When You Should Put Ceramic Rings In Your Filter. Here Is The Answer!

When dealing with filtration systems for your aquarium, you want to make sure you purchase the proper one. You have to take into consideration the fish that are in the tank, the size of your tank, the gallons of water it holds, and other factors. There are extra components, like ceramic rings, that you can add to your filter system.

So what exactly is a ceramic ring and wherein the filter system do you place these rings? I am going to give you the answers to this question.

When you should put ceramic rings in your filter? The beneficial bacteria need a place to live and ceramic rings will provide an extra-large surface area on which friendly bacteria can live including the second type of beneficial bacteria called denitrifying bacteria.

The ceramic rings and other forms of media go inside your filter system after the sponge (mechanical) media and before the carbon (chemical) media in your filter. A canister filter is a little bit different. You want to place the ceramic rings in the provided tray between your sponge and the chemical media that you choose to use.

Some manufacturers make ceramic rings that will only work with their brand of filter. Other ceramic rings can be used in multiple brands of filters. 

So, exactly what is a ceramic ring and what does it do? We will give you the answers to those questions along with other important information about ceramic rings, and other types of similar media that you can use in your aquarium. The simple answer to these questions; ceramic rings add extra elements to help keep your tank clean and healthy for your fish. 

What Is A Ceramic Ring?

A ceramic ring looks like a small white bead, similar to something you would use for crafting or beadwork. They do, however, come in a few other colors. The ring’s outside area has a lot of pores and a hold that goes all the way through the center. This allows the water to flow around and through the ring. 

Some people refer to the ceramic ring as a ceramic noodle because they resemble a type of pasta called ditalini. The words “ceramic ring” is often used to describe other media as well. Media that doesn’t have holes in the middle and that is sometimes square, but are also made of ceramic.

What Is The Purpose Of The Ceramic Ring

In our other articles we have talked about the nitrogen cycle, or cycling the water in your tank. This is a very important step to nitrify the bacteria in your tank. You want beneficial, or good, bacteria in your tank because it removes ammonia and other harmful chemicals called nitrates. If you do not have beneficial bacteria in your tank, to get rid of these nitrates, your fish will eventually die.

The beneficial bacteria need a place to live. They need a surface to cling to, like your decorations, or the ceramic ring. The more surfaces you have in your tank, the better. The ceramic rings, because of all of the tiny pores, give the beneficial bacteria the prime place to cling to and grow.

Ceramic rings have a benefit that other filter media do not possess. They can hold onto the second type of beneficial bacteria called denitrifying bacteria. This type of bacteria consumes the nitrate but can only survive deep inside the pores where there is absolutely no oxygen. 

How To Add The Ceramic Rings To Your Filter?

These are extremely easy to use. All you have to do is add them to your filter. Where, you ask? You want your ceramic rings to be placed, or to sit, after your mechanical media. 

The mechanical media could be a sponge, filter floss, foam, etc. Mechanical filtration is the first thing your aquarium water will pass through. The sponge, for example, is placed first so that it catches the larger particles and debris.

After the mechanical filtration, place your ceramic rings. After the rings, you want to have your chemical media. This is normally some type of coal (carbon), specially made for the aquarium filtration systems. You want to make sure that your ceramic rings are always submerged. The beneficial bacteria can not live outside of the water. 

Many of your filter kits will include ceramic rings. Some will come with a filter bag to place the ceramic rings in. Some of them do not come with a bag. The bag doesn’t help or hinder the process of beneficial bacteria growth in any way. Using the bag just makes it easier to remove the ceramic rings when you are cleaning your tank or doing a partial water change. 

Just like with your substrate, you want to make sure to rinse the ceramic rings thoroughly in de-chlorinated water before adding them to your filtration system. This will remove any dust that has accumulated from the rings rubbing together during packaging. 

How Many Ceramic Rings Do You Use

There is actually no set number of ceramic rings that you need to use. Most of it will depend on your tank size, but then, you are not really “counting” the number that you put into the filter. Filters are rated to the aquarium size. 
So, if you purchase a filter that is optimum for your aquarium size, then I would suggest using all of the ceramic rings that are included. If your filter setup doesn’t come with the ceramic rings, you can purchase them separately and my suggestion is to use as many as you can.

Cleaning And Replacing Your Ceramic Rings

It is really easy to clean your ceramic rings, especially if they are in a bag. If you notice the water is not flowing through the rings easily, then you clean them when you do your water change/tank cleaning. 

It is suggested that you add them to your siphoned tank water and easily swish them around in the water. This will remove the gunk but not the beneficial bacteria. 

Do not scrub them, put them in chlorinated water, or use soap! This will kill all of the beneficial bacteria and then you would have to cycle your water all over again. If you can not remove most of the gunk by gently swishing them around, then it is time to replace them. 

How Often You Will Need To Replace The Ceramic Rings

There is no set time frame as to when to replace your ceramic rings. Some manufacturers say you never need to replace them, while others recommend every 6 months. 

In my opinion, clean them with each water change and when you are no longer able to remove the majority of the gunk then put in new ceramic rings. This could be every month, every 3 months, or every 6 months. 

How often to change them will also be determined by how many fish you have, how much waste and feces are in the water. You can definitely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which is highly advised. 

When replacing your ceramic rings, there is a method that is highly suggested, that you should follow. But, have no fear, it is an easy method. Because your ceramic rings are home to beneficial bacteria, you do not want to remove all of them at once. You want to take out ½ of the old ceramic rings and replace them with brand new ones. 

This keeps beneficial bacteria in the tank at all times. After 3 – 4 weeks, when the beneficial bacteria have had time to cling to and grow on the new ceramic rings, you can take out the other ½ of the old ones and replace them. You do not want to remove all beneficial bacteria at once because that will harm your tank water and eventually, your fish.

What Are The Alternatives To Ceramic Rings

The ceramic rings do not filter any of the water in your aquarium. They simply allow a large number of tiny pores to grow beneficial bacteria. This beneficial bacteria aids in getting rid of the nitrates and other harmful things in your tank.

As stated above, some of your decors might also accomplish this. If you want to use something other than the ceramic rings as an extra media in your filter system, then you have these three options.

  1. Sera Siporax – these look exactly like the ceramic beads and work in the same way, but they are made out of sintered glass instead of ceramic.
  1. Bio Balls – these work in a similar way as the ceramic rings by providing lots of nooks and crannies for beneficial bacteria to grow.
  1. Lava Rock – this is naturally porous. You have 2 options of how to use the lava rock. You can put it in a bag, just like you do with the ceramic rings or you can use the bigger pieces as decoration in your tank. DO NOT use the larger pieces as decoration if you have a pet fish with delicate fins, as it can tear them. 


Ceramic rings are very popular to give fish tanks biological filtration. Ceramic rings are extremely affordable, normally come with filtrations systems, and are long-lasting. If the filtration system you choose doesn’t come with ceramic rings, you can purchase them from most places that sell fish tanks, filters, and other accessories for fish tanks. 

There is no set amount to put in the filtration system and no hard and fast rule on when or if you need to replace them. Use your own judgment or simply follow any instructions that are included with your filter kit. 

Remember, beneficial bacteria equals healthy water/tank, healthy tank equals healthy and happy fish. Check the chemistry water regularly with one of the many kits that are available. 

Related Article:

Sponge Filter vs HOB Filter, Which Is The Most Recommended


I'm passionate about fish pets and love sharing everything I learn about them.

Recent Posts