Lava Rocks VS Plastic Bio Balls: Which Aquarium Filter Media is Better & Why?

Many different types of aquarium filter media are available. Every media has its own benefits. The main benefit of adding filter media to the aquarium filter is that they let colonies of useful bacteria grow on their surface. Useful bacteria is used for cleaning toxic chemicals released from fish waste & other impurities in the aquarium water. Algae growth will be substantially reduced if your aquarium water has low toxins. Check out the comparison of Lava Rocks VS Bio Balls.

Comparison of Lava Rocks VS Plastic Bio Balls
Comparison of Lava Rocks VS Plastic Bio Balls

Lava Rocks:

Lava Rocks are formed when molten lava cools down & hardens. Lava rocks are extremely porous. They offer a place for growing heaps of useful bacteria. They are very efficient in cleaning water & are relatively cheaper than other bio media.


Pros and Cons of Lava Rocks:

  1. Many aquarists use lava rocks for aquascaping.
  2. Lava rocks can be used as substrate for the live plants.
  3. Lava rocks consist of both nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria.
  4. Nitrifying bacteria grows over the surface of the rocks while denitrifying bacteria lives inside the pores where oxygen is not present. Nitrifying bacteria removes ammonia & nitrites from the water while denitrifying bacteria removes nitrates. Plastic Bio balls only allow nitrifying bacteria to grow on their surface so they cannot remove nitrates from the water.
  5. After adding lava rocks to the biological filtration chamber of the aquarium filter, you will discover that overtime the holes of the lava rocks will be clogged with impurities, & it is very difficult to clean them that reduces the total surface area.
  6. Lava rocks hold many minerals such as iron & magnesium that have an effect on the aquarium water PH. The water gets harder with these minerals. It is quite difficult to fix algae spikes in hard water.
  7. Lava rocks are very porous but they are very heavy especially when wet & filled with debris.


Plastic Bio Balls:

Bio balls are plastic balls that are made up of many thin rods that offer heaps of surface area for the growth of useful bacteria.


Pros and Cons of Plastic Bio Balls:

  1. Plastic Bio balls are comparatively better than Lava rocks due to the following reasons:
  2. Debris can clog bio balls but it is very simple to clean them. Bio balls only need to be washed with aquarium water.
  3. As bio balls are made up of fine material, they will work for many years & their efficiency will not be reduced over time.
  4. The sphere shape of the bio balls can fit in any filter, no matter its shape.
  5. Bio balls are very lightweight, & they can be easily installed in the filter. Aquarists add many bio balls to their filters, & their total weight is much lower than the lava rocks.

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