Best Aquarium Sponge Filters (Reviewed 2021)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

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What’s the best aquarium sponge filter?

Sponge filters are one of the cheapest and easiest internal filters to install and operate. For optimal performance, they are most suitably used as an additional filter to other existing HOB filters or canister filters. However, they can also be used as a standalone filter.

Sponge filters are great at providing mechanical and biological filtration. Most sponge filters will not support chemical filtration; this is the reason why they are mostly employed to an already existing filter that probably supports chemical filtration.

Sponge filters provide a large surface area to facilitate and encourage the colonization and growth of beneficial bacteria for biological filtration.

Are sponge filters safe for fish fry and shrimp?

Sponge filters are very safe even for tiny shrimp and small fish and fry. They won’t be easily sucked up as would be the case for most canister filters. As a matter of fact, most shrimp, fish fry and other aquatic species will often feed off on the trapped food particles and algae matters on the surface of the sponge filter. 

Sponge filters are also easy to cycle back up with the ease to move it from one tank to another.

To top it all, most sponge filters are fairly cheap and come with a friendly price tag which will easily fit into a low budget plan.

What are the components of a sponge filter?

Sponge filter base

This is the bottom support that will hold every other component. This base is weighted to impede the sponge filter from floating in the water or being tossed about by the water current and possibly fish.

The base can also be supported by the substrate or by heavier aquarium decoration like rocks.

However, some sponge filters may come with a suction cup instead of a weighted base. This allows the sponge filter to be firmly fixed to the tank and is most suitable for a tank bare bottom.

Foam sponge filter

Most sponge filters have a foam sponge that doubles up as a mechanical and biological filter. The efficiency of the sponge filter greatly depends on this foam sponge; the better the foam sponge, the better filtration the sponge filter will offer.

An efficient foam sponge that provides a superior biological filtration will provide a large surface area to facilitate and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Sponge filter strainer and bullseye

The strainer consists of two pieces of a small plastic pipe with slots that run up and down to allow water flow through and help keep the debris from filtering out of the sponge filter.

The bullseye will come with an airline hose connector that pops out of the filter allowing the airline tubing to be connected directly to the sponge filter. It is also used to connect the strainer to the lift tube.

Sponge filter lift tube

This is the compartment that drives the filtered water from the sponge filter back into the tank. It can also be used to connect the sponge filter to an aquarium power head in order to facilitate a more effective and quiet filtration. Some filters will also have a longer lift tube that will control the bubble from the air pump so as not to disturb the aquatic inhabitants.

Best aquarium sponge filters in 2020 compared

ImageProductFeaturesCheck Price
1
hygger Super Mini Aquarium Sponge Filter
hygger Super Mini Aquarium Sponge Filter

For: 0.5 – 5 Gallons
Size: 3.5″ W, 3″ H
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Suction cup

Check On Amazon
2
Lustar Hydro Sponge V Filter
Lustar Hydro Sponge V Filter

For: Up to 125 Gallons
Size:  7 x 6 x 6″
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Base, sponge
Works with: Air pump

Check On Amazon
3
Hikari Bacto Surge Foam Filter
Hikari Bacto Surge Foam Filter

For: Up to 125 Gallons
Size: 7.99 x 6.69 x 6.1″
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Base, sponge
Material: Highly porous

Works with: Air pump

Check On Amazon
4
Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter
Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter

For: Up to 60 Gallons
Size: 4.5”D x 8.0”H
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Base, sponge
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump

Check On Amazon
5
MTMTOOL 3 Pack Aquarium Sponge Filter
MTMTOOL 3 Pack Aquarium Sponge Filter

For: Up to 12 Gallons
Size: 2.2″ x 4.9″(D*H)
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Base, sponge
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump

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6
Uxcell Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter
Uxcell Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter

For: Up to 20 Gallons
Size: 5.5 x 4.3 x 5.5″
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Base, sponge
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump

Check On Amazon
7
hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter
hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

For: Up to 55 Gallons
Size: 6.3″ W, 9″ to 13″ H
Parts: Detachable, cup
Includes: Ceramic media
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump

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8
Huijukon Air Driven Aquarium Sponge Filter
Huijukon Air Driven Aquarium Sponge Filter

For: Up to 55 Gallons
Size: 2.4″ W, 4.7″ H
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Suction cup
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump
Air-water Outlet: Adjustable

Check On Amazon
9
Powkoo Aquarium Air Sponge Filter
Powkoo Aquarium Air Sponge Filter

For: Up to 20 Gallons
Size: 1.8″ W, 3.1″ H
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Suction cup
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump
Air-water Outlet: Adjustable

Check On Amazon
10
Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter
Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter

For: Up to 55 Gallons
Size: 2.4″ D x 4.5″ H
Parts: Detachable
Includes: Suction cup
Material: Highly porous
Works with: Air pump
Air-water Outlet: Adjustable

Check On Amazon

1. Hygger Super Mini – Best Sponge Filter for Planted Nano Tanks

1
Best Sponge Filter for Planted Nano Tanks

hygger Super Mini Aquarium Sponge Filter

This is a mini sponge aquarium filter suitable for nano and small tanks of about 0.5-5.0 gallon aquarium. The sponge filter has a width of 3.5”, a height of 3” and an inside circle diameter of 0.59”. 

It is suitable for facilitating a 2-way filtration process including biological and mechanical filtration. The filter has a fine sponge which encourages the colonies of beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive.

If the filter is clogged, it should be cleaned with already cycled aquarium water rather than tap water. It comes with one easily replaceable spare sponge and a suction cup that allows it to be firmly installed in the tank.

This filter should be used with a mini air pump according to tank size and a standard size air hose of about 4mm.

The compartments are detachable which makes it easy to detach, maintain and assemble back together.

PROs
  • One spare fine sponge included
  • Produces slow water movement
  • All compartments are detachable
  • Easy to install, clean, and maintain
  • Suction cup included
CONs
  • Requires frequent water changes
  • Fragile and may easily break

2. Lustar Hydro – Best Aquarium Sponge Filter for 125 Gallon Tank

2
Best Aquarium Sponge Filter for 125 Gallon Tank

Lustar Hydro Sponge Filter for Aquarium

The Hydro-Sponge filter is a product of the Aquarium Technology Inc. that helps to facilitate a high quality mechanical and biological filtration.

It is suitable for larger tanks up to 125 gallons and can be installed vertically or horizontally to suit your aquarium setup.

It is built with a one-inch diameter lift tube that enables the use of a powerhead or air pump without adapters to provide a high volume water flow. This filter is easy to clean. It should not be rinsed with tap water, rather already established aquarium water should be used to clean and rinse this filter. 

This product produces a very quiet filtration and comes with a friendly price tag that makes it suitable for a low budget plan.

PROs
  • Can be installed vertically or horizontally
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Facilitates a high volume of water flow
  • Suitable with shrimp and baby fish
  • Very quiet
CONs
  • Can’t really suck up bigger particles
  • The sponge may lose shape in time

3. Hikari Foam – Best Sponge Filter for Marine Tanks

3
Best Sponge Filter for Marine Tanks

Hikari Bacto Surge Foam Filter

Hikari Bacto-Surge Foam Filter is a great filter that is suitable for freshwater and marine water environments. 

It has an increased surface that facilitates the efficient colonization of beneficial bacteria that are important to facilitate biological filtration.

It also has a highly porous sponge that optimizes the actions of the beneficial bacteria in maintaining the nitrogen cycle and also helps in oxygenating the water.

The sponge filter is made of soft materials that make it easy to clean and maintain. As with most filters they should not be cleaned with tap water, rather rinse and clean with already established aquarium water.

PROs
  • Suitable for freshwater and marine environments
  • Provides a good airflow oxygenating the water
  • Works great as standalone and/or pre-filter for canister filters
  • High quality water filtration
CONs
  • Very large sponge filter

4. Aquapapa Bio – Best Sponge Filter for Breeding & Fry Tanks

4
Best Sponge Filter for Breeding & Fry Tanks

Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter

Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter is a great filter suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It provides effective mechanical and biological filtration, perfect for breeding tanks.

While highly efficient at trapping debris and other solid waste, it is also safe for small aquatic species including Betta fry as they will not get sucked up.

The sponge filter has an optimized surface area that facilitates the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria that efficiently controls the nitrogen cycle while greatly reducing the ammonia levels. It can be easily installed with an airline into the appropriate unit to oxygenate the water while providing a high-quality filtration to fish.

Moreover, this filter comes with a friendly price tag, and is suitable for a low budget plan.

PROs
  • Suitable for both fresh and marine water
  • Great at oxygenating the water
  • Facilitates mechanical and biological filtration
  • Fairy cheap
CONs
  • Quite big sponge filter

5. MTMTOOL Biochemical – Best Sponge Filter for Nano Tanks

5
Best Sponge Filter for Nano Tanks

MTMTOOL 3 Pack Aquarium Sponge Filter

Another review on our list is the MTMTOOL Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter. This filter can be employed in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums and is suitable for small and nano tanks.

The sponge filter uses an air pump as a power source in order to provide a high quality oxygenated water to the aquatic species. This will also save you some electricity and extra messy wires.

It is designed with a multilayer sponge that is efficient at providing an optimal mechanical filtration by effectively trapping and filtering debris. Also, the multilayer sponge ensures that the fish and other inhabitants don’t get sucked in.

Moreover, it provides biological and multi-level filtration that encourages the buildup of beneficial nitrifying bacteria that is efficient in controlling the nitrogen level and producing a clean and safe water quality.

PROs
  • Air pump as a power source
  • Multi-layer sponge design
  • Facilitates mechanical, bio, and multi-level filtration
  • Facilitates buildup of beneficial bacteria
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater setups
CONs
  • The package is fragile and may easily break

6. Uxcell Biochemical – Best Sponge Filter for 50 Gallon Tanks

6
Best Sponge Filter for 50 Gallon Tanks

Uxcell 4 1/2 Inch Aquarium Sponge Filter

The Uxcell XINYOU XY-380 Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

It is suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons, but it is ideally used as a secondary filter for tanks above 50 gallons.

With the aid of an installed airline into the appropriate unit, this sponge filter will produce high-quality clear crystal filtered water. It also provides aerated water which is beneficial for all aquatic species.

The Uxcell filters are also suitable for breeding tanks as they will not suck up the small fry.

Filters are easy to clean and maintain. It is recommended to clean them every couple of months, not with tap water as that will kill the beneficial bacteria, but rather rinse with already established aquarium water.

PROs
  • Can be fitted to any power filter intake tube
  • Provides mechanical and biological filtration
  • Suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons
  • Suitable for breeding tanks
CONs
  • Not compatible with airstone for better aeration

7. Hygger Double Biochemical – Best Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

7
Best Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

hygger Double Sponge Filter

This is a great sponge filter with outstanding features and functionalities that facilitate a high-quality tank filtration. 

Comes equipped with 2 biochemical sponges (2 spare sponges included) and one bag of filtered ceramic balls for an ultra-quiet filtration.

It employs an air pump as the power source to facilitate a combined mechanical, biological and multilevel filtration.

It has a multilayer of filter cotton with a large surface area that offers effective trapping of fine particles and also encourages large colonization of useful bacteria to provide an effective dual biological filtration to produce purified and clean water.

It is built with a small and slow airflow that controls the water flow so as not to disturb the fish. It comes with an adjustable outlet pipe that controls the direction and height of the water flow.

Two kinds of replaceable filter materials including two spare sponge and filter box are included. It also comes with a media container that has a built-in ceramic filter that helps to facilitate an additional improved filtration.

PROs
  • 2 Suction cups included for easy installation
  • Two kinds of replaceable filter materials
  • Multilayer of filter cotton for optimized filtration
  • Employs an air pump as the power source
  • Adjustable outlet pipe for flow control
CONs
  • Very large and unsuitable for smaller tanks

8. Huijukon Air Driven Double – Sturdy Sponge Filter Great for Breeding Tanks

8
Sturdy Double Sponge Filter Great for Breeding Tanks

Huijukon Air Driven Double Sponge Filter

This is an air-powered sponge filter that provides both a high-quality filtration and aerated water.

Sponge filter designed with a double 10-layer ribbed sponge that provides a great mechanical filtration by trapping floating debris and ensuring that the fry and small fish don’t get sucked up.

They also facilitate an improved biological filtration by encouraging the optimized growth and activity of aerobic bacteria which helps to control the nitrogen cycle.

It can be easily installed by fitting the airline into the unit and with the air pump power source; it produces clean and oxygenated water for the tank. It also comes with 2 suction cups to facilitate its easy installation.

However, the sponges should be cleaned weekly and replaced regularly.

PROs
  • Double 10-layer ribbed sponges
  • Air pump power source
  • Comes with 2 suction cups for easy installation
  • Optimal filtration and aeration
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
CONs
  • Requires regular cleaning and replacement

9. Powkoo Filter – Best Double Sponge Filter for Nano Tanks

9
Best Double Sponge Filter for Nano Tanks

Powkoo Aquarium Air Sponge Filter

Powkoo Sponge Filter is an air-powered sponge filter that provides both mechanical and biological filtration suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

It comes with a double 7-layer ribbed sponge that provides a large surface area to encourage the colonization of beneficial bacteria that facilitates biological filtration while oxygenating the water.

This filter provides a great mechanical filtration that entraps floating debris and ensures that baby fish and smaller aquatic species don’t get sucked in.

All parts of this sponge filter are detachable, which makes it easy to clean by simply rinsing them in already established aquarium water. The sponge should be cleaned once a month.

It comes with 2 suction cups for easy setup, enabling it to be stuck to any position in the aquarium tank.

PROs
  • Detachable parts for easy cleaning
  • Comes with 2 suction cups for easy installation
  • Double 7-layer ribbed sponges for effective filtration
  • Suitable for breeding tanks
  • Fairly cheap
CONs
  • The sponge may vibrate excessively

10. Aquapapa Pack of 2 – Best Cheap Double Sponge Filter

10
Best Cheap Double Sponge Filter

Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter

Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter provides an excellent mechanical and biological filtration that is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquarium.

It can be easily installed with an airline into the appropriate units to facilitate both aeration and improved filtration.

The sponge is specially designed to trap even larger particles without sucking in the small fish and fry, thereby making it suitable for breeding tanks.

The sponge filter has a large surface that optimizes the growth and activity of useful aerobic organisms that facilitates the control of nitrogen cycle.

It can be used as a secondary filter or as a pre-filter by attaching it to an external or top filter. Two pieces of sponge filters are also included for easy replacement.

PROs
  • Safe for fry and small fish
  • Optimal biological and mechanical filtration
  • Comes with 2 suction cups for easy installation
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquarium
  • Comes with a friendly price tag
CONs
  • Cannot replace a normal filter

To conclude

The best aquarium sponge filters offer a cheap and effective filtration to our aquarium environment. They are effective at providing optimal mechanical and biological filtration while aerating the water.

Some sponge filters are suitable as standalone filters, while some are suitable as a secondary filter or attachments. However, a few sponge filters can serve as both a standalone filter and also an attachment.

From our review, the Hygger Double Sponge Filter is our top pick.

It has a multilayer of filter cotton to facilitate an optimized mechanical, biological and multilevel filtration.

It also comes with two kinds of replaceable filter media that saves a lot of cost.

Uses an air pump as power source, thereby saving you the need for buggy wires and dependency on electricity.

The 2 suction cups are included to facilitate an easy installation with an adjustable outlet pipe to control the flow and distribution of water to the aquarium inhabitants.

Top of it all, it is fairly cheap and pocket-friendly.