Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Beginner Freshwater Aquarium (
-   -   White film on top of water (

Peanut72 08-23-2011 07:52 PM

White film on top of water
I cant figure out whats going on here. A couple of days ago i noticed a filmy residue forming on top of the water. after a day or so it turned to almost a skin type thing and and clumps up when you run your finger through it. I clipped out some of the not so healty looking plants and did a partial water change.thinking that had something to do with it. It seemed to go away for about a day, but its back again today. I tested the water and nitrates are at 10. Ammonia i want to say was at 0, but i forget at the moment. Wasnt anything alarming for sure. PH still at 7.0. Havent had any fish die so thats not the problem, but i fear it wont be long before i start to lose them.

I find it strange. While i was deplpoyed my wife never did anything with the tank but feed the fish every few days and top it off with water when needed. no water changes, no filter changes, no gravel vacs or any type of maintenance for 6 almost 7 months. It was in great shape with the exception of a very overgrown bunch of pennywort. Now im home and doing water changes, adding food for the plants and feeding regular and the water is all jacked up.

But back to the topic, any idea what the white film on the top of the water could be and what might be causing it?


ladayen 08-23-2011 11:12 PM

Have you added any rocks or wood/driftwood recently?

Romad 08-24-2011 04:40 AM

Do you have surface agitation? The same thing happened to me when I set up my 75 gallon with a canister filter. I didn't have the spray/input bar pointing to the surface of the water and got that film (which is harmless).

I just pointed the bar so that the water flow breaks the surface and I never had it come back again.

Byron 08-24-2011 12:10 PM

It sounds like a normal protein film. It occurs in some tanks and not in others. As Romad said, water movement can help keep it minimal, or with a canister filter you can get a surface skimmer attachment. It is not harmful provided you deal with it weekly during the water change; use the siphon to skim it off. If it thickens too much, it will slow the gas exchange at the surface.

As I said, it occurs in some tanks and not others. It is in my experience related to organics. The more fish the more likely this will occur. In my 7 tanks I have some that never get it, and in a couple it does occur usually minimally.


Quantum 08-24-2011 12:14 PM


Peanut72 08-24-2011 02:40 PM

I havent added anything at all since the tank was first set up a year ago, except for fish and i havent added any of them in the last 8 months. I try to get as much of it off as possible when i do the water changes, but its hard to get a lot of it. The snails seem to like it, they are always at the top munching on it where it kind of clumps up in a few places. I dont really have any real surface agitation to speak of. My canister filter empties near the top, but doesnt really break the surface any. Maybe i can point it up a tad to help out. Sounds like its nothing to be really concerned about, so i wont really worry about it much, just try to clean it up as best as i can. It doesnt look as bad today as it did yesterday though. Is this something that will eventually go away or will i have to deal with it from here out?

Thanks for the input


Quantum 08-24-2011 03:01 PM

I erased my post above because I had inadvertently repeated what Byron had said about the surface skimmer attachment (we must have been typing at the same time).

I'll mention that I was having the same problem with the film and bought the attachment. The one I have is made by Fluval and is attached to a 105. It just attaches to the intake and allows the filter to remove the film from the surface so you don't have to do it manually.

Peanut72 08-24-2011 03:33 PM

Thanks, I will look into getting a skimmer. I have a Fluval 405 running right now, it does a fantastic job.

Not sure how i missed it, but i did to a search and didnt turn up anything usefull. now i am seeing all kinds of topics in the "Similar Threads" section at the end of this thread. Most likely would have answered all of my questions.

Thanks again guys

Byron 08-24-2011 04:18 PM

The skimmer will handle this, but be cautious because small fish will get pulled into it and the force is sufficient that they cannot get out. I lost quite a few dwarf rasbora and even had an Aspidoras jammed in mine, so I disconnected them. You can build a screen covering, but then leaf debris gets trapped and clogs. I have floating plants, I consider them essential in forest fish aquaria, and bits of leaf or duckweed will easily clog a screen.

To answer your other question if it will go away--it may or may not. As I speculated, organics cause this, and organic load in an aquarium can vary from season to season according to extra light (longer days in summer), warmth (summer again) plus varying plant and fish loads/species.

In my former 70g setup it was bad. I siphoned all of it off every week, and i did get all of it, the surface was crystal clear after the weekly water change. But well before the following week, if you looked in the top of the tank from above you could not see through the scum, it was that thick, like a green opaque cover. That tank also had cyanobacteria a lot, organics-related too, hence my assumption. Eventually it cleared, though I pulled the tank down and moved everything around anyway. I now see it very seldom, and usually only in one or two tanks and very, very sparsely then.

Peanut72 09-06-2011 06:11 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Heres a pic of what it looked like at its worst. It doesnt look quite as bad now, clears up for the most part with a pwc.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:52 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome