7 Best Chemical Filter Media For Aquarium (Review-2024)

DMCA.com Protection Status

In the world of aquarium keeping, chemical filter media plays an essential role in maintaining water quality. With a wide range of options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your aquarium. This review article explores some of the top chemical filter media options to help you make an informed decision for your aquatic pets.

Looking for the best chemical filter media for your aquarium? This review article covers the top options available to help you maintain optimal water quality for your aquatic pets. With expert insights and in-depth analysis, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on the ideal filter media for your aquarium.

Fish aquariums are not only meant for showing off and work as an ornament for your home or workplace. To keep the fishes alive, one has to do a lot of things. One of the most important facts that most are missing is, to put in the best chemical filter media for aquariums.

Now, why would a fish need chemical media? The answer is whenever we put a fish in an aquarium, we think that being in the water is only what makes a fish comfortable. That’s not at all true. Fishes tend to live in specific types of water. To keep the fishes alive, happy and blooming, we need to create the exact same environment in the water for the fishes.

For that, we need the best chemical filter media for aquarium.

Our recommended Chemical Filter Media For Aquariums:

“If you do not have enough time to go through the whole review, we would suggest you go for which is very affordable, durable, and comes with a lot of good reviews and feedback from the buyers”

Boyd-Enterprises-Chemi-Pure-for-AquariumBoyd Enterprises Chemi-Pure for AquariumEditor’s ChoiceCheck Price
Aquaclear-Activated-CarbonAquaclear Activated CarbonBest OverallCheck Price
API-Activated-Filter-CarbonAPI Activated Filter CarbonBest overall & Editor’s choiceCheck Price

What Is Chemical Filtration And Why Do We Need It In Our Aquarium?

Chemical media is one of the most less used methods of aquarium filtration. But to be honest it’s the most effective one that can be found in the market for filtering any aquarium.


Because mechanical or any other type of filtration can only take out the debris and problems that are visible to our eyes. But chemical not only cleans the exteriors but also purifies the water.

There is always a lot of debris and invisible compounds that are dissolved in the water. Mechanical filtration can never take care of that. You need activated carbon or some other type of chemical filtration to take care of the problems that you can’t see but can cause a lot of harm to your fishes. For that, you need chemical filtration to your aquarium.

Now, some might say that they don’t need chemical filtration, but if this is not done, the most common effect seen is that the fishes can never grow properly even if they are adults by age. Their physical growth is hampered.

Also, not doing chemical filtration spur many health problems related to the fish’s growth. Not getting the opportunity to see your fish grow properly is really not worthy of having an aquarium.

Chemical filtration can also dispel other contamination, depending on type. The best chemical media can quickly kill-

  • Heavy metals, such as copper
  • Compounds, like sodium chloride (salt)
  • Tannin from driftwood discolors the water
  • Medication used to treat sick fish, ……And more!

every chemical filtration has an activation feature that pulls out the dissolved particles in the water and thus cleans and purifies it so that fishes can live peacefully in their new home.

And another thing you need to know is that a good chemical filter media can be used to diverge anything that Biological and Mechanical filtration can’t! This is why you need chemical filtration for your aquarium.

Product Round-Up And Reviews:

7 Best Chemical Filter Media For Aquariums

It’s not enough to buy just another chemical media off the rack. No, when you’re planning on spending money, spend it on the best product available. Here are the 7 best chemical media for you to buy. To be honest, on the other hand,  they are also the best chemical filter media you can use in your Canister filters or other filters for your aquarium.

Read about them thoroughly, you will understand why we have considered them the best ones in the market. 

1. Aquaclear Activated Carbon

Type of Filtration: Chemical Filter Resin
  • Type of Filtration: Chemical Filter Resin
  • Brand: AquaClear
  • Size: Net 70g, 210g
  • Material: Unique macro-porous synthetic polymer
  • For: Remove Nitrogenous Compounds and waste
  • Filter Style: Marine & Freshwater
Check Price On Amazon

Activated carbon is known to be one of the most effective impurity cleaners of all. Activated carbon can quickly and effectively remove impurities that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Basically, activated carbon is the most preferred chemical filtration all over the world.

If you ask 10 aquarium owners, 7 of them would say they use activated carbon-based chemical filtration.

This proves that activated carbon is the best choice for you to clean your aquarium from dissolved particles that you can’t see with your eyes.

Features of Aquaclear Activated Carbon

  • Removes odor: you can’t change the water of your aquarium every day. There’s a specific cycle of doing that. Within that time the water might have some odor problems. But with Aquaclear-activated carbon, the odor is not a problem. Not only dissolved particles, but it also removes odor from the water to give your fish a better living
  • 3 packs in one: the best thing that drives people to use this specific product is that it’s one of the most economical purchases that you can make to chemical-filtrate your aquarium. It has 3 packs which can really be economical in the case of other packs. It also keeps you away from buying chemical media for a long time.
  • Suitable for 30/50 gallons: This product has three versions. You can utilize this product for up to 70 gallons of size aquarium. This specific one is for 30/50 gallons. This means it has versatile usage. And also, it’s really effective because of the activated carbon particles. In short, best buy.
Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Keeps aquarium odor free
Quick and effective
Economical packaging
Price within the limit
Suitable for a variety of sizes
Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater

The processing of the chemical media is a bit lengthy


2. Premium Activated Carbon – Aquarium Charcoal Media

Premium Activated Carbon Charcoal Media
  • Type of Filtration: Chemical Media
  • Brand: Aquatic Experts
  • Weight: Net 3.0ibl. (1361g)
  • Material: Premium Bituminous Carbon
  • For: Removes Odors, Colors & Impurities
  • Filter Style: Marine & Freshwater

Check Price On Amazon

For your freshwater and saltwater aquarium, this one might be the best chemical filter media. They say that this is hungry for clearing the water from contaminants and toxins which are just wandering around.

That’s actually true. Talk about a fast response. This activated carbon-based media clears out the water in no time keeping the water of your aquarium clean and clear as long as it can.

“Remove Odors and Discoloration with Bituminous Coal.”

Also, not to mention no odor problems whatsoever. Your fishes can chill in their new home with an odorless effect. Just like usual home.

Not doing usual cleansing activities cause the aquarium water to get discolored. But nothing to worry when there’s activated carbon. The watercolor remains static during its activity time. A better home for you or fishes and a better view for you or home guests and of course, yourself.

Features of Premium Activated Carbon

Deep cleaning: the granules of activated carbon have bigger space gaps in between them so that they can trap more toxins and contaminants. This makes the home experience for your fishes even better because not all activated carbons have the same effectiveness in case of cleansing.

Odor elimination: there’s absolutely nothing to worry about any odor existing in the aquarium and creating disturbance and disruption in your fish’s life. Also, the watercolor is clean. We could call the whole process crisp clean as it is the best-case scenario for your aquarium.

Long-lasting: it’s not like that you’re pouring the media in your aquarium, they do their magic and turn the aquarium in an ideal living space for your fishes, no. They ensure that it remains the best experience for living for your fishes for the longest amount of time. That actually cuts budget losses in maintaining your aquarium.

Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Long-lasting experience
Odorless and no discoloration
Fast and effective
Deep cleaning
Premium experience

Price is a bit higher than other similar products but the quality makes up for it

3. Boyd Enterprises Chemi-Pure for Aquarium

Boyd Enterprises Chemi-Pure for Aquarium
Check Price On Amazon

Though the customer rating on this product is a bit low, the quality of the product is absolutely fabulous. This product has been in the market since the 1960s. This means it has an experience of over 50 years now.

During that timeline, it has satisfied millions of people who owned and own an aquarium. The formula was originated by Dick Boyd who though granular activated carbon would be the perfect chemical media for every aquarium. Thus, this came to the market and reigned supreme for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

As the price is a big factor here, still there are a lot of reasons why it took its place in the 7 best chemical filter media for aquarium.

Features of Boyd Enterprises Chemi-Pure

PH stability: stabilizing PH is one of the biggest factors while ensuring better living experience for fishes. Why? Because imbalanced PH is one of the biggest reasons why a fish gets sick and eventually faces many physical problems. This product stabilizes PH, keeping the water at its best which is ideal for fishes.

Removes toxins: invisible toxins are the biggest enemies of your little aquatic friends. What you can’t see can cause the biggest issue in their life. So, it’s mandatory that you fight off those toxins and keep them away from the water. The Chemi-pure bulk formula ensures that those toxins are permanently removed and don’t let them grow back while the activated carbon is present there.

Crystal clear and clean water: one of the main reasons why we chose to buy chemical media or any other type of media for aquariums is that we want to keep the water crystal clean so anytime we or anyone else looks, find pleasure just by taking a glance at the life of the fishes living inside. This product ensures that the water is crystal clear and free of all debris that causes the water to get dirty.

Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Ensures PH stability
Keeps the water crystal clear
Same formula for 50 years
Effectively removes all toxins
Lasts long

Can be a bit pricey for causal aquarium owners

4. API Activated Filter Carbon

API Activated Filter Carbon
Check Price On Amazon

Till now the products we’re limited to freshwater and saltwater aquariums. This one is ideal for saltwater, freshwater and also reef aquariums. So, up till now if you were feeling left out owning a reef aquarium, don’t worry, we got you covered.

This is the ideal product for all types of aquariums. No matter which aquarium you own, it’s for fishes, okay, saltwater, fine, freshwater? Works too. And reef aquariums, you’re good to go. Not only it removes toxins and contaminants, but it also removes organic waste and odor from all types of aquariums.

One little setback is that it is a little smaller in volume than other products. But still the qualities it packs make up for this small setback.

Features of API Activated Filter Carbon
API Activated Filter Carbon- best chemical filter media

  • Best for all types: not all chemical media are made to match all types of aquariums. Because it lessens the aspect of making people buy different products. This is not ideal. In this case, API has created this general product that fulfills everyone’s necessity. That’s why it’s so commendable and has good customer ratings, better than most other products in this line.
  • Removes organic waste: most chemical media are invested in contaminants and toxins so much that they are not programmed to take care of the organic wastes which can actually be harmful to fish and reefs. API-activated carbon filter works vividly to remove organic wastes.
  • Best for 22-ounce aquarium: if you have an aquarium this size, this is the perfect one for you. This feature might sound like a demerit but to be honest, 22-ounce is the ideal size of home and workplace aquariums, so yes, it’s the ideal chemical media for aquarium.
Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Removes organic waste vividly
Best for 22-ounce aquarium
Suitable for all types of aquariums
Keeps the aquarium water clear
Makes the aquarium as suitable and safe as possible

Not ideal for big aquariums

5. Two Little Fishies ATLPB2 Phosban

ATLPB2 Phosban
Check Price On Amazon

The name Phosban suggests what it does. It removes phosphate from the water which can be dangerous for the fishes. But as a chemical media, it does not only remove phosphate but also removes other debris and contaminants as well.

Some may suggest that phosphate is necessary for aquatic plants. But to be honest, if you’re willing to keep your fishes safe, this is one sacrifice you can make. Having less phosphate does not necessarily harm the plants. Yet makes a better living condition for your fishes.

So, the usage of this chemical media is preferred rather than not using. More features would help to know better.

Features of ATLPB2 Phosban

  • Synthetic substance: the main ingredient for this saltwater and freshwater preferred chemical media is synthetic ferric oxide hydroxide. This is a very strong substance that cancels the existence of phosphate from the water. This makes the water a better living place for your fishes.
  • Best for both types of aquariums: if you have a freshwater aquarium, you can get this for you. If you have a saltwater aquarium, you still can buy this. This means one media, for both of your aquariums.
  • Economic: usually, many aquarium owners think of buying these appliances as an extra expense. This eventually makes people refrain from having aquariums. But what makes this appealing is that it has an in-budget price. So, no problems with buying this for your aquariums.
Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Effective phosphate removal
Completely safe for your little aquatic friends
Price is budget-friendly
Fast response

Not acceptable to aquarium owners who prefer having plants overfishes

6. Premium Laboratory Grade Super Activated Carbon

Super Activated Carbon
Check Price On Amazon

Many aquatic professionals suggest not to use any medication for your fishes without consulting the vet or getting at least a professional opinion. Why?

That’s because the most common mistake made by aquarium owners is giving an overdose of medication to the fishes.

This causes real harm to fishes. So, what could be the remedy if you don’t want to consult a vet every time you have to give medicine to your fishes? Easy. You get a chemical media that can absorb the excess medication that is actually much more harmful than existing toxins.

This is the product for you. Keeping excess medicine as a first priority, this chemical media removes all the contaminants and toxins from the water. Also, it removes odor and discoloring components.

Features of Laboratory Grade Super Activated Carbon

  • Removes excess medication: the first priority in every case of using any activated carbon-based chemical media or any other absorbing element is to remove the toxins that aren’t visible. Just like the human body, excess medicine is more harmful than the toxins existing in the water. The super activated carbon first attacks the excess medication. Then it takes care of the rest of the problems.
  • Removes odor and discovering elements: odor is a very serious issue when it comes to ensuring a better environment for your little friend because we can’t smell the water till it’s excessively dirty. So, removing the odor from water is one of the top priorities. After that comes the priority of removing discoloration components that damper the beauty of the aquarium
  • Suitable for fresh and saltwater: now if you are wondering if it’s suitable for your aquarium or not, the answer is it is. It is safe to use for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It is not limited to one type only. That’s why you can buy once and keep buying for all of your aquariums in the future.
Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Removes the excess medication from the water
Eliminates odor and discoloration compounds
Effective action
Best for both types of fish aquarium

Does not cover the issue of organic waste

7. Kolar Labs Crystal Cal Activated Carbon – Activated Charcoal for Aquariums and Fish Tanks

Kolar Labs Crystal Cal Activated Carbon
Check Price On Amazon

Activated charcoal is the best type of activated carbon available to use as media. There are several reasons behind it, the discussion will set up an open mind about this specific product.

The best part about the Kolar labs activated charcoal is that it is proven to work overnight and show results the next day.

If you have cloudy water in your aquarium all you have to do is install this in your aquarium, which by the way can be both freshwater and saltwater, you’ll see that the next day it’s actually cleaner.

The activated charcoal removes the visible problems along with the invisible components from the water. The best part about this product is that it works on all types of filters.

Features of Kolar Labs Crystal Cal Activated Carbon

  • Really fast: efficiency is something and working effectively overnight is something else. Effectively working overnight means that it can easily remove most of the problems that are existent in your aquarium in no time. Especially when it comes to removing the cloudy vibe from your aquarium, it works like a charm.
  • Trusted manufacturers: Kolar labs is trusted for manufacturing high-quality products related to aquatic life and the betterment of the fish. Millions of products have been sold under their name and maximum reviews are positive. So, it’s understandable that this product is made for results only
  • Suitable with all filters: one problem that everyone faces is that most chemical media have a specific type of filter preference. This really hampers the idea of being economic. In this case, this media is suitable for all types of filters. So, there’s nothing to worry about saving money because you will save a lot.

Kolar Labs Crystal Cal Activated Carbon – Activated Charcoal for Aquariums and Fish Tanks

Here we point out some prose and cons of this product

Really fast and efficient
Made with the best quality of materials
Resolves the most common and uncommon problems
Works in any filter
Really easy to use

Needs change every two weeks or so

The Truth About Ammonia And Chemical Filtration

Ammonia is one of the most severe problems for which people opt for chemical media. Because mechanical and biological media cannot remove ammonia from the water.

Now, all chemical filtration can remove ammonia from the water. But that’s not where the problem actually lies. The problem actually lies in the reason why the ammonia level of the water tank is spiking.

So, just buying any random chemical media to control the level of ammonia will definitely give you a solution. But that’s not the solution you’re looking for.

If it’s a regular problem that ammonia levels are rising and every time you have to take necessary measures to control that, you should opt for solutions that will actually make a change.

Now, to do that, you have to attack those pollutants that are causing the rise in ammonia levels every now and then. Because by controlling the ammonia level you’re not actually solving the main issue. The main issue is getting rid of the pollutants that cause ammonia levels to rise.

To do that, the best solution to go for is getting yourself an activated carbon-based chemical media.

Yes, not just any chemical media. It has to be activated carbon. Because activated carbon not only controls the level of ammonia in the water. What it actually does is that it attacks the pollutants and contaminants that cause ammonia levels to rise. Thus, you can permanently solve the problem and for a long-lasting period of time.

Again, no chemical media is a magical solution for ammonia problems. But activated carbon is the best solution at hand. You also can get some tips to reduce ammonia quickly from another article.

Why Do I Need Special Chemical Media?

At this point, I’m just answering the most frequently asked questions related to chemical media for aquariums. The most common question is why can’t I go with any chemical media? Why do I need a special one?

The fact is that if you’re considering activated carbon media as a special one, you’re making a mistake.

To be honest, activated carbon media has almost the same price as most other chemical media. One thing that makes them special is that they are more effective and efficient. Also, activated carbon deals with the root of the problem. That’s why you need special’ chemical media for your aquarium.

What Should Be The Proper Amount Of Chemical Media?

This is an interesting and dumb question at the same time. Why? Because the usage of chemical media does not have any side effects that you have to be careful about the amount. In the case of saving money, you could follow the instruction that the chemical media comes with.

Other than that, there’s actually no specific set amount to use chemical media. The same goes for activated carbon. There’s no specific amount that we can call proper or anyone can call proper at all.

How To Setup/Use Chemical Media In The Filter

If you’re totally new in this business, it’s a good question to ask.

There are many ways you can do that. If you have a filter, you can place the chemical media inside the filter so that water constantly flows through them. In this way, every drop of water gets filtered via the chemical media.

Also, you can put them in a reactor that ensures the water flow.

The third option is that you can place the media in a bag through which water can pass in a discreet location inside the aquarium.

To be honest some might think it’s a hard procedure and you have to do a lot of things to set up chemical media which is a wrong idea. It really is easy to maintain your aquarium.

Do Saltwater Aquariums Need Chemical Filters?

Yes, they do! Chemical filtration plays an important role in the overall filtration for any saltwater aquarium. Mostly GAC, also known as Granular Activated Carbons are used for chemical filtration. They have a larger surface area as well as a more porous texture than most other chemical filter media.

The larger surface area helps to grow beneficial bacterial colony which takes care of the ammonia and nitrites.

Benefits Of Chemical Filter Media

Now if you are about to use chemical filter media for your aquarium it’s essential to know about the benefits of chemical media. 

I’m pretty sure that you already know what benefits they will provide. Let’s just point them out for the sake of understanding better.

First, chemical media absorbs all invisible toxins from the water. These invisible toxins cause a lot of harm to the fish’s health. We could see that the fish are getting unhealthy but won’t understand why. Chemical media fight those particles

Secondly, activated carbon chemical media absorbs excess medication in the water. This makes the habitat a safer place for fishes. 

Thirdly, chemical media controls and activate carbon fights against the reasons behind ammonia level spike.

Finally, they absorb the cloudiness of the water and make it crystal clear for everyone to view properly and enjoy the beauty of the aquatic habitat. 

So, these are the basic benefits of using chemical media.

A Warning Before Installing Your First Chemical Filter

Chemical media has an expiration date. Just like your aquarium, they can hold a specific amount of pollutants before they get full.

They are not bound to keep absorbing all the pollutants for eternity. They have a limit and if the limit is crossed, the worst can happen.

The worst is, the chemical media can start releasing the contaminants back to your aquarium. Yes, you read it correctly!

The very reason why you use the chemical media, if not taken care of properly, can cause damage, and it can be harmful because it absorbs slowly, but it releases really fast. So, do know the absorption power of the chemical media you have put in and change them accordingly.

Final Words

So, these are the 7 best chemical filter media for aquariums. The common aspect among these is that they are mostly activated carbon.

This should give you an idea about which type of chemical media is the best for any type of aquarium. That’s right. It’s activated carbon. So, no matter which chemical media you buy for your aquarium, as long as it’s activated carbon, you can feel assured that it will protect your little aquatic friends from invisible pollutants, contaminants, and toxins effectively.


Q-1: Is Activated Carbon (AC) a Chemical Filter Media?

Yes, AC is one of the best chemical filter Media for the Aquarium.

Q-2: Do I Need Carbon in my Aquarium?

Yes! But you will get more detail explanation here. 

Q-3: How to Use Activated Carbon in the Aquarium?

Use proper filter bags (Mesh filter bags with a high flow are useful) for holding activated carbon into the aquarium and filter. For details, read this article.

Q-4: How to Clean Activated Carbon in Aquariums?

Easy! Just clean under tap water.

Hope this article is helpful. Happy Aquarist!- Antonia (AquaExpose)

Leave a Comment

AquaExpose Footer Logo


AquaExpose.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and a few other sites. These affiliate advertising programs are designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and specific affiliated sites.

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

error: Content is protected !!