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You could, but it would be pretty inefficient. It wouldn't be bio media if it was acting as mechanical filtration. The bacteria need a surface to grow on, but if it is all gunked up or slimed up it clogs the pores of lots of bio media and reduces bacteria growing space.  


You could put a sponge down before the water hits the bio balls, especially if the water flows like an aquaclear/tidal from the bottom up. That would collect the particulate in the water and not gunk up the bio balls. You could still use them without this in a different type of filter, but you will have to rinse out your bio media more often I'd imagine. 

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As a rule things like bio balls are made for bio filtration and not mechanical. Evolution Aqua has a new koi filter called the Tempest that uses K+ material (typically used for biofiltration) as a mechanical filter. I haven't been impressed by what I've seen of it. The filter does trap debris, but the backwashing process seems very inefficient to me and lots of debris remains trapped on the walls of the Tempest and in the K+ media. I think for that to really work well, they've got to improve the back flushing. The guys at Quality Nishikigoi on YouTube have been playing with it and raving about it, but even in their cleaning videos you can see a lot of gunk left behind. (Bear in mind, they're also sellers of Evolution Aqua products, so they won't diss a product they're selling.) Filtering out solids is best left to mechanical means, like filter pads, rotary drum filters for things like koi ponds, sponges, etc. 

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