Combating Surface Scum without a Skimmer? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Combating Surface Scum without a Skimmer?

I've got a 20 gallon long tank, with a height of only 12" and I'm running into issues with surface scum at one end of the tank. Because of the shallow depth, I have been unable to find a surface skimmer filter inlet than fits around my hardscape and because of the length of the tank, I can't get enough surface agitation from the outlet to break up the surface film consistently across the whole length of the tank. I'm currently rocking a lily pipe.

I'm more interested in what potential causes for the surface film might be, and any way that individuals have managed to reduce the production of the surface film in the first place so that I can get a better gaseous exchange in my tank. Anyone have any tips or suggestions?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by stlhokie View Post
I've got a 20 gallon long tank, with a height of only 12" and I'm running into issues with surface scum at one end of the tank. Because of the shallow depth, I have been unable to find a surface skimmer filter inlet than fits around my hardscape and because of the length of the tank, I can't get enough surface agitation from the outlet to break up the surface film consistently across the whole length of the tank. I'm currently rocking a lily pipe.

I'm more interested in what potential causes for the surface film might be, and any way that individuals have managed to reduce the production of the surface film in the first place so that I can get a better gaseous exchange in my tank. Anyone have any tips or suggestions?

Iím in the same position, had it quite bad, the food wouldnít sink through it at its worst, I run a canister filter so I managed to find a inlet pipe with skimmer attached that would fit, eBay for £15, definitely helped.

You may be able to find a Nano sized pipe, mines about 25cm in length, but have seen smaller.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 03:19 PM
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Surface scum is a mixture of all the different particles in the water column that are bouyant. Mostly proteins and lipids from inside the tank, sometimes dust and other from outside the tank. I got tired of dealing with it so I drilled my tank and installed a sump. I have seen people run internal overflows using a canister filter succesfully, either aftermarket or diy. You could diy an internal oveflow out of pvc pipe cut in half if you feel handy. The problem then becomes water loss due to evaporation within that overflow...

75g...medium tech...?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 04:58 PM
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You can spray H2O2 - hydrogen peroxide. This will help to a certain extent.

The cause is too much organic substances in the water.

This will happen when you have insufficient filtration, or you have not cleaned your filter, and the filter has become dirty and clogged. you might be over feeding the fish.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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You can spray H2O2 - hydrogen peroxide. This will help to a certain extent.

The cause is too much organic substances in the water.

This will happen when you have insufficient filtration, or you have not cleaned your filter, and the filter has become dirty and clogged. you might be over feeding the fish.
I've read this a lot too, but I feel as if I keep my tank pretty clean. I already do weekly 50% water changes, have 300 gph filtration rate, clean the pre-filter weekly and the filter ever few months, and only feed once every 2 or 3 days...
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 06:18 PM
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An airstone running from a powerful pump will usually do the trick.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 06:22 PM
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I also have a 20 gallon long and my HOB provides enough flow to keep the surface clear. However, I have floating plants that the filter tends to push underwater, so I have been experimenting with different ways to prevent that from happening. Often times these measures restrict the water flow in one way or another and that's when I started the see scum. My tank isn't any dirtier on the whole, but I'm sure that organics are accumulating in certain places now that they weren't able to before. I look at this as more a flow problem than a cleanliness problem, but I suppose that's a matter of perspective.

I haven't figured out exactly how to handle this completely in my own tank (I suspect I'm either going to have to remove the floaters or just accept a certain amount of scum), but I have found that if I only feed in areas with good flow it really slows the rate of scum build up. Also, if you float a paper towel on the scum it does a pretty good job of clearing the area quickly, but that's only a temporary measure.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2020, 10:12 PM
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You could use an Eheim skim 350. They're only 4"-5" tall so it would most likely fit your tank with its hardscape. I have one in my 75g and it does a great job of getting rid of surface scum.

https://www.petsmart.com/fish/filter...ter-37670.html

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-13-2020, 10:07 PM
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Turbulent water surface agitation on top.
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