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Old 02-13-2006, 02:52 AM   #1
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Help - Oily Sheen on water possibly from oil-based paint!

Please help! My boyfriend and I painted my old 20-gallon aquarium stand with an oil-based paint (Sherwin Williams brand), and since the instructions on the paint can said it would dry "hard" in 24 hours (what a crock), we set up our 25-gallon tank in about that time. That was yesterday, and unfortunately the tank surprised us by still giving off quite a strong paint smell. I have been airing out the room but it is still cold and rainy here, so my ability to do that is limited.

Since we set up yesterday, there is an oily sheen on the surface of the water. I was wondering if this could possibly be fumes from the paint being absorbed by the water. If that is not possible, then does Flourite leave an oily sheen? Only other possibility was the dechlorinator, and/or the Seachem Flourish Excel fertilizer I added. I am very concerned because I did notice some tiny floating black specks in the water, which could be from the paint, but are more likely part of the Flourite.

Any ideas? if this is the paint I am seeing, what they heck do I do to salvage my brand new tank and gravel? My plants are waiting in a bucket! I was thinking of putting the tank stand outside for a while, since the tank is now pretty much empty, but meanwhile the plants will die.... Also, how do I clear all traces of the oil from my tank... maybe carbon? I can try the paper towel trick, but I am unsure if that will sufficiently remove noxious oils from the water to make it safe for fish. All the fish species I plan to keep are delicate (neons, rams, hatchets, cories, etc.).

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:19 AM   #2
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Welcome to AA!

First off, oil-based paints will dry "hard" in 24 hours, but the smell will not dissipate. Rooms generally need to be aired for a few days to completely get the room clear of smell. Do you have any outside area you can put the stand?

As for the surface of the water, it could be a number of things. I'd be more inclined to say the Flourite. Was it new out of the bag? How well did you rinse before you put it in your tank? The oil can and should be removed by adding in some new activated carbon. (make sure its new, not older carbon, which will not work)
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:26 PM   #3
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Welcome to AA, Kilgore!

Yup, oil-based paints can be a pain to work with, but they're the best choice for this particular application. They dry to the touch in a few hours, but complete curing may take a few days - especially if it's cold and rainy.

The oily sheen on the water is probably from some residue on the glass and substrate before you filled the tank. It can't be from the paint, unless you accidently dripped a bit inside the tank - which I'm absolutely sure you did not. The specks are almost certainly from the fluorite.

I'd do a big water change, add the plants, and run some carbon in the filter. I have stained and polyurethaned things in my apartment and the fumes never seemed to affect my tanks (covered with glass lids). I think the tank and substrate will be fine.

Turn up the house heat a bit and crack open a window in the room - the smell will dissipate faster. Also, use a fan to circulate the warm air behind the tank too.
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:29 PM   #4
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My tank has an oily type substance on the surface all the time. I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 02-13-2006, 01:00 PM   #5
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How much Flourish Excel did you use? I have noticed an oily film on the surface of the water after I dose this fertilizer. Since I have bettas, and this film may be irritating to their labyrinth organ, I dissolve the Excel in a cup of tank water first. Sometimes I still see a bit of sheen as I pour the cup in, but it doesn't seem to form a "film" on the surface.
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:31 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your excellent advice and compassionate responses. I posted the same question in another forum (which shall remain nameless) and got a few insults. I should clarify that in my original posting I said "That was yesterday, and unfortunately the tank surprised us by still giving off quite a strong paint smell." I meant tank stand, not the tank itself, glad you all understood that. There is certainly no paint in the tank, I just wasn't sure if the water could act as a "sink' for the oil paint gases, especially since we had an air pump going right next to the stand (now that was dumb, I'll admit).

I agree that the flourite is probably the source of the flecks, but I panicked when I was wiping the glass inside the tank with a brand new white algae sponge and it became very blackened with a sticky residue - just like paint or superglue when it gets on your hands and you try to wash it off. Maybe thats from the Flourish - which is probably the cause of the oil slick too.... I will put some in plain water and see what I get.

Anway, I will also use large amounts of carbon and wait a few more days for tank stand to dry. Any ideas on how long my plants will survive in a bucket? I have about $60-worth *sob*.
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Old 02-13-2006, 06:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
I posted the same question in another forum (which shall remain nameless) and got a few insults.
You will find that is the norm 'over there'.

I just wanted to share with you, that I have recently started using Flourish in my tiny 5 gallon and I am really noticing the oil slick lately. I think that if you follow the advice above you will find that in time everything will settle and sort itself out.

I think your plants will be fine for a few days in a bucket.
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Old 02-13-2006, 09:20 PM   #8
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Over there? LOL
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Old 02-13-2006, 11:57 PM   #9
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The plants will be fine so long as they're indoors, underwater and get a bit of light. My plants survived a 4-day complete blackout to kill a BGA outbreak.
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Old 02-14-2006, 01:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by An t-iasg
How much Flourish Excel did you use? I have noticed an oily film on the surface of the water after I dose this fertilizer. Since I have bettas, and this film may be irritating to their labyrinth organ, I dissolve the Excel in a cup of tank water first. Sometimes I still see a bit of sheen as I pour the cup in, but it doesn't seem to form a "film" on the surface.
Just so you know, Flourish Excel is not a fertalizer. It's a carbon substitute that's used of you don't use CO2 injection.
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