How To Setup Filter Media in Aquarium Top Filter:

A SUMP is not truly a filter but it can be used to house the filtration systems including mechanical & biological filtration media. Water from aquarium is pushed into the SUMP where it removes waste using mechanical filtration media & toxic components are removed in biological chamber, hence clean water flows back to the aquarium using gravity if it is an overhead SUMP filter.

In order, to keep the fish healthy, it is strongly suggested to clean the aquarium water using a filter. In this article i have shared a video that shows the best way of setting up mechanical and biological filtration in aquarium top filter. Adding chlorine neutralizer to aquarium water ensures that there is no chlorine present in the water which could potentially destroy all the good bacteria present in the filter.

Watch how to setup filter media in an aquarium overhead filter in a video tutorial shared below:

Aquarium Overhead Filter Media Setup Guide 

How To Install Filter Media in Top Aquarium Filter
How To Install Filter Media In Top Aquarium Filter

Every aquarium filter includes a few necessary parts such as mechanical filtration, biological filtration & chemical filtration.  Mechanical filtration takes out waste matters from aquarium & this component is best placed at the top of the filter or next to the inlet. Then comes chemical filtration, which removes chemicals from water and is best placed between mechanical and biological filter media. The last and most important component is biological filtration which changes ammonia (harmful to fish) into nitrates. Ammonia is released from fish waste.

Tips For Aquarium Filter Media Setup:

  • Step 1:

High quality foams provide better mechanical filtration. 3 layers of foam can be used for maximum efficiency. This is the first point of contact for water when it enters the filter. And setup of filter media should be in this order: coarse, medium & fine. An efficiently setup mechanical filtration will ensure all waste from the water is removed before water enters biological filtration zone.

  • Step 2:

Biological filtration consists of ceramic media such as Aqua One BioNood Ceramic Noodles, & Aqua One Premium Sub Ceramic Substrate:

Set Up Biological Filtration
Setup of Biological Filtration

a. Aqua One BioNood Ceramic Noodles:

Biological Filtration produces biological stability in your tank by offering the ideal environment for good bacteria. You can use Aqua One BioNood for this purpose. Ceramic noodles are very porous & creates the best environment for producing good bacteria.

There are numerous little pores in Ceramic media which cannot be seen by naked eye & all the good bacteria grows here.

b. Premium Sub:

Premium Sub can be used in freshwater & saltwater aquariums. Premium Sub is subjected to very high temperatures which produces tons of tunnels through it. The tunnels let good nitrifying bacteria that breakdown pollutants. The extremely pours let more good bacteria to enter your aquarium.

Toxins like Ammonia & Nitrite are broken down & converted into Nitrate which is less dangerous & you can remove it from your tank by changing water regularly.


In this video pre cycled ceramic media is added to the filter but it is recommended to wash new ceramic media before adding it to the overhead tank filter.

  • Step 3:

How water enters the overhead sump filter and how it travels through the filter media can be determined by the inlet and type of attachment. As seen in below image, holes are drilled in a plastic pipe and water flows through all these holes and is sprayed evenly over the mechanical filtration.

Drill holes in pipe to allow water to flow through the filter
Drill holes in pipe to allow water to flow through the filter

Inlet hose which is a flexi hose in most of the filters can be connected to a powerhead at one end and the other end can be connected to the filter.

One end of hose is connected to the pipe
One end of hose is connected to the pipe & the other end is connected to the pump

  • Step 4:

After setting up all the components, powerhead can be turned on to test the flow rate and minor adjustment can be made if required.

Put all components together
Put all components together


To provide the ideal environment for fish, i would highly encourage you to follow all the steps correctly. Your fish will love a clean aquarium. You can check out how I set up my overhead aquarium filter below:

How I Setup Filter Media in My Overhead Top Filter
How I Setup Filter Media in My Overhead Top Filter

Pros & Cons of Overhead Aquarium SUMP Filter:

  • A SUMP filter may be expensive than other filters
  • Installation of SUMP filter is easy
  • Overhead SUMP filter is hidden inside canopy, & it can hide filtration media, & other accessories
  • SUMP filters are relatively quiet
  • It can aerate water
  • Running cost of SUMP filter is less
  • Maintenance of SUMP filter is easy


  1. This tutorial helped me in building my own Aquarium Filter.


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