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Filter Media Order


29 Jan 2008
There seems to be mixed advice from people and instructions about how to order your filter media.

Currently, in my JBL e1500 I have it in the following order (in order of how the water passes through)
Pre Filter Sponge - Ceramic Rings - Ceramic Substrate - Sponges - Wool - Purigen

When I've setup my Fluval 105, I was advised to do...
Sponges -> Wool -> Cermaic Bio Media

What is the best option and why?


19 Jul 2007
Lincoln UK
In order from the input which is usually the bottom tray I think it is the large things going to the small things.

i.e. ceramic rings/bio balls at the bottom to trap the big stuff, then sponges to catch the little stuff and the cotton/floss last to trap the minute stuff.

Do it the other way round and the floss traps loads and then clogs up quickly. The stuff above doesn't get much through it due to the floss.



Expert/Global Moderator
11 Jul 2007
Chicago, USA
Hi Clark,
Well first of all the order in which you stack the media is highly dependent on the waters's flow path through that particular filter so I'll just describe the reasoning in general terms:

Water entering the filter for the first time is generally "pre-filtered" by the coarse sponges to remove the large debris which endangers the biological filtration process due to possible clogging. Since the coarse sponges are usually easy to remove and clean this makes sense.

The next size debris/detritus is suspended in the water and is small enough to pass through the course filter. This is like silt in a river. Fast flow carries the suspended silt, so in order to get it out of suspension the idea is to slow the flow down and the lower flow energy drops the silt out of solution. This is the job of the noodles/rings. If this wasn't done the silt would carry into the biological media and clog the pores of the media, reducing the available surface area for bacteria to colonize.

The water then enters the bio and/or chemical areas mostly silt free. Bio/chemical filtration is accomplished and the las remaing sponge/wool is finer than the coarse sponge and traps the very fine particles that neither the coarse sponge or the noodles captured. I suppose one could argue that this ought to be placed before the bio media to give added protection to the bio-media so I guess this counts as an option.

Again, this is just the basic architecture, nothing revolutionary really, so just think about the direction of flow through your particular filter and adjust accordingly. Yes, some biofiltration does occur in all sponges, wool and noodles and yes, the bio-media does trap some silt/detritus but that's just how it goes, and that's why regular filter maintenance is important.


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