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Where Should You Put Ceramic Rings In An Aquarium?

Ceramic rings are arguably one of the most effective and affordable bio-media there is. It allows the nitrifying bacteria to grow and colonize in the tank that converts the harmful ammonia and nitrite into a less toxic nitrate. However, the placement of the ceramic rings in an aquarium is a major factor determining its filtration efficiency. So, where to put ceramic rings in a fish tank to get the best out of it?

Depending on the type of filter you have, sometimes it can get tricky to determine how and where to place the ceramic rings. But it should not trouble you if you are here on this webpage. The following article is an all-encompassing guide. It contains almost everything you should know about the ceramics rings best practices and their placement in an aquarium.

Best Placements for Ceramic Rings In a Fish Tank

Ceramic rings or any other bio media are always best placed in a filter when it goes after mechanical media and before chemical media. If your filter doesn’t have enough space to hold ceramic rings, you can put them directly in the fishing tank, on the gravel bed where there is good water flow.

Now, if you are wondering why it is so? Well, there is a reason behind it which we have answered for you in the following section.

In the Filter

where to put ceramic rings in aquarium
Modern aquarium filters come with trays designed to separately hold media for all three filtration processes: mechanical, biological, and chemical. Now, when it comes to placing ceramic rings in a filter, it always goes after mechanical media and before chemical media. The order of media is always based on the direction of water flowing in a filter.

You can understand it this way – water must go through mechanical filtration first so the waste particles such as uneaten food and fish waste can be removed. This will ensure your ceramic rings or other biological media don’t get clogged up from the aquarium waste. Keep in mind that the filtration order remains identical for all filters. It’s first mechanical, then biological and finally chemical.

If with any given filter you feel confused, simply check for the direction water flows in it, whether it’s top to bottom or bottom to top. And depending on that, mechanical media will either be placed at the top or bottom of the filter because the water needs to be treated through it first. As a rule, ceramic rings (or bio media) will always go in the tray in between the mechanical and chemical media.

Inside the Tank

where to put ceramic rings in aquarium
If you can’t fit ceramic rings in your filter, put them in a nylon mesh bag and place the media bag directly in the tank water. Don’t just drop it anywhere in the aquarium. Ceramic rings will require water running through them so it doesn’t get gunk up by the fish waste surfacing it all over as it settles down in the aquarium.

So always try to place the bag of ceramic rings where there is fast flow. Putting it in front of the filter output can significantly help in maximizing the efficiency of the media.

If you plan to use ceramic rings inside a display tank, it might not look aesthetically pleasing to your eye. However, it will do the job intended. Many people get confused with the effectiveness of the ceramic rings when placed directly in the aquarium instead of a filter.

You must know that ceramic rings don’t filter the water. Since it’s highly porous, it acts as a medium that offers housing to the beneficial bacteria to grow and complete the nitrogen cycle in the tank.

Do you know why it is suggested to put ceramic rings in a filter? Being placed in a filter provides them with consistent oxygenated water flow that helps nitrifying bacteria to flourish at a much faster speed.

Moreover, media placed in a filter is saved from getting in contact with the waste particles, thus maximizing the build of bacteria. Beneficial bacteria will still grow no matter where you put the ceramic rings in the aquarium. However, to get the best out of it, it needs to be sitting where there is maximum water flow.

How to Add Ceramic Rings in an Aquarium?

where to put ceramic rings in aquarium
There are a few things that if you can incorporate in your practices when adding ceramic rings to an aquarium, it can yield you better output.

  • Whenever you buy a bag of ceramic rings, don’t directly put it into the filter or inside the aquarium. It would be best to rinse them in a bucket using dechlorinated water as it helps remove the excess dirt that might be sticking to the rings.
  • It is always best to pack the ceramic rings in nylon mesh bags and then put the bag inside the aquarium.
  • Ceramic rings should always be submerged underwater; otherwise, the beneficial bacteria won’t survive in them. When you take your colonized ceramic rings out of the water, don’t let them get dry. Clean it, and immediately put it inside.
  • If you place ceramic rings directly in the tank, put them near filter output for maximum water flow.

How Many Ceramic Rings Do You Need for Your Aquarium?

There is no definite number for how many ceramic rings one should add to their aquarium. Since they don’t pose any harm to the fish, you can use as many as you can fit in your filter or place them in the aquarium base. Make sure if you are putting them in the gravel bed, it’s not too much to cause suffocation to your aquatic pet.

Well, obviously, the size of your tank will majorly determine the amount of ceramic rings you might require, so it’s advisable to use your discretion.

How Often Should You Clean or Replace Ceramic Rings?

where to put ceramic rings in aquarium
Usually, ceramic rings only require cleaning when they have accumulated a lot of slime and debris over time. It’s advisable to check in every six weeks or so to know if they need cleaning at that point.

All you have to do is, take out the ceramic rings in a bucket of dechlorinated water and gently swirl the water around to shake off the excess gunk that might have clogged the pores of the rings. Many beginners mistake scrubbing the rings to make them look new and end up killing the bacteria housed in them. So, make sure you keep this in mind when cleaning your ceramic rings.

Now, to answer how often you should replace your ceramic rings is quite dependent on the manufacturer and how much you have maintained its cleanliness. There are manufacturers who recommend replacing ceramic rings every six months of use, while some well-known brands like Marineland say you don’t need to replace them at all.

The truth is ceramic rings remain effective as long as they aren’t clogged out of debris and worn out far too much. When the surfaces of the rings start getting smooth, they are on the verge to wear out. Thus, that would be your cue to replace them. However, quality ceramic rings can last for years.

NOTE: Generally, it takes 4-6 weeks for the beneficial bacteria to colonize in ceramic rings and complete the Nitrogen cycle. Therefore, never replace more than 1/3rd of your ceramic rings at a time, and always wait for at least a month before you swap the rest with new ones.


We hope you have gained a better understanding of where to put ceramic rings in your aquarium with the information shared above. It’s not at all complicated. However, knowing the reasoning behind why ceramic rings go where they go is crucial and something that you must know, being an aquarist.