Best Sponge Filter

Creating the perfect environment for your aquarium fish tank can be quite the balancing act. But as luck has it, there are plenty of products that can make it much easier to obtain and maintain this perfect balance.

In this article, we’re going to look at sponge filters. Sponge filters work really well as a pre-filter on the inlet of a canister filter. They’re good at filtering out most of the larger particulate matter. And this has the added benefit of keeping the canister filter from clogging. 

In short it helps make the aquarium water more clear and better quality.

If you regularly clean and/or replace the sponge filter, then you won’t need to tear apart the canister filter so frequently to clean out or replace the parts of the canister filter.

We’ve been looking at some of the best sponge filters that are out on the market at the moment. And after much deliberation we were able to pick out our top 5 favorites, and we’ll be reviewing them for very shortly.

And if that’s not quite enough to help you to make your mind up as to which one to buy, then we’ve also got a buying guide for you which should serve as an effective reminder about the key things you need to think about before you buy.

Here goes...

TOP 5 Best Sponge Filter

OUR TOP PICK

Now this is a great little system. 

It combines bio-filtration, physical filtration and oxygenation in one.

It’s available in two different sizes, there’s the Dual S, which is meant for tanks anywhere between 10 and 40 gallons in size. Or there’s the Dual M, which is meant for tanks anywhere between 15 and 55 gallons in size. The latter is only a tiny bit more expensive than the former.

It may have many separate parts, but it’s quite simple to put together and there are photos right on the Amazon page to show you how to assemble it when the box arrives.

The system uses a column of several fine sponges fitted on each of the two water intake tubes. They have really strong water absorption, and they provide plenty of surface area to allow the formation of a layer of beneficial bacteria to live on, to allow the nitrogen cycle to take place.

Water is then passed through to two small containers which hold many bio ceramic midea balls. These serve to provide a surface for bioload where helpful bacteria can live and grow.

The water which is then released from the outlet has plenty of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, which is then able to break the tank’s ammonia down to nitrites, and then the nitrites down to nitrates.

The two strong suction cups mean that you can secure the filter to any position against the tank’s walls. And you can choose whether to have the water outlet tube above or below the waterline. This tube can be extended or rotated 360 degrees as you see fit.

The directions for use are right on the Amazon page, so you can familiarize yourself with them before you decide whether to buy. Moreover the Amazon page also tells you how to clean the sponges and how often.

If you buy the hygger through our link to it’s Amazon page, you will get 2 spare sponges included in the price, meaning you can go for six to twelve months without needing to replace the sponges.

We can confirm that it’s suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.

Pros:

  • A double, rather than a single filter
  • Ceramic bio filter midea

Cons:

  • Must be used with an air pump and standard size air hose

EDITORS CHOICE

What we like about this sponge filter is that the sponges that line up the water inlets are bright green, to help make your tank more colorful and interesting.

It’s suitable for tanks with a capacity of up to 55 gallons. 

It works in very much the same way as the hygger one that we showed you earlier. There’s a ribbed 7 layer of sponge coating the water inlets, and this is used to establish an effective mechanical and biological filter. 

The water passes through to containers underneath which house the ceramic bio filter midea. Harmful substances such as excess ammonia and nitrite are removed from the water before it is released through the water outlet above. 

And you also get increased oxygen levels in the tank, to boot. 

It’s easy to set up, and the 2 suction cups provided ensure that the filter remains attached to the tank walls, and does not come loose and start floating around.

You can rotate the air-water outlet as you please, and adjust the height of the water flow.

This beauty has plenty of advantages. It’s environmentally friendly, energy saving, and quiet.

It’s available as either a single sponge filter, or as a double one. We would recommend going for the double one.

The replacement sponges are very easy to get hold of. They’re right on the same Amazon page in fact. The filter midea in the bottom containers is also replaceable.

We can confirm that it’s suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.

Pros:

  • Nice and vibrant green color
  • Available as a single or double filter
  • Ceramic bio filter midea
  • Replacement sponges are readily available

Cons:

  • Can only be used in conjunction with an air pump
  • Some customers have said that the fittings could be tighter

BEST VALUE

This double sponge filter is available at a bargain price.

It’s suitable for tanks with a capacity of up to 55 gallons.

It’s easy to set up. You simply install an airline into the unit, and secure the filter to the inside wall of the tank using the 2 suction cups.

The sponge surrounding the water inlets provides both mechanical and biological filtration, to really help along the nitrogen cycle, reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrite, and give you a crystal clear fish tank.

Moreover the air infusion chamber produces minute bubbles which increase the oxygen solubility, making it easier for the fish to breath.

The air-water outlet can be significantly extended, so you can use it in short or taller tanks.

What we love about this particular sponge filter is that it’s suitable for very small size fish, which makes it the perfect system to have in place for when a pregnant fish has her babies. This is because the filter produces minimal current to suck the fish through the filter.

It will require some maintenance, but this is minimal. You need to rinse the sponge out every 2 to 3 weeks. And since the debris on the sponge will accumulate gradually over time, you will need to replace the sponge every 3 to 6 months.

There aren’t quite as many customer reviews around for this sponge filter but we can confirm that it is a best seller, and from what customer reviews are there, people certainly seem very happy with this filter.

Pros:

  • A double, rather than a single filter

Cons:

  • Can only be used in conjunction with an air pump
  • No ceramic bio filter midea
  • Great choice for hatcheries, and maternity tanks

RUNNER UP

This sponge filter comes as a pack of three, and of our top 5 picks is probably the easiest one to set up. All you have to do is simply install an airline into the unit.

The filter sits at the bottom of the tank and provides both aeration and filtration for your tank. The sponge traps larger waste particles mechanically, and beneficial aerobic bacteria colonize the sponge. 

This in turn helps to facilitate the nitrogen cycle, removing both excess ammonia and excess nitrite.

What we love about this particular sponge filter is that it’s suitable for very small size fish, which makes it the perfect system to have in place for when a pregnant fish has her babies. This is because the filter produces minimal current to suck the fish through the filter.

It’s suitable for tanks with a capacity of up to 55 gallons.

It will require some maintenance, but this is minimal. You need to rinse the sponge out every 2 to 3 weeks. And since the debris on the sponge will accumulate gradually over time, you will need to replace the sponge every 3 to 6 months.

Pros:

  • Great choice for hatcheries, and maternity tanks

Cons:

  • No ceramic bio filter midea
  • Can only be used in conjunction with an air pump

RUNNER UP

This sponge filter has proved remarkably popular with customers.

On the Amazon page for example, you will see that after well over 1,000 individual customer ratings, the average customer rating still comes out at an impressive 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5.

It’s super simple to set up, and it’s just as easy to clean too, since all the parts are detachable.

This sponge filter is aimed at nano fish tanks. There are 4 different size options available for different size tanks, starting from 5 gallons total capacity and going up to 80 gallons total capacity.

The fine sponge is shaped in such a way, with it’s vertical stripes, so that it will trap any floating debris, but will not suck up any small or baby fish.

We can confirm that it’s suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.

Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular sponge filter. Not that you need any kind of deal on it, it’s super affordable. Worth a look, though anyhow.

Pros:

  • Very easy to set up 
  • Very easy to clean
  • Suitable for very small fish

Cons:

  • Requires an air pump to work

Best Sponge Filter Buying Guide

As promised, here’s your buying guide. Let’s get straight to it.

Single vs Double Filter

A double sponge filter is more effective and more efficient than a single sponge filter. Which is why most of the sponge filters in our top 5 picks are doubles rather than singles. 

And with such a small price difference between the two, there’s no reason to get a single one when you can buy double for a few dollars more.

Air Pump

In order for your sponge filter to work, you will also need an air pump.

Total Surface Area of the Sponges

The more surface area that is available on the filter’s sponge/s, the greater the effect of the mechanical element of the filtration.

This means that smaller and rigged set ups are more effective than a mere block of sponge, and why a stack of smaller sponges is more effective than having the same volume of sponge lumped into one space with little or few ridges.

This is also why double sponge filters are more effective than single ones.

Ceramic bio filter midea

Ceramic bio filter midea, aren’t necessarily an essential part of the filtration process, but they really do enhance the power of the filtration system, making it more effective and efficient.

If you want a sponge filter with this added bonus, then we can recommend out number pick, the. 

Just to give you a heads up though, the midea is more difficult to replace than it is to replace the sponges themselves.

Replacing the Sponges

Even the best quality sponges on sponge filters need regular replacing. This does not have to be frequent. Once every few months should be fine.

Before you decide which sponge filter to buy, we recommend that you look into how easy it is to get replacement sponges for when the time comes to replace them.

Looking after very small fish

If your tank holds very small fish, or if you’re looking for a sponge filter for a hatchery tank, then you need to be certain that your fish won’t get sucked up by the filtration system.

If this is what you need, then we can recommend our number 3 pick, the Aquaneat, our number 4 pick, the Aquapapa, or our number 5 pick, the Lefunpets.