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FAQs on Copper Use, Utilization/Duration

Related Articles: Copper Use in Marine Systems, Medications, Use of Biological Cleaners, Aquatic Surgery, The Three Sets of Factors That Determine Livestock Health/Disease

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, Measure/Testing, Prophylactic Use, Toxic Situations/Troubleshooting, Copper Product FAQs, Copper Test FAQs, Copper Removal FAQs, Copper Removal 2, & Live Rock, Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Marine Tanks, Parasitic Reef Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease, Medications/Treatments 1, Medications/Treatments 2, Medications/Treatments 3Antibiotics/Antimicrobials, Anthelminthics/Vermifuges/Dewormers, Copper FAQs 1, Organophosphates, Epsom/Other Salts, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Furan Compounds, Garlic, Homeopathic Remedies (teas, pepper sauce, other shams...), Malachite Green, Mercury Compounds/Topicals, Methylene Blue, Metronidazole, Quinine Compounds, Sulfas, Treating Disease, Treatment Tanks, Medications/Treatments II, Treating Parasitic Disease, Using Hyposalinity to Treat Parasitic Disease, Garlic UseAntibiotic Use Marine Disease 1, Puffer Disease

Whatever format, product containing copper you use, it must be present at all times during the treatment interval (usually two weeks) at a physiological dose/strength/concentration... The only way to assure that this is so is by using in a treatment tank, and (daily) testing... Even w/o the presence of calcareous material (rock, sand, substrate/gravel), the alkaline components and biological interaction  et al. will cause copper to leave solution. Turn off skimmer/s, Ultraviolet Sterilizers, remove chemical filtrants...

Debate solving. Crypt Cu exposure sensitivity      6/25/19
Good evening Bob,
<Hey Bob>
I attended the reef a palooza show in New York (actually situated in NJ) , by to purchase anything but to gather some info and took first hand with the makers . (Or catchers if it’s pertaining to livestock)
I got into a friendly debate with two guys with tables adjacent to each other, one being an sps stick guy, another fish importer.
Discussing the usage of copper based medications, and length of time.
<A big topic; some decidedly divisive opinions and MUCH science here>
One thing they did agree on, like the literature says, is it kills the “free swimming stages” . But we couldn’t come to a consensus on what exactly the free swimming stage is.
<Temperature dependent, and again, scientifically described....>
We know when it’s on the fish, it’s not touchable , protected in the fishes body. We know it’s protected when it is encysted in the bottom , or in the substrate, waiting to hatch out.
<Yes; and can remain encysted at times for months>
We know the copper can kill during that phase when they hatch out and have to find a host.
<Mmm; not during encystment as far as I'm aware, unless Cu++ levels are VERY high>
But what about the time from when they “fall” off the fish, and have to swim to the bottom and begin encysting?
<THIS and when they're swarming, looking for a host IS the copper sensitive intervals>
During that time when they are going from the fish to the substrate, are they prone to or protected by copper at this time?
Thanks as always and appreciate your thoughts .
<Glad to proffer them. Cheers, BobF>

Rocks and Cupramine      3/19/19
Hello Crew,
<Hello Chris>
Quick question around a debated topic. Will a small amount of rock (about 6-8 lbs.) in a 72-gallon hospital tank have a real effect on my Cupramine addition?
<Copper is always to be treated in a bare bottomed tank. Medications such as copper are rendered less effective or ineffective by the buffering action of calcareous media like gravel, sand, rock, coral skeletons, etc. (even in small amounts.) Furthermore, the media is now tainted for future invertebrates... ruined essentially... anemones, starfish, shrimp, etc. can overdose on the absorbed copper in the substrate even when the water tests copper free.>
I had to set up an emergency hospital tank out of my QT tank when I found that I am battling some sort of ich/MV breakout. Fish began to flash periodically and show small white spots and were completely covered.
Originally thought it was MV, but fish had "Lived" through it for a couple of weeks which I think would suggest Ich; MV would wipe the tank out much quicker. I went the Selcon, Garlic, water quality route to avoid breaking down my 265 reef, but it (whatever "it" actually is), came back with a vengeance and took 5 fish in 2 days. The tank is now fallow, and the survivors are in intensive care. This is not fun
<Certainly not fun. Cheers. Wil>

Disappearing copper      11/26/17
Hey Bob, I'm using chelated copper in my saltwater quarantine facility, I'm losing concentration no matter how much I dose it cant go above 0.1, I have a large skimmer and sponge filter.
Organics and nitrates(50-100) are present in the system. No ammonia or nitrites.
I've tested copper on separate batch of water, cu doesn't lose concentration in test batch(no fish, clean fresh water). Any ideas?
<Ah yes; a few. First off, for all who may read this; even chelated formulas of copper are transitional (leave solution), slower than acidified, non-sequestered formulations, but in time, all precipitate out.
Secondly, the more efficient skimming, the faster all copper compounds will exit. Thirdly, the more organic content of sorts (e.g. the sponge filter) there is, the quicker the loss of coppers. Fourth; a chance to relate an actual occasion of such loss... at WSI in Fiji they utilized crushed coral rubble in their Tahitian (pressurized) sand filters... And too wondered where their chelated copper product was disappearing. On inspecting, I found the material to be caked and bluish.... Yes, the copper was being "plated out" on the filter substrate. Sooo, I would ask you how much said alkalinity you have, are adding in your system... encourage you to NOT add it the same day/s as the chelate, AND to pre-mix the carbonate, bicarbonate well in advance in make up water, ahead of use.>
Kind regards,
<Do you have data... for when you added the copper, the recorded concentration, measures the following days to share? Bob Fenner>
Re: Disappearing copper       11/27/17

Hey Bob,
<Hi Branko>
To follow up, we don't raise alkalinity. We use Sea Salt of a world wide sold brand of salt.
<Ahh; I see>
I never even measured it but I guess its up there in normal range about 8 or so.
<Please do measure for me... at least a couple times before and after changing salt AND adding copper>
As for copper reading, we use Salifert test kit (only one available here),
when reading it its always slightly lighter than color preset for 0.1ppm.
So we are drip dosing CU for about 0.04-0.06 (depending on the reading previous to dosing), trying to achieve 0.15.
<Good technique>
It takes about 5-10 hours for dose to get into the system. Typically we measure it next day, and reading shows ~0.1ppm as if we didn't dose at all.
Regardless of what we do, reading is always about 0.1. So I was puzzled :)
<It's getting absorbed somewhere for sure... do you have carbonaceous substrate in your system?>
We did notice however, when taking out a sponge from the system to use it as bacteria seed for other system/customers fish only tanks, that copper is released out of the sponge into the new water.
<Ah yes... As I mentioned last time; the biota/biomass there will absorb appreciable copper. Bob Fenner>

Cupramine leeching     7/30/15
Hello almighty saltwater gods. I am not worthy. So I was thinking.....what kinds of materials and what nots can hold Cupramine in a tank and cause the testing level to appear not to rise and/or then possibly leech back into the water when conditions change?
<Oh; this list is long... am sure one could use the Net, but am so olde that I'd be looking in a CRC Manual for common molecules likely to form in a marine aquarium habitat. Is cupric chloride, copper carbonate have a higher solubility product constant?>
For example, small clay pots, while they make nice caves, are porous. And can bits of uneaten food soak the medicine up enough to cause a problem?
<Mmm; not as much as the seawater itself, or "fresher" carbonate substrate and rock.... fired clay pots are somewhat chemically inert>
I know to remove uneaten food but I was thinking about using a seaweed clip and in that case, the food would spend more time in the water than flakes or Mysis. My bicolor blenny, usually fat and happy, is eating little.
I am currently having what seems to be a bit of trouble getting my Cupramine level above 3ish. All of my parameters are good and I only have a pre seeded filter, heater, two little clay pots and an airs stone in a bare bottom 20 long. I am treated a bicolor blenny and a royal gramma. I have been slowly raising the Cupramine level over the last week and I want to be sure I am at a good therapeutic level so I'm not wasting my time and unnecessarily stressing my fish. Also, I don't want to prolong their Ich misery. It is/was a slight case to my eyes. I did not follow the directions, dosing wise, because I have read it is better to slowly raise the Cupramine level, especially for the sensitive blenny.
Since the white spots, of which there were only two on the blenny's top fin, and one on the gramma' head, are not the actual parasite themselves, is their absence after or during treatment even a fairly reliable sign that treatment is working? Shouldn't the spots disappearing mean nothing more than the human equivalent of a scab falling off?
<Mmm; these spots may be from irritation of some sort... mucus accumulating.... Even Trematodes (seeing them btw very commonly here in Curacao the last week diving>
I have read that Cupramine may kill Ich at levels as low as .25 but I don't want to take the chance of under treating,
<Ah yes; and deep-embedded parasites, ones on fishes w/ thick mucus; even some "Crypt ""races" can be resistant to copper exposure>
particularly since my bicolor has not been eating well. I think he should be ok eating only a little so long as I can complete the treatment in a reasonable amount of time, say three weeks total. I am using a SeaChem test. My ammonia is good and I have been doing 20% water changes every three days, matching the temp, ph, SG, and Cupramine level in the new water with that of the tank prior to adding.
<Should test and replace the copper every day>
Besides that, the tank was fully cycled prior to treatment. I will remove Cupramine after treatment and let my tank remain fallow for 72 days total.
Thanks again.
<I and you very likely appreciate the vagaries of copper use... Hence my swerving allegiance to Quinine compounds (and always prevention via dips/baths, careful livestock selection, optimized, stable environment, good nutrition....) over recent years. Bob Fenner>

Hospital Tank; filt.       7/15/15
Hello Crew,
I am In the process of starting up a 20 gallon hospital tank that I would probably run 24/7 and had a question or two. Once I cycle the tank from using sponge filters that I have had sitting in my main display sump won't the copper that I use for medication deplete the bacteria that I used to cycle the hospital tank?
<Yes; can; likely in time>

and if so what do I need to do to keep the tank cycled for the 24/7 duration that I plan on using it for ?
<Mainly water changes.... replacement of the biomedia>
also, when it is time to introduce the fish from the hospital tank to the main display won't this introduce copper to the main display from which the fish came from?
<Not if you don't move much water with the fishes; no>
Thanks Ed
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Problems following treatment. Cu in a display tank, puffer... mistakes or a prank  - 3/10/12
Dear Crew,
My attempt to control white spot with Cuprazin ended up in disaster-I’ve lost two fish L.I still don’t know what have caused it.
The white spot outbreak wasn’t serious and only some fish were mildly affected. However my Dogface puffer’s(Daisy) eyes got badly affected (cloudy and irritating)
<... a poor idea to treat puffers w/ copper compounds... gone over and over on WWM>

and also she started resting on the rocks more and more often . I decided not to let it get worse and started using copper treatment as stated on the label.
Also I was using a test for copper to make sure I am not overdosing.
For the first 5 days there was no problems and all symptoms of white spot outbreak started to disappear. Later water started to get gradually cloudier
<Wait... are you treating the main/display tank...? An even worse idea>

every day for the next few days but the Seachem ammonia alert test which is attached to the glass inside aquarium kept showing ‘safe’
<I wouldn't trust this monitor alone>
so I‘ve assumed that there was no reason to be concerned. This was until I‘ve found Tasseled Filefish (Marley) dead on 01/09. Other fish apart from Daisy were mostly unaffected.
I’ve tested the water which was showing very high level on Nitrites.

How high it’s impossible to tell from the test but it was dark purple on the upper scale. I’ve changed 30-40% of the water within few hours and retested water. No change.
<... that high>
Next day I’ve changed 60% of water but still no change, test for NO2 showing dark purple! Ammonia alert still was showing ‘safe’.
Next I’ve placed some carbon into the sump in hope to remove copper from the system and rebuild gradually bacteria population. Also simultaneously I’ve cleaned the canister filter, added absorption media (Purigen by Seachem) and disconnected bio pellet reactor which was connected in line with the filter.
<... terrible>
I have to admit that the bio pellet reactor was full of trapped pieces of uneaten food(mainly bits of prawn). The reactor was new to the system and running on it for less than two weeks.
<... are you really making this up or...?>

1. Currently I am suspecting it could be part of the problem.
<This IS a prank email then>
Reactor is disconnected for a week now; I keep flashing bio pellets every day and changing water in the tube. However, water inside the reactor tube is still showing the presence of NO2.
On the plus side the NO2 level inside the aquarium is 0 for the last 3-4 days.
All fish recovered (some like Emperor Angel didn’t look affected at all) apart from Daisy(dogface)which supposed to be one of the hardiest . I‘ve even transferred her to the reef tank where the water is perfect for the last 10 hours of her life but it didn’t help. She looked very swollen especially around her eyes whatever has caused it.
2. There will be point where I have to re-join the bio pallet reactor back to system (unless I decide go back to Aqua Medic sulphur) and I would like to avoid food bits being trapped again.
I don’t think I am overfeeding fish but my porcupine puffer has very bad table manners which may contribute to the problem.
Any time he gets his favourite prawn; he shreds it into thousands of tiny pieces and spit it out. Other fish can only retrieve some before they get swallowed by pumps.
What can be done about it?
3. I don’t know to which extend copper contributed to deterioration of water quality but until I know I will be frightened to use it again.
I would greatly appreciate if you help me to clarify described situation.
<... Search on WWM re copper use, their use w/ puffers, Tetraodontiform fishes period... bio-pellet use, prawn use as foods and Thiaminase... Don't write us, read. Bob Fenner>
Re: Problems following treatment.
- 3/11/12
Dear Crew,
I do apologize but it wasn't a prank email.

1. I didn't know that copper badly affect puffers.
<... see WWM re>
 Label only states not to use it on sharks and rays. I treated the main display
<This too>
 so there is no new outbreak soon. Since it is FO tank I am not concerned about rock.
<... you should be... The copper is taken up by the rock, leaches back for a long while... and ill-effects on your bio-filtration...>
2. I've been using prawn as food (among others)for over a year so didn't realize it could be problem.
<Search on WWM, along with Thiaminase>
Media were cleaned regularly both in sump and canister filter from all sorts of waste (I've been told that they should).
<Counter the copper as well>
My porcupine puffer shreds into tiny pieces anything including recommended cockles once he gets them off a shell.
3. Bio pellets -I've only read manufacturers manual and references. I've connected it to the OUTLET of the filter 2000L/hr.
Obviously I need and will do extra reading. However, I didn’t realized that with(2) and (3) there is some area of uncertainty where I could be doing something wrong.
I’ve done lots of reading about white spot treatment but there are differences of opinions and no method seems to be perfect ( as a person with limited experience I am confused). I’ve selected the one which is fastest and most lasting results.
Kind regards
 <... and you. BobF>

Marine Crypt & Two Forms of Copper Treatment 1/7/12
I seem to have a stubborn case of marine crypt.
<No fun>
Treatment is in a QT system that has a wet/dry on it for filtration,
<Can be problematical... the accumulating mulm "taking up" medication>
they are bare tanks with a few PVC fittings for shelter. I started with Seachem Cupramine at a dose of .4 for three weeks (testing was done every two days to verify the copper level, it was consistent each test. During this time used a few different Seachem copper test kits with different lot numbers along with a Salifert copper test kit). After the three weeks were up I did a 100% water change and ran Seachem Cuprisorb to remove any lingering copper. The fish stayed in the QT system to verify that the crypt was eradicated (there has been no fish additions) and after two weeks crypt did start to reappear.
At this point I decided to start treatment over again with Seachem Cupramine, at a dose of .5 for four weeks.
<Allow me to make (one of several today) side comments... IF copper treatment doesn't effect a cure over a two week time period, it's unlikely to do so w/ further exposure>
During this treatment testing copper levels was spot on, after a few days the visible stage of the crypt disappeared. After the three week mark one fish did start to show some crypt during the .5 level treatment. After the 4 weeks were up I did another 100% water change and ran some new Seachem Cuprisorb.
At this point I decided to try using CopperSafe. I let the Seachem Cuprisorb run for one week and then removed it. It's been three days since it's been removed from the system and I tested the copper level with the Seachem test kit, it came in what looks like .05, almost at zero but it has a very slight blue hue on the test kit. So on with my main question, can I start to add CopperSafe even though I have a  slight amount of Seachem Cupramine in the system?
<You could; but I wouldn't... Please read here:
scroll down to Protozoans, Crypt... re FAQs: "Cures that work"... read re the use of Quinine compounds, and if there's coverage for the species of fish hosts here specifically, those areas as well. Obviously, copper is not working here. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for any help you can offer,

question about treating tank with copper. No reading     4/20/11
Hello, I am having a terrible time with my tank this last couple of weeks.
I have a 50gal tank and have had a terrible Ick outbreak. I believe it was introduced by an angel I didn't quarantine. (I know I know...) The coral beauty died, then my dogface puffer was infected so I put him into a QT tank and treated with half does of copper
<... there is no therapeutic value to anything other than a free cupric ion "dose" of 0.20-0.35 ppm>
and he died 2 days later. So now I have pulled out my live rock and my crab and put in a separate 10 gal tank and decided to treat DT. All that is in there now is a damsel and a snowflake eel. My tomato clown died yesterday and a yellow tail damsel died this morning. The guy I talked to at the fish store instructed me to treat eel also even though he wasn't showing any symptoms.
We put the Cupramine in tank last night and my eel would not come out of his hiding place to eat, so I did a Google search and read that copper was bad for him as well so I pulled his home out and put him in the tank with the crab and live rock. I hope that is okay! I panicked, I don't want to lose another fish since I've lost 4 since this started 2 weeks ago. Any advice would be great! I have never had this much trouble with any of the tanks I've kept. Very frustrating! Thank you in advance! Amanda
<Better for you to treat with a Quinine compound, best CP. Read here:
and the linked files above. Now. Bob Fenner>

Copper and Ozone  2/12/11
I work in a large LFS and we run Copper Power in the saltwater fish systems.
<Not uncommon for LFSs in the west>
My question is could we use Ozone an the UV sterilizer with copper in the system. Thanks for any guidance you can provide
<Not really, no... these agents will too readily "drop out" the free copper; already lost to precipitation easily in alkaline, marine settings.
Better to just use the O3 whichever means it's generated, if you "can" kick the Cu habit>
Long Island Andy
<San Diego Bob>
Re: Copper and Ozone  2/12/11
Thank you very much for the quick response
<Certainly welcome... have seen many occasions where people were "wasting their resources" blending copper solutions in the presence of these two physical filtration moda... Doesn't work. BobF>

My next move....    9/1/10
Good day-
<And you Ron>
I have a 29g QT with a group of fish in their 4th week of a copper treatment. My display is in it's 4th week of a fallowing regime.
I would like to give the display at least 5 weeks before reintroducing the fish.
My initial plan was to begin reducing the copper in the QT before acclimation into the display.....or should I just keep it at full potency until the 5th week and acclimate to the display.
<I would reduce the copper exposure. Full strength/concentration for more than four weeks is getting too toxic to suit me>
The fish are showing no signs of distress.
Yet another question, should I tear down the 29g and sanitize/sterilize it before treating new fish or can I introduce them and raise the copper back up with just a substantial water change?
<The latter is fine>
Thank you for your thoughts,
<Welcome. BobF>

Metronidazole with Cupramine copper  5/24/10
Hi crew,
Bob in his article about Metronidazole in Use With Other Chemicals, write:
"Safe to add, treat while in the presence of other compounds."
I'm treating in my qt tank a Arothron diadematus with Cupramine copper
<Mmm, do take care here. Puffers and copper compounds can be trouble, toxic>
and Praziquantel for flukes but I want to add Metronidazole for internal parasites in fact the puffer is not eating although it is acting normally.
Can I use Metronidazole with cup amine? Is it safe?
<Yes and yes. BobF>
Thanks a lot

Can I use Amquel+ with CopperSafe? No and reading, action, ASAP  -- 3/31/10
I was searching on your site and over the web for an answer to this question in the past 2 days and no luck. I also asked the guys at Kordon - no answer yet.
I have setup a hospital tank to treat my saltwater fish of Marine Ich. I am using a bare tank with PVC fittings inside for hiding places, a sponge filter
<That was, was not inoculated with nitrifiers?>
and a loop system with a bare 10G tank converted into a "temporary" sump.
Inside the sump I have the bio material from an older CPR skimmer
<Ah, good>
and some Chaeto. I thought to use the Chaeto in case some of the pods and rotifers would survive the copper
<... No, will not... if the dosage is what it needs to be, will kill both>
and would server as food for my mandarin fish.
<... nor will the Callionymid likely. I would not treat such with Cu...
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cryptblensgobs.htm
and the linked files above>
I hope the poor guy will survive this.
It's been 2 days now and the ammonia into the hospital tank Hoovers around 0.5 ppm even after my repeated water changes.
<... toxic>
The water I am putting inside is from a RO+DI unit and I'm fairly sure it's pure.
<Has naught to do w/ cycling>
I added some ZymBac in the tank as well and that seem to have helped the ammonia growth, but it didn't bring it down much.
May I use Amquel+ or Amquel to control the ammonia?
<Will precipitate/remove the copper...>
Of course I will continue to do at least one water change per day until I see the ammonia going down completely. I'm replacing out about 50% of water each time.
Do you know how toxic is 0.5 ppm ammonia to the fish?
<Any is to degrees toxic... half a ppm is close to deadly at high pH>
I have 3 tangs, one coral beauty, one hawk fish, one algae blenny and one mandarin.
<!? All in ten gallons? Do read here as well:
and soon. Bob Fenner>
- Valer

Re: Can I use Amquel+ with CopperSafe?  3/31/10
Hi ob,
<OB 1?>
Thanks for your quick reply. I will read the articles you pointed me at.
<Welcome and Ok>
I was not clear on some aspects of my hospital setup. I am using a 30 gallon tank, and 10 gallon sump in a closed loop. I had 2 sponges and the bio-material from CPR into the main's tank sump for over a month and I moved those into the QT.
<Mmm, sounds/reads like the copper may have "bumped off" your nitrifying bacteria... Please read here:
I took out the Chaeto and I will take out the mandarin too. To lower the ammonia should I just continue the big water changes?
<Keep reading. BobF>

Re: Copper use in main/display tanks...    1/5/10
Thanks Justin.
<Mmm, I'll place this msg. in JustinN's in-folder, but want to interject here myself>
Your comment toward the end was rather contradicting. First you said you wouldn't recommend treating with copper because of risking a large part of the bacteria colony. Then in another sentence you said, if your diligent
and don't plan on adding any corals or inverts then go ahead. So you do think it's ok to treat with copper then? Or don't you? And will the copper kill my live rock and all the bacteria on it?
<Copper use in "display tanks" is an abysmally foolish idea. Not only is it almost impossible to sustain a therapeutic dose of free cupric ion (due to precipitation with carbonates in the substrate, rock, and even the seawater), the hard materials are rendered dubious of further use. READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cryptcucures.htm
and the linked files above. Search before writing us. Bob Fenner>

Mandarin with bubbles... Cu, ich, nitrification issues   12/11/09
I was referring
<Oh oh... where's the previous correspondence? Starting off em media res doesn't often work here. We have several crew members, many queries, else in life...>
to suggestions on medication that would not destroy the good bacteria along with the ich as I have heard conflicting
information on whether or not it does.
<Most all such medications for fresh and marine "ich" do have negative effects on nitrifiers. Hence the need to monitor nitrogenous metabolites, prepare in advance (via water changes, chemical filtrants...) for such potential troubles>
I did have trouble with ammonia in a cycled quarantine after using copper and thought that it may have been the contributor.
<It may well have been. Bob Fenner>

Copper Treatment For Butterflies/Dwarf Angelfish 12/11/08 Hi Crew? <James today, Mark> Quick question (I hope!) I have had Heniochus Butterfly and a Coral Beauty in my QT since purchase 10 days ago. I performed a FW and Methylene blue dip prior to placing in tank Each fish has a small white spot on a fin and I am observing closely for parasite infestation. I have read on your site that the dwarf angels to not do well with copper treatment. Is this an absolute contraindication or a relative contraindication. I have Cupramine at home and am ready to pull the trigger or should I be going a different direction? <Mark, if it were me, I'd keep a close eye on the spots. Your Heniochus and Coral Beauty are more sensitive to copper than most other marine fish. Treating with copper would be the last resort (personal opinion) as it does suppress the immune function and is highly stressful to fish. Hyposalinity might be a better choice for you right now. I have used Cupramine in the past and in my experience it has been more effective and tolerated much better than other forms of copper. I believe Seachem recommends a 5ppm dose, but I wouldn't go this high for these fish. In the past, I've treated dwarf angels with a 4ppm dose and it proved to be effective. You must test twice daily and maintain the 4ppm to be effective, and test with a test kit that will correctly measure the type of copper you are using.> THANKS SO MUCH! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Ich, copper and DT    7/24/08 Hello, <Hi there> I was wondering if you could offer some advice in regards to my ich problem. I have a 150gal FOWLR display tank and a 40gal QT. Unfortunately the fish I have are too many and too large to be able to treat in my QT. So after doing some research I came to the conclusion that the best course of action is to remove the LR from the DT, put it in a large container with salt water, heater and powerhead, remove all my inverts and place them in my separate fuge, then treat the DT and fish with copper. <... a very poor idea> What do you think? Would you advise this? <No and no> The DT would have only the fish and 1" live sand. <... the copper won't stay in solution, and you'll be killing most all in the LS> There would be no inverts or LR at all. <So?> I plan to treat using Cupramine. <A good product I'll warrant, but won't work here> How long should I treat the tank? <I wouldn't... you'll find that you are unable to "keep" a therapeutic dose of copper in such a setting... too quickly adsorbed...> Would 3 weeks get rid of the ich on the fish and the DT? The live rock, I would leave in the separate container for 6 weeks and I would leave the fuge disconnected from the main sump also for 6 weeks. Thank you for any help you can provide. -Peter <Happy to banter with you... If you're set on trying a cure in the main set-up, I'd look into (and quickly) the use of Chloroquine phosphate... the search tool, on WWM, the Net... Bob Fenner>

Re: Ich, copper and DT   7/24/08 Hello, <Peter> Thank you for the quick reply. <Deemed necessary... as is this resp. here> So the copper treatment would be ineffective because the copper would be absorbed by the live sand and keeping the correct concentration would be difficult? <Adsorbed> Would I be able to keep the correct concentration if I test the copper level daily and add as necessary? <No... have tried this... with many gallons of Cupramine... in commercial settings... over decades of time... You don't have to repeat my lack of success. Won't work> Would hyposalinity work better in this case? Maybe keep the display tank and fish in hypo for 4 weeks. <... sorry to state, I don't have time to re-write all of this... IS posted on WWM, in books, articles penned by me...> I understand the live sand would die in both cases. But with hyposalinity, it would re-populate once the live rock is added back to the tank. Plus I would be able to return the inverts once the treatment is over. Something I can't do if using copper. Thank you for the suggestion of using Chloroquine phosphate. I will research it on the net and WWM. -Peter <I would... and quickly. BobF>

Hospital tank common filter. Copper removal, re-addition  -- 9/24/07 Dear Bob, I am daily reading and reading your notes and FAQs. <Me too> I am sometimes confused and most of the time getting educated. <We share this impression> Your site is wonderful. As I discussed earlier about my plans of quarantine using one central filtration system which I have already constructed. I wish to modify it slightly. I have made a final sketch attached. I would appreciate your suggestions. <I see it/this...> After the fresh water dips the new fishes shall be kept in these tanks for two weeks in Cuso4 on 0.25ppm, SG 0.017 at 28 deg. Cel. <... okay> In the system there are two racks A and B with 9 tanks each total 18 tanks having sponge filters. <Again, the water should flow to and from each separately...> Total water vol. in 18 tanks is 1200 liters. The filtration sump (water vol. 200 liters) is further divided in to three sections: 1. To eliminate Cuso4 from returning water of hospital tanks using Activated Carbon. Carbon shall be replaced every week). 2. To remove the NH3 and No2. using biological filtration. 3. Storage area for adding Cuso4 again to maintain 0.25ppm of Cu and recirculating back to the racks. <Mmm, how will you accomplish this careful removal, replenishment?> The water circulation shall be done alternatively once every week <Needs to circulate continuously... to avoid the ill-effects of metabolite accumulation...> for rack A and B controlled by the gate valve. The returning water shall pass through the U.V.(30 watts) <Need more watts than this... covered on WWM> After the removal of Cuso4 and biological filtration, the treated water shall stand in the third section of the sump for addition of CuSo4 with aeration. The first two sections shall be aerated by the undergravel filter. After two week of treatment the CuSo4 shall be remove and the filtration system shall be kept on continuously. Is it possible for me to achieve this filtration. Will the biological filtration be stable. <Maybe... As I ask/ed... how will you know how much copper has been removed, how much to re-add?> Regards,
<Good ideas though. Bob Fenner>

Copper in FOT.. Workable Solution?   3/16/06 Hi Bob & Team. I wish you all well. You have been GOOD to our hobby. Couldn't have done it without you guys.    <Glad to help... though it's obvious it is getting past time to "cast our nets" out for more help... We're up some two k sessions per day over a few weeks ago...>   I would like to confirm the following treatment regime before I carry it out & I look forward to your usual prompt good quality response.    <Will try to deliver>   In my situation  when there was Ich/Marine Velvet outbreak in a bare-bottom FOWLR tank. All LRs had been removed from the tank (making it FOT) and it was observed that bio filter not adversely affected as there was no ammonia surge. Is it possible to go for copper treatment in this FOWLR turned FOT (Fish Only Tank)? <Yes... with a few caveats. Copper compounds and free cupric ion can/will suppress nitrification... so ammonia et al. must be monitored, new water stored for change-outs...> Since there is no Live Rocks and no Live sands (to begin with), With pumps, powerheads, skimmers and chiller as only gears in water, I assume it is alright to go copper treatment in main display. Can I get your confirmation? Would copper kill all my existing nitrifying bacteria?    <Likely so... though with careful application (a few times a day)... using chelated... this effect can be more/less managed>   Treating Main display tank in this manner will serve as good alternative, in my case of FOT, compared to catching all 6 fish out and quarantine them in 3 x QTs + fallow the main tank (which is FOT now). Not to mention the poisonous ammonia/nitrite issues that pop up often in new QTs all the time. For your info, the LR are put aside in a rubber maid bucket to keep alive during this treatment period.    <Yes... one other of those aforementioned caveats: the amount of "interfering" biological material in your "live substrate removed" system is going to absorb some of the copper material... Much more than a purposeful "treatment tank">   Another question to ask is: what is your experience in Copper Safe (Mardel) vs. Cupramine (Seachem)? <Both are fine, reliable/consistent products. Have used vast quantities of both> I have both and I am not sure which one to use for treating my FOT main tank. From what I read from instructions, Copper Safe requires 30 days of treatment and Cupramine is 14 days. Should I then infer that Copper Safe (Chelated Copper Sulfate) is less concentrated and slower? If I want faster treatment, I should go with Cupramine?    <Both... should be used for the same period of time... somewhere between these two time-frames actually...>   Copper Safe needs to be effective from 1.5ppm - 2 ppm (from instruction) and Cupramine is 0.5ppm. Now, I am confused on why such great discrepancy? Not to mention that your site here says 0.2-0.3 is ideal.    <Let's try to clear this up (for sure) here... the last values are for Cu++, free cupric ion... the two sets ahead are for (broken by testing protocol) chelated copper compounds... Is this clear?>   One last point is I intend to change to bigger tank as my fish is going to outgrow this 2.5 year old tank. So no reef tank set up will be done on this current tank. Good reason for me to go treatment this way. Hope you can see my rationale.    <Yes, though, assuredly, copper is "used up", almost always becomes complexed/lost within reasonable time frames from use in such systems... weeks, months after use such gear can be used with non-vertebrates.>   Thanks in advance for your helpful advice, as always. :).    <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

QT copper treatment Kole Tang   2/4/07 Hello crew and I have to say this is virtually the only source of information that I and my fish can count on. <Mmm, books? Clubs?> Over the years you have helped me beat Cyano without chemical intervention and now I am in the last stages of using QT for all fish introduced into my 125G FOWLR. <Yay!> My question is concerning my QT tank, a 12 gallon nano cube which has a small Kole Tang that has been treated for 21 days with CopperSafe and monitoring Cu level.  The fish appears fine and is eating well. I have read a numbers of FAQs indicating I should only treat Tangs for 14 days at the minimum effective level of copper. <Mmm, a good general "rule of thumb", yes> Since my fish is doing well I was planning to stretch the treatment period to 28 days.  Do you think this is to much exposure to copper for a Kole Tang versus the comfort that 28 days of copper should eliminate ich.  Thanks again. <I think/believe that about all the good one can do with such treatments is accomplished in two weeks... beyond this there is a fast drop-off of benefit vs. risk of poisoning. Bob Fenner>

Copper and coral again I may be crazy, but I thought I was told that if I used CopperSafe in my tank that it was free floating and would NOT absorb into my rock and crushed coral.  <that is complete crap... whoever told you that was ignorant indeed (as in not-knowing, although I wonder about some of the turnips at LFS I have met)> Although it would explain why I can't seem to get inverts to do very well in the tank. Tell me I am not crazy and that what I heard was right....I hate to think of trashing 110 lbs. of coral and a ton of my rock. thanks Robert <sorry, bub... but medication of any kind should NEVER be used in a display tank. That's what quarantine tanks are for, my friend. a proper QT is 4 weeks and the display tank unmedicated runs fallow without a host for the pathogen in the interim. Your rock is "poisoned" by copper. Still not to be wasted... you have choices, The rock can be used in fish tanks or any aquaria where inverts cannot crawl across the stained media. Or... you can use a bunch of poly-filters for months to slowly pick up liberated copper and resist buying any more snails, anemones, corals etc for many months until it all clears up. The rock is still biologically quite useful. best regards, Anthony>

Can you help with ich? Hope this the right address for Q&A!!! Hello, <Hi Vicki> I have recently discovered what appears to be ich in my 75 g tank (on a Sohal, porcupine, and Klunzinger Wrasse). I tried removing them to a 10 g. quarantine tank treated with CopperSafe (I followed instructions EXACTLY!). My fish were fine for about a day...then WHAM, they all started breathing rapidly, sitting at the bottom of the tank, and looking generally awful. My wrasse was on his last fin, when I decided to get them back into the main tank. All have regained their vigor, but also retained their ich. <A 10 gallon QT is a little tight for these guys, depending on their size....> What am I doing wrong?! I already tried Sea Cure Copper for ich on a dwarf angel--same results:(. Again, I was meticulous following those directions! My water tests fine for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. I am afraid of copper now, and am feeding anti-parasite food/doing freshwater dips to keep the ich at bay. Have also added a UV sterilizer for future problems. I think I'm getting ich-obsessed. Please help me--I don't want to lose another fish! Vicki <Alright Vicki, you need the copper and more importantly, you need the test kit for the copper you have. PLEASE go to WetWebMedia.com to the copper FAQs http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coppertestfaqs.htm ands read the faq's about the types of tests and the copper they test for. Maintain the free cupric ion at 0.25 for two weeks and test daily. DON'T overdose!!!!! I bet you have too much copper. There are a ton of links and FAQs on copper at WetWebMedia. The tests can be had from most of the WetWeb commercial sponsors. Craig>

Copper Capers? Could you please give me a list of fish on which I should never use either hyposalinity or copper medications on? I know some of the larger angelfish, triggers, puffers, and some tangs can take it.  What about butterflies, gobies, blennies, and dwarf angels? <Well, I am a big fan of copper sulphate as a cure for parasitic diseases, but, as you surmised, not all fishes take it well. Tangs, for example, respond well to copper for short periods, but if they are subjected to prolonged exposure, their digestive fauna can be damaged, which can cause serious health problems down the line. Only expose tangs to copper long enough to affect a cure. In my experience, most butterflies seem to do okay (some don't, however), as do some of the larger blennies and gobies. Dwarf angels, on the other hand, do not always fare so well with copper. Formalin-based medications would be better. If you test for copper concentration, you'll at least have a better picture as to what is going on in your tank> The reason I am asking is that now that I got the hang of things I am trying harder to keep species such as powder blue tangs and various butterflies and angelfish, I'd hate to kill them using copper. <A good goal. Of course, as big a fan of copper as I am for treatment, I do not endorse its use on a prophylactic basis. I'd rather use freshwater dips and quarantine...> And one more thing that I know a whole lot of hobbyists are confused about is the ppm of copper needed to cure some parasites.  Now I know that you guys always say that .8 ppm is the highest any fish can take. But if you look at most of the copper manufacturers directions they suggest 1.5 - 2.5 ppm. You guys always think that the hobbyist has "misplaced" the decimal point but we haven't.  Weird stuff, what do you say? Thank you Dinesh Patolia <All very valid points. To make it more confusing, there are kits that measure "free cupric ion", "total copper level", or chelated copper, etc....I have always used Mardel CopperSafe, myself, and have followed the manufacturer's directions to the letter, and it works for me. I guess my point is- always follow the manufacturer's instructions, and ALWAYS test for copper with a kit that measures the type of copper which you are using...For more on copper use, check out this FAQ:  www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

- Copper in the Main Tank? - After reviewing all of the postings re: copper, I do have a few questions. If I have a 90-gallon fish-only tank that comes down with ich (lets say 4 of 5 get it), you are suggesting that they all be put in quarantine tanks and treated with copper in there? <Absolutely.> Logistically, is this really possible for the average hobbyist? <My friend, I am an average hobbyist, and I've done this with four or five ten gallon tanks, all purchased for the occasion... it really is your best option. All other options are fraught with problems and potential ineffectiveness.> I don't have another 90-gallon Q tank set up for these occasions so I'm not sure what I would do. <Several smaller tanks are actually easier to manage - less need to chase fish around to catch them for dips, etc.> I had always heard that you have to treat the entire tank if you have ich in your tank or another parasitic disease. Also, if that is done, won't the parasite continue to live in your main tank, even if the 1 or 2 other fish have not been struck by it? <Our suggested routine is to remove ALL fish, and let the tank run fallow for four to six weeks. A very large percentage of the parasites will perish in time without fish-hosts.> Will it actually live on them and in the substrate and multiply etc? <As long as there are hosts, yes.> And still be there when your other fish return? <Yes.> I am currently treating my 90-gallon tank with SeaCure after the lone fish I have (Miniatus grouper) came down with ich after it had killed a tank mate. Are you saying that the SeaCure will destroy all of my good biological filtration that has built up in my wet/dry trickle? <Yes, and it will also be absorbed by your substrate and rock work, which means the effective dose will be lower than intended, potentially doing your fish no good at all.> I would appreciate your feedback. <Cheers, J -- >

- Copper and Scaleless Fish - WWM : I'm moving all my reef fish into a QT tank to begin a serious treatment for Ick. I'm planning on using ionic copper, but I wonder if I should put the scaleless fish like the Firefish, blennies and gobies into a separate tank and treat some other way, such as with malachite green? <Not a bad idea.> Any advice would be most appreciated. <Well... scaleless fish can put up with copper, but likely you need to reduce the dose a tad so that they aren't overly irritated by it.> Thanks, SLC <Cheers, J -- >

Feeding Habits W/copper treatment Mr. Fenner: I have had to treat my tank with copper due to a fish occurring with parasites. My LFS indicated that my water is probably contaminated with parasites from the infected fish. <Yes... if the tank itself was not treated with a therapeutic dose for this duration> He indicated I should treat with copper for two weeks along with Greenex.  <Mmm, am not a big fan of this product... quite toxic> I told him I had a lionfish and he indicated it would be okay. Now my blue ribbon eel and lionfish who both ate every other day have not eaten for almost a week. <Not good... the former fish is exceedingly difficult to keep even w/o disease, treatment problems> I know my eel can last longer than a week without eating, however, I am concerned with the lionfish. <It too can go a surprisingly long time w/o food> Should I stop treatment with copper? My lionfish did show some cloudy eyes indication after the initial fish contacted the parasites. The lionfish eyes seem to have cleared up. I started treatment on 1/7 and treated with copper up until 1/13. I had the copper up to 2.0ppm before I stopped. <... a few concerns with your statements... you need to treat the fishes for a two week duration... to assure parasite eradication... and follow a known-effective regimen for at least reducing the pathogenicity of the parasites in the main system. And 2.0 ppm of what? Not free cupric ion?...> Thank you for your assistance on this matter, since I do not want to harm the fish anymore than I might have. Also I would like to obtain new fish in the future and do not want to obtain any till I know my water is okay. Regards, Mendy <Good idea... Please take the time to read through the "Marine Parasitic Disease" section of WetWebMedia.com: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm and the many linked FAQs files there... especially re parasitized systems. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Rocks & coral w/copper? Hello Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please> Everything I have read seems to say that an effective copper treatment for marine ich/velvet requires removal of rocks & coral (mine are not live).  <In almost all cases, yes... otherwise the life, chemical nature of the non-living matrix absorbs the copper... and kills a bunch of the life in the process> A month ago I completed my second 14 day copper treatment @ 25ppm in my 135 gal. <Mmm, you're missing a decimal point> Each time I removed everything except about a one inch layer of crushed coral. Without adding any other fish the ich/velvet has returned, my fish get along fine with no stress, but on warmer days my tank's temperature fluctuates a few degrees. <Whoa! Are you sure you had a continuous physiological dose (free cupric ion concentration) during this interval?> I said the heck with stripping my tank again and just started the treatment again.  <Mmm, not a good idea... weakened fishes... from the previous treatment...> So far after only a few days the disease has seemed to subside. I will treat for at least 14 days. My question is Dr. Fenner, am I likely to be successful in treating with rocks and coral in the tank?  <No... if these materials, life are present they will take up the copper, be harmed by it (in terms of the living components, organisms) and preclude/prevent the copper from being of sufficient ongoing strength (concentration) to effect a cure. Please read through the many disease, copper use articles and FAQs posted on the Marine Index of WetWebMedia.com> And would it be advisable to try to push a few extra days on the treatment? In testing the copper levels I have not seen erratic drops or rises in the levels, and also, all of my fish have handled these treatments extremely well. One other thing please, I regularly feed these fish live ghost shrimp that I keep in a slightly brackish 150 gal tank outdoors. I collect these from a bay by the thousands, could they possibly be transmitting this disease to my fish? The water quality is always very good. As always, thank you very much for your time and expertise, Steve Tilotta <Again, do study the materials posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Ich treatment with copper. Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> My fish and I have a question.  <fire away Dr Doolittle... or your piscine spokesfish> I have a 55 gal FO tank with five fish (a purple Dottyback, yellow tang, Percula clown, golden sleeper goby, and a red-finned fairy wrasse) with a 2-2.5 inch layer of reef sand and no live rock or corals. My fish have come down with Ick.  <if no new or un-quarantined fish recently, look towards temperature fluctuations (day/night) as a likely culprit> The yellow tang started dashing and scratching a few days before the spots appeared and periodically the Dottyback scratched on my Fluval return tube. The Dottyback and wrasse developed the tell tale spots of Ick a few days later. Last week, I started treating with CopperSafe directly in my tank since I have to rid both the tank and fish of the Ick.  <Argghhh... copper is always to be treated in a bare bottomed vessel. Medications such as copper are rendered less effective or ineffective by the buffering action of calcareous media (gravel, sand, rock, coral skeletons, etc). Furthermore, the media is now tainted for future invertebrates...ruined essentially... anemones, starfish, shrimp, etc. can overdose on the absorbed copper in the substrate even when the water tests copper free.> I also increased my temperature to 84 degrees. I purchased a Kordon chelated copper testing kit and it appears that my copper concentration in my tank is 2 - 2.5 mg/L as the color is hard to determine compared to the testing kit. It is my understanding that the copper only kills the larva of the Ick once they hatch out of the eggs laid at the bottom of the tank. Is this true?  <essentially> How long does it take with me treating with CopperSafe for the spots to disappear off of the fish?  <no guarantee in a tank with sand or rock (more freq copper and tests are need daily to keep levels therapeutic because sand and rock keep absorbing it further...Eeek! In a bare bottomed aquarium, common Ich can be cured simply by siphoning the Tomites/larvae off of the bottom for eight consecutive days. Ich cure that simple> I thought they would be gone but when I get close to the tank I see possibly 50-100 spots on my wrasse even though he is swimming in 2-2.5 ppm of copper? <assumedly you mean .25 ppm copper as over .3 is fatal to many species. Each spot can drop and develop a couple of hundred cysts as well! No wonder it spreads so fast!> Is this normal? I have read that the eggs can lie at the bottom of the tank for up to twenty-two days before they hatch but the CopperSafe says to treat for only 14 days.  <a lot of unproven theory here... I took a fish pathology course by some of the worlds leading pathologists at the University of Georgia (Blasiola/Gratzek). Copper should be treated for 21 days if unassisted by water changes in a bare bottomed vessel ro freshwater dips> If I remove the copper after fourteen days, cant the eggs hatch and the free swimming Ick reattach to my fish? Should I treat for fourteen days after all the spots disappear or from the date I put in the CopperSafe? I read on WetWebMedia that the copper has attached to my substrate. Will I have to replace all of my sand or just the top layer? <all sand and rock removed if you want to keep inverts later (anemones, starfish, shrimp). If fish only, you may leave it. A quarantine tank would be cheaper for future reference...do research equipment and protocol on this topic> Thanks for your help as I am freaking out over this Ick outbreak. It seems the more I read, the more I get confused and this is why I wrote so many questions. I don't want to lose anybody to Ick or worst yet, kill them myself by poisoning them! Thank, Ray <best of luck Ray... do invest and use a QT tank for all new and sick fishes. 4 weeks is safest in QT. Anthony>

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