If you’re running a power filter, do you use filter media bags? If not, maybe you should. There are more reasons to use a media bag than there are not to. I’ll give you a few.
Flexibility: If you want to experiment with different media or you have several favorite brands/types you want to try in combination, using bags allows you to explore nearly any kind of loose media (biological, chemical, and mechanical). Yes, you can use sponges to “secure” loose media such as plastic bio balls, ceramic rings, and others within the filter baskets. However, if you use products such as loose carbon, zeolite, polymer resins, peat, or even crushed coral in your filters, you’ll learn quickly why you need media bags.
Time: If you often exchange the media in you filter, preloading a bag can be a big time saver. When it’s time to clean your filter, swapping bags takes seconds. I’m obviously not suggesting you remove all of you colonized media and replace with fresh. However, you can remove some of it and replace with new. It will colonize quickly. Furthermore, if you’ve ever tried wrangling loose mechanical or bio media, it can get irritating. If you have a canister and you drop a tray of loose media, you’ll wish you had been using a bag. Same goes with loose media in the basket of a HOB or other power filter.
Cleaning: It can be much easier to clean media in a bag than it is to clean them loose. Whether you use tank water or tap water to rinse your media and whether you rinse under running water or in a bucket, manipulating the contents of a bag is much easier. Grab the bag, shake or knead it under the water, and you’re ready to go.
Seeding media: If you have a tank with an overflow reservoir and you don’t want to rob your existing filter of colonized bio media, drop some bio media in a bag and put the bag in the overflow. You will have seeded media whenever you need it. See my post from last year on seeding media in an overflow.
Your LFS should carry a variety of filter bags. If not, you can find nearly any size online at Amazon or other retailers. Some people use pantyhose, and there are other DIY options. Whatever you choose, consider using bags in the future. I think you’ll be glad when you do.