Thin brown flaky scum - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-25-2009, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thin brown flaky scum

I'm new to the salt water world and I have a 75g tank that is two months old. There seems to be a thin brown flaky scum floating on top of my water. What is it and how do I get rid of it? I do not have protein skimmer yet...would that help?

Fish in my tank:
- 1 x yellow tang
- 1 x four stripe damselefish
- 2 x clown fish
- 1 x blue jaw trigger
- 1 x foxface

and 2 x snails, 1 x CC starfish, and cleaner shrimp
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-30-2009, 01:38 AM
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Can you post any photos of it? Is it anywhere else in the tank other than the surface? Can you post water params for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and calcium?

How long was the tank set up before the fish went into it? How much live rock? How many fish went in at a time? How big are the fish?

For such a set up I would definitely be adding a skimmer asap. Are you aware that at some point the trigger is likely to eat/tear up the damsels and clownfish, also all the inverts.. snails, starfish, shrimp (those are natural food supply for a trigger... especially in that size of a tank?

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-30-2009, 09:37 AM
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Please post of a pic of that "Blue-Jaw Trigger". A friend of mine has had success with a "Blue-Throat Trigger" in a reef enviroment, as they are said to be the only reef safe trigger. IMO they are all from the same family, and I wouldn't put any trigger in with shrimp or corals...

Nothing good happens fast in an Aquarium

My 30 Gallon Long Marine Tank
My son's 20 gallon FW Community
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-30-2009, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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I have only had the tank for almost three months and there has only been fish in the tank for little over a month. When I purchased the fish, I only bought one at a time. I don't yet have a skimmer for my tank yet, do you have any recommendations?

The brown flaky scum has decreased with only minor spots since my last post. I did recently purchase a test kit and this is what my readings were:

- Nitrite 0
- Nitrate 5.0
- Ammonia 0.25-.050
- Ph 7.8

I did do some research and I know for the most part my water is wacked out! However, I am dealing with a Ick issue and my LFS recommended I not do a water change due to the Ick issue. I have had my fish on garlic food for almost a week.

Any suggestions would be great
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-31-2009, 04:39 PM
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It sounds as if you're suffering from new tank syndrome, which is normal. The lack of skimmer will surely make a difference in the build up of proteins in the water, which will contribute to the "flaky stuff" you mentioned and various forms of algae growth.

My big concern first of all would be in diagnosing the ich. There are other common illnesses that these fish can and do often suffer that resembles ich, yet is not ich... and in treating for ich you can cause more harm or just allow the other illness to progress long enough that it causes severe damage and/or death to the animals. There is a lot of information needed to properly diagnose illnesses in fish, especially marine fish... and you have provided very little of that thus far. Please bear with me as I ask the questions needed to properly diagnose your problem so we can seek an effective and safe treatment plan for you and your fish.

What is the water temp? What are the temp changes from day to night cycle in this tank?
What are your test results for calcium, kh, and Gh?
What is your spg/salinity?
How much live rock is in this tank?
What sizes are the fish?
What foods are you offering? How much and how often?
How often are you doing water changes? How long is the salt premixed into the clean water before it is being used for water changes?
What are the symptoms? (please be specific with each fish's symptoms and list species)
Do you have a quarantine tank?
Do you have a UV sterilizer running on this tank?
What type of filter and filter medias are you using? How many power heads?
What is your flow rate in this tank? (gph)

Sorry if this seems like a lot to ask, but all of this plays an important role not only in diagnosing but also in finding an appropriate treatment for you.

The other thing I would suggest is to watch this tank for a few days, in particular during the night cycle, after the lights have been turned off for at least 20 minutes. It is very possible you have an aggressor in the tank, which could further explain/support an outbreak of ich.

If you don't already have a quarantine tank set up, I would strongly suggest you do so now. If this turns out to be ich or one of the other illnesses/diseases that resembles ich, you are going to be in need of a quarantine tank to treat the problem with medications. The inverts would be the most practical to relocate to a quarantine system due to the number and types of fish you are working with., and it should be expected, if this is ich, those inverts will need to be out of the main system for approximately 4 - 5 weeks before it will be safe to move them back to the main tank.

Once we determine for sure what the problem is and try to identify the cause/source of the problem, then I can give you a list of medications that would help resolve your problem. Please be aware, there are often many times when something in the water chemistry is off that causes enough stress in the fish to cause an ich outbreak, or aggressive fish stressing other fish, which in turn causes an ich outbreak. Once those factors are resolved, the needs for medications can be much less or disappear all together. It should also be noted that if indeed one of those factors is the cause of the problem, unless that factor is resolved, the illness is only going to continue to return until it is.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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