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Professor Russell the Friendly Koi says: "You can calculate the SSA of any type or brand of bio filter by knowing the SSA of its media!"
Specific Surface Area (SSA)
of biological filter media

All bio media in fish pond filters or bio filters of any type can be classified according to its specific surface area (SSA). The higher the SSA the more probable is it that the bio media will be more effective in a fish pond filter. SSA refers to how much surface area per unit volume of a type of media is available for colonization by bacteria inside fish pond filters.

When comparing filter media, it is important to compare not only the media's SSA, but also its open space, easy of cleaning, weight, and cost.  For example:  Sand has an extremely high SSA of 600, but very low open space so it clogs and channels very quickly.  It is inexpensive, but very heavy and difficult to clean.

While there are literally hundreds of types of filter media, the list below is compiled of the most popular, and most widely used.


Hydro FilterSilk™

Used in Hydro Vortex™ filters.  Black color.  Sold in 1.85 cubic foot packages.  Free-floating media designed to fill entire filter.

61 SSA per square foot.
366 SSA per cubic foot.
90% open space.
High resistance to channeling.
Easily cleanable.
Low pressure cleaning.
Super light weight.
Each package contains 677.10 square feet of Specific Surface Area (SSA).


HydroFoam™ Beads

Styrofoam beads used inside HydroBead Vortex™ Filters. Sold by the cubic foot. Free-floating media designed to remain in a fluidized motion state.

75.37 SSA per square foot.
452.20 SSA per cubic foot.
50% open space.
High resistance to channeling.
Easily cleanable.
Low pressure cleaning.
Super light weight.


Poly-Flo

www.polyflopondfilters.com/biological_filter_media.htm

FM56JC cream color.  Used in virtually every brand of "Pad-&-Media-Bag" style waterfall filter on the market.  Sold in bulk by the square foot, or in pre-cut pads.

49 SSA per square foot.
294 SSA per cubic foot.
Open space is considered "good", but percentage is not listed.
Resistance to channeling if kept clean.
Requires high pressure cleaning.
Light weight when clean.


Poly-Flo

www.polyflopondfilters.com/biological_filter_media.htm

FM56JCII-ESA black color.  Similar to FM56JC with the addition of marble dust attached to the fibers to increase surface area.  Used in several late models of "Pad-&-Media-Bag" style waterfall filters...  Sold bulk by the square foot, or in pre-cut pads. 

76 SSA per square foot.
456 SSA per cubic foot.
Open space is not listed, but less than FM56JC due to the bonding of marble dust to the polyester fibers.
Resistance to channeling similar to FM56JC if kept clean.
Requires high pressure cleaning.
Light weight when clean.


Savio Springflo™

http://www.savio.cc/pond-products/C72/

Used in Savio Livingponds™ Filters.  Sold in 3 cubic foot rolls with 180 square feet of surface area.  Green color.  Free-floating media designed to fill entire filter.

10 SSA per square foot.
60 SSA per cubic foot.
180 SSA per 3 cubic feet.
Over 90% open space. 
High resistance to channeling.
Easily rinses clean.
Low pressure cleaning.
Light weight.


Kaldness

Used in Aqua-Evolution filters. Sold in bulk. Free-floating media design.

41 SSA per square foot.
244 SSA per cubic foot.
90% open space.
High resistance to channeling.
Easily rinses clean.
Low pressure cleaning.
Light weight.


Aqua Ultra

Used in Aqua UV Ultima II filters. Sold in bulk. Non-floating, sinking media. Hollow design with internal "Y" wall shape to increase surface area.

125 SSA per sqare foot.
750 SSA per cubic foot.
40% open space.
Moderate resistance to channeling.
Difficult to completely rinse internal small "Y" spaces.
High pressure cleaning required to rinse small "Y" spaces.
Light weight.


Lava Rock

Primary media used in the media bags of virtually all brands of "Pad-&-Media-Bag" style waterfall filters.  Usually red in color.  Sold in 1 cubic foot, 35 pound bags at most home & garden centers.  Place inside the "media bags" inside "Pad-&-Media-Bag" style waterfall filters. 

14.35 SSA per square foot (average)
86 SSA per cubic foot
20% or less open space
Low resistance to channeling
Very difficult to clean
Requires high pressure cleaning
Heavy


Matala

www.matalausa.com/characteristics.html

Used as an "up-grade" alternative to typical filter pads.  It is available in 4 different colors with different SSA's.  Available in sheets, or in round rolls for barrel filters. 

Black
10.33 SSA per square foot, 62 SSA per cubic foot, 92% open space

Green
16 SSA per square foot, 96 SSA per cubic foot, 93% open space

Blue
20.67 SSA per square foot, 124 SSA per cubic foot, 94% open space

Gray/White
28.50 SSA per square foot, 171 SSA per cubic foot, 94% open space

High resistance to channeling.
Easy to clean.
Low pressure cleaning.
Light weight.


Bio-Balls

Sold primarily as a replacement or alternative for lava rock for "Pad-&-Media-Bag" style waterfall filters.  Many shapes, colors, and sizes are available from a wide variety of manufacturers and retailers.

16.67-26.67 SSA per square foot depending on ball size.
100-160 SSA per cubic foot depending on ball size.
50% open space.
Moderate resistance to channeling.
Easy to clean.
Low pressure cleaning
Light weight.


Rock and Gravel

Miss Russell the Friendly Koi says: "Knowing the SSA of filter media sure is fun! And, its the starting point at which to figure out how much fish you can have in your pond!"Used as substrate in water garden ponds.

3/8" - 1/2" smooth round gravel 12 SSA per square foot at 2" deep
72 SSA per cubic foot.

 4" - 24" rock has an average 4 SSA