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when looking up at the surface of the water, it looks not quite transparent, with swirls. its like an oil slick or something. when i put some flakes on the surface, it broke the 'film' and looks clear around the flakes. what is this?? i just did a WC 2 days ago..
 

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its a nice protien film that cirtian mollys seem to clear up, black if I'm not mistaken. Or you can do what some of us do and lay a paper towell sheet on the surface every now and again to keep it in check.
 

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The higher the amount of dissolved organics in the tank the worse it'll be. Also increasing co2 will help. If for whatever reason my co2 drops it'll get really thick. A good gravel cleaning, removal of dead leaves and plant matter, and a thorough filter cleaning will help if it's a big problem for ya.
 

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I have very little surface movement on my tank and I, too, have a surface film that develops. It's white and protein-y. I agree that it is probably due to organic buildup, but my situation is a little different.

When I do a water change, the film will develop by about the second day. But about 3 days later it will disappear on its own. I'll take a wild guess and say that it's the amount of time it takes for a bacterial colony to establish and grow larger enough to beat the buildup. But that's just a stab in the dark.

Has anyone had a similar experience?

Brandon
 

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Yes its organic, but it has to be fat based and not just protein. Many proteins are water soluble and will not rise or collect at the surface of a tank - but more still have fatty regions that allow it to collect into hydrophobic slicks on the surface of water. If it really bothers you, get a protein skimmer that is usually used in saltwater tanks. The reason why the film peels back as soon as you add food is the fats and oils from the flakes quickly spread out over the surface - pushing your organic scum off to the side. I'd bet you anything that if you stuck your finger in your ear and then gently placed it on the surface of the water the same thing would happen. The fats from you earwax will quickly spread out and push the more crude organic sludge out of the way.
 

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Yes its organic, but it has to be fat based and not just protein. Many proteins are water soluble and will not rise or collect at the surface of a tank - but more still have fatty regions that allow it to collect into hydrophobic slicks on the surface of water. If it really bothers you, get a protein skimmer that is usually used in saltwater tanks. The reason why the film peels back as soon as you add food is the fats and oils from the flakes quickly spread out over the surface - pushing your organic scum off to the side. I'd bet you anything that if you stuck your finger in your ear and then gently placed it on the surface of the water the same thing would happen. The fats from you earwax will quickly spread out and push the more crude organic sludge out of the way.
Point the spray bar at a 45 deg upwards, an let the filter take care if it. When it is gone, clean the filter an put the spray bar wherever u like.
 

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I attribute it to dissolved organics, the oils from my/our skin and the dust/dirt/dead skin in the air that sticks to the surface of the water.

I just angle my return up abit and it kinda takes care of itself. Unless the tank is covered, all my undcovered tanks have it and i have just accepted it.
 
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