Film and Bubble forming on water surface - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Film and Bubble forming on water surface

Hi guys,

I recently set up a 20G planted tank that just finish cycling. I did a 50% water change at end the of the cycle before I start introducing fish to the tank. Since the water change, I notice there are a lot of bubble forming on the surface of the water and stick to the edge of the tank or my filter intake (I have hang in back filter), and there is a thin layer of film there as well. I try to skim off as much of the bubble and film daily but they just keep coming back. Are these harmful for fish/plants? And how do i get rid of it. I did a 20% water change over the weekend, but with no help.

Again, thanks for all your help as always.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 08:59 PM
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Totally normal. It's protein and/or bacteria, harmless to fish. It can get unsightly, I have surface skimmers to deal with this, as well as pick up any floating plant matter. Look into an Eheim surface skimmer, they work well. I have three of them, no issues.

https://www.amazon.com/EHEIM-Skim-35.../dp/B00D5WHBFC

Just looked at price, it's gone up a lot. Maybe look elsewhere besides Amazon. There are other options for surface skimming too, this is just what I use.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 09:00 PM
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Increase Surface agitation (sometimes works) or buy a surface skimmer, run once or twice a week for an hour or so. I really like mine. Whenever I get the surface scum I just run the skimmer for a bit, cleans it right up.

It isn't harmful if it's kept in line. Let it get really thick / gross and it will hinder gas exchange.

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Last edited by Quagulator; 05-22-2018 at 06:31 PM. Reason: typo
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mgeorges View Post
Totally normal. It's protein and/or bacteria, harmless to fish. It can get unsightly, I have surface skimmers to deal with this, as well as pick up any floating plant matter. Look into an Eheim surface skimmer, they work well. I have three of them, no issues.

https://www.amazon.com/EHEIM-Skim-35.../dp/B00D5WHBFC

Just looked at price, it's gone up a lot. Maybe look elsewhere besides Amazon. There are other options for surface skimming too, this is just what I use.
If I add duck weed to my tank, will this just suck up all the duck weed as well?

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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
Increase Surface agitation (sometimes works) or buy a surface skimmer, run once or twice a week for an hour or so. I really like mine. Whenever I get the surface scum I just run the skimmer for a bit, cleans it right up.

It isn't harmful if it's kept in line. Let it get really thick / gross and tit will hinder gas exchange.
I think the bubble are from surface agitation from my hang on back filter, the hand on back filter creates a small waterfall and the bubble from it just build up over time. I do see less bubble forming if I turn my filter down to low setting which I am doing now since my tank is newly cycled and lightly stocked for now. I think I will look into a skimmer but I was looking to add duck weed to my tank since I cant really get any other floating plants legally here in CA. I tried ordered some water lettuce and frogbit online, but both of these arrive with damage roots (most root would fall off within a day or so) and they just slowly dies when put in my tank either because there is no root, or because there is little room between the top of my tank to the hood and too high humidity inside.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by corgifishkeeper View Post
If I add duck weed to my tank, will this just suck up all the duck weed as well?
Sure will! You could wrap the intake with a fine mesh to prevent this, but the duckweed will encompass the skimmer and severely reduce its ability to remove surface scum. I have this problem with frogbit, it'll get pulled to the skimmer(too big to get pulled in except for the very smallest plants) and then surface scum gets held up by the leaves.

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Originally Posted by corgifishkeeper View Post
I think the bubble are from surface agitation from my hang on back filter, the hand on back filter creates a small waterfall and the bubble from it just build up over time. I do see less bubble forming if I turn my filter down to low setting which I am doing now since my tank is newly cycled and lightly stocked for now. I think I will look into a skimmer but I was looking to add duck weed to my tank since I cant really get any other floating plants legally here in CA. I tried ordered some water lettuce and frogbit online, but both of these arrive with damage roots (most root would fall off within a day or so) and they just slowly dies when put in my tank either because there is no root, or because there is little room between the top of my tank to the hood and too high humidity inside.
The bubbles are a result of the surface scum being agitated/mixed with air. If you can up your surface agitation, a lot, it will do wonders. I've never had success with surface agitation helping with surface scum until I actually lifted my lily pipes (outlet for my canister filter) half way up out of the water. The water rolls around inside the lily pipe, mixing with air, and the surface scum gets broken up and pushed into the water column where the filter can pick it up. At least...that's the mechanic I believe to be occurring. I still prefer my skimmer over a sloshing sound lol.

Your problem could be water parameters - floaters like nitrates. I would make sure you have a minimum 10+ ppm, as well as the proper levels of other ferts. Also, the leaves on frogbit need to stay dry, so the hood could be a problem if it's dripping on them, or if they're getting splashed on by your HOB, this could cause problems too.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
It isn't harmful if it's kept in line. Let it get really thick / gross and tit will hinder gas exchange.
If your only filtration is a canister filter you can end up with low oxygen in your water if you have a surface film and no other mechanism to oxygenate the water. This is not healthy for your fish. An air-stone would help with water oxygenation tremendously.

A hang on back filter will generally expose more water to the air allowing for more oxygen absorption. A wet/dry (trickle) sump is many times better than an HOB or canister at oxygenating the water and my preferred approach to filtration. What ever you decide on please make sure your fish are getting enough oxygen.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-12-2019, 01:37 PM
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FYI, you can also get a little plastic guard to help with the floating plants, which is a bit nicer than a piece of mesh or airline tubing.

The only one I've seen recently is:

[Ebay Link Removed]
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