Foam/Froth on surface - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Foam/Froth on surface

Hello!!

I am to this forum and and to the aquarium world! I finally got everything set up at the beginning of the week. My tank has been cycling since Monday and now I am starting to see tiny bubbles in the tank. They appear to be coming from the waterflow of the power filter. Now there is a foam or frothy accumulation around the edge of the surface water. What is that? What to do?

It is a 20 gallon tank, low light plants, power filter, heated, driftwood, and petrified wood. I am using a 15 watt 10000K bulb. The only chemicals I have added to the tank were dechlorinator and liquid plant food. No fish yet.

I also tested the PH, Nitrate, and Ammonia on Thursday and all the readings were in the safe range.

Any advice would help!

Thanks!!!
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 03:13 PM
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Welcome.

It's probably* biological film, the agitation of your filter just makes it bubbly/frothy. This is pretty normal in a cycling tank from my experience. I had a terrible filthy scum when I was readying my 75 gallon. You can skim it off with paper towels.

*Wasserpest's post reminded me that I have experienced frothy scum when I added Eco Complete to my tank, that by far was likely the most at blame... the decaying cocktail shrimp surely contributed though.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 03:19 PM
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What substrate did you use? While they are new, certain substrates can lead to a film on the surface, with filter action that can turn into foam. It's basically like a protein skimmer in a marine setup.

I would do some water changes to reduce this, maybe 30% every other day.

A 15W bulb is most likely not enough to grow plants in a 20 gallon tank. But that would be a separate discussion.


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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I am using fluorite and small river gravel on top. I chose the 15W bulb because the initiate research I did suggested using a lower wattage would prevent from having to add CO2. Meaning more light the plants have the more CO2 they will need.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 04:13 PM
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That's true, but with less than 1 wpg the types of plants that will grow is extremely limited. You would probably be better off doubling that if you want to keep anything other than java ferns or anubias.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 04:29 PM
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If you didn't wash/rinse/repeat the Flourite a lot it's possible that there is your source of some scum/foam. No big problem though, with water changes and time it will clear up.

The 15W regular fluorescent bulbs don't have the "punch" or energy that allows plants to photosynthesize. You might be able to keep a few of them alive for extended periods, but it will not be pretty.

You are right that you shouldn't go overboard with wattage if you don't want to add CO2. I would shoot for around 30W, but keep in mind that two of those very efficient and dim 15 Watters are still not much for most plants. But you would be able to grow a couple of undemanding plants, like Cryptocorynes, mosses, Java Ferns and Anubias.


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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 06:53 PM
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I'm not so sure that petrified wood is aquarium safe? Anyone else know for sure?





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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 06:56 PM
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Petrified wood is aquarium-safe.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 07:30 PM
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re: Flourite scum

Can I join?

I just want to confirm that a new tank with Flourite will cause a grayish/reddish foam on the surface. But, like it's been mentioned already, it's completely harmless. I just dip a small container into the water just enough so that the water "skims" into the container via water tension - taking the nasty looking scum with it.

Turns out that even rinsing the Flourite doesn't help much. Like Wasserpest mentioned, I think that in combination with your filter, it's EXACTLY like a protein skimmer. (And those cost big bucks.... just think of all the Value-Added you're getting with your setup!)

Cheers!

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 07:32 PM
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The secret to using Fluorite is to rinse it then DRY it before use!



(guess it's a little late for ya this time, but next time...)





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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 07:39 PM
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re: drying rinsed Flourite

Dry it?! <Who knew?!>




Cheers!


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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 07:47 PM
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My personal theory is that since it's clay, the finer particles stick together... that's my theory till someone gives me a better one, anyways- I just know it works!





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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 08:11 PM
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A protein skimmer will not function in freshwater. Something about the chemistry of the water prevents it from doing what it does. Or so I am told.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fshfanatic View Post
A protein skimmer will not function in freshwater. Something about the chemistry of the water prevents it from doing what it does. Or so I am told.
Salt water will form a bubble that won't pop or burst as readily as freshwater.


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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-18-2008, 09:50 PM
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re: not really a protein skimmer

Quote:
Originally Posted by fshfanatic View Post
A protein skimmer will not function in freshwater. Something about the chemistry of the water prevents it from doing what it does. Or so I am told.

Oh my goodness, I suspect you're totally right. I was being a bit facetious in my reply.... simply implying that the end result gives you a convenient place to remove the scum. I have no idea if the scum, in this case, is comprised of proteins.

Cheers!

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