Surface film. What can we do about it? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Surface film. What can we do about it?

So what's the best way to deal with surface film? I currently have a TOM surface skimmer for the intake to my canister, but this is awfully bulky in the back of the tank. No matter how little I feed the fish or how clean I try to keep the tank, I still end up with a surface film after a little while of not running the surface skimmer.

What exactly is the cause of surface film and is there anything you can do to completely eliminate it?

-Rusty

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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:16 PM
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If you have a spray bar, angle it up 30 to 45 towards the surface.

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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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I've tried angling my output nozzle toward the surface and it helped a little with the surface film, but overall circulation in the tank suffered. I don't really want to use a circulation pump when my filter normally provides more than adequate circulation as it is right now.

I understand that surface agitation will help with it, but I still don't understand what causes it to accumulate in the first place. What is the root cause or causes of the oily protein film that accumulates on the water surface?

-Rusty

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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:46 PM
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I use a timer and turn on an airstone at night. It completely eliminated the film.
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:51 PM
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You can toss an air stone in overnight, every night lol. I keep one in one of my tanks and the surface is pristine.

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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:51 PM
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The only thing I've found that can get rid of it is lots of surface agitation, usually an air stone or air wand. Pointing my spray bar up isn't enough due to the larger surface area.
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 04:55 PM
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If pH swings aren't a concern (CO2 tanks with shrimp), airstones work well.

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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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I'm running a high CO2 environment and I also have shrimp so that might not be the best option for me. I might try to come up with a custom built intake with a built in surface skimmer that might be less bulky than the TOM skimmer.

-Rusty

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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 05:22 PM
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Add an aquaclear hob to supplement your canister, that solved all my scummy problems. I don't use air pumps on any of my tanks, not a fan of bubbles or the noise it makes.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dmagerl View Post
I use a timer and turn on an airstone at night. It completely eliminated the film.

I put my air stones (1 in each back corner on the floor of the tank hidden by the plants) on a 30 minute timer in the middle of the day just before the CO2 solenoid comes on and it completely eliminates the scuzz.

I recommend this method because it works!
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 05:30 PM
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I'm running a high CO2 environment and I also have shrimp so that might not be the best option for me.
Another option might be a Koralia aimed toward the surface, depending on the size of your tank. Otherwise I'm out of ideas short of upsizing the filter.

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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 05:34 PM
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What is the root cause or causes of the oily protein film that accumulates on the water surface?
i think there is no way to truely stop it, short of not feeding protien to fish. the best we can do is run our surface simmer 24/7 or have constant surface agitation.

Will
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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 06:41 PM
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Oily protein film is caused by food with high protein content or overfeeding. Best method to tackle it is with a surface skimmer or a HOB. One can use a powerhead or spraybar to agitate/ripple the surface. Once it is turned off the protein layer will still be there.

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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 06:44 PM
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Um, not in my experience. The airstone method works. No slick, no crud. Nothin...
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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 07:02 PM
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Pond snails eat protein film!
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