strategies to prevent surface film? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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strategies to prevent surface film?

I cannot seem to prevent my rimless and lidless 4 gallon tank from developing a gnarly surface film over the course of a couple of days. I've got my spraybar angled that it's agitating the surface pretty strongly, but it's angled up from below and not from above.

It's pretty unsightly, and other than skimming it off with a paper towel every couple of days, I'm at a loss on how to prevent this.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 02:11 PM
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I've swapped out the intake on my Eheim filters for Sunsun intakes which come with a skimmer built-in. Cheap fix and the tubing is the same size. The intake plastic is also grey which is good for me.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 05:28 PM
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+ one for sunsun skimmer attachment. I have been running a 304b canister filter lately and the skimmer attachment works great. Ista also makes a skimmer attachment that can be fitted to a HOB filter that works great.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 07:24 PM
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switching from a spraybar to a jet outlet or a lily pipe might help with breaking up the water surface.

Or maybe address the problem from a different angle. Biofilm on the water surface can form from a number of causes. An overdose in iron will form a whitish papery like film. Ammonia release will also trigger some biofilm formation. So rather than dealing with the result I suggest finding the cause. It pays up in the long run.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 07:41 PM
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I raised may spray bar above the surface and pointed it down. It solved the problem for me.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 09:07 PM
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The best way to remove the surface oil is through skimming. Surface agitation disperses it and makes everything look good, but if you let the water sit the film will reappear as it separates from the water.

The sunsun skimmer intake works well or if you could stand to have another piece of equipment in the tank, eheim makes a surface skimmer unit (eheim skim 350) which has a simple sponge inside of it. Either way, getting that film through the filter is what truly makes it go away.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 05:40 PM
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There's a number of way to combat it. Surface agitation from a pump or air stone or skimming. Ehiem makes a little skimmer pump that sucks water off the surface.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 06:10 PM
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I use one of these: https://www.eheim.com/en_GB/products...urface-skimmer

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 06:11 PM
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Another vote for the Eheim Skim 350, works great.


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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 07:49 PM
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Your film is likely coming from your dirt if you have a dirt tank. Easiest way to get around this is to have a hood or frame that comes just below the surface of the water in the tank. Aeration will help but that leaves calcium carbonate covering your glass which will cut down on your light over time getting to your plants. I have same problem and have a DIY walnut hood I built which hides the surface and you just can't see it. Get rid of your dirt and your water surface will clear up. Hope this helps.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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not a dirted tank, substrate is seachem fluorite. Also, I know a skimmer would remove the film, but its a 4 gallon tank and honestly, there's not room for a skimmer in the tank as is.

Was wondering more what are the root causes of the film? It's a shrimp tank so I don't feed the shrimp that often honestly. They mostly feed off the biofilm, maybe I toss them some shrimp pellets once or twice a week. I am battling some algae in the tank, so maybe that's the source of the film?

Instead of angling the spraybar up from below the water's surface (which does agitate the surface causes a good ripple, but doesn't really seem to break the surface), if I angled it down from above, would that be more effective in breaking the film up?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 05:40 AM
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Whats living in this 4 gallon? Could feeding potentially be the cause? Proteins tend to cause some knarly bio films. Ive seen some nice smaller skimmer attachments made of glass that might not intrude much on your aquascape, otherwise perhaps a more frequent w/c schedule?
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 06:53 AM
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Something might have caused a bacterial bloom... Shrimp death, damaged plants etc. Do you have any wood in the tank? If it's relatively new it may be the source.

Yes splashing the water from the top will break the biofilm. An air stone will also work. A few floating plants might also help as they get pushed by the current and sweep the water surface. Ramshorn snails?

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 07:20 AM
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How old is the tank? I only see this on new tanks

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 07:25 AM
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Some fish food's, plant respiration (proteins,lipids, sugar's,enzymes) in newly planted affair's, or from deteriorating plant health can also be cause.
I'm on board with discovering causes.
May not need extra apparatus ,but sympathize with those that are afflicted with it.
Seems to me to be temporary most times I have witnessed it, and tied to newly established tanks mostly.
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