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3 Filter Floss Alternatives You Must Know Of!

Filter floss is undoubtedly one of the most efficient mechanical media for aquariums. However, buying these tiny pads from brands like Fluval or Juwel can get expensive in the long run. So, if you wonder, are there any cost-efficient alternatives that work as good as your filter floss, you have landed on the right web page.

One of the best cheap substitutes for filter floss is untreated polyester quilting material. Mainly, it’s sold under a trademark called Poly-Fil. You can also use pillow stuffing but make sure to avoid non-allergenic and fire retardant pillows. Plus, pond-sized filter floss is another alternative to give you the best value for money.

As you know, it’s a matter concerning fish health and safety, there is no room for mistakes. Considering the very same thing, we have written this article. It briefly touches on all the aspects of choosing filter floss alternatives that are both efficient and aquarium safe. So without further ado, let’s get into the heart of the matter.

3 Best Substitutes for Expensive Filter Floss

filter floss alternative

By effectively removing detritus off an aquarium, filter floss plays a crucial part in the filtration mechanism. It helps keep the water clean and in its optimal state, making the tank’s environment healthy for the inhabitants.

Now, if one wishes to replace the filter floss with something else cheaper, there are a few things to keep in mind. You have to make sure that the replacement media you are opting for is capable of handling the job and is safe for the fish.

Below are 3 alternatives to filter floss that meet the quality benchmarks and are comparatively low in cost.

1. Poly-Fil

filter floss alternative
You may know or not, filter floss is originally made of polyester material. Therefore, if anything that comes as close as ‘aquarium grade’ filter floss, it’s the polyester itself.

Poly-Fil is a fancy name for the trademark the material is sold under. You can easily buy it online. Or you can visit Walmart and check their craft and fabric section. If you are looking for a reliable brand, go for FairField’s Poly-Fil quilt batting.

It is safe for your fish and efficient for the filter as well. You should go for the high-loft polyester batting to get the best out of this media. It’s thicker and provides optimal results for filtration purposes.

2. Pillow Stuffing

Replacing filter floss with pillow stuffing will probably save you more money on the mechanical media than anything else.

You can go to Walmart or any other store and look out for the cheapest pillow possible. The polyester stuff inside the pillow will last you for a year or more, depending on your filtration system requirement.

To ensure the proper safety of your fish, make sure the material you are buying is 100% polyester and is untreated. It should be free from dyes, perfumes, or any other chemicals. Always avoid non-allergenic and fire retardant pillows.

Pillow polyester stuffing has really fine fibers that may clog your filter’s propeller over time. Therefore, it’s suggested to use the filling in a mesh bag to prevent clogging.

3. Pond Filter Floss

Another alternative that we found worth mentioning is pond-sized filter pads. They are usually larger and come in rectangular shapes. You have to cut it into the right size to adequately fit in your filter.

These pads are commonly called pond filter floss, and you can find them on any local fish store.

How to Get Filter Floss for Cheap?

The trick to getting filter floss for stupidly cheap is to buy it in bulk. Instead of purchasing tiny strips, you should order giant rolls of floss. It will save you a good amount of money. Moreover, if you don’t care much about the brand, you can easily find cheap filter floss at your local fish store.

Branded filter floss are quite expensive because they come in ready-to-use packs, already cut out for the perfect fit for your filter. And most importantly, they have a branding, a name that people can trust and rely on for their aqua pets’ safety and the media’s efficacy.

Many aquarists also prefer to buy big rolls of filter floss. However, you will have to cut the media into a specific size that rightly fits your filter. It takes time and effort to do so. But if your primary concern is to save money, this is the way to go.

Saving Money Vs. Fish Safety – What’s More Important?

It costs thousands of dollars and more to set up an aquarium and fill it with fish, corals, and invertebrates. To save some money on filter floss, many beginners unknowingly risk the life of the inhabitants.

While we were lurking around various fishkeeping related forums, we came across a number of issues people have faced using pillow/cushion stuffing. Not to say there is anything inherently wrong with polyester stuffing. It’s a great substitute.

However, the pillow stuffing treated with flame retardants chemicals is harmful and causes severe problems. Often, polyester in the factory lies around chemicals, fumes, and dust that tend to be toxic to the fish.

To have complete peace of mind, either buy a proper filter floss or get the untreated polyester stuffing. It’s a good practice to save money, but not at the risk of your fish life.

Many people new to this hobby often make this mistake. They prioritize saving a buck over inquiring about the product’s material and ensuring it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals.

Since you have the correct information in hand, we hope you don’t fall into the ignorant category.


If you go around looking for substitutes for aquarium filter floss, you will not find many of them. Simply because there are not. Majorly, it’s plain polyester material and pond-sized pads you can make use of.

Now, since you know the alternatives available for filter floss, you can determine if the money saved on them is worth the hassle or not.

We hope this guide answers all your queries about the topic. If you feel like we missed something, feel free to let us know using the contact us page.