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Fine Sponge Filter vs Coarse Sponge Filter


MaxM
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I know that Cory is in favor or Coarse filters. I recently heard Jason from Prime Time Aquatics discuss in a video the differences (pros and cons) between fine and coarse filters. I see that Jason is in favor of the Fine Sponge Filters. 

I was wondering if any of you have tried both and can state which one you prefer and why?

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There are pros and cons for both. I like the fine pore ones because they get more of the fine particles in the water out, but they can be really hard to get clean. where the large pore ones that the Co-op sells are extremely easy to clean. The fine ones sometime can be hard to get to stay down, especially when new, you have to squeeze air out of them. 

I use both, and I prefer the larger pore filters, because they are a lot easier to clean, a couple squeezes under the faucet (before anybody says you can't do that, I have well water, no chlorine), where a fine one, I will squeeze and squeeze them out and will still get a cloud of dirty water when putting back in the tank. If I have a tank that has a lot of fine floating particles, I will either throw in a sponge filter with fine pores or use a hang on back with a fine poly pad in it, which is also available from the co-op.

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20 minutes ago, Andy's Fish Den said:

There are pros and cons for both. I like the fine pore ones because they get more of the fine particles in the water out, but they can be really hard to get clean. where the large pore ones that the Co-op sells are extremely easy to clean. The fine ones sometime can be hard to get to stay down, especially when new, you have to squeeze air out of them. 

I use both, and I prefer the larger pore filters, because they are a lot easier to clean, a couple squeezes under the faucet (before anybody says you can't do that, I have well water, no chlorine), where a fine one, I will squeeze and squeeze them out and will still get a cloud of dirty water when putting back in the tank. If I have a tank that has a lot of fine floating particles, I will either throw in a sponge filter with fine pores or use a hang on back with a fine poly pad in it, which is also available from the co-op.

The one concern of mine with a fine filter is it seems to me that it would draw the water much slower and thus take longer to filter. Is this incorrect? 

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48 minutes ago, Andy's Fish Den said:

There are pros and cons for both. I like the fine pore ones because they get more of the fine particles in the water out, but they can be really hard to get clean. where the large pore ones that the Co-op sells are extremely easy to clean. The fine ones sometime can be hard to get to stay down, especially when new, you have to squeeze air out of them. 

I use both, and I prefer the larger pore filters, because they are a lot easier to clean, a couple squeezes under the faucet (before anybody says you can't do that, I have well water, no chlorine), where a fine one, I will squeeze and squeeze them out and will still get a cloud of dirty water when putting back in the tank. If I have a tank that has a lot of fine floating particles, I will either throw in a sponge filter with fine pores or use a hang on back with a fine poly pad in it, which is also available from the co-op.

@Andy's Fish Den, I know what you mean.   Am on well water, too.  It's very convenient.  Everything goes in the deep, utility sink.  

@MaxM, As for the sponge filters, it's really a personal preference, IMO.  For me,  I like the coarse design much better.  Also, have modified a coarse filter with a tiny 'wrap-around' piece of fine poly pad.  It catches the smaller particles, if you are concerned with that, etc.  

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As stated there are pro and cons for both. I prefer the coarse ones because I do not have to clean them as often as it got clogged. When I was running the fine one I had to clean it every week and since I went to the coarse one I only clean it every 3 weeks but not because it is clogged only because that is my schedule. Again everyone will have there likes and dislikes. 

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Like everyone here has said its more preference than anything. When I upsized to a 75 gallon I bought two of the large course sponge filters. I also had my medium from my 25 gallon in it to “seed” the new tank. They worked great for the most part, but I never could get the fine particulate out of my water. 
 

I wish I had considered a fine sponge filter for occasional cleanup, but I came across a great deal in a bargain canister. I stacked it with sponges and poly fiber. Now my water is crystal clear. Bet I could have used an occasional fine sponge to do the same though. They are so cheap, I would buy both. Run the coarse 24/7 and put the fine in if the water needed “polishing”. But that’s me. If I were you I would 100% buy the coarse and if your water still has particulate in it buy a fine to run occasionally just for that. 

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Had 2 Fluval fine sponges in my 38g. And i hate them. There now in the garbage.  Why ? Because the lil A holes would clog up atleast once a week.  Even after rinsing and rinsing them out they still would clog up after a few days. Replace them with coarse sponges from Coop. And I've yet to have any issues.  

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Which is better? A lot of it depends on what type of fishkeeper you are.

Are you a hands on fishkeeper who water changes twice or once a week, and will service your sponge filter then? Then a fine sponge may be for you.

Are you a fishkeeper who does water changes weekly or less, and services the filter once a month? Then a coarse sponge may be for you.

Are you using the sponge filter mechanically to clear your water while counting on something else to do the bulk of your biological? Then a fine sponge may be for you.

Are you using a different mechanical filter and want the sponge to be the core of your biological. Then a coarse sponge may be for you. 

The housing of the Co Op coarse sponge is superior than anything else I have seen on the market, so that is a huge plus. 

TLDR: For most people, a coarse sponge like the Co Op works out better for them because of how they manage their tanks.  A fine sponge requires significant more labor and there are a number of better options out there for mechanical filtration.  

Happy fishkeeping! And I hope this helps. 

Edited by Ben_RF
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57 minutes ago, Ben_RF said:


Are you using a different mechanical filter and want the sponge to be the core of your biological. Then a coarse sponge may be for you. 
 

Interesting that you say that. I also thought that way, but Jason from Prime Time Aquatics claims the opposite. He claims that the Fine sponge holds more bacteria for biological filtering. 

Listen to him at around the 2:50 min in this video. 

 

I'm confused now. 😞

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58 minutes ago, MaxM said:

Interesting that you say that. I also thought that way, but Jason from Prime Time Aquatics claims the opposite. He claims that the Fine sponge holds more bacteria for biological filtering. 

Listen to him at around the 2:50 min in this video. 

 

I'm confused now. 😞

He's a well-educated guy in the exact subject discussed here.

Not to commit an appeal to authority fallacy, but it's not like his claims are without merit.

I'd say give them both a shot - they're inexpensive and it would be the only surefire way to see which  type you prefer.

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1 hour ago, MaxM said:

Interesting that you say that. I also thought that way, but Jason from Prime Time Aquatics claims the opposite. He claims that the Fine sponge holds more bacteria for biological filtering. 

Listen to him at around the 2:50 min in this video. 

 

I'm confused now. 😞

Maybe a science experiment is in order? The claims are quite testable with an at home experiment involving a couple buckets, some ammonia drops, and an ammonia test kit.

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22 minutes ago, Mike said:

Maybe a science experiment is in order? The claims are quite testable with an at home experiment involving a couple buckets, some ammonia drops, and an ammonia test kit.

Exactly. And Dave from aquariumscience did this for various filter media (which is why I'm using K1 media and pot scrubbers in my filters). He did a test for 30 ppi foam and other media, but not 30 compared to 20 ... but from the calculated surface area you'd expect the fine to be better. 

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For me it’s simple, almost no one runs into ammonia problems where their filters can’t handle it because of not enough bacteria. A well established tank won’t have bacteria problems because most bacteria is on substrate, decorations, glass etc. 

How much bacteria the filter can hold is kind of irrelevant for most. However as you can see in this thread maintenance is a thing for everyone. Coarse sponges don’t clog easily meaning they can hold more debris. However a fine sponge can capture fine debris but clogs and is hard to get clean.
 

While the posters here are the more hardcore of the hobby, the average aquarist does nothing to their aquarium until there are problems. Often many months between noticing their water quality is going downward. A coarse sponge filter helps them much more than a fine would.

 

When I design products, I focus on the majority. No product will be the perfect fit for everyone. I would also say keep in mind the source of info, it can have a bias. I don’t pay people to sell my products, this if they say a fine filter is better they will get paid via amazon affiliate or other brand partnership. I’m not saying this went on here, but keep a perspective as a buyer. Even my bias is towards a product I profit from and designed. Understandably so, I think everyone can see I have something to gain from my sponge filter vs competitors. it is smart to get feedback from other buyers like this to get close to an unbiased set of information as possible.

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#TeamCoarse

My reasons include:

  1. A new Co-Op Coarse Sponge Filter will sink instantly.  Of the dozens I have set up only 1 floated and required a squeeze.  When I first setup my fish room and bought a bunch of generic ones on Amazon I was in a weeks long battle squeezing sponge filters to get them to sink.  If I didn't have lids it would've spurted a good amount of water out of the tank.
  2. Ease of maintenance.  You can sit and squeeze a fine sponge filter for days (exaggeration 😁)  before you feel like you have actually serviced it.
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2 minutes ago, Randy said:

#TeamCoarse

My reasons include:

  1. A new Co-Op Coarse Sponge Filter will sink instantly.  Of the dozens I have set up only 1 floated and required a squeeze.  When I first setup my fish room and bought a bunch of generic ones on Amazon I was in a weeks long battle squeezing sponge filters to get them to sink.  If I didn't have lids it would've spurted a good amount of water out of the tank.
  2. Ease of maintenance.  You can sit and squeeze a fine sponge filter for days (exaggeration 😁)  before you feel like you have actually serviced it.

I have to agree with your first statement. In order to keep the fine sponge filter I have at the bottom of the tank I needed to pour gravel on it. Also, I have read on Amazon reviews people commenting that they did not like that the fine sponge filter they bottom wouldn't sink to the bottom easily.

I think we can safely say that for most people Cory is right. We are better off using a coarse sponge due to the maintenance issues then focusing on the slight bacterial advantage of a fine sponge.

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Wouldn't the coarse sponge filter out finer particles as it begins to clog? I have both kinds. I use them more for water movement than for filtering anything. I also use them with HOBs. I will say that I'm part of the not really maintaining the sponge filter group. It's nice that it takes the coarse sponge takes a while to clog. I once did not service the coarse sponge filter for several months and when I did, I found 3 medium sized Rams Horn Snails in side of it. It was odd because I removed all the Rams Horns from that tank. I'm guessing when they were tiny baby snails that they could actually make their way through the sponge into the hollow part under the air stone. Their shells were all beat up like they had been tumbling around in there.

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1 hour ago, Cory said:

For me it’s simple, almost no one runs into ammonia problems where their filters can’t handle it because of not enough bacteria. A well established tank won’t have bacteria problems because most bacteria is on substrate, decorations, glass etc. 

How much bacteria the filter can hold is kind of irrelevant for most.

This statement surprised me being that everyone warns about not washing the filter in tap water and not to clean the filter and vacuum the substrate on the same day.

Question: On average, how long does it take for a tank to be considered well established? 

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5 minutes ago, Aubrey said:

Wouldn't the coarse sponge filter out finer particles as it begins to clog? I have both kinds. I use them more for water movement than for filtering anything. I also use them with HOBs. I will say that I'm part of the not really maintaining the sponge filter group. It's nice that it takes the coarse sponge takes a while to clog. I once did not service the coarse sponge filter for several months and when I did, I found 3 medium sized Rams Horn Snails in side of it. It was odd because I removed all the Rams Horns from that tank. I'm guessing when they were tiny baby snails that they could actually make their way through the sponge into the hollow part under the air stone. Their shells were all beat up like they had been tumbling around in there.

Yes, as a filter collects more debri, it traps finer particles, until it eventually clogs. 

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3 minutes ago, MaxM said:

This statement surprised me being that everyone warns about not washing the filter in tap water and not to clean the filter and vacuum the substrate on the same day.

Question: On average, how long does it take for a tank to be considered well established? 

I'm not sure there is any science on it. For me personally it's 6 months from the last time I did a major change, that might be setting up the tank, changing a filter for a different one, swapping substrate, or adding fish/plants. Basically when all I've been doing is feeding and maintaining water quality for 6 months, the routine is set in and the tank now starts to show what its going to do long term. 

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