Seamless Sump® Bio Media
There are many types of bio media on the market. It can be overwhelming to figure out what the best option is for aquarium filtration.
Below, we’ll walk you through the process of how we selected the bio media that we sell at Custom Aquariums. We also use it with our sister company, Serenity Aquarium and Aviary Services, which services hundreds of aquarium accounts.
Desirable Attributes of Seamless Sump® Bio Media
- High Surface area
- Does not collect and trap detritus and other organic matter that can fester
- Will not break down
- Allows plenty of flow rate for an efficient reaction
- Does not alter your water chemistry
- Easy to clean and recharge
Our Seamless Sump® Bio Media
We use medium-sized, round, white, smooth, ceramic (glass) bio balls for our bio media. When weighing the pros and cons of the types of media, it was clear that this is the best choice.
Bio Media Shape
If you get a biomaterial with a complicated (and sometimes gimmicky) shape, it’s more likely to trap detritus and other organic matter which can fester and poison your water. The round shape of our Seamless Sump® bio media creates the least number of voids for material to get trapped.
Remember, the pre-filter sock is where you want your particles to be trapped, not in your media stack. If the particles get to the bio media stack, you want them to 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 intended to have a “good” bacteria culture to react with and purify your water, not to trap particles.
Bio Ball Texture
Preventing organic matter from being trapped in your bio stack is also the reason we go with a smooth material. Of course, Seamless Sump® bio media does have more surface area- there is no question about that. However, if the coarse bio balls are trapping undesirable material, it negates the advantage of the increased surface area. So, keeping your Seamless Sump® bio media stack clean of detritus is an important task.
Bio Media Material
Some other manufacturers use materials such as clay for their bio media material. This is because it’s less expensive to make and it intentionally deteriorates. We don’t find the cost difference to be worth the sacrifice in quality. We will continue to use ceramic (which will never break down).
It is our philosophy to do right by our customers and never intentionally design products to require expendables. So, the long-term cost of ceramic bio balls is actually less expensive than other materials that decay. The clay also tends to be pitted and coarse, which may add surface area but also create a debris trap.
Bio Media Chemistry
You also have to take into consideration 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.
Some clay, quartzite, and other materials will actually change the mineral content and PH of your water. This is a major problem and reaffirms that ceramic is the preferred material.
Bio Ball 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 cup containing the 15mm bio balls.
However, if you go too small, the bio balls will be so dense that it inhibits water flow. You want the water to efficiently flow through the stack and accommodate your desired flow rate of the tank without slowing the water down too much. Through many forms of testing, we feel we found just the right size that maximizes surface area while letting water efficiently flow through the stack.
Bio Ball Color
One advantage to our white Seamless Sump® bio media is when you service your aquarium you can see how much life is left in the material. When you put new Seamless Sump® bio media in it will be white, and it will slowly yellow as it processes more water. You will also be able to determine which stack of media is the oldest when you go to replace or recharge part of your media stack.
Bio Media Reusability
You can recharge the Seamless Sump® bio media by simply boiling it in water. In our service business, however, we discard one basket of media every 6 weeks and fill it with a new one. By the time we boil and replace it in the stack, it doesn’t cost that much more to replace it altogether, and it ensures you always have a healthy bacteria culture. Plus, when you recharge the bio media, it becomes less efficient as dead bacteria cells may not come loose from the bio balls. Some estimates are you lose about 10% efficiency with every recharge due to less surface area.
Bio Media Cost
Since the material is inexpensive, we discard one basket every six weeks. This amounts to a bucket or a bucket-and-a-half per year of Seamless Sump® bio media for an average tank. When you look at the investment you have into your complete aquarium, it is usually worth it for the peace of mind of always having a fresh bacteria culture. However, if budget is more of a concern, it is an easy option to recharge the bio media up to a few times before discarding it.
Because we are a factory direct company, we have the ability to buy our Seamless Sump® bio media in bulk by the ton, and we sell in larger 5L quantities (roughly the correct amount for a typical Seamless Sump® System). There is not a lot of packaging and not a lot of markup (ie- distributor, wholesaler, retailer, etc.). This is why 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, it doesn’t make it better. Our bio media is a perfect example of how you can get premium biomaterial for less money.
The Proof is in the Results
Through Serenity’s aquarium services, we have vast experience caring for hundreds of accounts across the country. This system of small ceramic bio balls in conjunction with a convenient, easy-to-clean, easy-to-replace, organized culture in a properly designed media stack (see our Seamless Sump® system) has proven to have the best results of any system we have ever tried.
There is also validation 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 balls that we use.