Surface film *help please* - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Surface film *help please*

I am having trouble with my newly established tank getting a film on top of it.

The film is milky white. The outflow of my filter only breaks it up into a foam directly in front of it. The rest of the tank gets a pretty thick layer of it. The film can be removed with an up-side-down siphon, but will return within a day.

The film is a protein/organic/bacterial film of some sort although I am not sure exactly what is causing it. It is a 21 g tank which is currently inhabited by 7 otocinclus, and 10 red nosed shrimp and is lightly planted.

I am only dosing flourish right now although I am going to pressurized CO2 and EI dosing shortly.

I have looked online for help, but I have found the only solutions are to feed less. I am currently only feeding the tank 1/2 an algae wafer or a small pinch of fish flakes every 1-2 days.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 06:24 PM
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What does your water change schedule look like? I had this problem once a long time ago when I rarely did water changes. My guess is that there is a lot of stuff in the water column that needs to be pulled out which is why the film comes back so soon.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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50% weekly water changes with 80% distilled water 20% tap water with conditioner.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 06:53 PM
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the only way i've been able to get rid of it was to use a surface skimmer. i tried everything.

EDIT - i never did try adding a platy or molly though... and i concur with the below mentioned eyesore comment.

What would Honey Badger do?
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 07:16 PM
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What substrate are you using in this tank?

I would stop feeding for a while and see if that changes anything.

A surface skimmer would help, but is somewhat of an eyesore in a 20 gal tank. Paper towels/inverted soda bottles can reduce the film temporarily. You can fish it out with a fine meshed net. Etc.

Some labyrinth fish and livebearers eat that stuff. Perhaps get a platy or molly and see if that would do the trick?

If it is a new tank it might go away by itself.


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
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50% weekly water changes with 80% distilled water 20% tap water with conditioner.
That's a lot of distilled water. Are you sure this is a good idea?


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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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What substrate are you using in this tank?

I would stop feeding for a while and see if that changes anything.

A surface skimmer would help, but is somewhat of an eyesore in a 20 gal tank. Paper towels/inverted soda bottles can reduce the film temporarily. You can fish it out with a fine meshed net. Etc.

Some labyrinth fish and livebearers eat that stuff. Perhaps get a platy or molly and see if that would do the trick?

If it is a new tank it might go away by itself.
Substrate is 1 bag flourite 1 bag eco-complete. I like the idea of a fine meshed net. Also, would a sword tail count as a livebearer?

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That's a lot of distilled water. Are you sure this is a good idea?
I live in an area over a bed of dolomitic limestone. It essentially converts the water to liquid rock. I could likely get away with 95:5 distilled:tap.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 09:53 PM
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lift your outflow higher to break surface film. I just put mine up at night when im sleeping.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 10:47 PM
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[quote=oldpunk78;879810]the only way i've been able to get rid of it was to use a surface skimmer...quote]

A surface skimmer should do resolve the problem, and they're a good idea in general.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 11:41 PM
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Substrate is 1 bag flourite 1 bag eco-complete. I like the idea of a fine meshed net. Also, would a sword tail count as a livebearer?
I don't have personal experience with swordtails, other than remembering that my dad had them in his tank some 35 years ago. But yes, they are livebearers and I would assume like Platies and Mollies suck down the scum. Keep in mind most lifebearers tend to overpopulate the tank in short time.

There is also the Subcurrent internal wet/dry filter that might work for your situation. The drsfostersmith have it on sale right now for $26. Someone reported about using it for surface skimming, but I can not dig up that thread anymore.


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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great suggestions, guys! I now have lots of ideas to try if it doesnt go away itself.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 10:59 AM
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You can always use a surface skimming intake they're selling online. I have thesame problem in my tank, but it's only 1 month old so I hope it will go away soon. I think mine surface film is from a colorquartz that was covered in mineral oil, but I can be wrong.
Do you guys know any affordable surface skimmers for that purpose?

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-20-2009, 01:38 PM
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I use one from Tom Aquatics on my 90. It's hooked to the input of one of my XP3's. Easy to adjust once you understand how it works. I have it set to pull very little from the surface.

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-21-2009, 07:10 PM
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Maybe this is too simple of an answer but I always get that film when I feed the fish either frozen brine shrimp or when I give them the food with garlic in it.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-21-2009, 09:52 PM
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Hey folks what are your pH levels? I have had scum issues for six weeks now on my 20L, and my net research has pulled all kinds of weird (yet valid) theories. A recent observation that interests me is that scum is more prevalent on acidic tanks.

The only differences from previous tank maintenance were that I had been fighting BBA with Excel, DIY CO2, and also bringing more distilled water into my water changes. Through experiment, I have back-burnered both yeast contamination and Excel overdose as continuing causes, so I was just about to switch brands of DI water...

... but pH kinda fits. The problem developed in conjunction with my pH dropping to 7 and below. How about you all?

I am not ruling anything out or even trying to identify causes... just curious.

(belladee: I've seen a couple mentions of fatty brine shrimp, too)

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Last edited by vegasMatt; 07-21-2009 at 09:54 PM. Reason: omission
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