The right filter material

The right filter material

Which filter material for which purpose?

The material responsible for clean water in your filter is the so-called filter media. Because of its various functions, there is a wide range of media to choose from. JBL can provide most filter media in two forms: as a “loose” material, which you can individually add to each filter, or as a complete pre-assembled filter material, which fits perfectly into the filter basket of your JBL Cristal Profi external filter or as a filter cartridge into your JBL ProCristal internal filter.

Where do the various filter media belong?

The rule of thumb is that water needs to be filtered in a sequence from coarse to fine. A fine filter material would quickly clog and reduce the water flow if used in the first stage. That’s why we pre-filter first, then follow this with the biological filtration. Ideally this should be followed with an additional fine mechanical filter media. Problem-solving filter material, such as phosphate removers are intended to replace the last part of the biological filter medium (due to lack of space) and need to be placed before the final fine mechanical filter media.

Mechanical water cleaning

Waste which is sucked directly from the aquarium and reaches the filter would quickly clog the filter material. Therefore there is a relatively coarse filter material which leads to a pre-filter. This includes coarse filter foam ( JBL Coarse Filter Foam ), filter sponges, which are cut to size for the pre-filter in the respective types of filter ( JBL CRISTALPROFI COMBIBLOC II ) and also coarse filter ceramics ( JBL Cermec ).

All the filter media mentioned above can be cleaned through vigorous rinsing with tap water and used again.

Pollutant-degrading bacteria settle in the filter and transform every mechanical filter material into biological filter material in the course of time. Cleaning largely disrupts this “biology” and it has to be restarted with the help of new bacteria ( JBL FilterStart , JBL FilterBoost ).

In the past it was recommended you rinse filter material in an aquarium water sample. New findings have shown that not only beneficial bacteria settle in the filter, but unfortunately also pathogenic (disease causing) germs reproduce there. For this reason efforts should be made to thoroughly clean the filter material and to “destroy” the bacteria population too. Through the subsequent inoculation with filter bacteria ( JBL FilterStart ) ONLY beneficial, pollutant-degrading bacteria are added. That way the biological filtering restarts immediately and pathogenic germs have less chance to settle.

Biological filtration

The biological filter material provides a large area for the colonization of bacteria, which decompose harmful substances. For this purpose fine filter foam ( JBL Fine Filter Foam ) or ready-made pre-cut material ( JBL CRISTALPROFI UNIBLOC e ) can be supplied. Materials made of sintered glass, which show a fine pore structure where the bacteria can settle and break down pollutants are far more effective in that respect. For larger filters with volumes from approx. 3 litres JBL provides sintered bio-glass rings ( JBL Sintomec ) and for smaller filters sintered bio-glass balls ( JBL Micromec ). A complete colonisation of the filter by bacteria depends, of course, on its size, taking about 2 weeks in freshwater and about 2 months in marine water.

Biological filter media need to be rinsed briefly, but not intensively cleaned. Otherwise the bacteria are killed off completely and a resettlement can take quite a long while.

Troubleshooting filter material

Sometimes substances accumulate in the water, and this can cause problems. Nitrates (NO3) and phosphates (PO4) are, amongst other things, algae nutrients. Silicates (SiO2) lead to unsightly diatoms. You can measure the concentration of these substances using water tests and reduce or remove them completely with the help of special filter media. Under Water values we will show you what to do.

Troubleshooter filter media can’t be cleaned but need to be replaced when depleted. An exception is JBL NitratEX , which can be replenished with a saline solution.

After the use of medications it is important to remove these from the aquarium water by carrying out a partial water change and inserting activated carbon in the filter. Activated carbon can also help reverse water discolouration. Here we recommend JBL Carbomec activ for aquarium water with pH values up to 7.5 and JBL Carbomec ultra for pH values above 7.5 as in marine water or in Lake Tangayika aquariums.

Activated carbon can’t be cleaned and needs to be removed or replaced after completing the application.

JBL Carbomec activ
High performance activated carbon for freshwater aquariums
from 15,58 €
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JBL Carbomec ultra
Highly activated pelletized carbon for marine aquarium filters
from 19,96 €
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To add natural substances to your water, to prevent algae and to very slightly acidify the water, you can use peat pellets as filter material: JBL Tormec activ


After the water has run through your filter it reaches a fine filter material. For this purpose fine filter foam, filter floss or filter fleece are suitable. The finer the filter material, the more often it needs to be cleaned and replaced!

Filter floss

Filter floss is a perfect filter material to remove dirt from the water. But depending on the degree of soiling, it can become clogged quite quickly and reduces the water flow of your filter. When you briefly lock your filter to open it, you can easily see with the naked eye, how heavily soiled your filter floss is. Filter floss is so fine that it can’t be rinsed but needs to be replaced during each filter cleaning.

JBL Symec micro
Microfibre fleece for aquarium filters to remove all types of water cloudiness
from 10,56 €
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JBL Symec Filter floss
Filter wool for aquarium filters to remove all types of water cloudiness
from 3,03 €
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JBL Symec XL
Coarse filter wool for aquarium filters to remove of all types of water cloudiness
from 8,03 €
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JBL Symec VL
Filter wool fleece for aquarium filters to remove of all types of water cloudiness
from 9,42 €
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