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Related Articles: A practical approach to freshwater aquarium water chemistry by Neale Monks, pH, alkalinity, acidity, Treating Tap Water, Freshwater Maintenance, Frequent Partial Water Changes, Establishing Cycling, Freshwater Filtration, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for Beginners, In praise of hard water; How hard, alkaline water can be a blessing in disguise by Neale Monks, The Soft Water Aquarium: Risks and Benefits by Neale Monks

Related FAQs: FW H2O Quality 1, FW H2O Quality 2, FW H2O Quality 3, Aquarium Maintenance, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Water Hardness, Nitrogen Cycling, Establishing Cycling 1, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphates, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease,

There can be real troubles w/ such films from oils, sprays, dust... a loss of dissolved oxygen in particular. They should be "wicked" off w/ clean/white paper towels, dipped out w/ a pitcher

Re: Those nasty snails 10/15/11
Thank you for replying.
It's definitely not from cooking or any aerosols, since we always keep the door closed. But if it's not that then it has to be that the snails are carriers, which I really don't understand. I mean, it wasn't happening before with my "momma" snail, so I'm not sure how the babies got it. And it could be oil from the foods, but I only put in a minute pinch in, and if any falls to the bottom, the fish scavenge it up, or the snails eat it.
<... well then... the source is "anomalous" to you and I evidently.
Compounds that are generated from foods, wastes can express themselves as surface films in some circumstances... IME this is extremely rare though>
I also change the water every week. I have a big "ten gallon" bucket next to my tank. It's filled with water that I pitcher out and water that I had from a water change last week.
<Good practice/routine>
Here's the picture:
Those dark things under the surface are dead leaves from a plant, including that stick-thing on the surface. I think you may be able to see it, but this fungus stuff strings to the biggest thing in the water, the stick.
<Decomposition... I'd take this driftwood out, dry it completely... perhaps bleach it first. Read here:
and the article linked above>
It's actually even more gross in person when you can smell it and see it up close. I tried so many websites and I can't find what it is. Do you think you might know what it is?
<See above... decomposers, digesting this cellulose and more>
I also don't know if it's dangerous, because my snails used to float upside down to eat it off the surface. They aren't harmed, but it taught the baby fish to eat it, too. I think that's why most of them died.
<Can be toxic if too much too quickly is breaking down>
Anyway, I'll see if I can get most of the snails out without having rotten food in my water to make it worse.
Thanks, Jenny.
<Thank you for your follow-up. BobF>

Re: Those nasty snails 10/16/11
Thanks for replying.
Well, before when I had that "stick-thing" in the bucket, I found that it's actually a dead leaf-thing upon closer inspection. I have a plant that sits on the windowsill, and I guess a leaf fell off into the bucket below.
But either way, those other articles were helpful, since I was planning to get a big piece of driftwood when I set up the twenty gallon later on. :)
In fact, I might change it to thirty gallon, if I have enough space and the floor can support the weight.
<I see>
Well, I guess the big problem is the snails. I'll see if I can "treat" them in any way if they're carrying disease. I'll remove them for a few days in a separate bowl and see if the fungus returns.
Thanks for the articles, they're gonna be really helpful when I set up that new tank! :)
Have a good day,
<And you. BobF>

Strange/mystery film on water surface 10/6/11
Hi crew,
Sorry I've got another one for you - hope you don't mind. Gee you lot are good.
Every morning a 55 gallon tank that I've got set up at the school I work at seems to have some sort of film on the water. Obviously I'm worried about the consequences this has for gas exchange.
I've checked with the cleaners and brokered a compromise where a bleach-based spray (pump not aerosol) they insist on using is only used on the desks. This occurred over a week ago.
Every morning I "wick" the film off (as best I can) with cloth wipes, and afterwards the surface looks like the picture attached - shot from below with killifish saying hi. As can be seen, patches of the film remain after "wicking". The film completely covers the water surface again by the following morning, if not the end of the same day. At this point, there are lots of little bubbles associated with the film.
To check if the bleach-based spray was the culprit, I set up a shallow tray filled with water next to the tank 48 hours ago (soaking a slab of granite in there too). There is no sign of the film as of this afternoon in this tray - this would indicate that the spray is not causing the film?
So I'm stumped. Presumably something in the tank is causing this? It's a new tank that's been set up a month, fish (6x dwarf neon rainbowfish, 1x Golden Wonder Killifish) in for 1.5 weeks and behaving as expected.
Moderately planted with growing Vallisneria, Indian Fern, Java Fern and Java Moss. A few granite rocks, bogwood roots, two terracotta pots and a few river stones (all rinsed/boiled/washed pre-installation as appropriate). 28 deg C, pH 7.2, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 10 ppm, GH 4 deg.
External canister filter (620 L/hr) handles the water filtering.
Thanks a lot for your help again crew - champions.
<Hello Duncan. If this is what I think it is, it is not uncommon. It's similar to the "protein" that accumulates in protein skimmers in marine aquaria. I think it's a byproduct of biological processes in the tank, and in itself doesn't do any harm. Try increasing agitation of the water at the surface, e.g., with an airstone or a spray bar. If my hunch is correct, you'll see the stuff go away by itself. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Strange/mystery film on water surface, now BGA 10/6.5/11
Great stuff Neale,
I lifted the spray bar up from about an inch below the water line to level with the water line this morning, much bubbling ensued and the "protein" scum appeared to have cleared by the end of the day. Yay! Bit worried about CO2 drive-off and subsequent plant-growth issues (the floating Indian fern seems to be being beaten around a bit too), but I'm sure it'll be fine.
<Glad this worked. Yes, extra turbulence drives off CO2. But the flip side is that no turbulence encourages precisely the sort of slimy, stinky water you see in ponds. Getting the balance right is the tricky bit!>
I've got another one for you, sorry. I've observed 7 or 8 patches like the picture attached on the gravel substrate of my month-old aquarium. I believe this is blue-green cyanobacteria. Having read Bob's WWM article on the subject, will the extra aeration provided help deal with this? Given the rest of my tank parameters (outlined in previous email) plus my small portions of mini-pellets, wet-frozen blood worms and shelled, squished peas that the fish get fed (all eaten within 1-2 mins), I'm not sure what else to do? This began as a single colony on a Java moss frond 5 days ago, but seems to have spread since then.
Thanks so much team,
<The clue here is where the BGA started -- on the moss. Why? Because moss traps water and reduces current. BGA just LOVES still water conditions.
Almost always, you see it around moss clumps, on the leaves of Vallisneria at the top of the tank, on gravel against the glass, on the feathery roots of floating plants -- all places with low or no water flow. While I know many argue nitrate and phosphate are the major issues, I've got heavily stocked tanks with high nitrate levels and yet no BGA at all. But I also run those tanks at high water turnover rates, 6-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. My experience is that the more current, the less BGA; whether it physically can't get established or the higher oxygen levels are critical I cannot say. But there it is. Physically remove what's there now, rejig water circulation around the bottom of the tank, and then hope for the best. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Strange/mystery film on water surface 10/6.5/11

P.S. Sorry, forgot to mention I'll be doing a 20% water change and gravel vacuum tomorrow, my first for this 1 month-old tank. It'll 20% weekly after that.
P.P.S. Going back to an older issue: water pH 7.2-7.4, GH 4. Neale speculated that higher KH may account for the slightly basic pH, in spite of the soft GH. I Measured KH today with a new API liquid kit - KH is 3. So my water is officially soft. So what gives with the pH? Is this a bit weird (Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 10 ppm)? I'm not worried, just interested.
Right, I'm gone now,
<Well, one problem with pH is that it isn't only affected by carbonate hardness, though even a carbonate hardness of 3 degrees KH could result in a slightly alkaline pH like the one you see here, particularly if there's little pushing the pH downwards into the acidic range. So I wouldn't worry too much. Provided it's stable, pH 7.2-7.4 is a great range for a wide variety of fish, including soft water species, which are less bothered by pH than total (general + carbonate) hardness. Cheers, Neale.

Orange mass at the top of my tanks 8/12/11
I just had the majority of my fish die whilst on vacation, one Oranda left in an 8 gallon tank.
<... dismal... too small a volume. Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above>
So I performed an almost complete water change and treated it.
<... With?>
I woke up today to what appeared to be orangish moldesque growths on the top of my tank. Upon further inspection after I cleared the growths away, it was a collection of swimming hairlike half inch worms.
These worms are swimming all through out the tank. I have Googled it extensively and learned great about a variety of worms, your site being the best, but none matching my particular critter. How can I treat them and do they have any effect on the fish, or me for that matter?
<... No image? Likely insect larvae... feeding on your dead fishes>
Thank you for your help,
M. Bailey
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwaqinsectfaqs.htm
B. Fenner>

plastic top? 7/15/11
hello ,
I removed my male guppy from my pregnant 2 guppies.
a week or two later the male stated making this plastic stuff on the surface.
He looks fine but he is really rambunctious.
could it be disease or something?
my sisters Betta, Finn also had the same problem only a few days ago he died.
<... what? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppydisfaqs.htm

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