The application of ceramic membranes in water treatment is becoming increasing attractive because of their long life time and excellent chemical, mechanical and thermal stability. However, fouling of ceramic membranes, especially hydraulically irreversible fouling, is still a critical aspect affecting the operational cost and energy consumption in water treatment plants. In this study, four ceramic membranes with pore sizes or molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) of 0.20 μm, 0.14 μm, 300 kDa and 50 kDa were compared during natural surface water filtration with respect to hydraulically irreversible fouling index (HIFI), foulant composition and narrowing of pore size due to the irreversible fouling. Our results showed that the hydraulically irreversible fouling index (HIFI) was proportional to the membrane pore size (r2 = 0.89) when the same feed water was filtrated. The UF membranes showed lower HIFI values than the MF membranes. Pore narrowing (internal fouling) was found to be a main fouling pattern of the hydraulically irreversible fouling. The internal fouling was caused by monolayer adsorption of foulants with different sizes that is dependent on the size of the membrane pore.