My tank has all cannister filters and as little surface turbulance as possible, virtually none, to keep the CO2 that it will have in it soon from dissolving out. My question is, how do y'all that similarly keep the surface movement at a minimum, keep the surface from getting scummy? Is there anything I can do to skim the surface without hurting my CO2 levels? Right now there is nothing in the tank, but air bubbles pop very slowly if at all and just hang under the surface in clumps, and there are blobs of sort of opaque white stuff on there as well. Is this to be expected? The tank is setup with plant lighting and has been for a few days now, but has no plants or fish in it yet, is this scummyness on my surface the beginnings of algal growth that will clear up once I get some plants and an algae squad established or do I need to find another solution?
Apparently, this problem has surfaced (pun intended) since people have started getting more serious about planted tanks. The film is understood to be insoluble organics that come from decaying material in the tanks: plants, dead fish, extra fish food, etc. Normally people don't see this scum because they've got a lot of surface movement, but in planted tanks with little surface movement the scum can build up. From what I've read, pH is also a factor, with lower pH leading to more scum buildup. Since the pH of planted tanks with CO2 is lower, they more often have the scum problem.
Some people get rid of it by trying to scoop as much off the surface as possible during water changes and some people even float some paper towels to soak it up. I've also read a lot of really positive reviews for this device:
It will allow the intakes of your canister filters to skim the scum off of the surface.
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