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Re: Surface film

An unnamed RWm (RWmMartin at aol_com) wrote:
> Subject: Surface Film
> I have a 125gal planted tank established for over 6 years. I have a surface 
> film that looks like a thin layer of wax paper floating. When I do a water 
> change and do pruning It disappears. Then the film starts back within 10 
> hours and builds. It does not seem to affect the fish. If I try to scoop it 
> up with a fine mesh net, some is collected and the rest breaks up in the 
> turbulence, looking like skin peelings. It has no odor and washes out of the 
> net easily. I use a CO2, yeast system, but have turned it off for over a week 

RMartin, welcome to Mystery Science "Aquarium". That same 
surface film has perplexed me for a while now, and I'm glad (not 
glad for you) someone else has the same problem. I've noticed the 
"wax paper" film in my tank for nearly four months. I had it last 
year, also. I can only guess it's seasonal (spring and summer)? My 
tank run for a while (> year), crystal clear surface, then over the 
course of a few days, the film would appear. All the fighting in the 
world couldn't control it. Then, magically, it was gone for several 
months. Now, like I said, it's been hanging around for about 4 
months. I usually take a plastic stadium cup (from Clemson, of 
course! *Go Tigers*) and extract the surface film. It usually takes 
several gallons of water before I have the majority of it gone. Then, 
d*mn it, the next day, it's back again. If I let it stay, it gets so thick 
the surface stagnates and doesn't move at all. Flake food gets 
caught up in it, as well as small dead leaves.

I notice it's not as thick in the morning when the light comes on. 
By late afternoon, it's thick again. I believe the light may contribute 
to it? I use Chroma 50s and a cool white. Heck, I think everything 
contributes to it! I do notice when I do prunings, it dissappears. 
Maybe the oils from my skin break it down, maybe it all sticks to 
my arm, who knows, but it does disappear for a day or so. I've 
been waiting for it's lifecycle? to end. I feed very little and I use the 
same food for several tanks, but this is the only one with the 
problem. No wait, I did have some over a cichlid tank years ago, 
but I got rid of it permanately with a trickle from an aux. filter. The 
aux. filter is for water movement only and falls about an inch to the 
surface. That disturbance eventually got rid of the film, probably by 
mixing it back into the water column to be filtered out.

I know a surface extractor would keep it under control, but I don't 
want to add any extra pumps, etc. I use an a Whisper hang-on 
filter in my tank with just the empty filter bag for debris removal. I 
even put carbon in the filter a few weeks ago to see if it would help, 
in case it was organics causing the film. No help. The only remedy 
I have as of now is the stadium cup surface extraction. I've used 
papertowls to gently sweep the water's suface and it helps a little, 
but it's no cure-all. *****BTW, to ALL those who use papertowls in 
your tank maintenance, i.e. wiping down the inside glass, be aware 
that they contain PO4! Not a lot, but there is trace levels. We aren't 
allowed to use them with total PO4 tests at work. They 
contaminate the glassware. So, a couple towels a week could give 
the plants a little taste of PO4 for free. Remember, trace amounts 
(ppb) per towel, so don't blame your algae blooms on them ;-)*****

Someone out there got any suggestions?

Jamie    <"\\\><
Greenwood, SC