Surface Scum - Keeps Coming Back

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by Superman, 24 Jul 2008.

  1. Superman

    Superman Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    So over the past two weeks, a sort of oily scum has formed on the surface of the water. When it breaks up it doesn't go back as it's like rather solid.

    The other night I removed all (or nearly all) of it by placing paper towels on the surface.

    However, today it's returned after 3 days.

    Its so solid that it keeps my CO2 bubbles underneath it.
    Its not green, it doesn't really have a "colour"

    Any ideas?

    Pointing the filter outlet up more to cause more ripple doesn't solve it.
     
  2. Dacious

    Dacious Member

    Messages:
    86
    Hi Superman,

    Firstly do you use a yeast based CO2 system? This could be the cause perhaps. Or do you think it is something that you have fed the fish??

    Hope this helps
     
  3. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    Sounds like iron bacteria. In the wild it's normally a reddish brown but in an aquarium it is a whitish colour. When broken with your finger it doesn't flow back together again. Only way I've found to clear it is through surface agitation or skimming. If you read German then this site has a very good article about surface films including pictures of iron bacteria (pictures at the bottom of the page) - http://www.aquamax.de/HG27UG02.htm.

    James
     
  4. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,301
    Location:
    London
    Strange that, your Juwel filter should really clear this too as it takes in water from the surface, I had a similar problem sometime ago and the internal filter took care of it in no time, after a good clean to unblock the flow.
    Make sure you replace the fine white sponge every week to prevent slowing down the flow, don't buy the original Juwel filter pads, just go on ebay, for the price of a couple of boxes you will get enough filter pads to last you 2/3 years thats how long ago I got mine and still have plent left lol ;)
     
  5. Superman

    Superman Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Thanks for the replies.
    I use pressurised co2 system and when watching my jewel internal doesn't seem to pull in this scum.
    I have really increased the irragation tonight and will see what it's like in the morning.
    Might have to invest in a skimmer.
    Any idea where these things come from?
     
  6. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
    Same problem here mate, so you're not alone. I'm putting it down to bad circulation as my plant mass has increased from growth. My filter has also slowed a little since adding some sintered glass media.. Time for a bigger filter I think :(

    DSCF2594.jpg

    DSCF2592.jpg
     
  7. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,301
    Location:
    London
    Powerhead might also help, mine creates a nice surface movement, if you want I can try and capture a video.
     
  8. Superman

    Superman Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    thanks James. That's exactly what mine looks like but I couldn't get a good enough photo to show what it was like. My ordered external with 1,500lph from AE should be here in a weeks or so time. Might put my extra power head on until that arrives. Need to find another plug!
     
  9. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
    Good stuff... what filter are you running atm?

    I'm going to add another EX700 as soon as I get a chance...

    James, many thanks for that link, google translator may not be the best, but its enough to know the problem is an algae and skimmers wont help. The paper towel method and lots of water changes are the way to go :)
     
  10. Superman

    Superman Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Location:
    Cheltenham
    Only running the juwel internal at the min, the JBL CristalProfi e1500 is on it's way.
    Yay water changes!
     
  11. altaaffe

    altaaffe Member

    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    Thornhill, Egremont, Cumbria
    I've had this in the past as well, I've introduced an air pump & coarse air stone which comes on 2 hours after lights off for a few hours and have had no problems since. My CO2 is off at this time via a solenoid and comes on again an hour before lights on.
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
    I've added my second EX700 from my 4ft low tech community tank..Amazing difference already.

    The big community tank still has an EX1200 running, and I'll add a Fluval 4+ internal tomorrow... thought I'd seen the back of that damn thing :rolleyes:
     
  13. nickyc

    nickyc Member

    Messages:
    208
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Had this problem on our marine tank (so I'm not sure the algae would be the same type?) but having tried the paper towel thing and big water changes for ages, we tried the airstone. It did work like a miracle overnight! No problems since
     
  14. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    I've got the same on my 40l, do you have to run the airstone everyday to stop it forming again? or did just one night stop it completely?
     
    SwedishAquariumMafia likes this.
  15. LondonDragon

    LondonDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,301
    Location:
    London
    I run an airstone overnight for a few hours, gives the fish a break too ;),
     
  16. altaaffe

    altaaffe Member

    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    Thornhill, Egremont, Cumbria
    Same for me, it's on a timer for every night. Personal preference, but I prefer to ensure that the water remains fully oxygenated for the fish and drives off the excess CO2 when the lights are off.
     
  17. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Spalding, S.Lincs
    I haven't run an airstone yet because it's a plant only tank so I wasn't too worried about clearing excess CO2, but if it means that it'll clear the film off the surface then there's no harm in an hour once the lights have gone out. :D

    I'll try it tonight, I just didn't know if I'd have to do it every night to keep the film away, I was trying to get away without having another plug, timer ect running.
     
  18. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Messages:
    2,706
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    This is a problem for anyone that runs CO2!!!. Bubbles are 'sticky' and as they rise to the surface all sorts of stuff sticks to them.

    Poorer circulation will mean you get more and quicker. Good circulation will still get it though.

    Most people who had tanks pre CO2 will probably remember that it didn't occur very often before!!

    Andy
     
  19. nickyc

    nickyc Member

    Messages:
    208
    Location:
    Nottingham
    There's no CO2 going into the marine tank and I've had the problem far worse in that one than the planted tanks have ever been! I run the airstone on [yet another] timer!
     
  20. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Any time you see surface scum, whether it be oily, white, brown or green it means that your plants are trying to communicate with you. What they are saying is that they are not happy with you. This can occur just as easily in a non-injected tank. Plants naturally secrete carbohydrates and lipids into the water column as part of their natural metabolic processes. This is organic waste, and the higher the light/CO2 the more waste is produced. If there was no surface movement at all you would see some buildup. If nutrient uptake is poor or inefficient the plants become stressed and unhealthy. When this occurs ejection of lipids and organic waste becomes uncontrolled (think diarrhea or vomiting). Lipids are the basic building block of fats and oils so release of this product results in the oily film. Ejected carbohydrate and some proteins cause the other types of debris such as the brown detritus-looking floating particles. Bacteria often feed on this flotsam/jetsam since it is high in carbon. This film then becomes it's own floating world.

    High filtration and/or high circulation is important - not just for breaking up the surface film but for distributing nutrients and CO2.

    You need to feed your plants more than you are feeding them now. You also need to inject more CO2 than you are injecting now. Then the plants will stop bleeding and the rate of organic waste ejection will be lowered to reasonable levels. Levels that do not required stopgap methods such as airstones or turbofans or whatever. :wideyed: In the scene below I can easily induce some type of surface film merely by lowering either CO2 or nutrients or both.
    8395208250_4d6a81f003_c.jpg

    Cheers,
     
    Vandal Gardener likes this.

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