Been thinking about sponge filters...

Ssnaaiil

Member
So I’ve heard/read so many things about people using sponge filters. Are they better than a hob filter? Why? And what all do I need for a sponge filter?
 

jake37

Member
The only thing required for a sponge filter is an air pump and tubing. Better is always relative and as with all things there are trade offs. Also there are a large variety of hob and sponge filters. They are certainly easier to maintain. IMHO the best sponge filters are these (but shipping makes them expensive):

 

mattgirl

Member
Both sponge filter and HOB filters have their places. I run a sponge filter in my shrimp bowl and snail jar but run HOB's on everything else. I run 2 HOB's plus 2 dual sponge filter on my 55 gallon.

The problem with just running a sponge filter is you only have bio media so very little mechanical filtration. They do pull some of the detritus out but not as well as a filter with both mechanical and bio media running in it. A sponge filter is perfect in something like a Betta tank or any understocked tank.

To run a sponge filter you of course need the filter and an air pump. You also need airline tubing, a check valve and a control valve. The control valve isn't totally necessary but I use one on each of my air driven items.
 

MomeWrath

Member
jake37 said:
The only thing required for a sponge filter is an air pump and tubing. Better is always relative and as with all things there are trade offs. Also there are a large variety of hob and sponge filters. They are certainly easier to maintain. IMHO the best sponge filters are these (but shipping makes them expensive):

I agree, and if you poke around the website there is lots of information about sponge filters, and why they are superior.
They can provide great mechanical filtration as well, you just have to have enough gph moving through it (which can be achieved through his Jetlifter or alternatively a powerhead) and also let them be a little dirty to do their best work. Stephan Tanner explains all of that on his website as well.
(All of that being said, I am filtering all of my tanks with Poret foam but not using sponge filters on any of them currently, but just because my powerheads all wore out and air pumps are the devil. I just replace all filter innards with poret.)
 
  • Thread Starter

Ssnaaiil

Member
Anyone know if this is a good one? And if I got this one would I just need tubing and an air pump?

CD9F5614-481F-4E29-B161-B7253FEB1A83.jpeg
 

mattgirl

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
Anyone know if this is a good one? And if I got this one would I just need tubing and an air pump?

CD9F5614-481F-4E29-B161-B7253FEB1A83.jpeg
This is like the one I am running in my shrimp bowl but mine is much smaller. This one looks like it comes with everything you will need except for the air pump.
 
  • Thread Starter

Ssnaaiil

Member
What’s a good air pump? I have a 55g and I want one that won’t be too noisy. Also would it work if I put the pump on the floor?
 

mattgirl

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
What’s a good air pump? I have a 55g and I want one that won’t be too noisy. Also would it work if I put the pump on the floor?
This one is a hard one to answer. Last year I bought a fluval Q1. I was so disappointed in how loud it was. I had my hubby look into it for me and he found the inside screws weren't tightened down. Once he tightened them it is almost silent. I have several no name or not well known names and most of them are fairly quiet. I set all of mine on a piece of foam to quieten them down.

You can put your pump on the floor as long as the check valve is installed properly. Without a check valve the pump needs to be situated above the water line in your tank. If it isn't water can be siphoned back into the pump should you lose electricity to it.
 

altwitch

Member
I have a number for different size tanks and with 1 or 2 air outputs. Optimally if you have 2 outputs you would have 2 filters to feed into although will still work with just 1/2 attached. Other things to consider are how much air pressure it generates which determines speed and amount of air going through the filter. Unlike can and HOBs though, sponge filter don't really tend to generate much in the way of current based on the design.

On the subject of sponge filters themselves the one you asked about is designed to sit on the bottom - will work fine if you have a flat open area of your tank. They also make some that have one or two 'arms' that a cylindrical sponge goes on and can be attached to tank wall with suction cups. That's the type I prefer to use as they may be physically a bit larger but are thinner and don't occupy as much substrate area. I also find them easier to conceal with décor and plants. The best type I've found also has little 'cups' to put ceramic or similar media in before water moves into the filter. I really like that model (even if twice the price) as I can rinse out sponges under the tap and if I kill any bb the ceramic media will suffice until sponge recovers.

Hope that helps.
 

JettsPapa

Member
Ssnaaiil said:
Anyone know if this is a good one? And if I got this one would I just need tubing and an air pump?

CD9F5614-481F-4E29-B161-B7253FEB1A83.jpeg
That one should be okay, though I don't know if you need all the fittings. Also, the first time I bought air line tubing it was 3/16". Never again. It's too difficult to get on and off fittings. Now I only buy 1/4". I can't tell from the picture, but that looks like it might be 3/16".

Straight couplings are handy to have, but that's probably all you'll need. A check valve is a good addition if the pump will be below the water level to help protect against siphoning the water out of your tank in case of a power outage.

You might want to consider checking out Aquarium Co-op's site. They sell good quality air line, sponge filters, and fittings. They also sell a small air pump that runs off a USB plug. It's pretty much completely silent, and surprisingly strong for it's size. I have one running a medium sized sponge filter in my 40 gallon (it's there in addition to an AquaClear 50 HOB). I made a hook with a plant weight and hung it on the back of the tank, so it's out of sight, and high enough there's no danger of backflow.
 

mattgirl

Member
altwitch said:
I have a number for different size tanks and with 1 or 2 air outputs. Optimally if you have 2 outputs you would have 2 filters to feed into although will still work with just 1/2 attached. Other things to consider are how much air pressure it generates which determines speed and amount of air going through the filter. Unlike can and HOBs though, sponge filter don't really tend to generate much in the way of current based on the design.

On the subject of sponge filters themselves the one you asked about is designed to sit on the bottom - will work fine if you have a flat open area of your tank. They also make some that have one or two 'arms' that a cylindrical sponge goes on and can be attached to tank wall with suction cups. That's the type I prefer to use as they may be physically a bit larger but are thinner and don't occupy as much substrate area. I also find them easier to conceal with décor and plants. The best type I've found also has little 'cups' to put ceramic or similar media in before water moves into the filter. I really like that model (even if twice the price) as I can rinse out sponges under the tap and if I kill any bb the ceramic media will suffice until sponge recovers.

Hope that helps.
These dual sponge filters are the ones I have in my 55. I just wish Elbert would stop lifting them off and letting them drop to the bottom of the tank :D

Mine don't have the little cups for holding ceramic media but I worked around that. I actually filled the bottom cross over tube with ceramic media. It doesn't hold a lot but some is better than none.
 

jake37

Member
The problem with sponge filters is their quality is determine by three factors:
First the quality of the sponge itself (the ability of the sponge to absorb filth; and provide a medium for bacteria as well as longevity).
Second the quality of the bubbler - basically the suction created by bubbler to bring water into the sponge.
Third the pump - the ability to drive the bubbler.
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A fourth factor to consider is the size/form factor. While this does not directly relate to how well the sponge filter performs in your tank it might help with placement and ascetics.
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There are several articles that have compared sponge filter with the better articles going into details around the effectiveness of the sponge itself. I was going to dig out some of these but i think if you learn to use google you can find a few yourself.
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Is there a big difference between the best and worse sponge filter - well that question is similar to how good a canister or hob filter is at filtration (ignoring reliability and maintenance).
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If your only concern is converting ammonia to nitrate that is easy enough to measure with test kits. Beyond that takes a bit more effort.
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You didn't mention the size of your tank but for a single or double sponge filter any cheap air pump will likely be sufficient (whisper has a selection). There are differences in air pump with regards to mark up, air pressure produced and sound. I have used a couple and my favorite is quite expensive so i won't mention it but for a small tank with a small sponge(s) i would just go cheap (but check the reviews to make sure it doens't make too much noise). Also get some sort of valve so you can control the air flow. They range from $0.99 to $20 depending on what you get.
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I have sponge filters in all four of my tank (the fishes like them) - 29, 29, 40 and 120. The 29,29 and 40 only have sponges with both 29 around 16 months old. The 120 has canister filters in addition to sponges.
 
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