Sometimes referred to as bio rings, ceramic rings are unglazed pieces of fired ceramic. Most commonly, they resemble small white beads. However, they can also be found in other colors like cream, gray or brown.
Ceramic rings are designed to have an outer part that has lots of small holes, or pores, and a central hole that goes through the entire thing. This way, water not only runs over the ceramic rings but through them as well.
If you think back to the nitrogen cycle, you will remember just how important nitrifying bacteria are.
This beneficial bacteria removes ammonia and nitrites (harmful chemicals) from your aquarium. These chemicals naturally build up inside your aquarium, and if the bacteria in your tank don’t remove them, then your fish will eventually die. As you see, these beneficial bacteria are pretty important.
Well, these bacteria need a place to live. Ceramic rings offer the perfect home for the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium.
You see, beneficial bacteria need a surface to cling to. The more surface that is available, the more bacteria that your filter media can hold.
Ceramic rings increase their surface area through tiny little pores. These pores are so small that you can hardly see them without a microscope…
To provide effective biological filtration, it is important that water can easily flow around your ceramic rings.
Over time, you may notice that your ceramic rings begin to trap waste and restrict the flow of water through your filter.
If water cannot easily flow over your ceramic rings, then the beneficial bacteria that call them home are not going to be able to remove the nasty chemicals that are building up in your tank.
Fortunately, ceramic rings are super easy to clean.
The next time you perform a water change, add your ceramic rings to your bucket of siphoned tank water. Gently swish the water around to remove excess gunk.
It is important to note that you are trying to remove any excess waste that prevents water from flowing through them.
You are not trying to return your ceramic rings to the crisp, white color they were when you first bought them. If you do that, then you would remove the beneficial bacteria.
Your ceramic rings will still look ‘dirty’ once you finish, especially if they have been in your tank for quite some time.
Ceramic rings don’t filter your aquarium. They simply provide a home for the bacteria that do all the hard work.
While there are other types of ceramic-based filter media, ranging from spheres to sticks, they all behave similarly to ceramic rings.
With that said, there are other types of filter media that you can also use for biological filtration…