tank, sponge filters make a great effective and cheap choice for your aquariums. A good place to find good quality sponge filters would be Amazon or mom and pop fish stores. I find that chain pet stores don’t tend to promote sponge filters or overcharge them.

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