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Oily film on water surface.

si walker

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Joined
30 Mar 2020
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217
Location
uk
Hi all.
For quite some time now I have had an oily surface on the surface of my water. It is persistent. I have tried several things to minimise such as surface movement, paper towel, large water change's etc. It's not linked to my hands either. In about a day or two it's back.
Got any ideas. Let me know.
Thanks!
 

GHNelson

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UKAPS Team
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14 Dec 2008
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Hemel Hempstead
It’s just a build up or protein’s and bacteria mate, it’s harmless and shrimp like eating it.
Buy yourself a surface skimmer if you want rid of it.

Or try have more surface movement!
 

Hanuman

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4 Jan 2019
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1,323
Location
Thailand
Or try have more surface movement!
I find there is a limit to how much surface movement will take care of biofilm. You can literally blast the surface and still have some biofilm, this is more so true on less well maintained tanks or new setups. Also too much water movement increases evaporation rate, so depending your ambiant temperature it could be quite a lot. In my 90cm tank I usually top up every week ~10L of evaporated water.

I would get a Skim-1, they are a bargain at £8.
I find the Skim 2 to be excellent. I have tried many brands and even this Chinese brand overtakes Eheim Skim 350 by a large margin.
 

erwin123

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4 Mar 2021
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Singapore


For my small desktop tank, a skimmer like the Eheim 350 would take up too large a footprint. I discovered that a usb pump with the intake near the water surface actually acts as a pretty good skimmer. I cut out a 2cmx1cm piece of 100micron filter pad and place it over the intake which I replace every 2 weeks. The 100 micron pad does some filtration and reduces flow and thus the noise/bubbles. The youtube video shows the pump without the 100micron filter pad applied. With the filter pad, there are no bubbles and its silent.

I agree that there will be increased evaporation but since I come from a hot country, the evaporation helps with the tank temperatures (i.e. similar to what you would get pointing a fan at the tank I guess).
 

alnitak

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9 Feb 2022
Messages
72
Location
France - Essonne
Hello, I currenltly use the aquario neo premium acrylic outlet pipe, It has a venturi (adjustable) surface skimmer, that gets rid of the surface biofilm. The great advantage for this skimmer connected to the filter, is that it is situated on the outlet, so if it sucks air, the air doesn't build into the canister filter. It just expells it into the tank (same for floating particles).
Hope this helps :)
 

Andy Pierce

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27 Nov 2020
Messages
270
Location
Cambridge, UK
Surface movement won't sort this problem for you, but an airstone will (certainly did for me anyway: Aquarium biofilm prevention - Fireplace aquarium). There's something about breaking bubbles that destroys biofilm. This means I also predict that you do not in fact already have an airstone - can you confirm/refute that this is the case?
 

ian_m

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25 Jan 2012
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Eastleigh
When I got an oily film when I started my planted tank I absorbed it up by floating a piece of kitchen towel on the water when necessary or even better was put an air stone (bubble wall) after CO2 had been turned off.
 

seedoubleyou

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29 Mar 2022
Messages
389
Location
Windsor
Hello, I currenltly use the aquario neo premium acrylic outlet pipe, It has a venturi (adjustable) surface skimmer, that gets rid of the surface biofilm. The great advantage for this skimmer connected to the filter, is that it is situated on the outlet, so if it sucks air, the air doesn't build into the canister filter. It just expells it into the tank (same for floating particles).
Hope this helps :)
The downside being you’re skimming everything into the tank and not the filter.
 

alnitak

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Joined
9 Feb 2022
Messages
72
Location
France - Essonne
Yes, into the tank, but no problem at all in fact. The aim is to break the biofilm (as air bubbles do), so it is broken by the skimmer, and disappear very quickly. For other floating particles, they go back into the tank, and then can be caught by the filter. :)
 

si walker

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Thread starter
Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
Surface movement won't sort this problem for you, but an airstone will (certainly did for me anyway: Aquarium biofilm prevention - Fireplace aquarium). There's something about breaking bubbles that destroys biofilm. This means I also predict that you do not in fact already have an airstone - can you confirm/refute that this is the case?
Hi.
Correct, I do not have an airstone.
I must say that I like a bit of the old school bubbling. Guess it reminds me of a LFS visit!
I have a usb air pump and will set it on timer to see if it's going to make any difference.
Thank you for that idea!
 

si walker

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Thread starter
Joined
30 Mar 2020
Messages
217
Location
uk
Hello, I currenltly use the aquario neo premium acrylic outlet pipe, It has a venturi (adjustable) surface skimmer, that gets rid of the surface biofilm. The great advantage for this skimmer connected to the filter, is that it is situated on the outlet, so if it sucks air, the air doesn't build into the canister filter. It just expells it into the tank (same for floating particles).
Hope this helps :)
This also looks like a great option.
Although my space for pipe work etc is really tricky ( it's a long story).
So apparently you can just get the skimmer attachment instead of the whole inlet outlet set? I could try to rig this up to the existing Oase 100 outlet?
It does seem that the Aquario products are pretty rare in the UK.

In the back of my mind I am also thinking this isn't rocket science, I may try to make something? (who am i kidding?)

Thank you though!
 

alnitak

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Joined
9 Feb 2022
Messages
72
Location
France - Essonne
Hello, you can adapt it to oase filter, in fact i bought the full set, inlet and outlet. Acrylic, very easy to set up, to adjust, and to clean.
This is mine in the previous tank. It is now installed on the large tank, good job, just have to chase floating plants that are fond of canyonning and which accumulate around and inside the skimmer... 😊


20220124_194251.jpg
 

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Joined
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Dorset
I haven’t found a skimmer that actually works long term without sucking in Shrimps. I was a little dubious but I added a home made diffuser yesterday and it does seem to have got rid of the surface film. I need to quieten the air pump now, or at least put it on a timer so it’s only on overnight.
 

jaypeecee

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21 Jan 2015
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Location
Bracknell
Airstone worked a treat.!
Hi @si walker

I don't have a problem seeing why a skimmer removes the surface film because oil droplets, etc. get trapped on a sponge filter. But what happens to the surface film when using an airstone? Am I overlooking the obvious? I'm just curious.

JPC
 

Andy Pierce

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27 Nov 2020
Messages
270
Location
Cambridge, UK
I don't have a problem seeing why a skimmer removes the surface film because oil droplets, etc. get trapped on a sponge filter. But what happens to the surface film when using an airstone? Am I overlooking the obvious? I'm just curious.
I don't think why the airstone works is known, but the effectiveness doesn't seem in dispute. One theory I've read is that when the bubbles break they fling the biofilm in every which direction, some of which winds up getting flung outside of the tank. I suspect that by keeping the surface film mechanically disrupted the biofilm material either settles out onto the surface or is trapped in the filter (if you have one). in my non-filtered shrimp-only tank the airstone keeps the surface clear and I do seem to notice some amount of "flingage" around the bubbles but couldn't say whether that's how a meaningful amount of surface film is disposed of.

To the point about skimmers and shrimp safety, I have seen shrimp get swirled around in the airstone bubbles without apparent ill effect. I wouldn't say they enjoy it since they don't seem to actively seek out free bubble rides. This is different from the way the shrimp do seem to seek out sitting in a water flow over a surface: River run - Fireplace aquarium (see the 'shrimp on a shelf' video). Weird but they do this all the time. I think there is some kind of "swim upstream" instinct in these guys.
 
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