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FAQs on Copper Testing, Kits, Assays

Related Articles: Copper Use in Marine Systems, Medications

Related FAQs: Copper FAQs 1, Copper FAQs 2, Copper FAQs 3, Copper FAQs 4, & FAQs on Copper: Science, Rationale/UseFree Copper/Cupric Ion Compounds (e.g. SeaCure), Chelated Coppers (e.g. Copper Power, ), Making Your Own/DIY Copper Solutions, Utilization/Duration, Prophylactic Use, Toxic Situations/Troubleshooting, Copper Product FAQs, Copper Test FAQs, Copper Removal FAQs, Copper Removal 2, & Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Marine Tanks, Parasitic Reef Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease,

Keep your eyes on your livestock... regardless of what your "kits are telling you".

Coppersafe, use, testing     4/28/14
Hello, fine job you guys and gals are doing for us out here with problems.
Long time service guy here that's run into a problem.
<Hey Jim>
I have "Coppersafe" that is several years old. Do you think this product can weaken with age?
<Mmm, well, years back, this product used to be very stable. The best way to "tell" is to test a drop or two in a given volume of water and test>
Reason for the question it that I've seem to have contacted "something" that resembles Ick. In several jobs, "different tanks" I see what looks like Ick but at the high dosage's of "Coppersafe" 2.0 it seems I can't get rid of the Ick.
<Might be Brooklynellosis, something else not susceptible to copper treatment>
I've always used Coppersafe because I've always read it's not as hard on fish as "Cupramine". I've always read that this product is hard on Butterfly's and Angles. I have these fish in most jobs.
<I've found both products to be about the same in terms of Cu++ toxicity; both better than copper sulfate (citrated or no) solutions>
Interesting note is that I see the Ick on Vlamingi's and Unicorn tangs and not much else.
<As you know, Surgeonfishes are more likely to contract than most other groups/families>
Are there parasites that can withstand "Coppersafe"?
<Oh yes... several>
On another subject, I've used crystal form "Start Right" as my dechlorinator. I've found it's not being made any longer.
<Ahh, that's a shame... one of my fave Jungle products>
I've thought of switching to "Nova Aqua Plus" so I purchase this by the gallon. It mentions it removes toxic metals. Will using this product during water changes have any effect on running copper in an aquarium?
<Yes; will/does remove. Again, can/do test per the above test for your CopperSafe>
Thanks for your reply, Jim Jesko
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Invisible Cupramine... testing for copper, product f'  01/13/09 Hey Crew, <Hi Quincy!> I have a 30 gallon quarantine tank with three saltwater fish that I just started treating with Cupramine. All carbon has been removed from the filter. All that remains in the tank are a few bowls/plates for cover, a heater, a powerhead, and a Penguin filter with a simple sponge and BioWheel (Just to be clear- no sand, no rock in the tank). It is my estimation that there is no material inside the tank that can/will remove the Cupramine. <Doesn't sound like it to me either.> As per the Cupramine instructions, I added 1 ml per 10.5 gallons (so 3 ml.s total). I waited two days and added another 3 ml.s. After waiting 30 minutes, I tested the copper levels with the API copper kit and the result was 0 ppm. To make sure my eyes weren't bad, I had my girlfriend read the result as well-still 0 ppm. So, I added another 3 ml.s to see if I could get a reading. Again, I waited 30 minutes and tested- still 0 ppm!? By now, the copper level should be well above the recommended 0.5 ppm. Just to make sure I wont kill my fish, I have not added any more Cupramine without getting some professional wisdom. First off, does the API copper test kit test Cupramine? accurately? Secondly, could the Penguin BioWheel be taking out the Cupramine? And thirdly, if the API copper kit does test Cupramine, should I continue to add more Cupramine until I get a reading of 0.5 ppm? FYI: I do not have access to buy another test kit around my area. I went on Seachem's website and it says that Cupramine does not expire, so this should not be the issue. <Your Penguin filter will not remove the carbon. It's either your test kit or Cupramine or user error. First I would, test the Cupramine itself. You should definitely get a copper reading with that. If not, you'll need to get another test kit. I personally like the test kits made by Salifert. Test the Cupramine with the NEW test kit to confirm it's a good test kit, then test your water. If the new test kit shows negative for copper then you have a bad bottle of Cupramine.> Thanks in advance, Quincy <Good Luck - BrianG>

Marine disease questions... Protozoans, copper... reading    2/5/08 Crew, <Jason> First off, I thoroughly enjoy your website and am grateful for all of the information you have there. <A pleasure to assist your efforts, understanding> I have some questions regarding Marine Ich and Velvet. First off, I'm fairly new to the marine fish keeping hobby (about 8 months or so) after keeping freshwater fish for many years. I only wish that I had read more about proper quarantine procedures and executed more patience while introducing fish to my tanks. <Amen> I have a 110 gallon tanks with a handful of fish (yellow tang, clowns, blue tang, regal tang, damsels). For months, I've been trying to fight off what I believed to be ich in the tank. I tried using many of the reef safe products which, combined with a UV sterilizer, seemed to control the ich to just a few spots. <Mmmm> However, once I stopped the treatment after the prescribed time, the some of the fish would be infected again within a few days. Finally, I broke down and set up an old 30 gallon tank and moved the fish to it (nothing but a few pieces of PVC, air stone, and filter in tank). After researching possible treatments, it seemed that copper was the most recommended, so I treated the water with Copper Safe by Mardel at the prescribed dosage and bought a copper test kit. Unfortunately, within 5 days or so, the fish were much more infected than before, exhibiting rapid breathing and more spots. In the display tank, one fish liked to hang in a current while infected (I hear this is a sign of Velvet). <Mmmm, not necessarily... most anything that interferes with respiration...> This was quite a surprise since I thought copper would be the answer to my problems, instead, everything seems worse. <Much to state here... and recorded on WWM... in spades> My copper test kit was hard to read, but I thought it showed an effective level. <...> After some more reading, I found that Copper Safe is Chelated copper and works at 1.5 (I think) ppm. <As registered on... what type of kits?> Being that my test kit only goes to 1.0, I assume it is not a chelated copper test kit and is hence useless to me. <Bingo!> Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any other test kits locally. <Mail order, etailers... the screen/tool you're using currently...> So, in the meantime, I've been replacing 2-4 gallons of water daily with new saltwater with CopperSafe added. My thought was that if my levels were off, this would help. <What?> Although no fish have died, I'm not sure that they are improving. <... subclinical dosing/concentration of copper serves no purpose... other than stressing the fishes...> Unless I can find another test kit, I was considering removing the water and switching to an ionic copper or formalin treatment. <...> Can you mix copper with any other treatment? Also, I have read that chelated copper may not be as effective as ionic, is that true? Again, I'm not sure if this is Ich, velvet, or both. Any advice would be appreciated. <Reading... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm and the linked files above and below. I might go with a slightly reduced spg and quinine cpd. at this juncture... Bob Fenner> Re: Ich, Hypo, Copper, Moray, Formalin, Steven Pro request - 1/24/08 Hi Bob, <Simon> I have purchased the second Salifert test and it shows exactly the same colours as the first, so I am confident that this test is reliable, just extremely difficult to read and not very accurate. <I concur> It is certainly not accurate enough for use with Cupramine as when I add an extra dose to the test the colour difference is negligible at best. <Yes> I will keep a close eye on the over the next week and if I think they are ok I'll stretch to Wednesday before I put them in. This is because I removed the media from the canisters on Tuesday, and I feel more confident that the copper level would have been maintained without the media there, so 8 days from Tuesday is Wednesday. <Okay... do know though that even "simple" reaction with components of the water do precipitate the copper...> I think I will have to go for a more accurate, and therefore expensive I suppose, method of testing this next time as you suggest. <Good> Thank you for your advice, I did enjoy the worms on that coral! Simon, England <Cheers, BobF>

Copper Range in mg/l   8/26/07 Dear Mr. Fenner I just got a Clown Trigger and now it's in my 20G QT. after about 3 days I saw some white spots emerging on the fins. <Mmm, any other indicative symptoms?> I think the clown trigger has Ich. I got the chelated copper from the LFS and a copper test kits to measure the concentration. The problem is that this test kit measures copper concentration in water in mg/l (I think its milligrams per liter, please correct me if I am wrong) <This is correct and it is equivalent to ppm, parts per million...> and the range is from 0 - 2.5mg/l. therefore what is the range I should maintain to get rid of Ich. <... 0.15 ppm on the low side, 0.30 or so on the high> This test kit says it measures Cu+2. What is Cu+2? <Cupric ion... the valence state thereof... the active ingredient... what you want to measure> Is it chelated copper? <Mmm, no... is "free" copper... but evidently is what this kit actually does measure...> I have tested my copper kit and it seems to be working nicely. The colors change according to the concentration when I add the chelated copper. Anyway kindly let me know the range I have to maintain to get rid of the Ich. Are there any other tips to get rid of Ich successfully? <All posted my friend...> Thanks in advance for your advice, Best regards, Rachel <Please peruse here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm scroll down to the royal blue tray. Bob Fenner>

Copper Testing... WWM needs EricR's sitemap/how to use badly... Or short lessons in Boolean logic search design and you!?   7/15/07 Good evening Bob & Crew, Yes, it's me again, re: Eight Millionth Ich related Question The good news is: only two fish to go, and any problems so far seem to be QT related. Display tank with corals and fish is fine (knock, knock) At least my headaches are "before" they reach the main tank! I have searched this one high and low. WWM articles, FAQ's etc.. It is either not there or I just missed it and I'm completely stumped and stalled in my progress (or lack thereof) I currently have a Longnose Butterfly in a treatment tank for possible ich. I say "possible" because I mistakenly QT'd this fish in a small tank that had reef sand and LR (a careless mistake I corrected with your help, thank you, and one that I will not make again). I have since learned that fish can pick up "spotty looking bits" on fins from either the LR or substrate. This blunder is now referred to as "Canadian Ich". (sure, blame the whole Country why don't I) There are no spots on body, gills, mouth so far after four weeks. The fish is now eating Mysis in a bare bottomed tank with a reg. hang on filter, heater, small power head and one PVC hide out. Nothing else. (whew!) SG is down to 1.018 and temp is up to 81deg. I have just added the second dose of Cupramine exactly as prescribed on label. <With testing... must be done at least once, twice daily...> One dose, wait 48 hrs and second dose. Measured exactly according to instructions for tank volume. Problem is, even after second dose I can not get any reading for copper content from a brand new Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Copper Test Kit. <... change kits> According to directions, I should be getting a reading of .5ppm after second dose but test "appears" to read zero. <Is this a "chelated" test kit?> I did not add any more Cupramine. I am confident in my measuring & dosing. It should be .5 but am unable to confirm. <Again... try another kit...> I went to Cupramine section of SeaChem web site to confirm dosing etc. but am unable to determine problem. Is a standard hang on filter capable of removing all copper? I did not think or read so. It did mention remove "chemical filtration"? I did not believe a std. out of the box hang on filter was "chemical filtration" - am I incorrect?) <Carbon...> Does Cupramine require a special copper test kit? <... chelated...> I did not read this anywhere unless I missed this somehow. I did read about special testing so as not to pick up false positives for ammonia, but that is not the issue here. Fish was in QT for three weeks and since has been in treatment tank for 1 week. Fish seems to behave normally so far, but I don't want him to live here forever. I was hoping to treat (successfully) for two weeks, observe for another two, and move to 72gal display, but I'm not (fish is not) making progress, and I will not move to display until 99.9% sure. Side note: the Purple Tang I've been waiting 5 weeks for is now in my LFS and I am out of tanks. Orig. QT now running fallow with Blood Shrimp and two Sea stars left in it (can't / won't move to display - "carrier" fear) and second tank has Butterfly in it for who knows how much longer? Off to buy a third QT tank for Purple Tang that I have to pick up $$$. Good Grief! (at least I don't have to buy substrate and LR!? PVC is cheaper and cycles faster!) I will let you know when I schedule my QT Tank Garage Sale. (Thank goodness going Saltwater was my wife's idea, or I would be in quarantine too by now!) Any help would be greatly appreciated by this fish and me. Thank you for your time and attention. Mike from Canada, eh. <BobF out in HI>

Re: Copper Testing   7/16/07 Dear Bob & Crew, Well Bob, you are still the man. Not that there was any doubt of course. You were right on both counts. Carbon (hidden in sponge insert!) AND wrong Copper Test Kit. WHY, WHY can't my LFS tell me these things when they are selling them to me? (That is a rhetorical question, no need to rant here... at either of us) I even had to argue with them. When the "fish guy" told me "I don't think so", I told him (forgive me) "Well, Robert Fenner thinks so! He e-mailed me last night". I guess he had heard of you too. He exchanged my goods for me and I was on my way. Thank you. Now, hopefully, my Butterfly will be on his way too. Purple Tang is now in a bare bottom QT (lesson learned), and Butterfly is in bare bottom Treatment Tank with no carbon and a proper test kit from Sea Chem (lesson learned). What a wonderful service you and your crew are providing. Long Live WWM! (and my fish... who thank you again) Mike from Canada, eh. <Welcome! BobF>

Copper Worries 7/13/07 Hi. I have been treating with copper since yesterday and have read everything I could find in your site about it. The one thing I don't see is right after I treat the water with CopperSafe I see a big jump in ammonia?? <... the Copper kills nitrifying bacteria... this is stated several times... but very likely here the chelating agent is an alkanoamine... It's the source (likely a false positive) of the ammonia here>> Im taking the water out of my other tank that has no ammonia or nitrite whatsoever. My worry is will the ammonia kill my fish? I lost a lot of fish in my early days from ammonia then anything else. Im changing out the treated water twice a day but the ammonia jumps to 1.00 ppm as soon as I added the copper to fresh established water. This is more of a worry then a question as I feel Im following everything to the letter I've learned from your site. Please don't ask me to read as I get lost in all different things in there and haven't found one that addresses these concerns. Im sure others have these concerns also. Thanks So Much Rick <The reading is spurious. B>

Copper, other colorimetric assays - 04/30/07 Gentlemen (RF in particular) <Yes> Thank you for your help and advice on Copper and test kits.  It's become something of a quest / mild obsession with me to explain why the manufacturers can't see what WE all see - namely that squinting into vials next to paper cards almost always yields the universal result "Gee, it's KINDA like THAT color, but the hue is completely different and maybe if I discount THAT ... then maybe it looks more like THIS color...." I'm wondering if actual photographs of the identical vial with real-world colors wouldn't be better. <Mmm... actually... a plug here for colorimeters, spectrophotometers... and calibration (of course) of the same... Machines that can/do measure transmittance, and its reciprocal (absorption) accurately...> I'm wondering if chemists have the ability to make the color differentiation between, say 2.0 and 2.5 much greater than they currently are. <For some types of tests... yes... mostly this is a matter of net cost...> I'm wondering if some chemist COULD make the colors "night & day" different & foolproof  *IF* we didn't mind paying $50 per kit <Bingo!> Has anyone every tried improving the test readings like this on their own? <Likely so... please see Hach, LaMotte's websites... re this gear and the tools mentioned above> Regards Abell <Thank you, BobF>

Ick & Seachem <test kits for copper>, YTBTang comp.   4/14/07 Gentlemen: <Some> To make a long story short: <Okay> We have two blue tangs with Ick.   We placed them in a 10 gallon marine quarantine tank <Mmm... I wouldn't do this... Want to mention for posterity, browsers... just too stressful for some species (Surgeons in this case) to crowd conspecifics together in a small volume... Now, that being stated, placing many of such species crowded together in a much larger setting isn't as stressful...> and began treatment with a product called "Copper Power"  (1.25% copper sulfate) but the ick remained. <Insufficiently administered... Need to use WITH testing... a chelated copper test kit: Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cryptchelcucures.htm>   We decided that the problem is that they wanted 2.5 ppm and our test kits range (Aquarium Pharm) on the high end went from 2.0 to 4.0  -- no way to be accurate. <Ahh!>   So we bought Seachem Cupramine and the Seachem copper test kit (figuring that Seachem would accurately test Seachem) and moved them to ANOTHER 10 gallon quarantine tank. <Mmm, just one specimen of Paracanthurus per please> After putting the proper amount of Cupramine in, the Seachem test registered ZERO, so we tried what Seachem called the Reference test and it read zero as well.    We returned the kit and got another one that had a different lot number from the same dealer with EXACTLY the same results.  The dealer tried to use the test in his store and got zero as well.   He gave us a third test kit and it was dead too. <Bunk!>     I drove across town to another dealer and bought ANOTHER Seachem test kit.  Yet another different lot # and ZERO readings (even for it's own reference test). <I'd be writing the fine folks at SeaChem re this experience...> A third dealer told me he discontinued the Seachem test kits because of the same problems and the Seachem Company's seeming to just shrug their shoulders. Has anyone else experienced this same problem? <I have not, but do believe that considering your trials that this may be a bunch of either "old" reagent kits, or perhaps a bad "batch"... Again, please do contact the company re... They are "real" and very interested in the utility of their products, I assure you. Bob Fenner> - Treating with Copper - My fish all have ick. I have a yellow tang, percula clown, golden headed sleeper goby, and a coral beauty angel in a 40 gallon tank. I noticed a very small amount of ick, one spot on the angel and goby, and several spots on the clown and tang on Sunday. On Monday, I ran to the store to get treatment in hopes to save all of the fish. I had not bought a test kit because I was told it was unnecessary, and did not realize the level was far too low until the ick returned much worse on Friday. I did run out first thing and buy a test kit when I noticed the return. Now, after the initial dose and the repeated dose after 12 hours, the level is at .15. Unfortunately, my angel did not make it due to my complete incompetence. My clown does not appear to have any spots and my tang has a decent amount, but appears to be alright for now. My major concern now is my goby. I cannot see any spots, but he is a white color to begin with, so I imagine I wouldn't see any spots even if he were covered. He is twitching and scratching and appears generally uncomfortable, so my guess is that he has some, however, on his head above his lips is some bright redness, like bleeding or bruising of sort. Is that from scratching or could it be a secondary infection?  <Could be either or both.>  I would like to do as much as possible to help them, especially since this all could have been prevented if I had just read the directions properly. Also, what would be the signs of toxicity if my goby were to experience it?  <At 0.15 ppm, I think you're at a safe level.>  I read on the page that gobies can tolerate copper, but levels should remain low. Is .15 low enough?  <Yes.>  Lower than that will not kill the ick. Please help me! <I didn't see any mention of a quarantine tank so I'm going to assume you treated your main tank with copper; this is going to cause you some problems. For starters, make certain you have the right copper test for the copper you are using. Most copper tests test for copper ion concentration, which will not work correctly on a chelated copper solution. You may in fact have a higher level of copper than the test indicates if you are using the wrong test. I suggest you get your ammonia and nitrite tests ready and be prepared to deal with the accumulation of nitrogenous wastes. Copper does not discriminate and will kill your biological filter and any life on live rock you may have. As a result, your water quality will take a nose dive so you'll need to have ready several days of water changes and begin executing about 25% every other day, perhaps more. After each water change, you'll need to test for copper again to make sure you keep the copper at a therapeutic level. As for the red markings on the goby, you shouldn't mix medications so you'll need to work on one problem at a time. Finish the two week course with the copper and then if the goby is still looking rough, you should really move it to a quarantine tank and treat it there. Keep in mind that when your copper treatment is done that you'll need to run carbon or a PolyFilter to remove any free copper from your tank and re-establish the biological filter, so you're not out of the woods yet. Be patient and keep running the tests.> Sincerely, Toby <Cheers, J -- > 

Copper Trouble? I have a 120 gallon aquarium, that I treated with copper about 5 months (quite possibly longer) ago.  When I was done treating the tank, I put activated carbon in the filters to remove the copper.  Since then I have broken down that particular unit to set up a 120 of another dimension. I used the same sand and some of the same water to set up the new unit. The tank has been cycling for about two weeks.  Originally with the first week of just sand, we tested the water and found the cycle had finished, so slowly we have been adding established rock to that system in order to gain more biological filtration for the tank.  Today we noticed that two anemones are disintegrated and the serpent starfish that hitchhiked on a rock is losing its limbs and its body looks as though it is splitting at the seams, however, the starfish still is able to move and does move fairly well.  I tested the water perimeters and found the specific gravity to be 1.022, the pH is 8.2, ammonia is .25ppm, nitrites are .25 ppm, and the nitrates are 30 ppm.  There has been no change in perimeters over the last 5 days, the critters have only been in there for 3 days.  Could the copper still be in the system from before? <Yep- quite possible...However, in addition to possible problems from the copper, it sounds like the ammonia and nitrite are contributing to the problems you're having with the animals! I usually add all of the live rock and sand at one time so the tank only cycles once...> Basically I used CopperSafe for the recommended dosing for the all fish, 120 gallon system.  I followed the directions exactly and have not had a death in that tank prior to breaking it down.  Also, if the copper was  still in the sand, would I need to break this new tank back down and buy all new sand?  Or, what could I do to remove the copper? <First- a bit of advice (based on my own bungled work with copper over the years!): Always test when using copper. The medicine that you used (Coppersafe) is good stuff...But you still need to test to verify that you are maintaining the proper therapeutic dosage of copper. As far as removing copper, activated carbon may help a bit- but you're better off utilizing a more "dedicated" filtration media, such as Poly Filter or Cuprisorb. Poly Filter actually turns blue to let you know that it's absorbing copper- believe me- it works! Copper can continue to leach over time...chances are, it will be in very small quantities, but it could cause problems down the line...> Do you think it is even a problem with the copper? <As above- I think that it's a combination> I do not have a test kit to check my water because the fish store told me that their test does not check all types of copper and my medication type probably would not show up on the test. Your experience and reply would be greatly appreciated, Thank you Denise Ward <Denise- just keep up regular water changes, aggressive maintenance, and other common sense procedures, and your tank should be okay...Do get a test kit to monitor copper levels...Yes, there are different kits that measure different types of copper- but it is vitally important to maintain correct copper levels in your tank while treating fishes...Please don't treat fishes by "the seat of your pants", as they say...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Copper and scaleless fish? (06/19/03) <Hi! Ananda here again...> Things have rapidly moved forward, my main concern was with whether or not the treated water would be fine for my purposes.  I got the info not to use copper, which is a bit unsettling because Bob mentions how well in works on puffers in his TCMA book.   <Puffers and scaleless fish can easily be harmed by an overdose of copper. With the CORRECT dosage, copper is okay -- but it is VERY easy to overdose! Further, copper tests may not always be accurate, and many hobbyists are not willing to test for copper twice a day, every day, for as long as they use it. So the usual recommendation about copper and scaleless fish is to avoid it completely -- there are other methods that usually work.> I have since switched immediately to Formalin to treat what is an external parasite.  Thanks for your help! Ryan A. <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Follow up on Patrick Myer's choice in copper, test kits for same  3/9/07 Mr. Fenner, <Pat>   You asked me to reply with the copper test kits I found most useful in combating my c. irritans problem.  To be honest, I found the Red Sea kit the best for three reasons.  First, the color grading on the test kit varies enough between the different levels and it is specific enough to allow for more accurate treatment.  Second, it comes with its own copper dose, so you know that the test kit is made to test the non chelated copper you are using.  And, third, it comes with non chelated copper which in my estimation is the best. <Ahh!>   I tried using SeaCure copper and a Salifert test kit.  What an expensive and deadly combination those two were in my hands.  I could detect no copper at all with the Salifert test kit.  Of course that did not stop the copper from being toxic and killing fish!!  I then purchased the test kit from the same manufacturer (Aquarium Systems if memory serves correctly).  I was able to detect a definite copper level, which I already knew I had because the fish told me so.  The Aquarium Systems test kit was hard to use and the color changes between copper levels is a joke - seriously the difference between toxic level and therapeutic level was not too much different unless you are very keen at differentiating your shades of light blue.  I overdosed a Powder Blue Tang with that one.  I loved that fish too.  I went from that debacle to the Red Sea and had success.  Oh, I also tried the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit, but it is so NON-specific that it is essentially worthless.   <We are in agreement>   The best success I had was running a specific gravity of 1.008-1.009 (I have a refractometer) and dosing the copper in a glass tank with 3" PVC pipes for cover and a Whisper HOB filter with bio-balls from a mature tank.   On a positive note, I have another Powder Blue Tang in a 20 gal long QT right now and he is doing superb.  I have had him for three weeks and he had "a spot" not really convinced that it was anything other that a figment of my imagination and paranoia at the time, but he got a weeks dose of copper and not a blemish since and that' been three weeks ago. I plan on keeping him in there for a few more weeks to fatten him up and get him ready for my reef tank that has a very robust eating, but very peaceful Hippo Tang.  I'll have to see how it goes.  I've had great experiences in the past with that combo even though some others have not.  I really think it comes down to the size of the tank and the aquascaping. <Yes> Thanks so much for the advice.  I think I will give the Marine Center a shot.  They sure get a lot of great stuff. Sincerely, Patrick Myer <Again, thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Copper Treatment...Tangs And Other Sensitive Fish  6/21/06 I'm about to start treating my purple tang, firefish goby, royal Gramma, and neon goby with copper to rid my tank of ich once and for all.  The cleaner shrimp and garlic helped, but the ich would always reemerge after a few days. I have been reading for WWM for the last 2 hours about copper treatment to make sure I do it right.  From my understanding measuring the amount of copper in the water is essential, especially when dealing with tangs and other scale-less fish/es. <Yes> I also read that many people seem to have trouble reading levels of chelated copper and that test kits are specific to either chelated or ionic copper.  I have a bottle of CopperSafe (chelated) and a bottle of SeaCure (ionic).  Which would you recommend I use?  I also have a Salifert copper test kit on the way in the mail. <To measure the concentration of Copper Safe, a chelated or total copper test kit is required.  All readings should be based on the total copper or chelated copper results and not the free copper results. The Salifert Test Kit measures dissolved or weakly chelated copper.  Strongly chelated copper will measure very low or not at all with the Salifert Kit.  I believe the Copper Safe is strongly chelated.  Bob, do you agree?> <<Is, do. RMF>> Do you know which (if either) type of these two copper medications would the Salifert test measure more accurately? <The Sea Cure would be my choice.> Can I rely on this test kit? <Yes, a very accurate kit.> After reading several letters, it seems like many people treat the bare hospital tank as directed on the bottle but then get strange results when measuring with a test kit. <I'm guessing the proper kit isn't being used for the type copper they are using.> Also, I'm still confused as to the amount (ppm) and duration of treatment for tangs and other sensitive fish.     0.15-0.25 ppm of ionic or 1.5-2.0 ppm of chelated seems the standard, tangs and firefish too?? <I would monitor the copper level very close and maintain at 1.5ppm with these types of fish.> Twenty-one consecutive days is what most people seem to recommend.  Then again I also read that Bob stated he would not treat a tang for this long and drop treatment to 14 days instead. <Bob, is this dated info, or can tangs be treated at 1.5ppm for 21 days safely?> <<Better to limit to minimum dose, exposure time. RMF>> Thank you in advance <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Re: Crypto ... carefully deciphering copper/cupric levels, testing... carefully   6/22/06 Thanks Jason for your quick reply! <Dave, James answered your query.>   I failed to mention this morning that when I saw the problem had gotten much worse overnight, I sped things up and added another half dose of Cupramine to the system.  The next half dose will bring me up to the .5 mg/L.  Yes, I am watching this with a FasTest kit, but it's terribly hard to differentiate the colors. <Yes, the Salifert is much better in this regard.> I'm keeping a very close eye on my dosing levels as a secondary precaution and am getting another test kit today to help me make sure I have it right.   When I stopped at the house today over lunch, I found that the spots had dropped from the Butterfly and the Hippo.  My lion is still moderately affected, but it's not bad.   <Should improve.> I noticed that my Red Coris seemed very lethargic and was laying half in, half out of the substrate.  Since he was not visibly affected by the Ich, I filled a QT quickly with 10 gallons of new seawater I mixed this morning (yes, yikes), PH and temperature adjusted and moved him into it to get him out of the copper.  Do you feel that the Red Coris Wrasse has a lower than usual tolerance for copper? <My opinion, yes.> Maybe I just panicked.  My lion seems a little more sluggish than usual.  Again, maybe it's just that I am unusually vigilant when I am dealing with a "coppered" system. I've heard that lions have a low copper tolerance. Do you agree with this, <Do not believe so, lionfish are pretty tough customers.  Problem is, if you are having trouble determining the copper level with the test kit, then we are not sure what your level actually is.> and do you feel that the copper levels we are dealing with are worth exposing them to the potentially stressful QT environment?   <QT should be a little less stressful than a coppered tank.> Most specifically I am trying to confirm that the Cupramine levels we are dealing with (.5 to .6 mg/L) are safe for: Red Coris Wrasse Volitans Lionfish Sailfin Tang Pearlscale Butterfly Blue Hippo Tang Snowflake Eel <Should be if that is the true copper level.> I think I'll go with your advice and continue the main tank's treatment for a full 3-4 weeks. <Yes, the length of treatment is critical to ensure all parasites have been eradicated.> Given the progress I've made today perhaps I can gain a foothold on the lifecycle by maintaining copper and adopting a watch and wait stance. <Yes, that is all you can do right now.  In the future, do QT new arrivals for 30 days to be sure the animal is disease free.> Thanks again, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Dave   Seachem Copper Test/CopperSafe ... Velvet?  2/2/06 Hi and thank you for the wealth of information on WWM. I am having a  problem with what I believe is marine velvet based on what I've read. My  fish which are still small (all 3.5" or less) are: Niger Trigger, Copperband  butterfly (who also has developed a small red blotch on his body, leading  me to believe he has some kind of internal bacteria problem), Yellow Tang, Coral  Beauty, Pearl-scaled angel, & 3 blue devil damsels.   Yesterday they were all moved into a 30 gallon bare bottom  hospital tank with plastic "rock" hideaways using water from the main tank. I  have a Whisper 30-60 with a floss filter in it (no carbon) with a UV  sterilizer <Shouldn't be used while treating with copper> & an air stone for oxygen. I've raised the  temp. to 82 and am in the process of lowering salinity with each water  change.   I could take time to explain how I believe the disease was  introduced into the tank and attempt to justify my current dilemma, but it's a  moot point now. Lessons have been learned and my sweet husband has learned not  to *surprise* me "gift fish" and I've learned to *find* water to put in a  quarantine tank no matter what time of night it is (long story). <Not pleasant surprises>   Anyway... yesterday after having moved the fish into the hospital  tank, I dosed with Coppersafe according to the manufacturer's instructions. It  is supposed to bring the chelated copper level to 1.5-2.0 (cupric ion level -   .2-.3). A few hours after dosing the tank, I tested for copper using Seachem's   copper test and it read 0.6. The test's color chart only registers up to 1.0.   The test says that when testing for chelated copper, you're supposed to let the   test mixture sit for 25 min. instead of using the 2nd reagent and comparing   colors right away. I did that. <Good>   I'm confused as to which reading I'm supposed to find when I test  for copper. Since I dosed per their instructions and got a reading of only .6, I   thought, "Oh blankety-blank... I'm either supposed to be seeing a result of 1.5,   in which case I'm not even close and wouldn't be able to tell anyway since the chart doesn't go above 1.0, or else I'm in bigger trouble and have overshot the  result of .2-.3. Either way, I'm not where I'm supposed to be with this   Coppersafe." <I would contact SeaChem (see the info. on the Net) re this quandary... Am not familiar with their colorimetric chart/s (is there a reverse side? Or what they intend. Your values sound okay for what you're looking for...>   Well... I'm also having the typical hospital tank problem of rising   ammonia because of the bare tank, and have already done a couple of large water   changes (adding more Coppersafe to the added water as instructed) and am   prepared to do this daily because of the lack of a biological filter. <Yes>   The fish are acting worse today than yesterday... breathing faster  and acting more stressed, though they are all still eating. <Feed very sparingly> This made me think  I'd OD'ed on the Coppersafe and made matters worse, but on the other hand if I   didn't dose enough Coppersafe, then it could just be the progression of the   velvet causing them to act more agitated... I really don't know.   So this evening, I had a friend of mine talk to the guy at the local  LFS, who touted ParaGuard as his med. of choice. He bought a bottle for me. I've   not used it yet. I understand that there are differences in the  medications (copper vs. aldehyde/malachite green). Being scared to death that I  had overdosed Coppersafe, I put PolyFilter in the Whisper filter and thought I  would do a large water change tomorrow and start over using the ParaGuard.   My questions are: If I dosed Coppersafe correctly, what  reading should I have found using Seachem's copper test, (1.5-2.0 or .2-.3)? <The first range... if this is what the chart actually indicates> Also, which medication is more appropriate for velvet and a possible bacteria? <... posted on WWM... there are a few options (none very safe, all involving "fooling with" water quality...)> I  did not do a freshwater dip prior to placing them in the hospital tank. I am  afraid to try it now because they are so stressed out from the disease/bacteria  & the move. <You are wise here> Would doing a dip be beneficial at this time or should  I leave them be? <Too late for this to be efficacious... need yet another system to move to... otherwise... the current one/s are infested/infected>   I thank you so much for your time and attention. Ann  B. White <... so much to say/relate, and no means here... If you could be sure this is Amyloodinium I would proscribe other means of treatment... but there is a great chance it is "something else" for which such treatment would be false. Perhaps your LFS has a copy of Noga's "Fish Disease; Diagnosis and Treatment"... I would read through the introductory sections and on to the common parasitic diseases of marines if you could get your hands on a copy. Bob Fenner>

Copper Treatment Hi there to everyone, <Chris> Perhaps you guys could help me with some clarification on Cupramine copper treatment... I have access to a Hanna <Proper nouns are capitalized> copper colorimeter which measures free copper between 0 and 5 mg/L.  I wanted to use it to test the copper (Cupramine) levels in my hospital tank as i treat a clownfish which has come down with ich. I thought that since Cupramine was a complexed copper treatment, with a recommended does of 0.5mg/L, the actual free copper level would be less at maybe 0.3 or so. <Yes, will/should be>   I emailed SeaChem the following message "I intend to use Cupramine to treat and outbreak of ich in my marine tank.   I've read the instructions carefully and intend to treat in a hospital tank. I have access to an ion specific copper test meter which i intend to use to improve accuracy.  This meter only tests for free copper not complex coppers like Cupramine. Your recommendation is for a target level of 0.5 mg/L. Does this translate to a value of free copper (maybe 0.3 mg/l for example) that i can test for that would accurately represent a total dissolved level of 0.5 mg/L?" their response was "Cupramine is an ionic copper, which is what I believe you mean by free.  So the reading should be 0.5 mg/L. " So now I'm confused, i thought total dissolved copper = ionic copper (free) + complexed copper. <You are correct here, the message is not "clear"... there are ways (mainly acidification) that one can render a sample of complexed copper all ionic... and then test for cupric ion alone> So with Cupramine you had a total dissolved copper of 0.5 mg/L not that the free copper element was 0.5 mg/L ...surely a free copper level of 0.5mg/L would be toxic? <Yes> Where am i going wrong? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Chris <Mmm, the most direct, easiest suggestion is to either resort to a chelated copper assay (not use the Hanna product) or acidify the sample (make/use some standards to test with distilled water to make fresh/knowns...) and "work backward" from this set. Bob Fenner>

Seachem test kit, Unclear Instructions, Equipment - Go to the Man Himself  12/1/05 Hi, I just started administering copper to my 30g quarantine tank for a velvet outbreak. It contains 3 blue reef Chromis, 1 firefish, 1 filament wrasse, and 1 Lubbock wrasse. I used Cupramine and followed the directions exactly. I also have a Seachem test kit, but it doesn't seem to be displaying any results, even with the reference solution. Its a bare bottom, with pvc for structure, no carbon, and a couple sponge filters.  The test kit is brand new, but what is confusing me is it states to use the sample pipette for water to be tested, and fill to the base of the bulb, then repeat. This doesn't seem to be working, but there is a mark halfway down the pipette and I'm wondering if this is the fill indicator mark? The instructions do not give an exact volume for the test water (ex. in milliliters) and I was wondering if you know an exact volume for the amount of water to be tested? or if you know somewhere I can find out? Seachem's website has no information.  <Brandon, I have forwarded a copy of your query to Sea Chem. As soon as I get a reply I will get back to you. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Brandon 

Seachem test kit, Unclear Instructions - Go to the Man Himself, The Man Responds  12/1/05 <Brandon, I pasted my reply from Sea Chem below. Hope this helps you out. James (Salty Dog)> From: Seachem Tech Support <support@seachem.com> Subject: Re: Copper Test Kit Date: Thu 12/01/05 11:44 AM Dear James, Please reply to him that the reference is there to assure him that the kit is working properly. Since the reference is not giving the expected results than that means the reagents have gone bad. There are many things that can effect reagents, such as extreme heat or cold. Since the kit is not working properly he can contact us with his address and we will mail him replacement reagents. The directions are correct that you fill the sample pipette to the base of the bulb twice. Also recommend not to add any more than the directed amount of Cupramine until he get the replacement reagents. Best Regards, Seachem Tech Support Seachem Laboratories, Inc. www.seachem.com 888-SEACHEM

How much copper  9/21/05 Hey, <Hey also> I recently bought some copper treatment to fight marine ich as well as a testing kit.  There are directions as to how much of the chemical to add but how do I tell if that was really enough if neither the bottle of the chemical nor the test kit say how much is safe or effective? The type used was chelated copper sulfate. Thanks, <Dosage rate for most fish is 0.15 to 0.20.  This does not stay in solution very long since it precipitates into copper carbonate, so daily testing is a must for an effective dose.  James (Salty Dog)> <<... this measure is for "free cupric ion"... chelates will be apparently higher... RMF>> -Adam-

Marine Roulette Anyone? We all know how awesome the WWM crew is - and so do they - that's why we all come back here! <They told me there was free beer! You mean there isn't? I'm outta here!> Enough said. What's odd is that so many of us have learned what we know of the marine hobby right here and by reading the works of WWM authors - yet so many of us insist on learning the hard way.... <Heeeeee! Human nature... my fave species> For example, I have an overstocked 75 gal mixed reef and have never quarantined so much as one thing... The system has been up and running for over a year and I've watched the dreaded white spot signs of Ich teeter-totter between the fish's favor and the parasites favor. Had never had a serious enough outbreak to warrant pulling all of the fish out for treatment or letting the tank go fallow.... 'til now.... <Doh!> Hadn't seen any signs of Ich for close to six-months, so in my infinite wisdom what do I do? Add a "King-O-Ich" Hippo Tang. Well the pendulum quickly favored the Ich and I end up with a major breakout. Fortunately I had a 55 gal. sitting around looking thirsty so I tear the rockwork apart and catch the fish.... Yellow Tang, Hippo Tang, Royal Gramma, Two Ocellaris Clowns, Copperband Butterfly, and a Flame Hawkfish. They're being treated with Cupramine and for all those who've had trouble measuring this, the Seachem kit seems to keep a good handle on the copper levels.  <They do have good products>  Did I keep a sponge in the 75gal display to use in case of an treatment emergency such as this? Of course not.... <Doh times two~!> So I'm changing significant amounts of water every other day to keep ammonia as low as possible. Livestock seem to be progressively doing better - but I'm concerned about the Copperband. He hasn't hardly eaten any provided foods since we got him. He seemed to pick off the rocks rather than touch anything we fed... Problem is - their obviously aren't any rocks in the hospital tank - and I've yet to see him eat a thing. <Try a small "bivalve"... clam, cockle... opened up... these are almost irresistible to Chelmons... even stressed out ones in tiny volumes and copper> It's been 8 days since he was admitted to the hospital. Before this Ich outbreak began, we had already been planning on a move into a 180, which is about another month out. We had purchased 40 lbs of additional live rock, which is curing in Rubbermaids. My question is this. ( I know - Finally) The new live rock in quarantine will be cured about the time that the copper treatment comes to an end, and hopefully the hospital tank has completely cycled. Yet I will still be weeks from moving into the 180 - so the fish will remain in the hospital tank until the move. The only thing in the hospital is PVC material (nothing Calcareous). <Natch... as it would absorb the copper...> For the betterment of the environment, can I add cycled live rock to the cycled hospital once the copper is removed with water changes, PolyFilter, and carbon? <Yes> Or should I not add anything copper sensitive since the tank has been exposed to copper. <A small amount of precipitated copper is not a big deal> I had read somewhere (don't know the validity) that the tank seals will act like a sponge and leach copper even after it is testing zero and believed removed.  <Very, very little... in most cases/scenarios> Obviously, the best thing would be to not get into this situation, but.... In light of the fact I am, what would be the best way to proceed? And yes, lesson learned... From now on apply the generous sharings of knowledge from those in the know.... Thanks, Brad. <Better to move the Copperband elsewhere after two weeks treatment... with larger, more stable setting... try Mysids (live if you can get them)... soaked in Selcon or equivalent... Do pH adjusted freshwater dip the fishes enroute... Bob Fenner> 

Marine Roulette Anyone? avec James' Response We all know how awesome the WWM crew is - and so do they - that's why we all come back here! Enough said. What's odd is that so many of us have learned what we know of the marine hobby right here and by reading the works of WWM authors - yet so many of us insist on learning the hard way.... For example, I have an overstocked 75 gal mixed reef and have never quarantined so much as one thing.  The system has been up and running for over a year and I've watched the dreaded white spot signs of Ich teeter-totter between the fish's favor and the parasites favor. Had never had a serious enough outbreak to warrant pulling all of the fish out for treatment or letting the tank go fallow 'til now.  Hadn't seen any signs of Ich for close to six-months, so in my infinite wisdom what do I do? Add a "King-O-Ich" Hippo Tang. Well the pendulum quickly favored the Ich and I end up with a major breakout. Fortunately I had a 55gal sitting around looking thirsty so I tear the rockwork apart and catch the fish.... Yellow Tang, Hippo Tang, Royal Gramma, Two Ocellaris Clowns, Copperband Butterfly, and a Flame Hawkfish.  They're being treated with Cupramine and for all those who've had trouble measuring this, the Seachem kit seems to keep a good handle on the copper levels. Did I keep a sponge in the 75gal display to use in case of an treatment emergency such as this? Of course not. So I'm changing significant amounts of water every other day to keep ammonia as low as possible.  Livestock seem to be progressively doing better - but I'm concerned about the Copperband. He hasn't hardly eaten any provided foods since we got him. He seemed to pick off the rocks rather than touch anything we fed. Problem is - there obviously aren't any rocks in the hospital tank - and I've yet to see him eat a thing. It's been 8 days since he was admitted to the hospital.  Before this Ich outbreak began, we had already been planning on a move into a 180, which is about another month out. We had purchased 40 lbs of additional live rock, which is curing in Rubbermaids. My question is this. ( I know - Finally) The new live rock in quarantine will be cured about the time that the copper treatment comes to an end, and hopefully the hospital tank has completely cycled. Yet I will still be weeks from moving into the 180 - so the fish will remain in the hospital tank until the move. The only thing in the hospital is PVC material (nothing Calcareous).  For the betterment of the environment, can I add cycled live rock to the cycled hospital once the copper is removed with water changes, PolyFilter, and carbon? Or should I not add anything copper sensitive since the tank has been exposed to copper.  I had read somewhere (don't know the validity) that the tank seals will act like a sponge and leach copper even after it is testing zero and believed removed. Obviously, the best thing would be to not get into this situation, but.... In light of the fact I am, what would be the best way to proceed? And yes, lesson learned... From now on apply the generous sharings of knowledge from those in the know.... <I don't think you would have a problem putting the live rock in the QT once you filter out the copper. I would try one thing for your Copperband. Get some Cyclop-eeze in the pump bottle. I'm thinking that will trigger him into eating. It's great stuff. Good for corals....my Percs love it and really colored up nice. James (Salty Dog)>

Copper stuff from Bob Goeman's Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 Hi Bob Thanks for copying me and "dated" might be a good way to put my thoughts on the use of chelated copper.  However, what bothers me the most about its use is that without a test kit specifically made to test for the brand" chelated copper being used, the average hobbyist is at peril, or more precisely, his wet pets that are being treated are at peril. <Yes... trouble enough getting folks to test for period> I know the ionic or slightly complexed stuff is more of an effort in most treatment environments, but if done correctly, there are side benefits, such as it is much easier to remove from solution and will not introduce undesirable chelating agents such as EDTA. <Agreed> However, if done correctly, chelated copper can be a better choice.  Its just the initial dosing in relation to water quantity and accurate testing that concerns me. <We are in agreement on this concern as well> Will update my thoughts on the subject when and where necessary in future letters to readers. Cheers Bob Goeman's <Thank you my friend. Hope to see you about soon. Bob F> Which Is Worse, the Sickness or the Cure? (7/25/04) Hi <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.>   I've just had my first traumatic fish Loss. <So sorry to hear. I know exactly how you feel.> I bought a pair of exquisite wrasses and put them in my 20 gal QT tank with a couple small pc.s of live rock and some Halimeda and other macros attached to it. I had the QT set up for around 4 weeks before the fish arrived. It has a small penguin BioWheel/media filter and a SeaClone hang on skimmer. <A rather fancy set-up. A bare tank with PVC fittings to hide in, a heater, and a sponge or power filter is usually quite sufficient.> Everything was good for 2 weeks until Thursday, when I noticed a bunch of small white spots all over him. he was behaving perfectly normal , no scratching or twitching. <Still, it certainly sounds like Ich.> Knowing what it probably was I bought a Copper test (fast test ) and a bottle of SeaCure. Both by Aquarium systems. I removed both fish and performed an 8 minute freshwater dip (with Meth blue) . I tested the tank to make sure copper was at 0, it was and added the dosage. Both fish were totally traumatized but were out and about Friday PM and both ate.   To get back to the Fastest, it is a very very difficult to use kit. <All kits are if you ask me. I have a hard time distinguishing one subtle shade's color difference.> First off, there are 2 line on the test vial. And no where on the instructions does it say which one to use. I later called A-systems and was told it was the top one. I was also told to remove the carbon from the tank, it doesn't say that in the directions either. The test colors are all a shade of brown, and according to my test I finally got the dosage to where it was supposed to be. the odd thing was I had to add nearly twice the dosage on the bottle (over 2 days) to get it to the min 15ppm. I woke this morning and saw no fish visible but that wasn't uncommon with these fish because they like to hide in the pvc pipe I gave them for security. I left for work and at 9 my wife calls me and says we have 2 dead wrasses. <:(> I came home and tested the water, the copper was OK, according to the test. I tested the ammonia and it was too high, .5 ppm. <Might have already started to rise from the dead fish between the time of their deaths and the removal of the corpses from the tank.>   Could the ammonia have done them both in so quickly??. <I've seen plenty of fish survive this level, but the combination of that with other stressors could perhaps have done it. OTOH, we cannot know if there was any ammonia in the tank before they died, as noted above. Hard to say for sure why they died.> What copper medication and test kit do you recommend?? <CopperSafe is a reputable product and Salifert tests are usually reliable. You need to be sure to match the test kit to the type of copper you are using. Info on this is available in the Copper articles/FAQs. Also, be sure to remove all rock or sand when treating and bear in mind that the copper will usually kill your good bacteria too.> Is there anything I could have done differently?? I was thinking I could have done the dip and a nice water change and observed, but the male had a lot of spots. <Copper can be a touchy medication to uses. Some folks prefer formalin, but another option is the FW dip followed by hyposalinity treatment at elevated temps. Check Steven Pro's excellent ich series at www.reefkeeping.com that started in October (I believe) of 2003.> I'm bummed, I had been looking forward to those gorgeous fish being in my reef tank for a long time. <Understood. Take solace in the fact that you didn't ruin your beautiful reef by skipping QT and introducing ich and then, even worse, putting medicine in the reef. Read the ich article and try again. Next time you have to treat, I am confident you will have a better outcome.> Which Copper Test Kit? Hi Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob today> I recently purchased some Coppersafe. For the life of me I can not find a copper test kit to test for this chelated copper, I hear it is a good idea to use test kits from the same manufacturer as the copper you are using. <Yep. I agree> Do you have any suggestions on a copper test kit I can use and where I can get one?  I have been to three local pet shops in the SF Bay Area and no one had a chelated copper test kit, I am not even sure if Mardel labs makes a test kit for their copper safe....I appreciate your help. <I would use the SeaChem series. This kit works well with chelated copper and should provide accurate readings for you. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

CopperSafe: Maintaining A Proper Therapeutic Dosage Scott, thanks for your quick response. <Glad to be of assistance!> I am going out to day to get a  bigger hospital tank and  a copper test kit per your advice. Do you know what is a good reading for copper in a hospital tank.  The  directions on my CopperSafe bottle only says to add 1 TSP per 4 gallons but does not give an exact number to shoot for. I want to make sure I don't under dose or over dose. Brendan <Well, Brendan- the manufacturer of CopperSafe, Mardel Labs suggests that their formulation will maintain a total copper concentration of 1.5-2.0ppm if used as directed. Mardel recommends a Hach test kit (which is a very pricey, but high quality kit), but any quality test kit that measures TOTAL copper concentration should do the trick. Be sure to monitor carefully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Test Kit Concerns Dear Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob today!> I do very much appreciate your work and answers about keeping marine fish. <We appreciate your kind words! We're thrilled to be here for you!> I am currently treating a "white spot" outbreak with Cupramine from Seachem. Just as a matter of fact and to be more clear, there are some difficulties: 1.The test kits available I would say are a simple "fiasco" - it is not a standard when you deal with a toxin to measure it just as "a guess" <Well, there are different types of copper test kits out there 9ionic, etc.), so it can be a bit confusing> 2.I do appreciate the efforts of Seachem to launch a more safe product, but the instructions on the label are not satisfactory.  A safe product in my view will tell more about the nitrifying bacteria and what effect will have turning off the UV sterilizer at the dose they recommend. <Do communicate your concerns to Seachem about this. They make some excellent products and are very responsive to consumer concerns> I do not want to go deeper into details, but I do feel that more professional trials (maybe employing some biostatiticians) will reveal some truth in a very interesting hobby area. Regards Remus <Agreed, Remus. The reputable manufacturers (which are many!) are constantly trying to refine their products and make them easier to use and more accurate. This really is a great time to be involved in our hobby! Things are only getting better, in regard to the technological advances that are trickling down to the hobby level. Enjoy! Regards, Scott F> 

Copper Testing (3/28/04) Hi, <Evenin'> Would you please recommend a copper test kit, we have two clowns set up in a hospital tank and can't find the test kits locally. <Salifert should be easy to get & has a good rep. Alternatives are Hatch & LaMotte.> I read that while using Coppersafe I should also use an antibiotic.  Is that correct? <Not necessary unless you suspect a secondary bacterial infection.>  The directions said to treat for 5 to 30 days if I am not mistaken (ICH).  (Other people tell me one week.)  <The consensus is 21 days.> While I'm here do you have a certain brand of refractometer that you like? <Most do not have a brand. Adequate ones for the hobby cost $80-100. Here are a couple of examples: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4474&D=refractometer&R=8907 &Ntt=refractometer&Ntk=All&Dx=mode+matchallany&Ntx=mode+matchallany&Np=1&N=2004&Nty=1 http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=CP2113 > Something easy to use as we've only had a SW 125 gal since Nov. and are still learning.  If you have the time...any heaters for SW you have found very reliable? <Ebo-Jager has a good reputation.> Thank-you very much. <Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

- Testing Copper & Ammonia Troubles in Quarantine - Hi Folks, <Hi.> I have been treating a Hippo Tang for Itch during the last week, using Cuprazin, in a bare isolation tank. Due to an immature biological filter I have been replacing 30% of the water each day to manage the ammonia. <For whatever it's worth now, if you know you'll be treating with copper or formalin, there really is no hope of maintaining a biological filter in any state - mature or not. Much better to plan on having to change the water an plan on an amount appropriate to the fish. Usually 50% every day or two to keep ammonia from building up in the first place.> The recommended daily dosage of Cuprazin assumes no water changes, therefore I needed to test copper levels and top up the copper to compensate for the water change. <Is the way I do it.> I spoke with a chemist from Waterlife (the manufacturer) who confirmed a target level of 0.25 using the Salifert test kit. He did warn me that testing for chelated copper is not a precise science using hobby test kits, and that the safest option was to follow the daily dosage precisely, without making water changes! <Perhaps just a chemist and not someone who's actually had to been through this - as you now see, it's not smart to avoid the water changes.> Which of course is just not an option for me. During the last week the ammonia level in the isolation tank has been approximately 1 mg/l, which I know is high. During the first five days I applied Cuprazin according to the bottle instructions (which assumes no water changes) and added a small amount more to compensate for the water changes. After day 5 the fish was clear of spots, starting to look a bit happier, but not yet eating. I bought a Salifert copper test kit, tested and had immense difficulty seeing the colour change (from clear to very pale blue). <Helps sometimes to a small piece of white paper to around the back side of the vial you are viewing - so you view against a white background.> I used another vial containing tank water to help me spot the colour change, and with the benefit of direct sunlight I think the test was indicating a copper level of 0.1 mg/l. I applied another dose of Cuprazin to raise the copper level late last night, the following morning the fish was on his side breathing heavily. I assumed poisoning, due to copper or ammonia, and immediately moved him into my water change container (which was prepared a day earlier). Unfortunately he died this afternoon. I have retested for copper, can't be certain about the copper test kit changing colour, but I think it happened at about 0.33 mg/l. I want to learn from this experience. Is there anything I can do to increase the colour change for the Salifert copper test kit (perhaps more reagent)? I honestly cannot be sure at which point it changes colour. <Do try that test again with the sheet of paper - think that will help.> I don't believe white spot killed the fish - he had been improving; do you think it was 6 day exposure to 1mg/l ammonia or the high copper that caused the death? <My guess is the chronic exposure to the ammonia.> - I am monitoring the remaining fish in my reef, fearing a widespread outbreak of itch. If spots appear, what should I do? I am prepared to manage ammonia in the isolation tank by frequent water changes, but how on earth to know what level of copper to use when I can't be certain about the test kit results? <Perhaps try another test kit.> Thanks for your help. Andrew <Cheers, J -- >

-Strange Cupramine readings...- Hello, I have recently been treating two false percula clown fish for marine ich using Cupramine.  I have obtained good results with the product, as both fish have shown significant improvement.  Per the instructions for this product, I added 2 drops per gallon initially and then 2 drops per gallon 48 hours later. I wanted to test the copper content of the water after adding the Cupramine, so I purchased a FasTest copper test kit which tests for copper in the range of 0.05-0.25 ppm (made by Aquarium Systems). <I have trouble with this kit off and on; we've been blessed with several packets of contaminated or otherwise strange reading reagent.> After each dose (both the first and the 48 hour dose) the copper content registered with the test kit was only 0.1ppm.  Thinking that the test kit might be giving a false reading, I did the test again, but this time half of the water tested was from the tank, and the other half was distilled --the result of this test was 0.05 ppm, half of the original reading. <It still could be the kit, but it's not likely.> Thinking that I might have a bad test kit, I purchased a Red Sea copper test kit (which has a range from 0 - 0.4 ppm) and tested the water for copper again.  The Red Sea test kit is giving me a reading of 0.1 ppm. I sent an email to SeaChem (the makers of Cupramine) and someone at their offices there seemed to think that my test kits are not giving correct readings. <Tough call, but of course Seachem would never find anything wrong w/ their own products!> What's the deal here?  The tank is a 5.5 gallon quarantine tank with no substrate or gravel (a totally bare tank). <A bit undersized, I'd suggest a minimum quarantine of 10g. That extra 4.5g will go a long ways.> I only have a Whisper power filter (without any filter insert) <Huh? So where's the bio filtration? Are you relying on daily water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels down?> used for water circulation in the tank, and an Ebo Jager heater to keep the tank at a constant temperature. Do you have any idea what the copper level should be several minutes after adding Cupramine (per the manufacturer's instructions) to a bare tank? <You should test several hours later, just to make sure it's well mixed.> I'm getting a reading of 0.1ppm with two different test kits, both of which are supposed to test for ionic copper. <Well, here's the dilemma. Do you trust the directions on the package and assume that the tests are wrong? Or do you assume the tests are right and add a whole bunch more? If the former is true, the copper level won't do much to combat your disease, although it still will help. The latter option could be a disaster if the kits were wrong. So, if I were you, I'd find another medication to eliminate this ambiguity. Try Quick-Cure which is a blend of formalin and malachite green. I hope this helps! -Kevin> Trevor

Copper Testing I was afraid time was running out for my fish, so I picked up the only saltwater copper treatment from my LFS (Coppersafe).  They had no copper test kits.  The only other saltwater fish store an hour away does not appear to carry a chelated test kit that measures over .25, according to the manufacturer's information available on their website (Fastest is only one for chelated, states: "This copper kit has a scale of 0-.25. Measures all types of copper chelated and ionic. This is for saltwater or reef tanks only."). The bottle of Coppersafe states that it will keep a balance of 1.5-2.0 in the aquarium, can I trust this? I question it because I read through the FAQ's which state that copper is depleted rapidly.  The only decor in the tank is a piece of PVC. Thanks, Ryan A. <I use CopperSafe, and I have tested to verify that their recommendations work...The numbers do test true, if the directions are followed...However, I would still test...There are a lot of variables that can affect copper concentration. Copper is a valuable ally in fighting certain diseases, but you need to be positive as to the dosage, or you'll cause more harm than good! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Copper level Robert <<Hi Heinrich, Craig here...> I e-mailed you before re my new marine tank - had the Yellow tang, Pink Tip Anemone and Cleaner Wrasse. I told you re. the way I've set up everything quickly - you told me that I could expect problems. Well, you were right... Everything seemed well for 2 weeks, but then the White Spot/Velvet got hold of the Tang. I lowered the specific gravity to 1.016, raised the temp to 82 f and added SEA CURE copper treatment. It's been 3 days and the Tang is getting worse. I'm not sure how to use the Copper test kit. It is by Aquarium Systems and called "FasTest". It tells you to fill the container up to the line (BUT THERE ARE 2 LINES!!) The one line is about 1/4 from the bottom and the other is at the very top. Have you used this test kit? I made up a mock test (one drop of the Sea Cure for one gallon of seawater) and with the lower line fill it gives me 0.25 and the full line it gives me 0.05! So, I'm not sure what the levels of copper is, because I can not test it properly. So, my 3 questions is: 1. Do you know what is the correct filling line? 2. When should I see the Tang getting better with the copper treatment? 3. What is the symptoms of over dosing? Please let me know! Heinrich Beukes <<Alright Heinrich, first, tell me you didn't add copper to your main tank with an anemone. Please tell me that. If not, your anemone is in trouble. Copper will kill or harm marine inverts. The fish should be treated by removing them to a quarantine tank where you can then treat him/them with copper. That would be **all** fish while the main tank is without any fish for at least one month, preferably two months. If your main tank has live rock, sand etc. they will absorb the copper you treated with and you won't be able to keep marine inverts without extensive filtering with carbon, PolyFilter, etc. and you may still not be able to keep inverts in the copper treated tank, even after some time. You may need to replace the rock and sand. Your QT should be bare, with a filter and some plastic/inert plants, places for fish to hide, seek shelter and so on. Test QT for ammonia/nitrite/etc. daily and make water changes to reduce wastes. PLEASE go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm and follow all of the links, read all of the FAQ's. You need a test kit that tests for the specific type of copper you are using. There is much more on this at WWM. I would GUESS that the first line (.025) is measuring the correct dose, but I would not place any bets on it. The test kit should have directions that tell you which line and the type of copper ion it tests for. This is vital so please read the WWM faq's....and get your anemone out of copper, if it isn't too late already. Treat your fish for the duration provided in the FAQ's and links to copper use. Whew! Craig>> 

Re: Copper level Craig Thanks for the advise. I will read the faq's on the link <<Hello Heinrich, Perfect they will help a lot.>> Yes, I did take the anemone out of the tank, but not the live rock and the substrate. Does this mean I will not be able to put the anemone back? I thought carbon filtration would get rid of the copper. <<Alright, glad the anemone was out but yes, this means the rock and sand can't host him, snails, crabs, shrimp, etc. anymore due to the copper. I'm sorry about that. Maybe sell it to someone with a fish only system? Try advertising it as such on WWF, other online sites, LFS.>>  The copper test instructions does not state which line to use. The copper treatment recommended this specific test (cost me $35). <<Alright, you applied a known dose to a known volume and it gave you two test results (two lines). Which one matched the expected results for that does and volume? Likely the 0.25 ppm line, or the bottom line I expect. If so, that's the line and dose I would use. Minimum 0.25 ppm.>> Is the lowering of the specific gravity doing good - or more bad? Some sources say that is all that is needed. Regards Heinrich <<Yes, lower SG is good. Higher temp (83F) is good. No, copper is needed. Check out the FAQ's they will help a lot. Craig>>

Thanks! (formerly Ich, Copper, Frustration) Dear Mr. Fenner: Thank you for your incredibly fast reply! Regarding my tank, just to mention that I have lowered my spg to 1.017, should I lower it more?  <not recommended> Also, I'll try and call the one shop that does carry supplies to see if they have chelated copper test. BTW nitrites, ammonia, pH all are good. Finally and since you are a diver you might appreciate the fact that except for the Naso, all my other fish have been caught either by me or by a friend while diving in our Caribbean or Pacific Coast. <talk about hand caught!> Thanks again for your most valued help. Harold Chamberlain <a pleasure>

Found a kit Hi, The local shop has one kit and it is a Seachem Multitest, the Seachem website says it works with chelated copper, will this work? <Yes!> Thanks again for your help, <A pleasure. Bob Fenner> Harold Chamberlain San Jos? Costa Rica

Copper Test Kit Dear Robert, I tried to find the Salifert or LaMotte copper test kit but none of them are available in LFS. <At the ones you checked... Try the e-tailers... a bunch of them are listed on WWM's Links Pages> Only Fastest and Seachem are available. Do you know which one of these two are more accurate and easy-to-read in testing non-chelated copper sulfate? <About the same. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Alexcych

Test kits Bob, Hi, its me again. Anyhow Why is it so hard to find a chelated copper test kit? Pet Solutions/Pet warehouse only sells the ones that tests copper sulfate only. Thanks <Look around. All decent shops/outlets offer them. Bob Fenner> Linstun Lee

Copepods still alive after dousing copper Bob, I doused 3 1/2 bottles of copper safe in my 240, which has no life in it except for the substrate. One bottle treats 100 gallon, so I doused 350 gallons worth of copper in my 240. Its been 4 days now. But I still see Copepods on the glass of my tank. Shouldn't they be dead as well? I know my copper levels are at 1.5 ppm. <There should be no copepods alive in a system with a physiological/treatment dose of copper in it. Bob Fenner> Linstun

hey! whassup rob! (If they'd only read) i was just enquiring for my buddy Linstun lee, if a copper reading of 1.0 or 1.5 a good therapeutic level for an aquarium? quarantine? is it safe? please e-mail real soon! as i am waiting patiently at my comp. thanks in advance your friend in phish, Carlos! also its Mardel labs! CopperSafe. <Please read over the copper sections posted on www.WetWebMedia.com These and other important information you both need to understand are posted there. Bob Fenner>

Copper levels Bob, I'm a bit confused, I read your FAQ on copper use. Are you suppose to have a copper amount of .3 ppm ? Because my instructions on my Coppersafe says that the target copper levels should be 1.5-2.0 ppm. Why is everyone else on the FAQ saying .2-.3ppm? <Easy to be confused here... there are basically two types of copper (formulated chelates... attached to other molecules to keep the copper in suspension, and almost elemental cupric ion, Cu++, basically as copper sulfate, CuSO4 which due to its acidic nature, tends to "fall out", precipitate in alkaline seawater, quickly. Thus people attach/sequester it to a chelate in an effort to keep a steady, physiological dose in solution) and two different types of test kits (chelated and non-chelated)... the chelated type "breaks the bond" revealing the total CHELATED amount of copper (the 1.5-2.0 ppm of cupric ion)... though in actual solution in your tank there is only the (0.2-0.3 ppm) smaller concentration of actual cupric ion.  The long and short of this is you have to match your test kit to the type (chelated or not) copper compound you're using... and understand the effective dose as being the free cupric/copper ion in either case. Bob Fenner> Also on my Kordon copper test kit says chelated copper form should be in the range of 0.25mg/l - 2.5 mg/l . My copper levels are at 1.5 ppm. This alright? Linstun

Re: ich problems Hi Bob, Just an update. It's been a week since I began copper treatment in my quarantine tank. The tang looks a lot better, but we lost the goby yesterday.  <Gobies don't like being moved, copper...> Amm, Nitrite/trate, was 0, and copper was 0.25 (test kit literature recommend 2ppm!!!). <You may have the "wrong" test kit... are you using a chelated copper product? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coppertestfaqs.htm> We are sad and very surprised, since he looked really good, was eating and getting FAT, but I guess the prolonged copper exposure did him in. As for the main tank, since it's been fallow for several weeks, the 'pod population has exploded. I've also noticed something I was hoping you could ID. It's about 1/4" long, translucent pink with a small red dot in it's "head". It's shaped like an egg sliced in half, with a tale (square with a V-notch). It swims pretty fast. Any ideas?  <A copepod (of thousands) species of some sort. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Khoi

Re: ich problems Thanks for the reply. Yes, I'm using a chelated copper product (Coppersafe), and the test kit said it measured chelated copper. I knew the goby didn't like copper (similar to "naked" fish?) but I was letting my main tank go fallow, and both the goby and tang had ich. Sad thing is that they were both looking a lot better and I was starting to lower the copper concentration. Really sad. Question on the pod ID. This particular critter has no legs (that I can see). Doesn't pod mean feet?  <Yes> I know it's impossible to ID all the critters that might appear in our tanks. I was just curious. Thanks Bob. <There are Ostracods, other planktonic crustaceans... other marine crustaceans that are not uncommon that are very hard to make their appendages out. Bob Fenner>

Coppersafe Question Dear Bob: I wrote to you a while back about ick in my main tank. I did get a cleaner goby but disease progressed anyway. I broke the tank down and removed the fish to two 10 gallon hospital tanks. Each tank has a (modified) Skilter which does skim (hard to believe, I know).  <Not hard to believe at all... I use one on a system here at home... and have an article coming out soon in FAMA (written a couple years back...) about a friend in Baltimore (none other than Tom Walsh who is helping to head up this years MACNA do) who runs his twin fab 20 longs with... Skilters> Each Skilter also has both a carbon and a regular filter pad. I left them both in place as the Coppersafe directions said if the carbon had been in longer than 5 days it was okay to do so.  <Mmm, I would still pull the carbon...> I check the copper level with a Red Sea test which measures Cu2 ion (plus Paracure which I'm not using). Question is this... each day I check the level it shows 0.3. Am I treating the fish properly?  <Hmm, well... I would use another type of test kit... a chelated one...> Is my Skilter removing anything from the Coppersafe that I'm not aware of?  <Yes, some of the copper... i.e. cupric ion... as it becomes free from the chelate> Is this Red Sea Test accurate?  <Have heard mixed reports, but likely "accurate enough" for here... but do you understand that what you are treating with is not free copper and that the test kit is measuring more than free copper? Put another way, it is unlikely you have an appropriate dose with the mismatched kit> Fish are doing well right now. Ammonia levels are staying down since I'm running the Skilter, but I'm concerned about the Coppersafe staying stable.  <All copper compounds, salts... free cupric ion are "in trouble" in seawater (due to the alkaline nature of the medium... they precipitate out)... and therefore must be tested for, and readministered regularly... Look for a Salifert, Hach or LaMotte test kit here.> I have learned the value of quarantining EVERYTHING....took 1/2 hour to get the live rock out and catch the fish, but 5 hours to get the rock back in so it looked nice again! <Don't I know it as well!> Thanks for your help..... Janey <Better times ahead my friend. Bob Fenner>

Copper solution hello bob, my copper read 0.5mg ( ionic copper ) why the cleaner shrimp still alive? <Hmm, maybe the copper test kit is off, perhaps you have a chelated copper and a mis-matched non-chelated test kit...> with this copper contain my queen sometimes rub it face against the glass?  <What? Do you mean, will the copper somehow treat a complaint your Angel may have? Maybe... if the cause is parasitic...> Is it ok rubbing against object once a while? <Yes, some rubbing is natural...> Please have a friend, someone who knows a bit about marine aquarium keeping come over and review your system with you... Something's don't seem right here. Bob Fenner>

I've written you a couple of times this week concerning copper Tx. and test kits.? Both of the fish I was worried about died.? Here's a synopsis of the situation: Four weeks ago I purchased a Hawaiian Wrasse and a Flame Angel.? I put them in my 10 gallon quarantine tank which has three pieces of PVC, some pieces of live-rock from my main tank, two airstones, and a 170gph Penguin filter (no carbon).? The angel began exhibiting signs of illness: swimming near the top of the tank, not eating, rapid breathing.? I began to add Cupramine over three days to bring to .3ppm.? Both fish did well.? After two weeks of Tx. I transferred them to my main tank. The main tank: established eight months, 75 gallons, Magnum 350 filter (carbon changed monthly during filter cleaning), protein skimmer, powerhead, aerated "bubble tube", 3-110w VHO lights (1-blue, 1-high white, 1-full spectrum), 1-40w full-spectrum, titanium "ground rod". Livestock: 1-Red Lipped Blenny, 1-Rock Skipping Blenny, 2-Blue Finned Damsels, 1-Devil Damsel, 2-Feather Dusters, 1-Long Tentacled Anenome, 1-Rock Anenome, 1-Emerald Brittle Start, 1-Sand Sifting Star, 12-Snails, +/-25 Hermit Crabs, 1-Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp, 1-Camel Shrimp, & 110# LR. I transferred both fish to the main tank (tank lights off - always when moving fish) and rearranged the LR to reduce territorialism.? Both fish did very well for a week or so.? The Angel started to not eat again and I observed white parasites on the body.? I immediately removed the angel and put it back in quarantine (same copper level + two new small Gobies (which were both doing very well)).? The angel appeared to begin eating again, but continued to stay near the top of the aquarium.  A few days later I noticed (under the "blue" light) that the Wrasse was getting white spots.? I moved it also to the quarantine tank.? The following day the Angel was dead (Tuesday of this week) and yesterday the Wrasse died.? Both of the gobies are alive and still doing well.? Water tests good in all areas (both tanks).? I do 5% H2O changes weekly in my 75 tank, and as needed in the quarantine.? Both fish began to stay near the bottom and panting before expiring.? What am I doing wrong?? This is the second Flame Angel I have had die.? The first one died (I think) of stress and never made it out of the quarantine tank.? Do you have any ideas? P.S.? I feed both tank a variety of frozen foods (misa (sp?) shrimp, Formula 1, Angel Formula, VHP Formula, Mega-feed, liquid vitamin supplement - 2X weekly, and flakes). Thank you!!!! - Scot >> Man oh man, Scot. I've read and re-read your post, and you did/do most everything "right" (at least the way I do/would do given the same circumstances). I have maybe some not-very (actually not at all) helpful information re the Flame Angels this last year or so... They're bunk... well, not all of them, but many coming out of the Marshalls (the principal source) are really "coming in" bad... much more susceptible to disease... some changes in the way business is done there... many collectors keeping them in small containers with holes in them... in a bag tied off to a buoy near where they keep their boats... in polluted water, no feeding... for days to much longer... The wrasse? Who can say? Maybe the hyperinfectivity on one (the angel?) caused the infestation on the other? Sometimes they "just don't do well", esp. once they "get" the crypt.. What I might do going forward? Increase the apparent dosage on the Cupramine... the instructions (unless my memory is shot entirely), call for 1ml. per ten real gallons of water two days running to give a reading of 0.25 on day one, 0.50 on day two... I know this is more than a/the recommended conc. of most everyone (myself included)... and keep them in the system (with reduced spg... at 1.017 or so) for three or four weeks... instead of the two. Sorry about your losses, and the trauma of losing your livestock... wish I could be of more help. Bob Fenner

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