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Bio Balls Vs. Ceramic Rings


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Having an aquarium is never that easy as many people assume it to be. You may see one with beautiful fish swimming gracefully inside without any idea of what it takes to keep an aquarium clean enough for fish to survive. There are various filtration methods that people use to clean their aquariums regularly; they range from using biological and chemical agents like beneficial bacteria and UV sterilizers to using physical tools like bio balls and ceramic rings.

Of particular interest are the bio balls and ceramic rings, two different filter media materials that have similar functions, cleaning the water. We are going to look into these two in detail to see how they work and compare to each other. If you have been thinking of setting up an aquarium but have no clue on what to go for between these two for your filtration system, then stick around to the end.

Table of Contents

Bio Balls

Bio Ball

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Bio balls are cylindrically shaped filter media with spaces through them that are used to aid in the filtration of the aquarium to make the water safe for the fishes. These bio-balls are deliberately designed with these spaces through them to provide latching surfaces for beneficial bacteria, which quickly colonise the balls and begin their roles of cleaning the water off nitrites and ammonia. These grooves give them a larger surface area which is the ideal home for bacteria to thrive without interfering with the other aspects of the aquarium.


Great surface area for bacteria to cling on

They are easy to use. Simply drop them inside the water, and you are set

They are durable and don’t disintegrate too fast

They can be replaced gradually with time


They only accommodate nitrifying bacteria

They need regular maintenance to prevent the build-up of detritus

Ceramic Rings

Also called bio rings, these are little pieces of unglazed ceramic with tiny perforations on the entire surface, both outside and inside, that provide the perfect latching surface for bacteria to make their homes in. They are usually white in color, and it is easy to confuse them for decorations when they carry out one of the most important roles in the aquarium.

Most come with a central hole to allow for water to run through them, constantly providing oxygen and food for the beneficial bacteria to continue growing. The bacteria that grow on these ceramic rings usually fix ammonia and nitrites, which can kill the fish if they are left unchecked.


They have a large surface area for bacteria to latch

They allow for the proper circulation of water

They can accommodate both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria

They are easy to set up

They are durable


The pore and the central hole are easily clogged

Without regular maintenance, they become slower in cleaning the water

Bio Balls or Ceramic Rings: Which one is Better?

Filtration Media

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Having figured out what each of these two is all about, how do you make the choice to go with either? This comes down to a number of factors, with personal preference and availability being the most prominent ones. As far as similarities go, bio balls and ceramic rings are both used for biological filtration, and both operate in the same manner, providing homes for beneficial bacteria to thrive.

The only difference between the two is the fact that ceramic rings go a step further with the ability to support both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, which is a slight advantage that someone who has been keeping aquariums for years will pay more attention to. But on the surface, both filter media materials work the same and get the job done.

The other major difference of note is that as much as ceramic rings are more efficient due to the presence of two beneficial bacteria types, the clogging that usually happens after a while tends to reduce their effectiveness with time. For this reason, they last a lot less than bio balls which can stay for as long as they stand without any clogging happening. Considering how cheap both are, making a decision on the one to go for should not split your head. Go for what is readily available, and you will still get the results you desire.


The choice to go with either bio balls or ceramic rings comes down to personal preferences and  availability in the market. Before committing to either, do a little research and talk to people who have used either to get a better understanding. The bottom line is, whatever you choose to go with should be what you can handle. For more information on filter media for aquariums and ponds, check out our website for valuable tips.

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