What is the Best Aquarium Sponge Filter?
Choosing the right sponge filter for your needs can be difficult, so we’ve compiled this list of our eight most highly recommended filters, along with their pros and cons, to make your decision-making process a little easier.
While all of these products are great choices depending on your filtration needs, we will start the list with our best overall pick: Bacto Surge Sponge Filter.
In this guide, we’ll evaluate these filters by three main criteria: affordability, effectiveness, and ease of use.
1. Bacto Surge Sponge Filter (Best Overall Pick)
First on our list is the Bacto-Surge® Biological Action Filters. It is available in multiple sizes: mini, small, large, and X-large.
These air-driven sponge filters offer superior mechanical and biological filtration of your aquarium water, which works flawlessly in saltwater and freshwater tanks.
The highly porous sponge contains an extremely high surface area and thousands of microscopic pores where aerobic bacteria, hydrated with oxygenated water, can grow and flourish.
Rather than buying power filters, which are often more expensive to purchase and maintain, this sponge filter is an affordable solution to aquarium filtration.
The only thing you’ll need to buy in addition to this sponge filter is an air pump, as one is not included in the product. However, the cost is still less than purchasing a new power filter.
In addition, the filter is not as visually pleasing as specific power or sponge filters on this list.
If you prioritize functionality over appearance, this is a perfect filter.
2. Hygger Sponge Filter
Next on our list is the Hygger Sponge Filter.
The multi-filtration function of this sponge aquarium filter combines bio-filtration, oxygenation, and physical filtration into one convenient package, ensuring controlled water flow and unparalleled water quality.
It comes in two sizes, the small and medium filters, each designed for different tank sizes.
The small filter is 6 inches wide and 9-13 inches tall, making it perfect for tanks with your small fish or shrimp.
We recommend this filter for owners of tank sizes between 10-40 gallons.
The medium filter is 6.3 inches wide and 9-13 inches tall, making it a better fit for tanks ranging from 15-55 gallons in volume.
This aquarium filter must be used with an air pump and a standard size 4mm air hose, both of which are not included with the sponge filter.
All of the parts included in this filter are detachable, making them easy to assemble and disassemble.
It also features two strong suction cups that you can use to stick the filter to an area of the tank without dealing with any floating.
The water outlet tube can be extended and rotated; you can adjust the outlet to above or below the waterline.
The 2two sponges are fine 60ppi, not coarse, which means more surface area for beneficial little creatures to live on.
For a larger tank, you may need two or more of these filters your filters you may require two or more of these filters for a larger tank.
The only issues with this filter are the same ones many others face; these filters can be loud and lack any chemical filtration, which can be an issue when caring for certain fish or aquarium wildlife.
3. Aquatop Sponge Filter
Moving are moving on to our next selection, the Aquatop Sponge Filter.
Not only does the sponge hold the beneficial bacteria, but the compartment case can also hold a small filter medium for additional BB storage.
It’s usually hard to find sponge filters for smaller tanks, and large sponge filters, while effective, can be intrusive, taking up valuable space for plants, fish, and invertebrates.
This sponge filter is perfect for small tanks that need high-quality filtration in a compact package.
While it does need to be saturated with water for it to sink, the filter is effortless and straightforward to clean and use.
This is also an excellent filter for betta owners since a betta requires a low flow filter.
While the sponge could be coarser for improved water flow, the current design is still very effective.
The bubbles produced are more significant than filters with an air stone but still work very well while remaining relatively quiet.
Aside from the lack of chemical filtration, getting the filter to stay in place is complex and challenging. Getting the filter to remain in place can be difficult as the two-sided suction cup is not always practical.
4. Hydro Sponge Filter
The next sponge filter on our list is the Hydro Sponge Filter.
This sponge filter provides excellent high-flow filtration without needing cartridge replacements or a hazardous impeller.
It is much quieter than other sponge filters and very easy to clean.
Rinse and squeeze the sponge into the used tank water (be sure not to use tap water) to maintain healthy nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
The inner canister of the filter can be filled with activated charcoal, carbon, or other media.
It hooks up directly to a powerhead or pump, and the diffuser can replace air stones.
Soft foam filters across a wide surface area, creating bubbles to reduce protein buildup and increase oxygen.
This filter is ideal for low-current breeding, betta, discus, and turtle tanks.
Fast-cycle a new tank by transferring a filter sponge from old to new.
Aside from lacking chemical filtration, this sponge filter is not visually appealing, which can be a negative for owners that enjoy an attractive-looking tank.
5. Pawfly Sponge Filter
Our next product on the list is the Pawfly Sponge Filter.
The three filters provide mechanical and biofiltration and trap debris or waste without sucking up your fish, keeping a crystal clear transparent water tank.
It is best for tanks focused on breeding and feeding various ornamental fish, shrimp, or fish fry.
These filters are easy to clean, as each filter can be effortlessly detached for removing can be effortlessly separated to remove any sediment.
Rinse it every 2 – 4 weeks with aquarium water.
Avoid washing it in tap water!
Air Pump Not Included: You need an extra air pump to run each filter, which processes external air to promote oxygen circulation and a healthier tank environment…
If the bubbles are too loud, you can cut out the inside plastic and run your air tube to an air stone inside the filter, which will cause the filter to be quieter while creating more lift in the water.
Find some pvcPVC tubing that fits, cut it from your filter to just below the surface of the water, put an elbow joint on it, and now have a filter, air source, and water jet to give your tank better flow.
6. Aquanaut Sponge Filter
The next filter on our list is the Aquanaut Sponge Filter.
This sponge filter provides both mechanical and biofiltration, and the air infusion chamber produces tiny bubbles to finance oxygen solubility in your tank.
They are an incredible filter option considering they are cheaper and more efficient than most HOB filters.
The soft sponge material traps floating debris without the use of any dangerous moving parts, meaning you won’t have to worry about the filter sucking up your fish.
This filter is easy to setups, test set up, and clean.
Install an airline into the unit and turn on the air pump.
For cleaning, all you have to do is rinse and squeeze the sponge into the tank water.
We recommend this filter for tanks up to 60 gallons, however. However, it is excellent for small-size fish like betta, dwarf cichlid, guppy, or killifish, amongst many other species.
In addition, this filter is perfect for hatcheries, incubators, maternity tanks, nano tanks, and fry tanks, as the filter produces minimal current and the lack of dangerous moving components eliminates the fear of sucking the fish through the filter.
This product includes 1 Sponge Filter, measuring at4.5 inches wide and 8 inches tall.
Quick research on YouTube or Google can provide fantastic insight into how to mod the modulating filters with air stones for maximum efficiency.
If you are interested in going the DIY route, you can get a connected valve and add 2 to a 15-gallon sponge filter to keep the water filtered while moving slowly.
We recommend cleaning your sponges bi-weekly and encourage cleaning your tank and your sponge filter on opposite weeks.
If you have bettas, shrimp, or fish prone to harm from larger filters, or even snails, this filter is a perfect choice. This filter is ideal if you have bettas, shrimp, for fish prone to damage by larger filters, or even snails.
Like other sponge filters, it lacks chemical filtration, and the bulky appearance can be a drawback for owners prioritizing a visually pleasing tank.
However, this sponge filter’s affordability and utility far outweigh the potential negatives.
7. Aquarium Co-Op Sponge Filter
The next filter on the list is the Aquarium Co-Op Sponge Filter.
A popular choice among betta owners, this filter features coarse foam, a weighted base, and accessible air stone installation, this highly reusable filter is a fantastic choice for quarantine tanks or any tank that needs excellent filtration.
In addition, it doesn’t require any replacement cartridges, and each sponge filter is capable of lasting for several years.
The coarse foam with the weighted base will stack on your aquarium’s bottom, ensuring no more floating up after a water change or initial installation, and it needs minimal cleaning.
In addition, the green-hued plastic helps hide algae and blend in with your live aquarium plants, minimizing the visual impact that is an issue with many other sponge filters.
Cleaning is simple and easy, just like most other sponge filters.
Using a ziplock bag or pitcher, remove the sponge from the tank, squeezing as much debris out of the sponge as possible.
Discard the water, get more water from the aquarium, and repeat until the sponge filter is mostly debris-free.
One of the only issues with this product is that, on occasion, large bubbles escape out of the coarse foam.
While this seems to be more typical, the more extended the filter is in use, it is a drawback worth mentioning.
8. Top Fin Sponge Filter
The last on our list is the Top Fin Sponge Filter.
This sponge filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration to help keep water clear and your fish healthy.
Compatible with saltwater and freshwater aquariums, this sponge filter is a reliable choice in almost any tank of the proper size.
This is an excellent filter for tanks with smaller fish, as sponge filters lack any hazardous moving parts that other filters often come equipped with.
The 2-stage filtration system is excellent at trapping waste particles and improving water clarity, especially in breeder tanks, hospital tanks, and so on.
Rather than purchasing an air stone separately, this filter comes with its SF40 Sponge and Clear Riser Tube.
In measurements, it is 4.72 inches in length, 4.72 in width, and 6.24 inches in height.
With a capacity of up to 40 Gallons, it is ideal for small to mid-size tanks.
Unfortunately, like many other sponge filters, the lack of chemical filtration can be an issue for some aquarium owners.
Selecting The Right Material for Your Sponge Filter
The best sponge filter for you specific aquarium may not always be the same for everyone. Here’s a few things to keep in mind while choosing a sponge filter.
Sponge filter with fine material will provide a lot of surface area for more beneficial bacteria. In addition, it will create smaller bubbles.
On the other hand, sponge filter made with coarse material tend to produce larger bubble that create more surface agitation. This may not be a good thing if the fish is not able to handle a lot of water movement. If water movement is not an issue for the fish, the oxygen exchange will be quite efficient with the larger bubbles. Lastly, sponge filter with coarse material will be less prone to clogging.
Choosing the right Aquarium Air Pump for your Sponge Filter
Here are some helpful tips to know when considering which sponge filter is right suitable for your aquarium.
Aquarium air pumps are a huge deal when it comes to the effectiveness of your sponge filter.
Your air pump is the engine of your sponge filter.
Suppose you skimp out on a low-quality air pump. In that case, you’ll find yourself suffering from reduced filtration capabilities, and you may struggle to maintain ideal water flow levels for your tank.
Thus, properly researching your air pump options before making a decision will ensure maximum filtration with minimal maintenance.
Check out our guide on the best aquarium air pump as well.
Sponge Filters As Backup Filters
Aquarium power outages are one of the greatest fears for tank owners and are the #2 tank killer in the hobby.
Implementing a sponge filter and battery-powered air pump as a backup filtration system can help save your tank’s inhabitants in an emergency.
This will ensure your tank environment remains hospitable during the time it takes for power to return to your main primary filter or until you can acquire a replacement.
Even if you aren’t searching for a sponge filter as your primary aquarium filter, we recommend it as a backup option in case of an outage or other issues.