Is There Any Top Fin Rf-S Filter Alternative?

The top fin RF-S filter cartridge is one of the most essential elements of the filter. It is needed to clarify the filtered water and create a safe place for the fish. 

But many times, users find it difficult to find the cartridge to restock. This is a major problem because it is needed to be changed after a certain time. Is there anything you can use instead of the Top Fin Rf-S Filter cartridge?

Fortunately, yes, there are some things you can use instead of the rf-s filter cartridge. One of those things is a filter sponge.

If you want to know more cheap alternatives, read on.

Why Changing Filter Cartridge is Important?

Shortly, it keeps the aquarium water clean and prevents toxicity.

As the tank has no flow of outside water, it tends to become dirty with particles and debris. A filter cartridge is created to catch those particles and keep the water clean.

But filter has its own limitations. It is advisable to change the cartridge every 3-4 weeks. After that, it lost the ability to absorb the dirt and has no use in the filter.

Top Fin Rf-S Filter Alternative

When it comes to the actual filter, it does not need replacement or alternatives. But you definitely need to replace the cartridge which filtrates the water.

Many of the top fin RF-S filter owners facing the problem of not finding the cartridge for replacement. Other than that, it is quite expensive when you have to replace the cartridge every month.

Here are some cheap alternatives you can use instead of a top fin cartridge.

Filter Sponge

Cut the filter sponge according to the size of your filter. then set it inside the filter. It works exactly like the cartridge but cost less.

Not only that, you can wash and reuse the sponge. Just squeeze and rinse it with old tank water every month. It will be as good as new.

Ceramic Bio Media

Works the same as a filter sponge. You can use or alter any of these two things with less money.

Better if you use both at the same time. So that, both of them will with as mechanical filtration as well as biofiltration.

Pond Filter Media

Another cheap alternative is pond filter media. Cut it according to the size of your filter and set it inside.

The best part of this media is, that it will give more surface for the beneficial bacteria to grow. The more bacteria you can grow inside the aquarium, the more fish loaf it can handle.

How to Use Filter Media Instead of Cartridge

Now you have an idea about what can you use as an alternative to the filter cartridge. Let me assist you with how can you use filter media in the filter.

Remove the Cartridge

After your filter cartridge’s date expire, remove it from the filter. It is essential to remove the cartridge because cleaning it is not possible.

Install Coarse Foam Sponge

These sponges are reusable and do a good job in mechanical filtration. Cut it according to the filter compartment size and get it inside it.  

With time you do not need to throw them away along with the good bacteria. Just rinsing it with old tank water, will do the job.

These pads provide a great surface for biological filtration as well. Coarse foam sponge does not clog easily which is a quality aquarists look for.

Put Bio Rings

Bio rings are great for biological filtration. You can put a bag of the ring inside the filter.

In some cases, one bag bio ring does not fit into the filter. if so, you can buy a reusable small bag that fit into the filter and put the rings inside it.

It has a lot of porous holes in which beneficial bacteria can grow.


  • While setting up the filtration system, but the coarse foam sponge from where the water flow hit first. And then put the bio rings. This way the sponge will absorb most of the dirt and the bio ring will not get dirty easily.
  • To get crystal clear water in the tank just add a layer of the fine poly pad with small pores. It will catch the fine particles of the aquarium and keep it crystal clear.

Product Recommendations

The alternative I mentioned can be bought from local store or amazon very cheaply. But it is better to know about some of the best products available in the market.

Top Fin® Sponge Filter

It is a two-layer filtration system which traps small waste particles. It is also good if you have small fish in your tank. 

Top Fin® Ceramic Rings

Bio rings are good for biological filtration. Top fin provides one of the best quality ceramic rings. It provides enough space for the bacteria to grow.  

AQUANEAT Sponge Filter

It is a small addition you can make to your filter if you want to buy an alternative to top fin. This is a sponge corner filter you can set up in the corner of your tank.

Poret® Foam by SwissTropicals

If you want to do it manually just like I described earlier you can use this foam. It is a good quality sponge, suitable for the aquarium filter. you can order it in customized size. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should you change a top fin filter?

you need to replace the top fin filter cartridge once every 3-4 weeks.

Can you reuse filter pads?

yes, you can reuse filter pads. Just rinse it with tank water once every month and you are good to go.

Is there any other alternative to filter the cartridge?

yes, you can also use quilt cotton batting which is available in any fabric store.

Can Tetra cartridges use top fin filters?

No, it will not fit into the top fin filter.

How often do you change filter media?

Filter media has a long lifespan. You have to change it at least after 10 to 15 years.

Do you need to replace Bio media?

yes. As bio-media also get clogged over time it needs to be replaced. You can replace it every 3 to six months.

Can I use gravel as filter media?

Yes, you can as it can hold back the precipitates which contain impurities.


Sometimes keeping and maintaining a pet become a burden because of the expenses. Especially when we just overcame a pandemic. Changing filter cartridges once in a month is too much for some of us.

Unless you know it is a scam and there are many things you can use instead of a filter cartridge. Plus, those need not be replaced every month. You only need to take it out, clean and place that again inside the filter.

Even the material I mentioned, each of them can be used for a very long time. As a result, it not only saves our money but also saves the planet by decreasing waste.

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Arif H Fahim

Welcome to PetFishTank! My name is Arif. I make an effort to publish educational articles using my many years of expertise as a fish owner.

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