Protein Film on Water
Not really noticeable until feeding time but my planted tank has a protein layer that I normally would break up with a bubblier but because everyone says its better for minimal current I took off the air hose that let my underwater filter shoot bubbles into its out-feed. The gouramis also seem to prefer the bubbles being gone but that's hard to tell really. Will adding dwarf water lettuce on Monday get rid of the protein layer or should I get the bubbles pumping again? I feed bad for my gouramis taking a breath through that solid sheen and I feel like they would eat better if it was gone.
Do a search for a product called "Aquarium Surface Skimmer". Cost is about $20.00. A well supplied fish store should have them. When you set it up; allow a small amount of water to enter the intake and then fine tune the amount to less water if your filter starts to collect air. Look for tiny specks of debris entering the intake. Within an hour or two, you should see improvement.
Well for starters, I think you are way under filtered. Internal filters are no where near as effective as external filters - they just don't have the size for obvious reasons.
Also, it could be food related. What are you feeding? Low quality foods, like most flake food, are prone to fouling the water. Feeding a high quality pellet such as NLS will go a long way to keeping the water cleaner, at all levels.
Surface movement usually helps with this though you don't want to much agitation as it will cause to much gas exchange. Not sure how to achieve this with a internal filter. I get film on my 55 gallon tank and have the spraybar from my canister near the top to move the water around and it helps. Another think is removing it a every water change. Some will siphon it off. I generally get a paper towel and brush or "wipe" the top of the water pulling up the film.
I don't worry about protein surface scum. Some of my tanks never get it, others do periodically, i can even see it one week and not the next. If I see it at the water change, I invert the siphon and remove most of it.
Years ago I got surface skimmer attachments for my canisters and that was fine, except plant debris will clog it. Then i had fish getting pulled in and killed, so I removed them; couldn't be bothered with screens since the plants would clog these anyway.
As for the gourami, considering the swamps and ditches they naturally live in I can imagine they are fine.;-)
The filter is fine for the tank, I actually had to turn the flow rate down at first to keep the plants from uprooting and the whole point of a planted tank for me at least is to not need the filtration system. The food could be the issue, i've been working the past 3 days since I've had them and they dont really eat much in front of me so I let a small pinch float on the top of the water for them (I work 12 hr shifts) while I'm gone. The flake food is probably getting pretty old because its from the bottom 1-2inches of a large can that my 90gal has been eating. I'll pick up some fresh flakes tomarrow when I get off and I turned the filter flow rate back up and pointed it upwards so we'll see if its still there when I get off work
You're right that your filter is probably fine. Planted tanks only really need it for removing floating particles in the water provided you have enough fast growing plants. They also keep water moving to distrubute nutrients and keep an even temperature.
Have you tried feeding when the lights are off (but the room is well lit)?
In my 20 gallon I've noticed my Serpae Tetras will NOT go anywhere near the surface when the lights are on (might be too bright, dispite my floating plants). With the lights off though, they'll go up and eat off the surface. In my 125 gallon though, everyone's perfectly happy (and eager) to eat if the lights are on or off. Might just depend on the fish.
I got some new life spectrum all purpose formula and they've been eating a lot better, I crush the little pellets with a tweezers underneath the water and they grab all the little particles, also turned the flow up more to get alittle surface movement, the protein is still there but its broken up so we'll see what happens over the next few days
Since putting in more plants, particularly Cabomba, I think I'm seeing less surface particles. I'm wondering if Cabomba acts like a filter or if I have just passed a minimum number of plants. The Cabomba and other plants are in contact with the water surface.
After I got some water sprite and dwarf water lettuce I haven't even noticed any protein on the water at all, I would have to agree with you that the plants probably soak it up
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