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7.1.1. Cost of Filter Media

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Author : David Bogert

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2 minutes
This article has been rewritten about a dozen times. The availability and price of all the aquarium media have been on a rollercoaster. Up-down, up-down. Trying to pin the numbers down has been difficult.

And there is a big problem with something called “buying in bulk”. If one has a large aquarium with a large sump one can buy two cubic feet of K1 media for a cost of about $1 a liter. If you have a small bottle filter and you want to buy a liter of K1 you will pay $15 a liter. By the same token, you cannot buy plastic pot scrubbers in true “bulk” So you will pay about $0.50 to $1.00 per pot scrubber regardless of the amount you need.

OB Peacock
OB Peacock

And this varies a huge amount depending on where you live. Plastic pot scrubbers are dirt cheap in some countries and very expensive in others.

So here is the “latest and greatest” data with the caveat that this might have all changed. What will not change is the huge difference between the top media and the lowest media. Not only is the lower media very expensive, but it also doesn’t work very well. This double whammy effect is just huge.

BiomediaMedia cost per 100 ft2 areaCanister Filter cost per 100 ft2 areaTotal Cost
30 ppi foam in canister or sump $ 16 – $ 22 $ 50$ 66 – $ 72
plastic media (K1, K1 micro, etc.)$ 12 – $ 18$ 80$ 92 – $ 98
plastic pot scrubbers$ 15 – $ 40$ 75$ 90 – $ 115
aquarium gravel $ 60 – $ 100 $ 150$ 210 – $ 250
polypropylene & EVA filter pads$ 30 – $ 60$ 160$ 190 – $ 220
Bio balls$ 40 – $ 65$ 200$ 190 – $ 315
pre-sized 1/2 inch lava rock or scoria $ 160 – $ 200 $ 700$ 860 – $ 900
Matrix and Biohome $ 600 – $ 1,400 $ 600$ 1,200 – $ 2,000
Ceremic media$ 400 – $ 1,200 $ 800$ 1,200 – $ 2,000
Cost of filtermedia

This reflects the cost of canister filtering an aquarium with a one pound (454 gram) Oscar in it. An Oscar needs 100 square feet (9,29 m²) of surface area per pound (454 gram) to avoid hole-in-the-head syndrome. With a media like carefully cut Poret Foam inserts one can use a small cheap canister. With something like ceramic rings one will need two or even three large canisters filled with the rings. Poret foam turns out to be TWENTY FIVE TIMES more cost effective than ceramic rings. Interesting!