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Old 04-02-2010, 06:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default White Film in New Tank...

Hi all. This is about the dreaded white film, but under simplified conditions... so I hope we can find out what it is before I put anything in the tank.

This is a new tank, 17g, 50x50x26 (cm) 6mm new glass, new Resun CY-20 canister with ceramic, sponge, and activated charcoal, new Boyu 601 SP-601F with simple sponge, it's empty except for the water and equipment, and it's been running for about a week. It was assembled using 100% silicone (not specifically for aquarium use but not mold-resistant and supposedly without funky chemicals) and allowed to cure for 4 days.

The cheapo plastic frame and hood are the ones that came with a typical 10g tank. I removed them and used them on the 17g tank, but they were used for a while in the 10g; they were cleaned thoroughly and left to dry out in the open air for a few hours before being used in the new one, still they might have carried something over.

The hood has been slightly modified, it now has a regular 15W-13000K-18" fluorescent and two 15W-6700K CFs for a total of 45W.

Less than 24 hours after I put water into it and turned on the filters, it whitefilmed all over. The inside of the glass felt slippery, almost slimy, and the water got hazy. It ran like this for about 3 days. The filters did not remove the haziness from the water until I exchanged the included charcoal media in the canister, and the filter-sponge in the internal prefilter for DIY poly-fill mesh bags, a few days later.

This cleaned the water column within 24 hours and I was hoping it would solve the problem, but a day later it was back on the glass and silicone. The water was still clean so the poly-fill is removing suspended particles, but the silicone grows white film back... quickly.

The good news is that there are no fish, no plants, no substrate, nothing... so I assume it should be a bit easier to figure out and solve. Most of the "it could be your substrate/conditioners/ferts/fish/etc." options are moot.

The bad news is that my water quality tests are still in the mail so at the moment I have no data on the water GH/KH, pH, or anything else. Usually, tap water here in Guadalajara MX isn't very clean and I get the feeling it is quite hard. We'll see when the tests arrive.

The water is straight from tap, nothing added.

The photos aren't very good... but I hope they'll be clear enough. You can see that the film comes loose if I simply run my finger along the glass/silicone, it's very thin and wispy. What you can see in the photos is from a 24 hour period of growth, after thoroughly scraping the tank's inside and allowing the filters to remove all stuff from the water column.

Any ideas as to what it is, and how to stop it from growing back?
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Last edited by GedKealmen; 04-02-2010 at 09:28 AM..
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

This is totally just a guess here, but I would imagine it is some kind of fungus. I had fungus growing on some of my driftwood. It went away over time. It even came back on the piece of wood it was growing on and then went away again.
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

Thanks for your input Tigerbarb!

Perhaps it's a fungus... but don't fungi need organic material in order to feed themselves?

That's what's most interesting about this growth, it's been flourishing continuously in an empty tank. I'm wondering how long it can last if I add nothing. But even if it dies off because of nutrient shortage, isn't there the possibility of long-lasting spores hanging around, waiting for me to provide some food?

This weekend it grew. I cleaned the tank out on Friday and today (Monday) it's all over the place.

The filters still keep the water transparent though... it's mostly on the silicone and plastics, some on the glass. The bottom glass panel accumulates a tan-colored sort of sandy-looking sediment.

I'm not putting anything alive in that tank until I figure this out and clean it up!
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

That is very strange. I think you are right about fungi needing organic material so maybe it isn't a fungi. I really have no clue sorry dude. Was just a guess.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

IMO, the tap water had levels of nutrients like nitrate, phosphate plus algae spores. In newly set up tanks, the filter media doesn't have denitrifying bacteria to use up the nutrients from the tap water. Algae can grow without the lights on, just the room lighting or light coming from the window would be enough for algae. Maybe the filtration provides them with enough oxygen. Try doing partial water change, wiping the glass and equipments inside the tank.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

Crispino, that's the only explanation I can think of.

I looked around and read about people who bombed their whitefilmed aquariums with H202. Some of them report up to half of their plant and animal life dying off as a consequence, but they got rid of the prob and some inhabitants survived.

Since my tank is empty I can be a bit radical. I'm just figuring this out in case it comes back later, once the tank is occupied. So I tried the H2O2 (0.6 ml 3% H2O2 per liter in tank) and almost immediately the white film started breaking off. 24 hours later most was gone and there were only bits and pieces hanging on to the plastics.

I emptied the tank, put in new water, added another dose of H2O2, some methylene blue (1 drop/2 liters) and now I'm waiting to see whether the equipment stays clean or if this pest is more resistant than normal.
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

hey ged,

i had a white film on my glass and the film was also on the substrate too. first i cleaned the filter real good, i mean took everything apart and wiped everything down. then i did a partial water change and treated the tank with a antibacterial agent (i think melafix) and the film was gone on the glass and the substrate too within 24hrs. i was running carbonless when all this happened for me and now i use carbon and it seems to control the film from coming back. perhaps that's what you're experiencing.....a bacterial bloom.

regards,
michal
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Old 04-09-2010, 07:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

Try doing a water change, but leave out the dechlor, or add some un-deoderized generic bleach.
That'll kill the fungus. Add dechlor a few days later to kill the bleach.

If it's breaking out within 24 hours, I'd guess that the spora was already in the water column and it's just settling in.
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

I've been trying to figure out what that is for years.

It has something to do with water, and plastic/silicone/rubber.

I get the buildup on my hoses when I leave them in a water change trashcan too long. It bothers me a little but I've never had it cause a problem. I've only seen it happen in my buckets after a few days of water sitting in them (mixing or not). Never in a tank. (never let oen sit empty that long)

I've never been able to find a good answer as to what it actually is though. I don't think its fungus, I've gotten it many many times over years with different buckets, different tap waters, RODI water, many many variables and I can reproduce it 100%, in fact I'm sure if I go grab the hose in my current mixing trash can (mixed up 75% RO / 25% Tap 3 days ago) the filling hose in the trashcan will be slimy.
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Film in New Tank...

Here's the latest:

After I emptied, took apart, cleaned, reassembled, refilled, added another 40ml of H2O2 and the methylene blue... everything seemed fine. the H2O2 seemed to be killing it off before, so it should be dead by now.

24 hours later, the water was slightly cloudy. Looking up through the water, toward the lights, swirling clouds that looked like vapour could be seen in the water. The surface had little specks and flecks drifting around.

Obviously, I had a bit of a fit, but I didn't touch it. It could be dead stuff from the hoses (which I didn't clean because I don't have the hose brush).

Another 24 hours later it was the same... swirling cloudiness and speckled surface... but the silicone and plastics stayed clean. Rubbing my finger along them proved they're actually squeaky clean.

A couple of days more and the water is still slightly cloudy, the plastics are still clean, but the surface, well... see the photos. They are taken from below, looking upwards, toward the hood through the water. What you can see is floating on the surface.

Interesting, isn't it?
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