Strange white film - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Strange white film

Hello everyone,
Coming at you with a mystery. I have a 5 gallon fluval spec V that has a heater and a filter going. The tank is live planted and has current inhabitants of a baby Betta fish and two red cherry shrimp. I have noticed that there is a strange white film on top of the water that dispersed when touched. I noticed this the other day and used a cup to skim the top of the water and get rid of most of the film(seemed to help and it was barely visible). Today I came back home from school and noticed that the film had returned. Any idea on what this is? Is it harmful to my tank? The water is not stagnant and has a strong current so I am not sure why there's such a film on top.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 09:28 PM
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Is the tank recently started?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-02-2016, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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I had it working for a week and then put in live plants and the stock a few days ago, so yes, pretty new tank
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-03-2016, 07:54 PM
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Probably protein film from food etc. Let me google that for you . Dont mean anything with the "google it for you". I just find it handy!
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-03-2016, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by phhasek View Post
Probably protein film from food etc. Let me google that for you . Dont mean anything with the "google it for you". I just find it handy!
Yes I figured out what it was. The problem is that the surface is always agitated with my filter. The water is never stagnant. I have to constantly keep taking to film off with the paper towel or scooping it out with a cup and it's quite frustrating. I guess my question is, is there a way to get rid of the film permanently?
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-03-2016, 09:38 PM
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People commonly use protein/surface skimmers to skim of the layer of protein film that floats on the water surface. There are cheap ones like Aquatop/SunSun surface skimmers. Your Fluval Spec V has an overflow that pretty much does the same thing. You just need to position the outlet of your filter to agitate and circulate as much of the water surface to the overflow as possible. If that doesn't work enough, you can add on a skimmer.

You can create DIY surface skimmers (look on Youtube or Google)

There are also lily pipes that create a vortex that pulls down surface scum/film so it doesn't layer the water surface.

I am not sure if Seachem Purigen or Activated Carbon/Charcoal absorbs the protein film or not.

The film isn't harmful, just unsightly and does block out a little bit of light and prevents a little atmospheric exchange (bad to bring in oxygen, but good to keep in co2 if you are injecting, still minimal though). I am not sure if the film would harm surface breathers like Corydoras or Labyrinth fish like Bettas and Gourami, but from not hearing any reports of issues, I doubt it causes any issues to worry about.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-04-2016, 12:05 PM
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your tank is so new. I wouldnt worry. Remove it by hand and wait. what are you feeding? Some food are "dirtier" than other.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-05-2016, 03:49 AM
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It could also be some oil from a new bucket you used to top off/ water change happened to me a few days ago
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 02:04 AM
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The Spec tanks do this in my experience. I've got a Spec V and Spec III. Both tanks did it. I fixed them by angling the outflow upwards to agitate the surface. Since you have a betta, you can't really turn the pump high (Which pretty much would solve this problem).

I would recommend following this guide. There is a section there about using aquarium silicone to plug the filter bypass slots, which makes the filter operate much, much better. I would recommend doing this mod, as it really has made my filter work a lot better. I can visibly see it actually drawing in debris, when before I could barely tell that it was working.

The other mods about cutting holes in your return tube work as good as the article says at helping the heater heat the whole tank, rather than just the overflow chamber. If you've got any more spec questions, PM me!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 02:39 AM
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Chances are it's not the fault of the spec tank, just the conditions the owner has created within the tank. It can be due to feeding practice, iron levels etc.

At the water-air interface of natural water bodies, material accumulates to form a surface film. Surface films are altered by sunlight, water movement etc. The films are basically microorganisms and organic matter.

These microorganisms need something to eat and the owner's practices, whatever they may be, are giving the microorganisms enough to survive and sustain their numbers.

I've had it a few times over the years, in high tech high light tanks through to breeding setups. My very anecdotal observation is it seems to be strongest during times of heavier fish feeding, like when conditioning fish for breeding with live and prepared foods. Also when dosing iron in higher amounts.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 04:56 AM
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The build up can also be the result of near zero surface agitation though wouldn't you say? If you have the output of the pump pointed down, this tank literally has zero surface agitation. The water is completely stagnant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Straight shooter View Post
Chances are it's not the fault of the spec tank, just the conditions the owner has created within the tank. It can be due to feeding practice, iron levels etc.

At the water-air interface of natural water bodies, material accumulates to form a surface film. Surface films are altered by sunlight, water movement etc. The films are basically microorganisms and organic matter.

These microorganisms need something to eat and the owner's practices, whatever they may be, are giving the microorganisms enough to survive and sustain their numbers.

I've had it a few times over the years, in high tech high light tanks through to breeding setups. My very anecdotal observation is it seems to be strongest during times of heavier fish feeding, like when conditioning fish for breeding with live and prepared foods. Also when dosing iron in higher amounts.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-06-2016, 05:27 AM
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I agree overgrown, stagnant water is worse affected. This would be a disadvantage of the Spec but not the sole cause. I've had outdoor tubs with plants that were stagnant and there was no detectable surface film. I think it really is dependent on more variables than that.

I've had it so bad even extreme surface agitation wouldn't get rid of it completely, just dent it.
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