Stubborn Surface Film - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Question Stubborn Surface Film

I have a 2.5G with some stubborn surface film, it has been progressively getting worse it even came back this time heavily after a single water change. The tank is only maybe 5 weeks old but planted well with almost non existent nitrates so I got some die off. Could this be food related or plant decay related? Yes I do have a low flow filter due to my Betta and I know that is everyone's first question, but I took a filter meant for a 10 gallon and cranked it to its lowest setting then put a reducer in the intake tube to reduce the flow for a 2.5G tank or comparable to the filter that came with the tank. It just holds more media and has a wider surface area outflow.



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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 10:52 AM
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Is your tank fully cycled and all water parameters in check? Any chance it could be from hand lotion when reaching in the tank or something leaching off the substrate or decorations?

Try scooping it out with a fine mesh net or soaking up with a paper towel and see how quickly it comes back. Also try your next couple water changes with remineralized RO water to rule out something in your water source causing this.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 10:09 PM
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Dealing with that oily biofilm too, I'm not too worried, it's still a new tank (mines also around 5-6weeks). I have a sponge filter but the surface agitation is blocked by foam floating ontop for some emergent plants. Again not to worried, if I wanted I could throw in a few "pest snails". They'll cruse upside down at the surface munching that oily looking film off ^^
You can increase flow and aim it at the closest wall of the tank to baffle current but allow for more surface agitation. If your betta is a female or a plakat (shirt finned) they can tolerate a little more flow. Or just toss in a it stone/air pump.

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 10:23 PM
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Iíd build a outflow ramp so that waterflow comes out going more across surface in a rippling surface movement to breakup film and pull it down into water.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 12:10 AM
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Step 1: Paper towel to the rescue.

Step 2: Do what @DaveKS suggests. Just getting more surface agitation would likely eliminate most of the film over time.

What kind of filter is that? Solution is probably something as simple as just clipping a small piece of plastic to obstruct a bit of the outflow, redirecting water across the surface.


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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 12:56 AM
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Thinking on this.

Style: Organic potting soil, gravel, sand, wood, plants, algae, biofilm, snails, shrimp, fish, dual siestas
Tech : Small tanks, Fluval Plant 3.0, Top Fin MF10, Eheim Classic 150, Neptune Systems Apex EL
Tanks:
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Last edited by Streetwise; 02-15-2020 at 04:23 AM. Reason: Edit
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2020, 05:36 AM Thread Starter
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I thought I would sit on this for a while, so here we are 7 weeks later.

Yes, the tank is and was fully cycled.

No, I do not reach my hand in the tank I only use tools (that I do not wash with soap) so I can rule out lotion(s).

I don't like the look of air stones or pest snails so those are out of the question.

I know about the paper towel trick and I have been using them for the last 10+ weeks with this tank. It comes back anywhere from 24hours to a week later, length varies with no noticeable variables.

The filter is way oversize but dialed down for the tank size, to increase the biomedia and mechanical filtration size. Its a TopFin SilentStream 10 (HOB/no directional outflow) turned all the way down plus I blocked up some of the inlet tube to bring the flow down for my Betta. I recently decided to give the Betta away so thats not an issue anymore...depending what I choose to replace him with now. This means my already light feeding has gotten that much lighter...I rarely feed the shrimp.

Does anyone have a photo of this filter outflow ramp? I thought my filter already had a surface flow guide because the outflow has a scoop ridge/lip. I can see the flow across the surface because it ripples the biofilm lol but maybe its not enough.

I use bottled spring water from Walmart, but recently started using a 50/50 mix with distilled water as well to lower my minerals yet keep my traces for spring sources.

I noticed the filter is pretty jammed up so I replaced it, and cleared the surface but its back 24 hours later. I don't use carbon, just the floss bag with more floss stuffed inside it and a huge bag of Purigen in front of it.

Thought I read something about substrate depth having a link to it. 1/4 of my footprint is almost 2" deep in one corner and tapers down to 1/8" on the other 3 corners.


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2020, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
Does anyone have a photo of this filter outflow ramp? I thought my filter already had a surface flow guide because the outflow has a scoop ridge/lip. I can see the flow across the surface because it ripples the biofilm lol but maybe its not enough.
This is how I do them, this is cardboard mock up, just make a mock up out of milk carton sidewall. I heatbend curves/bends, just use a cheap black poly binder from office supply and cut out final ramp.

Basic ramp small directional curl on right end. Sets on rim and filter weight keeps it in place.


In place on Aquaclear 20.


Hereís it split out to 3way, there are many things you can make that ramp do simply by bending or inserting a diverter on ramp.
deeda and Teebo like this.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-03-2020, 11:29 AM
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As already stated, a simple increase in surface agitation.

What type of food and how often do you feed? Some foods have excessive fats and oils (such as frozen foods) in them so feeding these simply adds to the problem.

Gary


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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-04-2020, 01:32 AM
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You need turbulent water flow, not laminar water flow.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-11-2020, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Very good information here, thank you for the photos!

I feed a mix once a day, New Life Spectrum and Fluval Bug Bites but only a few pebbles of each roughly the size of my Bettas eyeball. Freeze dried bloodworms once a week but again in very small portions.

Without removing the film again I turned my filter flow up to 50% which I did not think would work because its not enough to push the film "line" far enough away from the filter. However I observed it for a day and it did "eat away" at the film sort of dissolving it and making it thinner as the flow moved under it. I was pretty surprised after two days it really thinned the film out. However a few days later it returned in full force completely covering the surface again....so I turned the filter up to its max which should be way more than enough for this size tank. That did not help so I started blowing the film around on the surface which caused the filter to kick it down into the tank literally turning the tank into a snow-globe! The shrimp did not seem to like this which surprised me I thought it would be free food for them, but it only caused them to run around the tank in circles which is not typically a good sign....then one of them died so I stopped doing that. I removed the film with paper again and waited to see if the removal would "reset" the tank combined with the increased flow but once again 24 hours later after removing the film WITH high flow it came right back as if I never increased the flow at all. So I am going to have to make a ramp for sure, but I am wondering if this has anything to do with my Thrive+ dosing (I go light). Also considering a possible airborne bacteria that is growing on the surface? It starts as a typical bluish multi-colored oil and quickly turns into a thick white film as if someone is pouring Alfredo sauce on the surface lol.



I am not sure if this is a related problem or not but now I am faced with another problem that seems to be spreading, that is the health of my Java Fern. Some of the leaves are turning black/brown and developing holes or melting. Seems to me like a nutrient deficiency but Thrive+ is pretty heavy in what I thought was a pretty balanced ratio of elements...but maybe not?? So much for an all-in-one solution. They are my only water column plant so its a sign that something is wrong with the water column nutrients. I do not use substrate tabs but I am now considering them if the rest of my plants are stripping the water column too quickly.


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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2020, 12:03 AM
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Bio-film -> dissolved organics.

You should not have much accumulation in a 5-week old 2.5g. But in a 2.5g it would not take much.

So, the question becomes where is it coming from.
Considering a 5-week age, the plants are new. Did you had much of initial plant melt?
The driftwood looks like Spiderwood, which rots quiet a bit, especially if it was not "cured" first.

I wonder what's under that driftwood? Lift it up a notch and see if you get a cloud.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2020, 12:11 AM
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Agreed that there is a high organic content. Have you tried small daily water changes? Removal of any dead/melting plants/plant leaves?

Also back off on feeding. I only feed my Fish/Shrimp every other day. I have never seen such aggressive surface scum before.

Gary


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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2020, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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At this point we are way past the 5 week point, I lost track probably 15 weeks now.

Initially I did go through some plant melt as my nutrients kept crashing, but I have been able to stabilize it now. Only thing I can think of is I recently planted hair grass and had a lot of melting before it established so maybe that is some organic material buildup again.

I have the wood tied to a large rock so I really do not want to disturb it, but I did get a lot of organic white growth for several weeks after I put the wood in here....the shrimp ate it up but it may be rotting as you stated which would make sense.

I have been keeping up with removing rotting or melting plant material but I think you are all right I just need more frequent water changes until I get this under control. My huge bag of Purigen is looking depleted so maybe that is holding a lot of organic matter as well, I was waiting a week or two after replacing the filter floss before I renewed the Purigen so I think I will do that now.

I got rid of my Betta a few weeks ago and I do not really feed my cleanup crew so the source of protein and fats have stopped. I agree I have never seen such an aggressive surface film before.

This is what happens when I blow it around on the surface, turns into a literal snow globe!


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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-12-2020, 02:14 AM
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Try lowering your water level in the tank so that the water drops a bit before hitting the surface.

Gary


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