Surface Scum- What is it?

Surface Scum- What is it?

  • Author StarGirl
  • Creation date
Have you ever wondered what that white filmy looking substance is at the surface of your aquarium? It's biofilm that builds up from proteins and/or organic solids. If there is little surface agitation you may have encountered this in your tank.

In most cases this comes from foods you feed your fish. Frozen bloodworms are famous for this. You may also get some after moving things around and stirring up the substrate. Neither of my filter outflows keep it away in my tanks, no matter how I position them.

Why does it affect your tank and water? Well first It does not allow oxygen to enter the water as well. It also blocks light to your plants and it looks plain yucky. I don't want to dip my hands in that to maintain my tank.

Here are a few ways to rid you tank of biofilm.

Up your filter flow at the surface of you tank. Point the outflow more towards the surface to mix it up more.

Use a paper towel to soak it up. To do this lay a paper towel gently on the surface, pick it up slowly and repeat with a new towel until it is all gone.

Use a cup. Lower a plastic aquarium only or disposable cup bottom first into the tank. Tip the open top so that only a small stream of water goes into the cup. You will be able to see the the film going into the cup. Make sure to go really slow. Repeat until all film is removed.

The best for last. Install a air stone. This will dissipate any film and keep it away for good. The bubbles burst and break up the film on the surface for your filter to take care of. It also oxygenates the water more so its a double win. People who use sponge filters already know this gem. You could also install a sponge filter instead of a plain air stone to use as a back up for an emergency QT tank or just an emergency!

The more you know! ;) Thanks, Stargirl.
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