Sponge Filters

Sponge filters have been used in both freshwater and marine aquariums for decades. Designs vary, but these filters all use either passive or active water flow through a sponge-like material.

For optimal performance, a coarse open-cell foam is recommended for its ability to filter out particles and algae without clogging easily.

I have been using this type of filter, paired with high-throughput water pumps, in larger tank systems.

For smaller setups, cylindrical sponge filters [Lustar V] are a sensible option.

The media used in these filters is long-lasting and simple to clean, making them a cost-effective choice for purifying large volumes of aquarium water and holding a large load of fish.

I rely on sponge filtration in many tanks at my office in Atlanta to avoid having large amounts of organic detritus in the tank – regular wringing takes care of maintenance.

Of course, there are downsides to these filters as well; they take up space in the tank, and require frequent cleaning to remain safe and effective.

Sponge filters have been utilized for many years in a variety of designs. By actively or passively passing water through a sponge, coarse open cell foam can offer effective water clarification without clogging on micro particles or algae. This porous material does a commendable job in larger systems, when coupled with high throughput water pumps. For smaller systems, I typically install one or more cylindrical sponge filters [Lustar V], as their durable, non-expendable media makes them a cost-effective solution. In my Atlanta office, I am utilizing sponge filtration extensively, as I don’t have gravel installed in these tanks to capture organic particles. The benefit of these filters is their substantial volume of water they can purify, even when hosting a high-density load of fish. However, they do take up space within the tank and require regular cleaning to remain reliable and effective.


Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.