Comparison: Similarities and differences between Ceramic Rings / Noodles vs Bio Balls: Which bio media is better & why?

For the healthy life of the fish, good bacteria is very important because it breaks down fish waste, & other debris that builds up in the aquarium. Good bacteria clean your aquarium water & stop pollutants from building up. Bio media are added to the aquarium filters & they allow useful bacteria to grow on its surface. But good bacteria also grow on substrate, rocks, plants & other objects in the aquarium.

When you setup a new aquarium, you may face the problem of ammonia & nitrite spikes because they are released from fish waste & leftover food, & they are extremely dangerous for the life of fish. Good bacteria break down toxic ammonia into less toxic nitrites. It further breaks down nitrites into nitrates which is less dangerous than nitrites. This process is called nitrogen cycle.

Comparison between ceramic rings vs bio balls
Comparison between ceramic rings vs bio balls

Ceramic Rings:

Ceramic rings are very effective at biological filtration of tank water. It will keep your aquarium water clean by consuming impurities.

Other names of ceramic rings are bio rings or ceramic noodles. They look very similar to noodles that’s why they are commonly known as ceramic noodles.

The outer surface of bio rings contains many tiny little pores, & there is a hole in the middle that goes through the whole ring. Water not just flows over the outer surface of ceramic rings but also flows through the center.


Ceramic rings are used for two purposes:

It holds both nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria which make them very special as compared to other bio media that commonly hold nitrifying bacteria.

Nitrifying bacteria consumes ammonia & nitrites that are released from fish waste. Denitrifying bacteria consumes nitrates too which make them different from other bio media that only hold nitrifying bacteria.

Nitrifying bacteria require a surface to cling to. Ceramic noodles provide the best home for nitrifying bacteria. If bio media offer lots of surface area, then more good bacteria will colonize on its surface.

Ceramic noodles provide more surface area using little pores. These holes are very tiny & it is very difficult to see them with naked eye.

The main pro of ceramic noodles over other common bio media is the growth of denitrifying bacteria in its tiny little pores. This bacteria is responsible for consuming nitrates. Denitrifying bacteria just live-in regions where oxygen is not available such as live rocks, ceramic & more porous materials.

Keep ceramic noodles in aquarium water because good bacteria need water for survival.

Advantages & disadvantages of Ceramic Noodles:



Ceramic noodles hold both types of bacteria

Ceramic rings provide a large surface for beneficial bacteria to grow.



The tiny little holes of ceramic rings can get simply clogged

After pores of the ceramic rings are clogged, the efficiency of cleaning is reduced


How ceramic rings clean water?

Ceramic noodles can’t filter water on its own. It is the good bacteria that colonize over the surface of noodles that do the filtration. Fresh ceramic rings will not contain beneficial bacteria. It is very important to cycle your aquarium to allow good bacteria to grow on your bio media.


Bio Balls:

The benefit of beneficial bacteria is that it breaks down highly toxic ammonia into less toxic nitrites & further breaks it down into nitrates which is even less toxic than nitrites. In the nitrogen cycle, both ammonia & nitrites are removed but nitrates are left in the aquarium. High levels of nitrates are still toxic to aquarium fish. Either introduce live plants or do regular water changes to keep nitrates level controlled.

Bio balls provide tiny plastic homes for holding nitrifying bacteria. They seem beautiful & play a crucial role in holding nitrifying bacteria.

Bio balls provide a large surface area for holding heaps of good bacteria. When you open a bio ball you will find a foam or pieces of ceramic that provide even more surface area for holding good bacteria.

The best placement of bio balls is aquarium filter. When water flows through the filter then it passes through the bio balls too which filter it. Hence clean water flows back to the aquarium.


Advantages & disadvantages of Bio Balls:



Bio balls provide a larger surface area for the growth of good bacteria

If heaps of good bacteria are available on the bio balls, then it will quickly clean your aquarium water.



Bio balls hold only nitrifying bacteria

Frequent maintenance is required to stop debris from building up on the bio balls


Similarities between Ceramic Noodles vs Bio Balls:

Both ceramic rings & bio balls work differently, & they are efficient in biological filtration. The similar features include:

Both ceramic noodles & bio balls offer biological filtration

Both biological medias have a large surface region that allow good bacteria to thrive

Both bio medias hold nitrifying bacteria

Differences between bio balls vs ceramic noodles

Differences between bio balls vs ceramic noodles

Differences between Ceramic Rings vs Bio Balls:

Bio balls just hold nitrifying bacteria but ceramic noodles hold both nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria

The holes of ceramic noodles provide additional room for good bacteria to thrive. But when they catch debris, they can even get completely blocked. Ceramic rings lose their efficiency over time & require replacement. However, bio balls do not need to be replaced & you can use them almost forever.


Which bio media is better: Ceramic Rings vs Bio Balls?

Both ceramic noodles & bio balls are best for carrying nitrifying bacteria that wipe out ammonia & nitrites that are poisonous for the aquarium inhabitants. Both of them are very effective in cleaning aquarium water & are available in best quality.

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