Of Bio Balls and Other Filtration Media

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Getting into things like bio filtration and sumps and such is definitely more advanced stuff. Or ideas for those with more than just a betta or two. In other words this is a topic for the super serious who have set up a betta barracks of some kind, are raising spawns, developing their own lines, and most likely selling them as well.

Using a DIY sump and creating your own filtration system depends on bio filtration media. This video gives you a quick overview of the types of aquarium filter media you might use.

Here’s what points you should get from that vid.

  1. Filtering comes down to three types – chemical, biological and mechanical.
  2. Activated carbon would fall into the chemical category. All it can do is remove chemicals from the water. So if you have to treat your betta for some kind of illness, you’d use this when the course of treatment had run its course to get the medication out of the tank water.
  3. The function of biological filtration is to encourage the conversion of ammonia to nitrites and then then those to nitrates. Taking them from the most harmful compounds for your fish to relatively not harmful ones.
  4. To accomplish that you can use various types of media. Bio balls are often used for sumps and external filters. The idea is to trickle the water through them. This both helps to aerate the water and since these will house beneficial bacteria, keep the nitrogen cycle perking right along. Ideally you need some type of filtration to take the solid wastes out of the water. Otherwise this can be trapped in the bio balls resulting in unwanted water chemistry. This is why sumps are designed the way they are. And why you need to clean the filter media that’s catching those solid wastes regularly.

  5. The big idea of bio balls is to create a place for the bacteria to grow. Ceramic rings work in much the same way. Plus he shows some DIY items like hair curlers that can serve the same purpose. I’ve seen straws cut into half inch lengths used to do the same thing.
  6. Lastly mechanical is used to filter out the bits of this and that in the water that comes from the tank or tanks. This can be done as simply as placing it on top of the bio filter media. Filter socks might be another example not referenced in this vid.

Ideas for cleaning the mechanical and bio filtration media are presented.

  • Typically the mechanical media has to be cleaned more often. Depending on your “load”, that may need to be done weekly even. Listen. You can’t not do this. Otherwise the material gets clogged up and doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. More or less rendering your whole bio filtration set up useless and putting your fish at risk.
  • Bio filter media is cleaned less often. First because you don’t want to kill of the beneficial bacteria. And second because if the mechanical stuff is doing its job you won’t need to clean as often. Nor do you need to replace it. In other words once you system is working you don’t want to mess it up. You want to clean it with chlorine free water to preserve the good bugs.
  • Finally you get a quick peak at how sponge filters work.

A Bit More On Bio Balls

The video mentions bio balls. It may be the first time you’ve heard about them. Bio balls can be a great filtration choice in a sump. They are versatile. They save space. They are a low hassle media that is both easy to clean yet can support large colonies of useful nitrifying bacteria that in turn can efficiently treat organic toxins in your fish’s water. They work so well because their design offers maximum surface area for colonization. Of course like all things betta there are others who beg to differ. Which is to say you may or may not feel the same.

Still as a filter media they serve one purpose – to aid in the colonization of bacteria. These bacteria work to eliminate and convert toxins like ammonia and nitrites to something more benign as the water circulates through the bio balls helping to stabilize the water parameters.

The key is to have an adequate level of mechanical filtration in the system in place before the bio balls. This will work to trap solid debris. If you don’t do this the debris tends to build up on them limiting their effectiveness.

Sorry if that was a bit dry. I suspect this was probably more than you ever wanted to know about bio filtration media. However if that’s not the case and you’re up for a bit more here’s another good quick overview of them you might find helpful.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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