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How to choose the right pressurized bead filter for your koi pond or backyard water garden


Advantage bead filters are manufactured by Sacramento Koi, based in Rocklin, California. Sacramento Koi President Steve Walker is also the designer of the Advantage Bead filtration system. AlphaONE filters are manufactured by Oklahoma-based Grand Champion Technologies, commonly known as GCTek. In addition to designing the AlphaONE line of filters, Gary Cryer, president of GCTek, also designed the best-selling line of AquaBead filters.

Maximum pond size:

AlphaONE filters are available in a wide variety of sizes and are designed for Koi ponds up to 35,000 gallons. Advantage Bead Filters are available in three sizes and provide complete biological and mechanical filtration for Koi ponds up to 15,000 gallons. For ponds larger than 15,000 gallons, many Advantage owners choose to install multiple Advantage bead filters.

Prefilter Recommendations:

Because Advantage bead filters do such an amazing job in mechanical and biological filtration, the manufacturer does not believe that a pre-filter is necessary for most ponds. If you want to add a pre-filter to your Advantage filter, Sacramento Koi recommends the Advantage Clearance Chamber. AlphaONE filters also work very well as stand-alone filters and generally do not require a pre-filter. If a pre-filter is desired; however, GCTek recommends the Vortek SS Delux.

Bio media:

Advantage Bead Filters use a proprietary Advantage Biological Media, not offered with any other filter on the market. This media is not sold separately and is included with the purchase of any Advantage account filter. Thanks to their unique design, Advantage Biological Media provides exceptional mechanical filtration and removal of fines, while providing maximum surface area for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Advantage filter media also resists channeling. AlphaONE filters use proprietary AlphaONE biological media. This unique filter provides exceptional mechanical filtration while providing a large surface area for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Thanks to their unique shape, AlphaONE media produces less head resistance than comparable filter media types on the market, allowing for high flow rates.

Clear dome cap:

Both Advantage Bead Filters and AlphaONE Filters feature a clear dome cap, which allows the pond owner to visually see when it is time to backwash the filter.

Media shaker:

AlphaONE filters include a powerful 1.5HP media shaker, which aids in backwashing. The shaker included with Advantage Filters is actually 2 HP, making it the most powerful media shaker offered with any commercial bead filter system on the market today.

Head pressure:

Advantage Bead Filters and AlphaONE Filters produce comparable levels of total dynamic head and can be used with today’s energy efficient pumps. For maximum performance, both manufacturers recommend that their filters be used with PerformancePro Artesian2 pumps.


To ensure optimum water quality, it is recommended that both Advantage Bead Filters and AlphaONE Filters be backwashed regularly. In general, routine maintenance is recommended weekly. The actual maintenance process for both filter systems takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

Available updates:

AlphaONE filters are available in low head versions, allowing you to achieve high flow rates while using a much smaller, more energy efficient pump. The low head version of the Advantage filters, commonly referred to as the Advantage Pro series, has been discontinued by the manufacturer and is no longer available, making the AlphaONE LH filters the only low head bead filter systems available commercially in the U.S.

All-in-one systems available:

Advantage bead filters are available as part of the Plug and Play Advantage, these complete all-in-one filtration systems include an Advantage bead filter, PerformancePro Artesian2 pumps, and a high-performance Emperor Aquatics SMART UV sterilizer. AlphaONE filters are available as part of AlphaONE Plus and Mashimizu Systems. AlphaONE systems include an AlphaONE filter, a Pentair pump and a Zapp Pure UV sterilizer, one of the best UV clarifiers on the market today. The word Mashimizu means “clear water” in Japan. Mashimizu filters are quite popular with seasoned koi keepers and include the AlphaONE filter, WunderFlo pump, Vortek SS Delux pre-filter, and Zapp Pure UV clarifier, all pre-installed in a durable all-weather pad.


Both Advantage Bead Biofilters and AlphaONE Pond Filtration are covered by a limited lifetime warranty against defects. Sacramento Koi also offers an unconditional satisfaction guarantee on all Advantage account filters. This means you can buy an Advantage filter, install it in your pond, and use it for up to one year. If you are not 100% satisfied, you can return your Advantage filter for a full refund and the manufacturer will even absorb the return shipping costs. No other filter manufacturer offers this iron-lined quality guarantee.

Cost of shipping:

Due to their dimensions and weight, most Advantage and AlphaONE systems are shipped exclusively through a common carrier. The cost of shipping AlphaONE filters is generally borne by distributors of the AlphaONE units for orders within the contiguous United States. Due to manufacturer restrictions; however, shipping costs cannot generally be avoided on Advantage systems.

Will-Call screenshots:

California Ponds and Water Gardens, based in Victorville, CA, is the only Advantage account filter storage distributor in North America. Cal Ponds also maintains a stock inventory of AlphaONE filtration systems for local customers. Voluntary call pickups for Advantage filters can also be arranged at the manufacturer in Rocklin, CA.

If you’ve been researching pressurized pearl filters for your Koi pond, you’ve probably noticed that two pearl filters on the market stand out above the rest. The Advantage Bead Filter, manufactured by Sacramento Koi, and the AlphaONE Filter by GCTek, are often regarded as the “Lamborghini and Ferraris of the pond filtration industry” by experienced pond builders around the world. These high-quality pond filtration systems are renowned for offering superior performance while requiring significantly less maintenance time than competitive pond filters. This article aims to provide pond owners with a high-level comparison of some of the key features that distinguish these filters to help them make an informed purchasing decision.

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