10 Best Sponge Filters for Aquariums

BEST OVERALL

Aquarium Technology, Inc. Hydro-Sponge Filter

PREMIUM CHOICE

Hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

GREAT VALUE

Powkoo Sponge Filter

A sponge filter is a great option for any aquarium. These filters are simple to install, easy to clean, and they provide various filtration for crystal clear, healthy water. Sponge filters are affordable and, while most don’t come with everything needed (such as air pumps), they’re worth giving a try. You just need to be sure you’re getting the correct size that will fit your tank and it will provide your fish with everything they need. So, let’s take a look at the 10 best sponge filters for aquariums.

Table of Contents

BEST OVERALL

Aquarium Technology, Inc. Hydro-Sponge Filter

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What’s great about this sponge filter is that it comes in many different sizes for fish tanks as small as 10 gallons to as large as 125 gallons. If you’re one to have multiple aquariums in your home, you can easily buy this product for all of them. It’s quick and easy to install as well as simple to clean up. All you need to do is squeeze the sponge in your tank water to release the dirt. The raised bottom keeps it in place and allows you to set it up horizontally or vertically, depending on whether you have a long or deep aquarium. The sponge foam mechanically and biologically cleans the tank without trapping small fish or fry, so you know your fish are safe.

What We Like Most

It comes in various sizes to fit tanks from 10 gallons to 125 gallons

Easy to install and clean

It has a raised bottom to be used vertically or horizontally

The sponge is made from Proprietary Patented sponge foam

It mechanically cleans the water without trapping small fish or fry

Our Synopsis:

Sponge filters can take up a lot of room, and this product gives you many options to choose from based on your tank set-up from gallon size to whether your tank is long or deep.

Analyst Rating

PREMIUM CHOICE

Hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter is useful to have regardless of whether you have a freshwater or saltwater tank set up. It won’t hurt your fish or the PH levels in the water. The adjustable water outlet lets you control where the water flow and airflow goes so as not to create too much of a current for your fish. The media balls provide a place where helpful bacteria can live. This means the good bacteria will not be filtered out and help your water and fish maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can also replace those ones with other media balls, such as ammonia absorbers based on your tank’s needs. The media balls and the multi-function filtration combined will make your water clear and healthier for your fish.

What We Like Most

Great for saltwater and freshwater tanks

It has an adjustable water outlet

It includes bioceramic media balls

It has multi-function filtration

It comes in two sizes and easy to buy replacements

Our Synopsis:

This product is an excellent option if you’re looking for an extra way to keep your tank water as healthy as can be.

Analyst Rating

GREAT VALUE

Powkoo Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter from Powkoo is excellent because it comes with an air pump, which is needed to set up any sponge filter in an aquarium. Normally, the pumps are sold separately from the sponges and, while this brand does allow you to order just the sponge filter on its own, this product has the option to include the air pump and everything else you need for a proper set up. The adjustable height and 360-degree rotation allow for you to have more control of the water and airflow. While the tank sizes this filter can be used for are limited (only 10 gallons to 30 gallons), you can add more than one to the tank. It also works well for freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

What We Like Most

It comes with an air pump

It has an adjustable height and 360-degree rotation

It fits tank sizes from 10 gallons to 30 gallons

It’s great for freshwater and saltwater tanks

It’s easy to use and clean

Our Synopsis:

If you’re new to sponge filters and have a smaller tank size, this may be a good one to start with since everything you need is included.

Analyst Rating

4

AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter from AQUANEAT is the simplest product on this list. It’s easy to set up inside your aquarium and it’s also simple to take care of. One of these sponge filters is good for a tank size as large as 60 gallons. However, if you have a tank that’s larger than 60 gallons, you can simply buy another one and have two inside your aquarium. This sponge filter doesn’t trap smaller fish or fry and you can buy it in bulk with a four-pack. You can also buy it with the accessories needed to set it up. The filtration provides mechanical and biological cleaning which filters out the bad bacteria and also keeps the water clear. This ensures your tank will be clean with clear water.

What We Like Most

It’s easy to set up and clean

It’s excellent for smaller fish or maternity or fry tanks

This is good for tanks up to 60 gallons

It’s affordable and can come in a four-pack or with accessories

It provides both mechanical and biological filtration

Our Synopsis:

This product is simple and easy to set up. It’s good to use for most tank sizes keeping your water healthy and clean.

Analyst Rating

5

Uxcell XINYOU XY-380 Aquarium Fish Tank Biochemical Sponge Filter

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This product is one of the more affordable options on this list. So, if you’re setting up your aquarium on a budget, this may be a good option for you. This is also great because it can be used in a variety of tank sizes, which is good because the sponge filter itself is pretty big. Of course, you might have a tricky time fitting it inside a smaller tank. So you don’t need to worry about buying more than one to have inside your fish tank. Yet, it does come in a pack of one, three, or six so you can stock up if need be. The sponge filter is easy to use and provides maximum mechanical and biological filtration to keep your aquarium water clear, clean, and healthy.

What We Like Most

It’s easy to set up and clean

It provides mechanical and biological filtration

It comes in a pack of one, three, or six

It can be used in various tank sizes

It’s affordable

Our Synopsis:

Due to its price, this sponge filter is a good option if you’re testing out a sponge filter for the first time.

Analyst Rating

6

UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter not only has multi-filtration functions such as mechanical and biological filtration to keep your water looking clear and healthy, it’s also an energy saver and makes no noise while in use. This is a great option if you have your aquarium set up in an area of your house where people tend to frequent, such as the living room. This filter seems like it’s not even there so you can sit back and watch your fish swim in peace. It doesn’t matter what kind of tank you have, this filter can be used for freshwater and saltwater tanks and you can control where the waterflow goes with the adjustable height and 360-degree rotation. This product also comes with bioceramic media balls to keep your tank extra healthy.

What We Like Most

It has multi-filtration functions

It’s great for freshwater and saltwater tanks

It has an adjustable height

It contains bioceramic media balls

It’s an energy saver and makes no noise

Our Synopsis:

If you have a large tank, this is a great option with the bioceramic media balls as well as the filter saving energy and filtering your water quietly.

Analyst Rating

7

Aquaneat Air Driven Bio Corner Filter Sponge

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This sponge filter is unique from all the rest on this list. What makes this product interesting is that it fits in the corner of your tank. This means it doesn’t bulge out or look too out of place from everything else in the tank. Sometimes sponge filters can be so big that it’s hard to hide them but this one will seem more out of the way. This product is easy to set up as well as clean and it can be used with aquariums as large as 40 gallons. It has reduced noise so you won’t even know it’s there while it’s working. The mechanical and biological filtration will ensure your tank water is clear, clean, and healthy for your fish.

What We Like Most

It can be used in tanks for up to 20 gallons or up to 40 gallons

It fits in the corner of the tank

It has reduced noise

It’s easy to clean and to set up

It provides both mechanical and biological filtration

Our Synopsis:

If you have a smaller tank, a corner sponge filter might be a good option to give your fish and aquarium decor as much room as possible.

Analyst Rating

8

Huijukon Double Super Biochemical Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter is another excellent one because it comes with everything you need. Instead of having only the sponge filter, it also includes an air pump and everything else you need to properly set up the sponge filter inside your fish tank. Even with all the accessories it’s still easy and simple to set up. The sponges are easy to clean and replace as needed. It has an adjustable height and 360-degree rotation so you can control the water and air flow. This product works hard with mechanical and biological filtration so that your tank water is crystal clear and healthy. The reduced noise is a plus as it gets the job done without being heard.

What We Like Most

It comes with an air pump

It has low noise

It’s easy to install and clean

It has an adjustable height and 360-degree rotation

It has mechanical and biological filtration

Our Synopsis:

If you’re looking for a quieter option that has everything you need, this may be a good product to try.

Analyst Rating

9

Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter

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This particular product can be used in fish tanks that are as large as 55 gallons. It’s a nice addition to an aquarium that already has a filter whether it’s another sponge filter, a power filter, or something else. It can be used on its own but it’s small enough to also be used as a secondary filter. This is especially good if you have a maternity tank or a fry tank. It’s gentle enough for those kinds of aquariums but it works hard to mechanically and biologically filter the water. An extra perk is that this product already comes with three sponges so that you won’t need to buy replacements for quite a while. Or you can use two together for a bigger tank size.

What We Like Most

It comes with three sponges

It’s great as a secondary filter for fry tanks

It’s easy to install and to clean

It can be used in tanks up to 55 gallons

It has mechanical and biological filtration

Our Synopsis:

This is a great secondary option if you already have a filter and need an extra boost for your tank.

Analyst Rating

10

Lefunpets Biochemical Sponge Filter

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This sponge filter is great for various tank sizes as small as five gallons or as large as 80 gallons, which means it’s good to have for a plethora of fish or a simple betta fish tank. It’s also great for any type of aquarium such as freshwater or saltwater. The filter itself won’t mess up any of the water’s contents or PH levels. It has biological filtration to ensure your tank water is crystal clear. While it works hard to keep your fish tank clear and clean, there’s low noise while it’s in use. This makes it so you can watch your fish peacefully. This is another sponge filter that is easy to install as well as clean or replace as needed.

What We Like Most

It can be used for freshwater or saltwater tanks

It can be used for tank sizes as small as 5 gallons to as large as 80 gallons

It has biological filtration

It’s easy to operate

There’s low noise

Our Synopsis:

This is a good option if you’re looking for something simple and your aquarium needs an extra boost in filtration.

Analyst Rating

Buyer's Guide

Sponge filters look simple at first glance but there’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right one for the needs of your fish and the aquarium as a whole. You need to make sure it’s the correct size for your tank and understand what the filter does. For example, does it filtrate mechanically and biologically? What type of fish do you have in your tank? Is your tank saltwater, freshwater, or maybe it’s a maternity tank with a lot of fry? There are many different kinds of filters for aquariums and sponge filters can be the most effective based on your tank’s needs.

Filtration

Most sponge filters have multi-function filtration such as mechanically and biologically filtering out the water. Mechanical filtration acts as a trash can and filters out the physical debris from the water such as fish waste and old food. Biological filtration means it uses helpful bacteria to filter out any of the toxic ammonia or nitrogen that can build in your tank from fish waste. This makes sponge filters more effective because the filtration gets absorbed into the sponge rather than filtering back out into the dirty water, unlike a power filter. They’re easy to clean as all you need to do is squeeze out the sponge in a separate bucket of your aquarium water (so the dirt doesn’t go back into your fish tank) until the sponge squeezes out visibly clean water. This ensures some bacteria stays on the sponge while giving your tank a thorough clean.

Powerful with a gentle water flow

Sponge filters are powerful, especially if used in the correct sized tank. You can use multiple sponges to keep up with the size of your tank or get a sponge large enough to keep up with your aquarium. They may take up some room but they’re easy to hide behind plants and other decor in your fish tank. While powerful, these filters have a gentle waterflow so that your smaller fish such as Tetras or fry won’t get sucked into the filter. A lot of these sponge filters have adjustable heights and 360-degree rotation so that you can control where the water filters through and control the current. This can be above the surface or below ensuring your filter remains quiet as well.

How does a sponge filter work?

There are three parts to setting up a sponge filter: there’s the sponge filter itself which goes inside the tank water, an air pump which stays outside of the water, and the tubing that connects the two. Essentially, the sponge is there to absorb any dirty water and to catch all the debris and bacteria that needs to be filtered out of the water. The air pump and the sponge filter work together to do this. The air pump pushes air through the tube and into the hollow tube that’s inside the sponge filter. This causes bubbles to push through the sponge itself and creates a suction to draw in the bacteria and other debris in the tank water. This is how it mechanically cleans your aquarium so that your water remains clean and free from bad bacteria. All the while, it collects good bacteria to stay inside the tank. This is another reason as to why you don’t want to clean your sponge filter by rinsing it in tap water.

How often should I change my sponge filter?

During routine water changes, you should squeeze out any excess dirty water from your sponge. You can do this every two weeks. In a separate bucket or container when you take out 10-25% of your aquarium water, squeeze the debris out of the sponge in the old tank water. This will clean out the sponge while keeping the debris out of the aquarium as well as keeping some bacteria in the sponge. Again, please note that you shouldn’t rinse your sponge in tap water. That will get rid of any of the helpful bacteria your fish need. It’s recommended you replace the sponge every three to six months or whenever your sponge looks visibly worn down and loses its shape. This means you won’t go through nearly as many sponge filters as you would with power filter cartridges.

Can I use a sponge filter on its own?

Yes, you can use a sponge filter however you need to. As long as you make sure the sponge filter is the correct size to fit your aquarium’s needs, you’ll be able to use the sponge filter on its own. For example, don’t buy a sponge filter that’s only strong enough to work on tanks that are up to 30 gallons when you have a 55-gallon tank. However, you can use multiple sponge filters together to work in one tank. You can buy two sponge filters that work up to 30 gallons each for a 55-gallon tank, for example. It can also be added to a tank with a power filter (or any other kind of filter) as a secondary filter to help keep the water clear and healthy.

Which types of aquariums can I use a sponge filter with?

You can use a sponge filter with any kind of aquarium you want. As long as you have the correct sponge filter size you can add a sponge filter or two to your fish tank no matter how many gallons it is. There are filters that work with tanks as small as five gallons and some tanks as large as 125 gallons. The size of your fish tank aside, you can use a sponge filter for freshwater setups or saltwater tanks. The sponge itself absorbs the dirty water, sucking up the bad bacteria and holding onto the good bacteria that help your fish stay healthy. It maintains the water wonderfully so that the water itself stays clean and clear for your fish. It doesn’t harm the environment whether it’s freshwater or saltwater. Finally, you can use a sponge filter with any kind of fish you have. If you have an aquarium filled with many kinds of fish or have a tank with a single fish or two (such as having a goldfish or a betta fish) then it works well. Alternatively, sponge filters are great for maternity tanks or fry tanks. The filter is gentle enough and won’t trap the smaller fish so that a sponge filter can be used with any and all kinds of aquariums.

What are you the media balls and how do they help?

The ceramic media balls that come with some sponge filters help with the biological filtration of your aquarium. What this means is that the media balls will catch any bad bacteria and turn it into good bacteria. It’s part of the nitrogen cycle that will keep your fish tank clean and healthy. Bacteria will cling to any surface inside your aquarium whether it’s decor, the gravel, or the sides of the tank itself. The media balls are designed in a special way that gives the bacteria a place to cling to. There is normally a ceramic foam inside the media balls that give more surface area to the bacteria to grab onto it. Then, the foam works its magic to turn ammonia into nitrates, which helps improve the environment for your fish. The media balls sit inside the water along with your sponge filter. The sponge filter absorbs the water to filter through the debris, the bacteria will pass over the media balls and cling to them. In no time, you’ll find a big improvement of your water quality. What’s the best part about the media balls? You only need a little bit per 100 gallons. A little goes a long way when it comes to the ceramic media balls. With that said, you should always read the instructions that come with the media balls once you buy them. You may only need to add in a little but adding a bit extra won’t hurt the quality of your aquarium’s water. Media balls can be cleaned during a routine water change. Similar to the sponge filters, do not rinse or clean the media balls using tap water. This will kill all the bacteria - the good and the bad. If you notice your media balls are looking extra worn and it’s getting harder to clean them, then it might be time to replace them.

What is an air stone and do you need to add one to your sponge filter?

An airstone is an accessory you can get for your sponge filter. The air pump working together with the sponge filter will create bubbles as it works to mechanically and biologically filter through your tank’s water. The airstone will break these bubbles up causing smaller bubbles. Thus, making the sponge filter quieter. Most sponge filters have reduced noise since they’re submerged under the water but the bubbles rising to the surface can cause a little bit of noise. Adding an airstone will reduce that noise further as the bubbles are smaller. Breaking up the bubbles will also make the filtration more efficient. Having a steady flow of smaller bubbles can be more effective than having larger bubbles. So, you don’t necessarily need to have an airstone along with your sponge filter. However, if you notice your sponge filter may need a little extra help with the filtration or it becomes louder, airstones won’t hurt to try. They won’t hurt the quality of your water or disrupt the filtration process. They’re inexpensive to buy so it’s worth a try. If you don’t like it or you don’t think it’s helping your tank at all, you can simply take it back out.

Expert tip

When choosing a sponge filter, consider your needs - look at the type of aquarium you have and its size as well as the water circulation you need and your budget. Choose what’s best for you and your fish.

Did you know

Sponge filters will continue to work even if the power goes out. Since they are submerged in the tank water, they are constantly working to filter out the debris and bacteria in the water.

Conclusion

Sponge filters are awesome for a lot of reasons. They’re simple to use for any tank (especially beginner set-ups), have a gentle current, and have multi-filtration functions. They’re quiet and affordable. In addition, sponge filters have little parts so they’re easy to set up and replace in case something breaks. The best part is that they’re safe for all fish, big and small.