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Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Q: Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Christine – Mt. Clemens, MI

A: Filter media—or the stuff in your filter that holds beneficial bacteria—come in a range of shapes, sizes and densities. Some are plastic balls; some are fibrous mats and blocks; some are plastic spiral-shaped things that more resemble fusilli than pond products. With all the different types, it’s tough to decide which is best.

Well, we’ll make it easy for you: Try a little of each type. Just like plants, different filtration media provide different amounts of water filtration, so we recommend a healthy mix of media pads, like Matala® Filter Media Pads, and Filter Media Pads pre-cut and by-the-foot; ridged plastic balls, like Pond Logic® BioBalls™; and curly plastic strips, like Bacti-Twist® Biological/Mechanical Filter Media.

When choosing the filter media, regardless of type, look for these defining characteristics:

  • Durability: Your media should be able to withstand wear and tear. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ are more durable and longer lasting compared to similar products.
  • Density: Your media should be the right density for your specific needs. Matala® Filter Media Pads come in 4 densities to suit your particular pond.
  • Surface area: Your media should also have a lot of surface area, which will result in more places for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Your filter media’s density and surface area are particularly important because they determine how much beneficial bacteria grows and the rate at which water flows through the material. Dense material allows for more bacteria colonization, while less-dense material allows for more water flow. By using all different types of filter media, you’re encouraging optimal biological and mechanical filtration—and that’s always a good thing in an enclosed system.

Already have filter media in your system? You may be able to use it for another season or two, but first give it a visual inspection. Is it beginning to wear on the edges? Has it compacted over the last few seasons? Worn or compressed material should be replaced to give your pond top-quality filtration, but fresh, fluffy material can be reused.

Pond Talk: What’s your preferred filter media type—and why?

Keep Your Water Crystal Clear - Matala® Filter Media Pads

4 Responses

  1. To help the filter I layered air conditioner ‘foam’ on the bottom of the upper shallow pond. It is right under where the water drops back into the pond from the fish’s mouth. I anchored it with a few rocks on the corners. It’s amazing how much scum/silt this traps helping to keep the water clear. My husband improved upon this idea by putting the foam into one of those plastic open work ‘flats’ that you get from a gardening center. Now it’s much easier to remove the entire flat to rinse the foam and then replace the entire unit back under the water return (fish’s mouth)…

  2. i have 2 ponds. my first pond has fish which i want to put into my new pond. when is a good time to transport?

    • Hi Kim – Here’s a blog about introducing fish back to a pond. The important thing is to test your water to ensure it’s safe for your fish. Then slowly introduce them to their new home. Bring fish to the new pond in a bucket and periodically add a small amount of pond water every 5-10 minutes. This will give your fish time to adjust to the water variations and avoid shock. After 15-20 minutes it will be safe to gently release the fish back into their home.

  3. I find that balls clog quickly. I use Matala, different densities. Very sturdy and relatively easy to clean.

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