Bio Balls vs Ceramic Rings

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Feb 19, 2007
Do they perform the same function? Are they interchangeable? Which is better? I have both, but am having trouble with the bio balls because they float and wreak havoc with opening and closing my canister filter because they get in the way.
They are supposed to perform the same function (i.e. host aerobic bacteria) but IMO the ceramic media provides a larger surface area and therefore does a better job. I use Seachem's Matrix myself which is similar to ceramic rings.
I have both, I also find that non antibacterial plastic pot scrubbers work very well. They have lots of surface and are very porous to hold bacteria very well.
Has anyone else had trouble with bio balls getting in the way of the baskets, and other moving parts when you open up your canister filter?
Bio balls are a poor choice in a canister, as they offer little surface area for the space they take up. Even pot scrubbers are better, as mentioned.
Everything I've studied says scrubbies (plastic) are the way to go. Cheap too, until the makers catch on.
I'm not sure what plastic scrubbies are. Does a Scotch Brite qualify if it's not impregnated with any cleansers, or is it something else?

ReefRaff said:
I would have thought bio balls would have more surface area. with all the little posts and all.

You would be surprised. Ceramic is porous. Under a microscope you can see a large network of "tunnels" that go throughout the ceramic ring. Each of these tunnels provides additional resting surface for bacteria. The bio-balls provide a geometric surface but do not even come close to the amount of surface area as those tunnels.
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