there's a film on the water... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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there's a film on the water...

It's my 5g soil substrate tank... right now it just has a tiny guppy fry and some java moss because my order form Sweet Aquatics hasn't come in yet.
(hopefully today!)

I noticed this morning that the flakes (3 tiny pieces of flake) that I placed in the tank for the fry is uneaten... but stranger still, it's been floating for about 18 hours.
Upon closer examination, there's a film on the water. The film is clear, so a photo is impossible, but I'm affraid it could prevent gas exchange since I see some tiny round bubbles stuck under the water surface.
I did a 50% PWC but approximately 5 minutes later it's back.
I stirred the water surface vigorously with my finger, and I could see this whitish/clear stuff in the water.

The tank is filterless, and I'd like to keep it that way.
I don't mind the film, but I'm just wondering if it's harmful.

(tankmates for now, will just be some snails and plants, with maybe 6 neons or tiny tetras coming soon)

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^^ genius
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 03:16 PM
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Probably a protein scum, common in all aquaria unless there is sufficient surface movement to prevent it. I used to run surface skimmers on my canister filters for this purpose, but took them off when the small fish and fry kept getting sucked in. Depending upon your type of filter, it is possible to arrange the outflow so that it creates a minimal current across the water surface, just enough to prevent the protein scum but not enough to cause CO2 to be driven off in excess.

I have this quite thick in my 70g SE Asian tank, because the floating plants are thick (I have Chocolate Gourami and pygmy gourami fry constantly hiding in the floating plants); each week during the pwc I simply hold the tube under water and carefully draw off the surface scum.

It is unsightly, and it does negatively affect the exchange of gasses at the surface, but in a planted tank this is not a cause for concern.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 03:38 PM
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I have the film too. In my 5g and 55g. This is because I have my outflow pointing downward so there is no surface movement for my Angels. The film doesn't really bother me becauwe you don't notice it looking straight at the tank. Byron, you're saying the film will not cause harm to the fish or live plants?
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by LisaC144 View Post
I have the film too. In my 5g and 55g. This is because I have my outflow pointing downward so there is no surface movement for my Angels. The film doesn't really bother me becauwe you don't notice it looking straight at the tank. Byron, you're saying the film will not cause harm to the fish or live plants?
Absolutely not. I've had it in some tanks for years. But I do skim it off each week so it doesn't build up. I suppose eventually it would prevent any gas exchange, like a stagnant pond. It never occurs in my 90g, only very slightly in the 115g and not every week at that, and almost always in the 70g. The biological system is probably different between the tanks; the 70g is also the only tank that ever gets cyanobacteria. Crypt plants have been mentioned in connection with that, interestingly.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 20 Old 03-04-2010, 04:34 PM
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Oh great. I have a few crypts...haha. I didn't think it caused harm and I wasn't concerned. But thought I'd inquire about it as well since Redchigh started a thread on it. Thanks, Byron!
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post #6 of 20 Old 03-05-2010, 09:37 AM
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redchigh I too had the scum develop in the filterless invert tank when I first set this up; I tossed in a lil pennywort and let it just float on the top by itself and its near-gone now.
Since you're doing the soil approach are you poking the soil daily with a lil stick?

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-05-2010, 09:50 AM Thread Starter
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redchigh I too had the scum develop in the filterless invert tank when I first set this up; I tossed in a lil pennywort and let it just float on the top by itself and its near-gone now.
Since you're doing the soil approach are you poking the soil daily with a lil stick?
No, I'm working on a theory.
1, that the MTS will do most of that for me,
2, the "bad" bacteria that ends up killing fishes does so because it produced vast amounts of CO2. I know what the PH is on setup, so I'm going to watch the correlation between PH (co2) and lighting intensity. If the PH rises under more light, then more CO2 is being used. I have about 2.5-3 inches of gravel, and small amounts of soil are mixed into the bottom 1/3 of gravel.
Wouldn't the plants get enough nutes from that?

If not I'll start poking. I have cuttings of all the plants in other tanks so if it crashes I have backups to start over...

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^^ genius
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-05-2010, 09:59 AM
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MTS will do the same then "poking with stick"

For a proper co2 development chart you'd wanna test and record your pH AND the KH development...just saying

If you have used something like organic topsoil/ clay mix; that in combo with what your water has to offer on minerals will do for the plants.

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-05-2010, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel079 View Post
MTS will do the same then "poking with stick"

For a proper co2 development chart you'd wanna test and record your pH AND the KH development...just saying

If you have used something like organic topsoil/ clay mix; that in combo with what your water has to offer on minerals will do for the plants.
I used soil out of my yard, which is red southern soil- lots of clay and dirt in it.
No ferts in a long time, and rinse it a lot before putting it in. (Didn't sift it though, so was probably a bit of organic material left- might be a tiny drowned worm in there or two or roots or something, causing the ammonia spike.

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^^ genius
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-05-2010, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
2, the "bad" bacteria that ends up killing fishes does so because it produced vast amounts of CO2. I know what the PH is on setup, so I'm going to watch the correlation between PH (co2) and lighting intensity. If the PH rises under more light, then more CO2 is being used. I have about 2.5-3 inches of gravel, and small amounts of soil are mixed into the bottom 1/3 of gravel.
Wouldn't the plants get enough nutes from that?
A comment just to ensure we're on the same page. In a planted tank, the pH rises during daylight and drops during darkness every 24 hours. This occurs regardless of the light, or perhaps I should say, provided the light is adequate in intensity for the plants to photosynthesize. If everything is balanced, meaning light (intensity & duration) and nutrients including CO2, nitrogen and minerals, plants will photosynthesize and pH will rise accordingly; in my aquatria this rise is about .4 each day. If the light is increased beyond this balance, algae will appear. I am not aware of anaerobic bacteria having any direct impact on this. Anaerobic bacteria occur in the substrate when oxygen is not available, and this occurs in all healthy substrates but not to excess. Your Malaysian snails will keep this in check.

On your last point, as Angel said you may have sufficient from the soil and minerals in the water. The plant growth rate and appearance will tell you that; yellowing leaves will indicate nutrient deficiency assuming your light is adequate.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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