Protein film... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Protein film...

I'm noticing a protein film building up on my ten gallon, how do I get rid of it? I haven't seen this before, it seemingly had popped up over the course of a week or so. I'm running an AquaClear30 and a Top Fin 10 but I can't really run one of those surface skimmers as I have lots of shrimp fry. What do I do to resolve this? As far as I can tell everyone in there is still alive.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 01:51 AM
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There is a paper towel trick that's posted on this forum somewhere that you can find. I'd link you, but I don't know exactly where it is.


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 01:54 AM
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Any type of surface agitation will do the trick. A small power head at the waters surface would work.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 01:57 AM
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I take several paper towels and drape them across the tank barely touching the surface, then remove them. A lot of film will be gone. Do it once a day for a few days and you will be good. You can also increase surface agitation, but tough with any HOB. Sometimes dropping the water level, for a short time, forcing the return to break the surface more helps as well.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 02:47 AM
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Solutions like skimmers, paper towel, and surface agitation are only temporary fixes. The root cause is high organics (detritus, mulm, etc.). I dealt with surface film for almost a year in my 120. Originally I tried to address it through a skimmer and regular removal or organics, which helped but still was not enough. Only when I started cleaning the filter regularly and removed a large piece of driftwood (that contributed to high organics by making cleaning difficult, trapping particles in the moss, and providing a source of organics via dying moss) did it truly go away. I removed the wood a bit over a week ago and the scum hasn't been back since even without the skimmer; fingers crossed that will stay the case.

Make sure your filter is clean, and vacuum any visible detritus and remove any larger pieces of organic matter (like detached plant leaves, etc.).
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 03:32 AM
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The film is caused by slime producing microorganisms whose population increase because of available nutrient namely the
Quote:
high organics (detritus, mulm, etc.)
as pointed out by Axelrodi202. You will not be able to vacuum because of your
Quote:
lots of shrimp fry
. The options are therefore limited to manually remove detritus and cleaning the filter media.

You may reduce the build up of the film using paper towels as suggested - or you may set up a sprinkler using either a shower head on or by raising the spray-bar of the return flow from the filter.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrodi202 View Post
Solutions like skimmers, paper towel, and surface agitation are only temporary fixes. The root cause is high organics (detritus, mulm, etc.). I dealt with surface film for almost a year in my 120. Originally I tried to address it through a skimmer and regular removal or organics, which helped but still was not enough. Only when I started cleaning the filter regularly and removed a large piece of driftwood (that contributed to high organics by making cleaning difficult, trapping particles in the moss, and providing a source of organics via dying moss) did it truly go away. I removed the wood a bit over a week ago and the scum hasn't been back since even without the skimmer; fingers crossed that will stay the case.

Make sure your filter is clean, and vacuum any visible detritus and remove any larger pieces of organic matter (like detached plant leaves, etc.).
Good to know. I learned something knew today. Outside of surface skimmers and surface agitation, I have not tackled it any other way. For one, I never looked into the root cause. Unfortunately in my one tank that has the skimmer, I will just have to deal with the issue until I take the tank down. I have to clean the filter to the skimmer every 4-6 days but it's not to bad. Just gets annoying.

Now for my diy rack stands, I won't have to deal with the film because I have implemented coast to coast overflows. Having a sump for a freshwater setup is another pro to add to the equation. If you have a med to large size tank and have the space, I will always recommend a sump nowadays. In the past it was down talked because people were just unaware on how to make it work with a planted tank. It's a thing in the past now for several are making it work quite effortlessly.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 05:32 PM
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The other day I switched from a air powered sponge filter to a Aquaclear 30 and I had the same thing happen. Instead of recycling the sponge filter I just stuck a air stone in and the film went away.

You don't need anything major, you just want to agitate the surface.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigXor View Post
The other day I switched from a air powered sponge filter to a Aquaclear 30 and I had the same thing happen. Instead of recycling the sponge filter I just stuck a air stone in and the film went away.

You don't need anything major, you just want to agitate the surface.
This is not necessarily true which is why the statement Axelrodi202 holds to be true ime. Even with my powerheads at the surface, the film returns. Only place where film doesn't really accumulated is right in about the powerhead(s). When I had my spray bars at the surface I got a little bit still which is why I went with a skimmer. Unless its a violent agitation, the film will come given the parameters for high organics. My skimmer does a great job when its not clogged but once it maxes out, the film comes right back.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2015, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flight50 View Post
This is not necessarily true which is why the statement Axelrodi202 holds to be true ime. Even with my powerheads at the surface, the film returns. Only place where film doesn't really accumulated is right in about the powerhead(s). When I had my spray bars at the surface I got a little bit still which is why I went with a skimmer. Unless its a violent agitation, the film will come given the parameters for high organics. My skimmer does a great job when its not clogged but once it maxes out, the film comes right back.

If this is a saltwater tank, I am out of place.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-22-2015, 05:24 PM
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Nope, not SW. This is pretty much a FW forum as far as I know. I have never dipped over to SW to date. One day I may get to experience it though.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-22-2015, 05:28 PM
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@BigXor - he is referring to a surface skimmer, not a protein skimmer. Several companies like Eheim and ADA make them for the purpose of removing surface film.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-23-2015, 01:00 PM
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Have this on and off on my 40 gallon. If you can get more surface movement it will go away or it will get trap in your filter. I get this film without any driftwood in the tank. Some of it could be caused by over feeding too.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-23-2015, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axelrodi202 View Post
@BigXor - he is referring to a surface skimmer, not a protein skimmer. Several companies like Eheim and ADA make them for the purpose of removing surface film.

Learned something new.

Thanks.

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-23-2015, 05:19 PM
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+1 on Axelrodi's comment.

I've seen lily pipes with their vortex generators work though (not sure how long they remain in effect though as the water level has to be at certain heights and water does evaporate)

But yep, that surface scum/protein film does reduce lighting a bit and does reduce atmospheric gas exchange a bit (both oxygen intake and co2 release, so that can be good one way -keep in co2-, but bad another -less o2 enters-).
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