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Oil on the surface of my pico tank


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I heard that oil on the surface is bad.


For those pico owners, most of you guys don't have protein skimmer to skim this stuff, right?


I have few questions that I am interested in knowing:

1. What causes this oil-like stuff?

2. Why is it bad?

3. Is doing WC the only way to fix it?

4. If you answer 'no' to question #3, what is your other method?



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The oil on the surface is various waste products. Protein skimmers will help, but they are costly and for such a small tank not necessary. The mame III skimmer is beatiful but $$$$. Water changes help. Surface skimmers help like a bad fish reef skimmer box. You could also aim your powerhead (if you have one) up towards the water surface so it agitates the wster and helps break the oily stuff up.

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or probably I can agitate the surface using CPU fans.


i think i am just over thinking it. surely weekly WC will fix it.


it's like a reset button.

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Drop a flat paper towel on the surface a few times a week problem solved!


let it soaked ?


proven to be working?

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No take a dry paper towel and place it on the surface. Once it gets wet pull it off before it sinks. This will absorb the oil slick. I have done it many times in the past. Sometimes it take a few paper towels.

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have you tried using cup method?


cup method sounds logical too.


paper towel sounds logical too.

Yeah I have tried the cup but I use paper towels for everything :).
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Yeah I have tried the cup but I use paper towels for everything :).

This is really weird, might have to try it. i have a bad fish skimmer box and to me it fails if the water level is not perfect for it

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there is another way, you can take an air line and siphon the water during a water change by siphoning at the surface. that will suck up the film.


a heavily fed tank will have that film constantly, it's not too bad but i siphoned it each week when i had my pico.

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lol yeah back in the HOB days, that's what I had to do, especially soaking everything in Zoe and garlic.

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for my sps cube i swear by the paper towel, if i skip a day of paper toweling the film gets thick enough that flatworms chillax in it....ewwie.


but with frequent paper towel action the surface skim is handled. and i can stay filterless :)

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I was having an issue with the oily surface. I started running carbon plus GFO in a media bag in my HOB filter. I no longer have the sludge. It's worth a try! Just make sure you calculate the right amount to use for your system!

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