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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I have noticed a surface film on the top of my aquarium- it's milky and not oily at all. It gives me the impression of a protein film, but I'm not very sure. From a certain angle, the film has a rainbow like hue. In some places, it bubbles, particularly near the filter output. When I disturb the surface it turns into clumps of white "blobs", but after siphoning most of it out, the film returns in a few days. My nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia are at 0 ppm, however, I don't have any fish in the tank. I don't spray anything near the tank, and the tank is far from the kitchen. The film was there before I put in the driftwood and a few anubias plants- so I am baffled about where this film is coming from or how to get rid of it... Help!!

Thanks in advance!
 

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These types of films can be caused by a lot of different things. Since you don't have any fish in the tank it's not being caused by fish food but some other organic buildup. I'm going to guess you don't have much surface agitation. Play with your filter output and try and get some gentle ripples forming on the surface of the water. If you can keep the surface of the water moving then these organics won't have a chance to form a film.
If you tell us a little more about your setup (age, size of tank, filter type, etc) you will get clearer answers.
Good luck and post your results.
 

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It is very likely a bacterial film. Pond snails eat that up. I don't know why so many people dislike pond snails. They clean up bacterial and algal films very efficiently.
 

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It is very likely a bacterial film. Pond snails eat that up. I don't know why so many people dislike pond snails. They clean up bacterial and algal films very efficiently.
This makes sooo much sense now. I was wondering why most of my tanks never have this film but the one tank without snails as it. A new piece of info to file away! Thanks its been a while since I've learned something new!
 

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I have MTS, ramshorn and pond snails. They all serve a purpose and none seem to be overbearing in appearance. My tank is heavily planted so perhaps they just hide out in the "bushes."

jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you everyone for your responses :) My tank is new. It's a standard 37 gallon tank (30"x12"x 22"), running on a fluval G3 canister filter. Right now, the surface film looks like there's white powder on the water... I'll try some surface agitation.
 

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I agree with HeyPK. It's probably a bacterial film, and snails that can crawl on the underside of the water surface will eat it right up. I have several pond snails, ramshorn snails, and brown mystery snails in my 55gal take care of biofilms and algal buildup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Tried increasing the surface agitation by adding a fluval maxi jet 400. I saw that the jet merely scattered the film to the calmer edges of the tank. None of the film got mixed into the water body. When I stopped the flow the film closed up the hole like nothing had happened. I believe it is time to try out the surface skimmer- thank you for the product suggestion!
 

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I've found that an airstone (at night when I can't see it) breaks it up into particles which then get consumed by the filter. By morning it's pristine again.

Ugly, clumsy but 100% effective.

Jim
 

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I have a tank in the biology lab where we kept some goldfish for a lab exercise. a surface film developed and I looked at with a microscope. It is indeed made up of bacteria---small rods. I needed to use the oil immersion lens to see them. I will try to get a picture tomorrow.
 

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Can food type or amount play a role in developing this? I never had it for years. Then I rescaped the tank and started feeding frozen food more often. If you followed one of my earlier threads, I thought this was related to my filter accidentally getting cleaned with tap water. But it's been more than a month and this film has persisted. Even with a bubbler, the film is still visible (though no where near as thick).
 

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I have it too. The dusting on the water. I'll try some of the suggestions and see what happens. I just wish I had my tank setup over the summer when I was in micro class...I would have like to looked at this stuff under the scope.
 
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