About Seamless Sump Bio Media

Service Seamless Sump Tutorial

For a video tutorial on how to properly use our bio media in conjunction with our seamless sump system, please watch the “Service Seamless Sump” video for a complete demonstration.

About Seamless Sump Bio Media

Many types of bio media are on the market, and it can get confusing and overwhelming to find the best bio media for aquarium filtration. 

Below we will walk you through the process of how we selected the bio media that we not only sell at CustomAquariums.com but also use to service thousands of aquarium accounts with our sister company Serenity Aquarium and Aviary Services.

Desirable Attributes of Bio Media

  • High surface area
  • Does not collect and trap detritus or other organic matter that can fester
  • Will not break down
  • Allows plenty of flow rate for an efficient reaction
  • Cost effective
  • Does not alter your water chemistry
  • Easy to clean and recharge

Our Bio Media

We use a medium-sized, round, white, smooth ceramic (glass) bio ball for our bio media.  After weighing all of the pros and cons of the different types of media, it was clear to us that this is the best choice. 

Bio Media Shape

If you get a bio media material with a complicated (and sometimes gimmicky) shape, it lends itself to trapping detritus and other organic matter, which can fester and poison your water. The round shape of our bio media is the best way to create the least number of voids for material to get trapped.

Remember that the pre-filter sock is where you want to trap particles, not in your bio media stack. If the particles get to the bio media stack, you would much rather have them continue through the system, so it has another shot at getting trapped in your pre-filter sock the next time around.

The bio stack is only intended to have an efficient “good” bacteria culture to react with and purify your water, not to trap particles. We find that the smooth, round shape of our bio media lends itself best to having efficient interaction with your water and, at the same time, not trapping organic matter.

Bio Media Texture

Preventing organic matter from being trapped in your bio stack is another reason we use smooth bio media.  Coarse bio media does have more surface area – there is no question about that. 

However, in our opinion, if the coarse bio media is trapping undesirable material that poisons your water as it festers, it negates the advantage of the increased surface area.  Keeping your bio media stack clean of detritus should be a paramount objective.

Bio Media Material

Some other manufacturers use materials such as clay for their bio media material.  They do this partially because it is less expensive and partially because it intentionally deteriorates, so you have to buy more quickly. 

We don’t really find the cost difference to be worth the sacrifice in quality compared to ceramic (which will never break down), and our philosophy is to do right by our customers and never intentionally design products to require expendables. 

So, the overall long-term cost of ceramic bio balls (because they last longer) is actually a lot better than other materials that decay.  The clay also tends to be pitted and coarse, which, again, may add some surface area but also creates a detritus trap

Bio Media Chemistry

You also have to consider what the material does to the chemistry of the water.  Our ceramic bio balls are basically the same thing as glass and are completely inert.  It will not change the chemistry of your water whatsoever.  Your aquarium is made of glass, after all, isn’t it? 

Other materials cannot always say the same thing.  Some materials, such as clay and quartzite, will actually change the mineral content and pH level of your water, which is a significant problem, making ceramic the preferred choice.

Bio Media Size

As a rule, the smaller the bio ball, the more surface area you will get.  If you fill a cup with 10mm bio balls and another one with 15mm bio balls, the cup with 10mm bio balls will have a much greater overall surface area for “good bacteria” to grow than the 15mm bio balls that occupy the same overall volume of space.  

However, if you go too small, the bio balls will be so dense that it inhibits water flow.  You want the water to flow efficiently through the stack to accommodate your desired flow rate for the tank without slowing the water down too much.  

Through many forms of testing, we found just the right size that maximizes surface area while letting the water smoothly and efficiently flow through the stack.

Bio Media Color

One advantage to our white bio media is that when you service your aquarium, you can get a gauge as to how much life is left in the material.  When you put new bio media in, it will be white, and as it processes more and more water, you will see it slowly yellow.  

Therefore, you will be able to easily determine which stack of bio media is the oldest and which is the newest when you go to replace or recharge part of your media stack.

Bio Media Cost and Reusability

You can recharge the bio media by simply boiling it in water; however, in our service business, we discard one basket of bio media every 6 weeks and fill it with new. Considering the time spent boiling and replacing it in the stack, it doesn’t cost that much more to replace it altogether in the first place, and it is a safer bet because then you have a good, clean, healthy bio-media bacteria culture at all times.

After a long period of time, even if you recharge the bio media, at the microscopic level, it does become less efficient because dead bacteria cells may not necessarily come loose from the bio ball, and eventually, less surface area is being used. Some estimates are that you lose about 10% efficiency with every recharge, but unless you are a biologist with a microscope, it is really hard to tell what that loss of efficiency is exactly.

Since the material is so inexpensive, we just discard one basket every six weeks. It amounts to about 1-1.5 buckets per year of bio media for an average tank. When you look at the investment you have into your complete aquarium setup as well as the health and well-being of your established tank, it is usually worth it for the peace of mind of always having a fresh bio-media bacteria culture.

However, if budget is more of a concern, it is an easy option to re-charge the bio media a few times before discarding. Because we are a factory-direct company, we have the ability to buy our bio media in bulk by ton, and we sell in larger-than-average 5L quantities (roughly the correct amount for a typical Seamless Sump System). Because there is not a lot of packaging and not many markups (i.e., distributor, wholesaler, retailer, etc.), we are able to provide superior quality bio media for LESS than just about every other solution on the market today.

Just because it’s more expensive doesn’t make it better. Our bio media is a perfect example of how you can get premium biomaterial for less money.

Proof is in the Results

We have vast experience servicing hundreds of accounts all over the country.  This system of small ceramic bio balls in conjunction with a convenient, easy-to-clean, easy-to-replace, organized culture in a well-designed media stack (see our Seamless Sump system) has proven to have the best results by far of any system we have ever tried. 

To further validate this, when you look at the various water treatment centers around the world, by far, the most common material used in treating municipal water for human consumption is ceramic bio media, much like what we use. 

The fact that the smartest scientists all over the world, who are in the business of treating water, basically came to the same conclusions we did after evaluating all the different possible materials makes us think we are probably on the right track.