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FAQs on Copper Use 3

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 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, Utilization/Duration, 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


Chelated Copper Products:
Cupramine (SeaChem)
Cutrine products (Applied Biochemists)

Unchelated Copper Protects:
Copper Power
SeaCure (Aq. Sys)
Aquarisol (Aquarium Products)

Copper treatment and bad reaction - 10/28/2005 Hey guys, another question for you. <Fire away.>  My Pakistani in QT has been in copper for a week now and he has no more Ich left but now he's darting/flashing/twitching. <Uh-Oh.>  Is this another outbreak coming or is it from copper exposure? <It does sound like poisoning.>  Should I take him out or leave him in for the maximum of the two week period (it states in the FAQ'S that a good rule of thumb is 2 weeks of copper exposure for a fish to avoid giving copper poisoning)? <You should do an immediate, large water change. Run some PolyFilter or carbon to remove the rest of the copper.>  I went this long without harming him, I don't want to take on any additional high risk. <I would back off of the copper treatment and watch for improvements. How high is your copper reading?> Thanks, Jay <Thank you for helping me address a weak point. - Josh> 

Re: Copper treatment and bad reaction - 10/28/2005 I'd be cool with doing that, but I don't want to put any parasites in my display tank so I feel like I need to go the full two weeks. <I don't mean that you would be finished with QT, but that you should step back to observation at this point. Further treatment may/may not be necessary.>  I measured the copper very carefully every time I redosed after a water change (if anything, I put less than what I was supposed to). <Does this mean you only measured what was going in, not total concentration? Even with water changes, the existing copper would still be there, at least to some extent (I doubt you are draining all water and cleaning the tank with each). Do this a few times in a row and there's bound to be trouble. Everything added needs to be adjusted for what already exists.>  He's really not breathing fast, is it possible that he's just reacting to the copper exposure sort of like how we react to an antibiotic? <I think you most likely lost control of your copper level by accident. Take care of his basic needs now (water quality, feeding), and be prepared to "start over" if the problem manifests itself again. Oh yeah, sorry if you got another blank response. I think this thing timed out on me when I was ready to send, hence no message showed as sent for you. Good luck Jason. - Josh> 

Re: Copper treatment and bad reaction...or? Not Using Copper Properly - 10/31/2005 Ok great, thanks Josh. <Sure! Sorry I'm just responding but I've just signed on for the day.>  I think I was misleading on my email. After a water change I only put in what I took out (redosed copper for the amount of gallons taken out not for the total gallons of the tank all over again). <Glad you realized not to slam the tank anew. But..>  I did a test for the overall copper level and it's almost 0.3. <Is this per package instruction. Usually much lower (.015 area).>  I'm having a BIG problem with nitrites, they're at 4ppm and I've done several 30% water changes in a week, and last night just did a 40% and the level won't budge. <<30%-40% is NOWHERE near the amount of water you should be changing with the situation you currently have.  MH>> <BIG is not even close to the problems this WILL cause! You have serious issues at work here. I've never seen copper at this concentration, thus my question as to instructions. Nitrites at this level are very toxic; can cause suffocation and brain damage (would appear the same as poisoning). I remember on a previous query, you were recommended to use water from your main tank when doing changes to combat this by another crew member. Are you doing this?>  There really isn't any ammonia, which to me, is strange. <Likely been converted/not registering.>  Am I in danger with nitrites that high for a Pakistani b/f temporarily? <Yes, for any aquatic animals.>  I only have another week left in q/t,  <According to..?>  <<Usual quarantine protocol is 30 days DISEASE FREE.  Why was there no consideration in favor of using hyposalinity for this delicate fish? MH>> will he be ok with that level for this short period of time? <No. Stop the copper and address this.>  The other day, even with all of the spots gone, he leaned sideways and scratched his gill on the pvc pipe. <Suffocation perhaps, or "Are these things on?">  Do you have any idea why he would do this if he's been treated with copper for over a week and had no spots for a week and a half? <No spots means nothing.>  Is there another outbreak coming or is this a reaction from the copper and/or high nitrites? <At this point, I'd say either. It seems you are poisoning a brain damaged fish, the Crypt. is likely in larval form now. Read this by Scott F. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ichart2mar.htm . You are far from done here, but may still succeed. - Josh> Thanks, Jay  <Welcome as always.>

Quarantine and Copper - PLEASE Stop Sending Emails in html!!!! 10/25/05 Hi, I have a two part question for you guys. The first is about quarantining using copper. I know that a quarantine tank is helpful to fish because it allows them to adjust to captivity in a controlled peaceful environment. It also allows them to treated for parasites separately from the main tank.  But what I don't understand is why you should not immediately place the previously infected fish in the main tank after two weeks of being in copper. It seems to me that this would be the only way to insure the fish is disease free if your copper levels were at therapeutic during the transition. And by leaving them in the quarantine tank after bringing down the copper would allow the fish to potentially be reinfected without notice.  Could you explain to me why this isn't recommended? <Brandon, it takes anywhere from 21 to 28 days (depending on temperature) to completely eradicate a parasitic disease. During this time copper levels must be maintained. A fish may appear to be cured, but there may/will be hundreds of cysts laying on the bottom waiting to hatch. The cysts are unaffected by copper until they hatch. At this time they will need to find a host quickly. It is at this stage that we want to destroy them. Once embedded in the skin of the fish the copper also has little or no effect.> The second question I have is do you know what the name of the marine livestock distributor is around Florida? I'm starting a store up and the only wholesalers I can find is on the west coast. If you're not sure of the name in Florida, could you direct me to a link that lists livestock distributors? Thanks, Brandon  <Bob/Marina, can you help here? James (Salty Dog)> <<These lists are not usually available to the public, and many shops won't share this information with competition.  Has Brandon tried asking the distributors on the left coast who they know on the right coast?  Justin may also know better, I believe he's a Florida guy.  MH>> <<<Look in the Miami Yellow Pages... can find in large public libraries... call Millie at All Seas there... BobF>>>

Raccoon Butterfly, Copper, Quarantine 9/30/05 My name is Kristen and I just bought a raccoon butterfly for my 70gal tank.  Currently he is in my 25gal QT tank that I am treating with copper.  The last fish in the QT tank had been treated with copper before because of either velvet or angel fish disease (I figured after 4 months of letting the tank sit with no hosts, the parasite would die off). <Although Ick and velvet would die after this amount of time, quarantine tanks should always be drained and allowed to completely dry between uses to be absolutely sure than any pathogens can't survive.> Surely enough, my butterfly started to get white spots and was darting all over the tank.  So I'm assuming he contracted the same thing. <Most likely, it was carrying the disease when you purchased it.> I do notice that he is breathing very fast and heavy at times, other times not.  I have a good-sized air bar in the tank along with good circulation with a bio filter running and heater. <Rapid gill movement is usually a sign of stress and often of parasites damaging gills.  This occurs even when there is plenty of oxygen in the water.> Before I put my butterfly in the tank, the copper treated water had been sitting a good four months w/o any fish in it.  One quarter of the water evaporated, and I sucked out the other 1/4 of the water for a 50% water change (including the water that evaporated).  So 50% of the old water still remained and I put the other 50% full of new water. <Yikes!  If the water was allowed to evaporate 25%, this could cause unpredictable changes in water quality.  Also, if you have not done so, please be sure that the salinity is correct as it would have increased with evaporation.  I would suggest performing a couple of large (25-30%) water changes with water from your display to ensure proper water quality.  Replace the water in your display with new well aerated salt water.> Do you think after all that time there was still copper left (I forgot to test to see)?  As of right now, I only put the first dose of two in the tank.  I'm going to hold off on putting the second and final dose in until I hear from you. <It is impossible to predict how much copper might have been left in the water.  Copper treatment must be done according to the package directions and should be tested regularly during treatment (some preparations can't be tested for... just follow the directions to the letter).> Do you think his fast breathing are signs of a copper overdose already, only after 2 days?  I'm concerned even though the fish looks great/very colorful, is eating, and is active.  He just seems a little spazzy. Please help!!  Thanks so much, Kristen :-) <I doubt that this is copper toxicity.  I would guess that it is a water quality/stress issue.  The fish should have plenty of cover to make it feel secure (flower pots or pieces of PVC pipe work well) and water quality should be optimized with water changes and good filtration.  Be sure to add the appropriate amount of copper to make up for water changes.  Hope this all helps.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Raccoon Butterfly, Copper, Quarantine part 2 10/3/05 Thanks so much. Should I just skip copper treatment now that the spots are gone?  <You can suspend the copper, but keep the fish in quarantine for a total of four weeks after the spots disappeared. If the spots reappear, resume the copper.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Raccoon Butterfly in Copper  10/3/05 Thanks Leslie.   <You're welcome Jason!> At this point in time I have a raccoon B/F in my QT tank and it came down with either velvet or angelfish disease. Awww I’m sorry.> I'm currently treating with copper and I’m being as careful as I possibly can not to overdose.  I've treated with other meds before and it never successfully worked with velvet and angelfish disease.   If I don't overdose and I monitor the copper level in the tank, do you think the raccoon can withstand the treatment?  And how long will it take for the B/F to be cured? <I have never used copper but have read quite a bit about it. I enlisted the help of one of the other crew members, James aka Salty Dog. This is what he had to say... "Copper is an effective treatment providing safe levels are maintained, 0.15 to 0.20.  The fish should undergo treatment at least 21 days. The correct test kit should be used for the type of copper he is using. There is a chelated form of copper that might throw the reading off. He needs to read the bottle and determine what he has, then read the test kit instructions to be sure it will correctly read it.” HTH and best of luck with your Raccoon Butterfly, Leslie>

Raccoon Butterfly, Copper, Quarantine part 3 10/3/05 Ok, thanks.  I do have a better understanding now, I wasn't looking in the right spot on WWM.  But one thing still remains unanswered.  It says butterflies are particularly sensitive to copper and also says in your book to avoid copper by QT and dipping.  My raccoon already has the disease, in your opinion do you think he'll be ok with a full treatment of copper if I don't overdose and follow the exact instructions?  His gill movement is still slightly rapid and he's twitching mildly (no spots left though).  I also read in the FAQ's that BF's can die a few weeks after copper treatment because of  simply being sensitive toward it.  Should I take the chance or do have another suggestion?  I don't want to lose my raccoon to copper sensitivity/poisoning, please guide me in the best direction am pretty new to this!  Thanks so much!!! Ok, great.  But it says in the FAQ'S and in the book that b/f's are very sensitive to copper and should be avoided, should I take the chance?  Can my raccoon handle the full copper treatment?  I don't want to give him copper poisoning. Thanks  <In my earlier reply, I recommended resuming the copper only if spots return.  I stick by this recommendation and also the one in my original reply... follow the directions for the copper preparation you buy to the letter and test frequently if it is possible to do so with the preparation you choose.  Copper is generally safe for scaled fish as long as it isn't overdosed or used for too long.  If spots return and you don't want to use copper, you can use the water change technique described here: http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php  Best Regards.  AdamC.>  

Raccoon Butterfly, Copper and Quarantine part4 10/3/05 Thanks.  I put a few different emails out to a few different crew members lol.  My final question is:  Will my raccoon b/f withstand the copper treatment?  I hear that they are very sensitive to it and I don't want to kill him.  <James's recommendation was pretty similar to mine.  If you do employ copper be sure to follow the instructions and maintain the proper concentration.  Also, if you always address the specific crew member or copy your previous exchange into your new message, you are less likely to get "bounced around" to various crew members.  We deal with a lot of mail and it is hard to keep track of who has answered who!  Hope this all helps!  AdamC.>

Raccoon Butterfly in Copper 10/8/05 Ok great. The water was treated with copper before, how can I be assured that I'm not putting too much in with the previous amount in the water. Is carbon effective enough to get rid of all the copper in the water and then start over with full dosage? <I would not rely on carbon to remove all of the copper. I would perform a large water change in the quarantine tank (or even drain and re-fill it). When I do this, I usually use water from my display tank and then replenish freshly made seawater into the display. This ensures that your fish in quarantine is only exposed to well seasoned water. After two large water changes, I would resume the copper treatment as dictated by the package instructions. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Copper in marine systems  9/21/05 Hi Bob I have been reading about copper on your website and I have a few questions about how long term copper exposure affects fish. I read that fish can get copper poisoning, but how can you tell? What are the symptoms? <Mmm, some of them... include rapid breathing while the fish is setting on the bottom, at an angle near the top... to very labored/slow breathing... glassed over eyes, milky body appearance, for marines: drooping fins... > What do you think about keeping tanks constantly dosed with copper as a preventative measure for disease? <A poor idea... many stores, some wholesale operations utilize copper on a continuous to semi-continuous basis... long-term exposure shortens lifespans considerably> I am just learning about saltwater systems and am trying to gather as much information as possible. <Let's settle on "as practical"> Are some marine fish more sensitive to copper than others? <Oh yes> Are scaleless fish more sensitive than scaled? <Definitely> What exactly does long-term copper exposure do to a fish? <... several things... how much of this do you want to discuss? The histopathology? Just gross morphology? Maybe just a key example? The loss of packed-cell volume in the blood is one such effect... real trouble, as the hematocrits of fishes are high, DO quite low in seawater> I read somewhere that copper can eventually kill off all the intestinal fauna in a fish. Is that true? <Yes> What else can happen? <Too much to elaborate here... If truly interested, a trip to a large/college library, search tools there is in order> I know copper is a heavy metal and I would not think that any exposure it that great. Thank you so much for your time and help!   Regards,          Kristina <You show tremendous curiosity and intelligence... Might I suggest you use your interest, abilities here to do said search, write up for the pet-fish magazines, pulp and e-... I will help you sell such. Bob Fenner> Blind Harlequin Tusk?  9/21/05 Howdy Crew, I've recently purchased a 4" long Harlequin Tusk. After about 5 days in QT it was showing signs of ich. I waited a couple of days to see if it would clear up on it's own and it did not. The fish never stopped eating and was acting normal. So I read up on treating them for ich and saw on WWM that you can use copper but that in too high of a concentration, will cause them to go blind. <Can, yes> I decided to go ahead with the copper as the ich wasn't getting any better. I used Mardel Copper Safe and treated with less than the bottle prescribed hoping the tusk wouldn't go blind. This was yesterday and at feeding time last night, the fish was swimming around looking for food but wasn't really finding any. I think he's gone blind. My question is, can a tusk regain their sight? <Highly unlikely this fish is blind, was blinded... Very likely it "doesn't feel like eating" due to copper exposure> I immediately put a bag of carbon in the filter to remove the copper and did a 1/3 water change with RO/DI water. Thanks for all your help. <Mmm, you'll have to devise some method of treatment... Bob Fenner>

Copper and Invertebrates Don't Mix! 09/12/05  Hi<<Hello>> I have ick in my tank I have a 44gal all fish tank. I recently did a 20 percent water change and added Coppersafe to the tank.<<You should have removed the fish to a separate tank for treatment and let the display tank lie fallow. Copper will remain in tank and kill any invertebrates you add.>>  I was wondering if that will be OK or should I treat it with other things later. <<If the copper treatment is to succeed you must maintain the correct level of copper. This means using a copper test kit and checking everyday and dosing copper accordingly.>> Tomorrow I am going to go to the pet store and buy two cleaner shrimp and a goby to help get rid of the ick. <<No. The copper will kill the shrimps and you should not add fish to an infected system. Your best bet is to pick a treatment regimen, be patient and stick with it.>> Is there anything else I should do concerned with? I really care about my fish and I want to get this infestation out.<<Please search and read on WWM. Search topics should include "copper treatment", "marine ich", "ich and low salinity", "copper and invertebrates" and "quarantine procedures". Good luck - Ted>>

Copper & Marine Angels  9/7/05 Hello and best wishes to the WWM crew!! <Thank you.> As always, thank you for the wonderful bounty of information and for always being there throughout the years. I have a question about copper and marine angels: I was "cruising" your website as I have done countless times (and am nowhere near seeing all of it!) and came across multiple articles which state that copper is very, very bad for angels! This came as a surprise because I have used copper on countless angels in the past and have never had anything but good results. I have to wonder if it is because I only use chelated copper (specifically Coppersafe)? Have I just been an extremely lucky guy? <Manuel, copper can be dangerous for all marine fish if dosed above safe levels.  It has always been recommended to used a copper test kit to ensure a proper/effective dosage is.  I've used copper on angels with no ill effects providing of course there is no overdose.  James (Salty Dog)> Many thanks in advance, Manuel Alvarez

Re: Copper & Marine Angels 9/8/05 Thank you James, I feel much better!  :) I perform copper tests on an almost daily basis during treatment and keep my Coppersafe level at 1.5ppm, which is the low-end of what is recommended for the product, and it has always worked for me at that level.  <Manuel, that is precisely why you have success with copper treatments.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again and take care, Manuel Maracyn and copper 7/31/05 Is it ok to use Maracyn and copper together in a quarantine tank <Yes, this antibiotic (Erythromycin) and copper compounds (chelated and not) can be safely used together. Bob Fenner> CUPRAMINE USE Hi guys, your collective wisdom would be appreciated. I have successfully used Cupramine in the past to treat ick in a QT setting, but now I find it necessary to treat in a fish-only display tank; I have a large French that picked it up, probably from the stress of being moved; he's just too big to treat in my QT; I have minimal substrate and about 15% by volume coral rock/coral. Will this significantly degrade treatment effectiveness, and if so can I compensate?  <Steve, rock and sand/crushed coral do absorb copper.  Effective treatment needs to be maintained using a reliable copper test kit to ensure the level is effective.  Search the WWM, keyword, copper, for more info.  James (Salty Dog)>Your thoughts please.  Thanks, Steve. Re: fish gasping for air... Well it looks like the little damsel might make it. <Yay!> He is breathing better and is a little more active. I still haven't seen him eat, but guess we'll just wait and see. Now the question is, can the main tank still go fallow with him in it as long as he doesn't get sick (i.e. as long as the parasites don't have a chance to continue their cycle by attaching to him as a host)? <Mmm, no... if a fish/host is present, the system is not "fallow"> Should I put him back in the QT and not add anymore copper? <Yes> I know he's a cheap little $4 fish, but I have gotten kind of attached to the little guy after all he's lived through and I'd like to at least save ONE fish from this whole fiasco. Also, when I quarantine fish when I first bring them home, do I maintain a therapeutic dose of copper in the QT to take care of any disease or just treat if they show symptoms? <Mostly the latter> I'm just thinking if 0.3 ppm almost killed a tough little damsel, what will 0.5 ppm (the suggested dose) do to other fish I put in there?  <You should make sure you're matching a chelate/non-chelate test kit with the appropriate product... Much written on copper use, quarantine on WWM>  And I know you hear this all the time, but you guys are great! You're like my little marine security blanket that I run to whenever things go bad. :) I did buy your book and can't wait to get it in the mail...maybe I won't have to bug you guys as much once I get it.  Anyways, thanks again! Bye fur now, Mark P.S. I bought your book <Bob Fenner> 

Ornamental fish? Hello, I bought a medication for my yellow-longnose Butterflyfish. It is Mardel CopperSafe. It says do not use with ornamental fish. What are ornamental fish I cant find it anywhere's what are they?  Thank you,  Jason <Mmm, much to ask of you... I used to answer queries for Mardel (an older version, the co. has been (re)sold... and don't remember this designation. CopperSafe is a chelated copper sulfate solution... Please read re on WWM... Second, what are you trying to treat the Forcipiger for? Lastly, a response to your actual query... an "ornamental" fish (or anything) is one that is used for non-utilitarian purposes... for looks let's say instead of food... Bob Fenner>

Copper use Dear Bob, <James today> I have a question about copper use and did not see any reference to it on your site. If I use copper in a tank for less then a week, do I risk creating copper resistant strains of Ich and velvet? <No> Like ending the use of antibiotics before the full treatment cycle? Is there a minimum treatment time? <A very minimum of 21 days, preferable 28.> I ask this because I used it for 3 or 4 days now and everything is fine, no spots no where. <Continued use is a must for eradication.  Other cysts will hatch and look for hosts.  The copper needs to be in the system when these hatch.> I want to end the copper use early because I had two cleaner shrimp in the tank that I could not remove for the life of me and they are still alive and I was hoping that the copper had knocked out the ich and velvet (I had both) and I could do water changes and still keep my shrimp alive now? <To have an effective copper treatment program, you need to find a temporary home for the shrimp.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for your advice. <You're welcome> Brendgol

Red Sea Fishes... crypt, copper use Hi, <Hello> Over the past two years I have successfully quarantined around 10 fish.  None of them came down with anything and they are all fine and dandy in my 400 gallon tank.  Then, I purchased a Green bird wrasse and lipstick tang from the Red Sea. <Okay> They came down with white spot so I used Cuprazin, a chelated copper treatment.  The white spot went away and came back 3 times. The 3rd time they were completely covered, started to go lopsided and died within 6 hours. <Successive reproduction of the parasite, weakening of hosts... hyperinfection. Did you use a copper (chelated variety) test kit? You did not maintain a physiological dose of cupric ion>   My 50 gallon quarantine tank was properly set up with filter material from my main sump.  So, ammonia was 0, nitrite 0, kH 10, ph 8.4. Everything ok.  And they were eating and swimming well until 3rd hit of whitespot.  Nightmare.  So, 6 months later a Red Sea Asfur Angel catches my eye, so I buy him. Again he gets white spot minutes after going into quarantine, <Mmm, you do understand your actual system has the Cryptocaryon? It will be there, ready to infest any/all, but mostly new fishes... until eradicated> same pattern, 3 rd time he's covered and dies the same way after 6 hours.  I'm so upset.  Is the Cuprazin a rubbish product or is there something more deadly with the red sea whitespot?  After the 2nd hit he was so well so I presumed he was better.  This has really put me of buying anymore fish for a long time. Kind Regards, James. <James, you apparently have a generally thorough understanding of marine aquarium keeping, but an incomplete one re marine ich... Do yourself and giant favor and read over the archived materials on WWM re marine parasitic disease en toto, Cryptocaryon... and the use of copper compounds. Bob Fenner>

Effectiveness of Copper in combating ich... Hi! <Hello> Recently, I have an outbreak of ich in my FOWLR display tank having after intro an infected new fish... I have remove all the survivors from the display tank and put them into quarantine with copper treatment (I am using Seachem Cupramine).  Will be leaving my display tank fallow for 8 weeks so I took the time to do some rescaping. <Okay> I happen to catch a hitchhiking pistol shrimp  (about 1 inch in size) on one of the live rock and decided to carry out an experiment on it.  Cruel I may be but I really wanted to know the true effectiveness of copper against ich (since I learnt that copper can be deadly to inverts).  I place the pistol shrimp into a small container and add Cupramine solution (of copper 0.5mg) and leave it there for 3 days, it is still alive.... I raise the copper level to 1.0mg and for four days amazingly, the fellow is still alive.... <Happens> Now, I'm really curious about the true effectiveness of Cupramine....  Is it truly deadly as it claims to invert?  What's the catch here? Thanks Caleb <Copper, when coupled with chelating, sequestering agents like alkanoamines can indeed be rendered less toxic... and less effective in its intended use/s... Bob Fenner> Coppersafe as a prevention? Hello, just wanted to thank you for all the great help and information you've given in the past since I've started this hobby. <Welcome> My question is regarding the dogface puffer we've just purchased. The place where we bought him was very informative and helpful, and recommended that we use Coppersafe in our tank as a prevention against some of the diseases that are so common with this type of fish. <Not a good idea... to use copper prophylactically or on/with puffers period> We've treated the tank before, so I know that there is no problems with the sand, rock etc. since it is probably already dead. (Our LFS didn't inform us that using this type of treatment was harmful to our live rock the last time we used it.) Our tank has been doing great for almost a year now with no problems except for the crappy Seaclone skimmer we purchased. I was wondering about treating it with copper, how much should be used for just preventing disease? I figured that doing a full treatment wasn't necessary since there hasn't been an outbreak. Thanks ahead of time for your help! <Please use the search tool or indices: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/index.html re "Copper Use", "Puffer Disease"... and stop this practice. Bob Fenner> Copper use Hello Bob.  I just wanted to get you to clarify a passage in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist."  The section is from page 161 in regards to copper treatments, "Nevertheless, copper, especially raw copper sulfate or homemade concoctions, should not be continuously applied to a home aquarium system, as it has been found to have cumulative deleterious effects."  That means that copper can build up to poisonous levels in a fish's tissue even if one only applies the medications at its recommended concentration, correct? Thanks, Steven <That/this is correct. Periodic exposure to copper/compounds may be efficacious, but not continuous. Bob Fenner> Prophylactic Cupramine in the QT Hello again!  <Good evening, Mark.> Seems like I always have "just one more question". Thanks for your patience. Over the past 5 months I have had two outbreaks of ich, each occurring about 2 weeks after the introduction of presumed healthy fish. I have learned my lesson, and after spending a lot of time on your site, I'm getting the equipment ready for a QT (really fairly simple and inexpensive as outlined by your team). My question, is it ever recommended to prophylactically treat with Cupramine in the QT without signs of ich on the new arrivals, or is this too stressful on the fish? Would a freshwater Methylene blue dip be just as effective?  <Mark, I don't recommend treating a fish that isn't diseased. As you say, it does add a little stress to the animal. I would just do quarantine and observe and after the QT period, if everything looks honky dory, then add to the display tank. James (Salty Dog)>

Copper Howdy, Just a quick question wondering whether copper medications are out of bounds for aquariums housing yellow polyps? <Definitely, any inverts for that matter.  James (Salty Dog)>

- Fish Behavior & Copper - Hi guys: I appreciated the past responses you have given me. I have a question and based on reading and research, I can't support my conclusions. I have a large tank with about 30 fish. I had been battling ich for a couple of months with no success. I finally got frustrated enough that I treated the display tank with copper (I am well aware of the pitfalls of this and the problems to getting the copper out - went through it with my last tank set up).  I do not keep inverts. I followed the direction, monitored the levels continuously and knock the ich out completely, with no noticeable effects to the fish. Treated for 5 weeks. In the final week, one of my lookdowns quit eating, one of my Heniochus became sort of coated in white (for lack of better description). I immediately performed two large water changes, put skimmers back on and added PolyFilters to begin pulling out the copper.  <Wise reaction.>  The water is basically tracing no copper any longer. The lookdown is eating again, the butterfly's color is marginally better (he is eating great), but I have notice other fish scratching a lot. I see nothing to believe the scratching is due to parasites. Nothing noticeable on fins or eyes or body. My sense is that it is due to environmental concerns, such as too much copper. Does this make sense.  <Yes it does, and is quite possible. The list of reasons not to treat the main tank are myriad, but among them is the fact that there are too many things in the tank that will absorb the copper [rock, substrate, decor, etc.] first making it difficult to develop a therapeutic dose of copper, and secondly leading to an overdose, which is likely what happened here. Similarly... and it stands to reason that if copper kills invertebrates, copper will also kill the bacteria that make up your biological filter, so water quality almost always takes a dive. The scratching may in fact be indicative of a genuine and continuing parasitic problem so you need to keep your eyes on things - especially where on their bodies the fish are scratching. If in/around the gills, you'll need to consider how you might catch, freshwater dip, and quarantine your fish.>  The copper range never went over the prescribed treatment levels.  <Another caveat that I would add here, and this may not apply to you but needs to be stated for the general public, is that many copper tests don't work well with chelated copper treatments that are quite prevalent in the hobby... it could be quite possible that you were lead to believe that the copper range never went over the proscribed level but was in fact quite high.>  I would appreciate any thought you have. Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

Copper treatment side effect? Dear Bob: <Eric> My fishes are in the QT with copper for a week, and because the salinity was lowered to 1010, therefore I was trying to raise it slowly day by day by changing 4 gallons of water daily (20 gallon QT). my Regal angel today show signs of distress. She seems to be not able to keep his posture, as like she is trying hard to not float up to the top. her head tilt down and swim backwards/side?? She is breathing rather fast but she seems alert, (eyes are looking and moving). she is not breathing really fast. but faster then normal. however all her tankmates are fine. Will the fish's floating device malfunction if I am raising the salinity too fast? And how fast is too fast?? <A ppt (part per thousand) a day is about safe for fishes... two ppt maximum "going up" (one going to lower spg). The combination of altered salinity AND copper is too much for some species, individuals. Bob Fenner>

Copper (SeaCure) Bob, I have a 125 gallon fish/ live rock (200 lbs) tank only. For the past 2 years I have been putting in sea cure copper (.20) and reef builder as directed by my LFS. Now he is out of business and it seems this has been a very bad idea. <Very bad idea>  pH: 8.5 Nitrate 0 Alk High Amm 0.5 Nitrate 2.5 77 degrees 1.22 salt  Is my live rock now ruined?  <I would say yes>  What about my fish? Should I stop the copper or continue?  <Bob, do you take medicine for a cold everyday?>  I guess the only good thing is I have never had a fish disease.  Do you recommend a schedule for putting elements into my tank or just keep up on the water changes.  <Bob, a successful marine aquarium requires certain maintenance duties such as 10% weekly or 20% bi-weekly. I prefer the 10% weekly. Obviously you have no invertebrates so adding any additives outside reef builder for alkalinity isn't really necessary. The water changes will provide the necessary elements the fish need to survive. You do want to keep your alkalinity between 8-10 dKH for proper ph balance. So forget the copper and keep an eye on the alk and ph. James (Salty Dog)> 

Hospitalization - where did I go wrong? Hi Crew, Thanks for the great site; it has been a tremendous reference. <Glad to find it is of use to you> 14 days ago we noticed crypt for the first time on  A. leucosternon, an otherwise friendly, fat, and jovial tank resident for 2+ years. I attribute the outbreak to the introduction of two small gobies. <Rats!> I put together a 30g QT (my A. leucosternon is on the small side) with old tank water, established a sponge filter,  increased flow above 300gph with two powerheads, lowered SG just a pinch to 1.022, raised temp to 81 (from 79), and NH4/NO2 was 0. I was able to capture A. leuco in a pre-dawn raid yesterday using the flashlight and net method. <Good descriptions> It remained docile for at least two minutes while we coaxed him out of his resting spot - it literally backed right into the net! Anyways, my spirits were at a high since I was going to be able to finally treat this fish after 13 days.   The main display is a 110 reef, stable, light bioload with NH4/NO2 undetectable. The powder blue was always a voracious feeder on mixed frozen foods and Nori. During infection, the fish never scratched and I would describe the overall infection as "light." It had the telltale signs of crypt, with the trophonts falling off periodically. It showed no additional signs of stress, discomfort, or loss of appetite. This fish always appeared to have a quicker-than-normal gill rate, at times around ~100 breaths per minute but this was almost always associated with hyper activity (e.g. chattering at this reflection in the glass) or vigorous swims. <Agreed, no problem> The fish was frightened at first introduction to the hospital, and spent most of its time at the bottom trying to hide behind various pieces of equipment. That seemed normal. After 5-6 hrs it began venturing higher in the water column although never had any of his normal vibrancy that made him so pleasant in the main tank (the only fish I've seen who would do Olympic-style twisting, somersaulting dives - he will be missed). <Yikes... a bit of forecasting.> I treated a half-dose with Cupramine, bring the Cu+ level to .25-.3.  Within 4 hours, under ambient room light, there were no visible signs of infection. <Good> Unfortunately, I never made note of his gill rate prior to the medication and I'm shooting myself for it now. During observation at roughly 4 pm, 10 hours after introduction to the hospital and ~4 hrs after medication, his gill rate was > 180 bpm (or so it seemed, hard to count), he was still displaying his bottom-hiding lethargy (so much so that occasionally his caudal, anal fins would touch the bottom glass).   This morning I found him dead; rigor mortis had set in and an odor already had begun to build, my guess is he died sometime in the PM, i.e. within 12-18 hrs of introduction to the hospital tank His gills were thick as I removed him. The tank was partially covered, and one of the powerheads provided light surface agitation. I am devastated, as this is the first fish that has survived the initial acclimation period and perished under my watch.  I know that the answer to his death will remain a mystery, since rapid breathing can be caused by 1) stress,  nervousness; 2) parasitic infection; and 3) medication. <Well-stated. This is so> And I had exposed him to all three.  However, I have never seen such rapid decline in any specimen and I'm convinced that had he stayed in the main tank he'd be alive today, <Perhaps... but likely infested as well> although this was obviously not a viable long term option. I would like your opinion on what you think may have served as a catalyst for such decline. Certainly the combination of all of these factors could not have been a good thing with such a delicate fish, but are there any factors that stand out in particular? <The only co-factor I'd immediately add is the size (small) of the specimen... That is to state, that smaller individuals would be even more susceptible to the other influences> Perhaps I overestimated the fortitude of this wonderful fish. I know that this fish has survived light levels of Cupramine in the past since the original LFS (which is well above average, btw) uses it during acclimation. Did I too hastily medicate? Was the infection already too advanced?  <This last may be key> As always, thanks for your help, Peter <I do think you did what was/is "right"... at least... this is what I would have done as well... I would quarantine all new livestock. Bob Fenner> 

- Hospitalization - Where did I Go Wrong? Follow-up - Just one other quick note I forgot to mention this morning - the pH of the hospital tank (I called it QT below) and the display was identical, ~8.1, 8.2 as I remember. <Sounds good to me. Am incomplete agreement with Bob's earlier response.> Thanks again, in advance, Peter <Cheers, J -- >

Butterflies Aren't Free (Cont'd.) Thanks for the info... <Our pleasure-that's why we're here!> So how does one know if they are paying $39 for "Pepper Sauce" as opposed for a viable treatment (re: REEF SAFE KICK ICK) ???? Is there a better treatment for 'the itch' or 'ick' whatever you call it? <If you are indeed certain that ich is the malady that you're dealing with, then I'd use (in a separate treatment tank) a proven, "mainstream" cure, such as copper sulphate, properly administered and monitored for concentration.> The only signs my butterflies have is that they rub themselves against the rocks... they may have slight imperfections like a few missing scales behind the gills... but this is also where they are rubbing themselves.  So, from what I can see... all signs point to some sort of skin irritation /itchiness??? <Well- itching is an ich symptom, but there are other symptoms to this illness as well. In the absence of signs, it could even be a different parasite of some sort. You really need to check the FAQ's on marine parasites on the wetwebmedia.com site for more info. than I can touch on here regarding the identification and treatment of parasitic conditions> My water has been tested on average twice a week and I have just bought my own water test kit.  My test last night showed a pH of 8.2-8.3, 0 nitrites, ammonia level was pretty close to 0 (I need to cut back my twice a week frozen shrimp feedings, as it is not all consumed), and my nitrates were between 0 and 4.From what I have read, this is a pretty good test... and as mentioned before, I can get the ammonia back to  zero with feeding more carefully. <I am concerned about the ammonia reading- it really should be completely undetectable on a hobbyist-grade test kit...You are correct in re-visiting your husbandry techniques...and do try a different test kit to confirm your results> So, should I stick to treating my one surviving butterfly with this KICK ICK?  He does rub on the rock, but has virtually no scales missing and no cuts... he is the last 'healthy' one??? <I really don't like this product...but that's just me, of course. I'd make a positive ID on the condition that you're dealing with, and treat accordingly> This guy is in my 20 gallon doctor tank alone. <Good procedure> Should I do anything with my main tank? Do you think my main tank might be carrying something??? Even though my two gobies, two clowns, and my boxfish are doing fine? <If you are dealing with a contagious disease, such as ich, you really need to get everyone out for observation/treatment (even if all inhabitants don't show signs), let the main system go "fallow" for about a month...If it is ich that's in your tank, you must take aggressive steps to treat it, IMO> What's a better ICK/ITCH medication?? <I like copper sulphate for ich, as mentioned above> I am fully expecting my remaining butterfly to do ok... should I grab another butterfly and pair them up after he has been quarantined??? <That can work, but there can be some aggressive behaviour between the two fish on introduction> The only other thing I can think of is my Coral Banded Shrimp getting nasty with my butterflies as they do bother him in hopes that the CBS will clean them.  On the other hand, the CBS doesn't bother my mandarin goby that will sleep right in front of him... and the CBS hasn't bothered my Cleaner Shrimp either. <Hey- you never know...> I guess the butterfly is a fairly cheap fish that I don't mind experimenting with, but I don't want to risk the rest of my tank. Opinion??? Thanks guys! Dave <Well, Dave- I encourage you to keep trying, but do study their needs and prepare for them. Good luck!  Scott F.>

Re: Treatment Questions Sooo much information out there... and so many opinions...   Big Al's comments on copper was that it was 'old school' and that this is a much safer treatment. <Well, I can't recall the last time I read that someone at the Waikiki Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium, or Aquarium of The Pacific, or other institution was embarrassed to be using an "Old School" treatment like copper! Granted, we should try new and safer medications that can prove effective, but I don't think that this stuff offers the reliability and effectiveness that copper has. Yes- some fishes don't do well with copper, so there are considerations. It is not a "wonder drug", but it has been proven to work time and again.> At the same time, I'd hate to think that I paid $39 for 'salad dressing'.   I'd like to trust that this treatment will get the job done if this is the so called 'ICK'.  After all, a company just can't market something that has no chance of working, right??? <You'd be surprised! And- don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that this stuff is "junk"...I am not a scientist, so I cannot give you a thorough analysis of the product or it's workings. I can tell you that I have experimented with this stuff, and have spoken to dozens of hobbyists who have used it, and it has not given successful long-term results to myself, or anyone that I know. Does that mean that it's junk? Of course not! It would be wrong for me to make a blanket statement like that. If it works for you- great...I just don't feel comfortable recommending something to a fellow hobbyist that has not worked for me. IMO, ich needs to be attacked on two "fronts"- on the fish, and then in the main tank. You attack "on the fish" with reliable treatment in a hospital tank. You attack the main tank by breaking the life cycle of the ich parasites by depriving them of their hosts, the fishes, during the free swimming phase of their life cycle> I will thoroughly review your section on bacterial infections, etc... but how can one relatively accurately assess these problems... whether they be ick or other bacterial infections? <Ich has very distinct symptoms which are well-covered in the disease FAQs> You mentioned that all my fish should be observed... if all my fish seem to be fine, do I take them out for a couple of days one at a time???  I do closely observe my livestock every day while feeding and spend in total an average of 30 min.s a day watching them.   Obviously, I will isolate single fish if I notice anything irregular... but until that happens should I just let them be and keep a close eye on them? <If I was 100% certain that ich was what caused the other fish to become ill, I'd remove all of the fish to another tank for observation and possible treatment> Am planning on re-introducing my butterfly after the 15 day treatment period if he looks ok... the butterfly in my hospital tank looks fine right now in fact, but I wanted to put him through a cycle of this KICK ICK because he was also rubbing himself against the rocks.  He really doesn't have any visible signs of anything else that I can see. Thoughts??   Have a grrrrreat weekend! Dave <Do follow the instructions for this treatment. I still implore you to verify if you are dealing with ich, however.> P.S.  Was curious to know... are you guys answering all these questions from me and others out of the goodness of your hearts??? <Well- we all share a common passion and a desire to help fellow hobbyists, and to provide unbiased information whenever possible!> Your website is just a information database of marine life, isn't it???  Was just curious. <No, Dave, it's actually soo much more...It's an interactive community where we can all share ideas, techniques, and opinions, and a place where-despite our differences, we all are united by our common love of aquatic life! Enjoy! Scott F.>

Re: Treatment Questions My comments about the information database... yes that's what I meant...in that I have received sooo much information from reading your FAQ sections and hearing other people's stories. <Yep! Tons of information in the database!> One last question before I leave you alone.  Is it true that invertebrates don't get bacterial infections??  Do I separate my shrimp and crabs from the main tank as well??? <Good question. I believe that invertebrates can get infections, however, I have left these animals in "fallow" tank situations and still had good results...This area still needs more investigation, IMO!> Hmmm, my mandarin goby needs the live rock to survive right?  Is it a good idea separating him too? <I would. However, you can target feed him Mysis or other foods in the isolation tank, usually with no problems.. Best of luck to you on your efforts. I think everything is gonna be fine for your fishes; just be patient and "stay the course", okay? Regards, Scott F.>

Cupramine use I appreciate your prompt response and advice. I have now removed my shrimp, live rock and carbon filters, and have treated with Cupramine by Seachem. I have just a couple of questions for you. Do I leave my protein skimmer on or off for the duration of treatment, and do I keep the s.g. low for the treatment. I am, unfortunately, the victim of poor local advice, and the fool of not taking the obviously good advice offered in your book, which has pretty much been in my hands since day one. My precious fish have paid a dear price for my ignorant impatience. A quarantine tank will be set up in my home today. Never again will I be a foolish murderer of beautiful and innocent fishes. I appreciate your common sense advice more than you'll ever know. Thank you for your time. >> Ah, excellent am I answered, and queried. Good question re the skimmer. Yes, it will to a degree (appreciably) remove the Cupramine... in addition to other influences... still, I would/do run it for the benefits it provides, and just adjust the dosage by adding more Cupramine after testing for concentration. Hmmm, searching for something worthwhile to sum up: I guess, the "price" of earnest aquarium husbandry is intelligence, involvement, a discerning (even cynical) mind, and constant vigilance... the end. Bob Fenner, who thanks you.

Rubbing Dear Bob, My nearly 2 year old 55. gal. tank has the original blue damsel, a juv. Harl. tusk, yellow tang, pygmy angel and 1 Chromis. Returned a particularly brutal tomato clown (he had doubled in size) to the store where I bought him and afterwards treated the tank with copper at the suggestion of the store as the rest of my tank had been severely stressed by the clown. No problems. Everyone got back to their daily routines w/o trouble. Stopped the copper, added back my charcoal to help eliminate traces of copper. Changed the water 3 days ago and the tusk, damsel and angel started rubbing. They're rubbing a little more each day. I have been told to treat with Life Bearer and Copper simultaneously. Since I treated with copper only last month, is it ok to start again now? Don't want to lose these fish. Thanks. Ginny >> Hmm... well, you could re-treat the system with copper, but I'd be hesitant to do so at this point... unless I saw direct evidence that the fishes actually had an external parasite... Instead, their rubbing may be a residual effect of the treatment, the water change.... I'd hold off... maybe try some biological cleaners first. The chemical treatments themselves are stressful... and not without risk. Bob Fenner

Kole Tang sick? > <How do you actually know this IS ich?> This must be ick (the yellow tang has grainy dots the size of a needle's head on its body, and has been scratching a lot the past 2 days, the same with my blue damsel. The trigger has also been scratching occasionally will take your advise and treat the main tank with either Cupramine or CopperSafe unless there's another medication that won't harm inverts/corals? <There is/are none> I read your section on parasitic diseases and if I can recall the above is what your recommend. I also understand that I will have to move all inverts/coral elsewhere. Btw, I don't see OrganiCure working at all; after 2 1/2 treatments(3 days) I see no difference on the clown fish (will stop medicating with that). D. <Good luck. Bob Fenner>

Re: Kole Tang sick? > Happy New Year Bob, > I wasn't going to continue with this( I figured I must be asking many silly questions) however, I took the advise of my LFS and treated the Kole tang/clown fish with Organic Cure in a separate 10 gallon tank. > Unfortunately, yesterday morning the tang passed away. > <My friend... please use the Google Search feature on WWM and read of not > just my opinions re this product, but the results of others use... > Irrespective of the name, "Organi-cure" is a biocide...> I did read what the other hobbyists had to say on OrganiCure, however the LFS owner who claims to be in the business for 20 years has been using it for years (he said). <I have been in the trade even longer... does this necessarily translate into "competence" in a/the field? Not in ornamental aquatics...> Despite being a biocide, he has been successful at treating ick with it (he said). That does not make sense. <"What" is it that "does not make sense"... that people are at times successful with apparent poisons in treating fishes for parasitic maladies? Not too many years ago, in fact currently folks (humans) in some countries are treated with mercuricals, arsenicals for "disease"...> I am confused given the fact that this has been the first outburst of ick in my tank. <How do you actually know this IS ich?> At any rate, I am not planning to treat the 55 g tank with OrganiCure. A local fish store owner once told me that the hobby is 5% scientific and 95% based on opinion. I, as a newbie, am destined to learn on a trial and error basis like many people. <Mmm, neat statement... my standard spiel is that the entire interest is about a third science, third general opinion, and a third voodoo...> > I immediately tested the water and found Amm 0, Nitrites 0(didn't test for Nitrates). Was that a reaction to the medication? > <What? Not testing for nitrates? The loss? Likely a major contributing cause> Nitrates were 10( last night) (roughly 15 hrs after the fish passed away). I took the dead fish and a water sample to another LFS and they said it looks like the death can be attributed to stress inflicted upon the Kole by the yellow tang. The Kole's tail was ripped (a bit) and I had seen them fighting over who will sleep in the better spot. Since then I have re-arranged the decor and now there are plenty of hiding places in the tank. Also, did a 5 gallon water change with Instant Reef. <Okay> > I forgot to mention in my previous e-mail that my maroon clown fish was the first fish that developed it even though I have never seen it scratching and has been eating fine). This is the second Kole tang that I lost. > Also, I have a 3 1/2 undulated trigger possibly from the Pacific that I temporarily placed him in the main tank and has been behaving ok so far( has neither attacked nor bothered my yellow tang or any of my polyps/hard corals). Would it be too risky to leave him there with the tang and possibly the clown fish? > <Too risky? Define your terms... or ask who gave you the sterling advice re the "medication"> I meant would it be too risky to leave the undulated trigger in the tank along with the yellow tang the trigger occasionally chases the tang a bit, but not to the point that I would have to remove him from the tank. Please see above in regards to who gave me the advise to use Organicure. > This is a gorgeous fish that I would like to keep, nevertheless, I think I would have to turn my tank into a non-reef environment(?) > <Perhaps, ultimately... but it does hail from reefs...> > At last, my LFS does not recommend to treat the entire 55 gallon tank, but instead to treat the fishie. clown fish) individually. I believe treating the entire tank for ick would necessitate to remove all inverts etc.. into another tank, right? Btw, I am a diver too, and I find diving less stressful than fish keeping. > <You are an intelligent person who can/will work into "less stress" by way of exposure... re the illness that is your problems in the tank, I have referred you before to the sections on WetWebMedia.com to review. Bob Fenner> will keep reading... Thanks Bob. <Be chatting, learning my friend. Bob Fenner>

Copper Precipitation Hey guys, I've used your site for a lot of info. Thanks for helping us all out. Well....I just lost a powder tang and I'm wondering why. Basically to make a long story short my tank had ich and I had to quarantine him. I know the usual protocol is to use Cupramine for three weeks at .5. Because I wanted to keep my main tank host free for six weeks so that all the parasites would die. I kept my tang in the quarantine tank for about five weeks. I know it was risky but the last two weeks, I didn't add any copper. I was testing it on a daily basis, so I knew the level was floating around .3 to .4. I noticed this week, that the q- tank had some white powder on the rock as well as on the floor of the tank. I thought nothing of it. Today my tang died. Do you think that the copper precipitated and killed my fish? I'm getting a little discouraged with copper treatment. I already lost a lion fish last month and I think it was toxicity from the copper.  <Go to this link and learn more about the use of copper. It will help you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/cuusepds.htm  James (Salty Dog)>  Let me know...thanks again <You're welcome> 

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.  It's 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 Goemans <Thank you my friend. Hope to see you about soon. Bob F> Copper use James, My QT tank is in fact bare-bottom, with just a piece of pvc piping for cover.<Great>  My test kit says it measures chelated copper (AquariumPharm test kit).  I'm wondering if it really does measure chelated copper?<Problem is the chelated copper.  It is a slow release so you never know what you really are going to have.  In a bare bottom QT, the chelated form is OK since there is nothing in the tank that can absorb the copper.  You then have to go by the dosing instructions on the bottle and you should be OK.>  Problem is, I don't have a pre-existing sponge filter to put in to help with ammonia spikes because I already took out my filter on the main tank (from the treatment of useless kick ich).  After 24 hrs in the qt the ammonia was already at about .75ppm.  I immediately did a 25% water change.  I was thinking of doing daily 50% water changes to combat this problem.  I don't really know what else to do.  Any suggestions?  And would 30 days or so be sufficient time for the main tank to go fallow? <Thirty days of treatment should be fine.  As far as the ammonia spike goes you might want to try SeaChem's Prime or Kent's Ammonia Detox.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again for your time.<You're welcome> Eric

- 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 and Inverts 12/27/04 I want to keep fish as well as some inverts. I have one anemone and some very nice polyps. Will the dosing of copper affect these inverts dramatically?  <Yes!!!  Copper is harmful if not lethal to almost all inverts.  Copper must never be used in the reef/invert aquarium.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Live rock vs. bio balls dear folks; <Hey Abraham, MacL here with you tonight> q: how can you use copper and the same time keep your other bio media alive? to keep the nitrogen cycle. <I believe that copper is most effective on parasites and not on bacteria, so it shouldn't mess with your bacteria bed. It will however effect live rock, invertebrates and other reef parts> if I'm not mistaken on most commercial operations a 2% level of copper is utilized, in tandem w/ fluidized beds or bio balls etc.? Copper Use Issues What's up? <Avoiding real work, helping you out...Ryan with you today!> Gotta couple of questions but before your web site kicks  ass. <Thanks!>  I'm on it every day just reading up on stuff. <Me too> okay with the  questions.  I have a 29 gallon fish tank that was fish only with some  inverts.  The fish died from parasites and stupidity from me for putting dye  quick cure in the tank. <Yikes> so I'm gonna make it a reef tank and get my wife a  135 gallon so she can have her fish..  K well I was wondering if I could  keep the crushed coral instead of getting live sand?? <I'd avoid it.> I heard that crushed  coral can cause a dirty problem.  <Yes, it traps debris> And I was wondering if I could put fully  cured live rock into the tank with no fish or inverts with out having a protein  skimmer yet. <Sure!> Or should I save up and get them at the same time.  I  don't wanna put a whole lot of live rock in the tank at once.  Mostly just  base rock and a couple live rocks one rock with mushrooms on it.  And I  already have one blue legged hermit crab and a turbo snail from b4 will this be  all right?? <They should be fine, as long as pH and temp are ok> And I want to get a Visi jet ps since I heard they are good for  29 gallon and at a fair price for me. <Go CPR if you can...or Aqua-C> 2 power heads 500 series.  good  enough water circulation?? <Decent> and will the mushrooms and feather dusters be  all right with a 50/50 light bulb for a lil while??? <Feather dusters don't rely on light, they're filter feeders.  They need nano-plankton.  The mushrooms will be fine.> I heard the calp (sp)  plats can cause a problem during a stage or something. <I don't know what you're referring to.> is there a way to  keep it in the main tank and preventing this from happening..   K now on to  the 135 gallon.  I want to keep copper in the tank at all times to prevent  and keep away those damn parasites. <No, you can never use copper in a tank that you'll keep inverts in.  And, you should only medicate fish in a dedicated quarantine tank!  There won't be any bacteria unless you introduce them.> I saw a tank like this at a fish store  and she said that there are no bacteria bed cause the copper kills it. <Fish store has money in mind, not animal health.> so  she has a sump or a canister cant remember which one and has bio balls that is  the bacteria bed I was wondering how this works wouldn't it kill the bacteria off  the balls also???? <yes, it will> Well that's all the questions... for now :-) thanks <Peace Rob!> peace out, Rob

About copper level Hi, <How goes it, Michael here> My level of copper in my tank is .50 ppm. Is that enough to treat marine ich? <Too high, I'm afraid.  I would lower it with water changes or carbon to .25 ppm> The test kit I have only goes up to >or = to 1 ppm. Please respond quickly  and thanks for the info!! <No problem, good luck.  Make sure to monitor your water quality while dosing.  M. Maddox>

Taking A Break From Skimming? Just a quick question regarding application of Cupramine in my system. After dosing the system as required I noticed the skimmer cup with a bluish fluid, is the skimmer skimming out the copper?   <Interesting question/observation on your part. I suspect that the blue material that you see might be part of the coloring that may be present in this medication, rather than copper itself. Curiously, PolyFilters do turn blue when they remove copper...I'm not really aware of a skimmer's ability to remove copper...They do excel at removing dissolved organics, including some dyes....> It only suggested to remove charcoal in the system but nothing about the skimmer.   <I'd probably hold off on the skimmer, too. Use aggressive water changes as a substitute...> Would you recommend shutting the skimmer?  thanks Joe <I'm a HUGE fan of skimmers, but I think I'd pass on using one in this situation...Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F> COPPER TREATMENT AND PROTEIN SKIMMING Hi, I was just looking for a quick clarification.  I have had an ich outbreak in my system (should have quarantined that darn puffer) I have gradually dropped the specific gravity to 1.018.  My question is when administering the Cupramine it does not say on the directions to discontinue protein skimming, I noticed the gunk in my skimmer having a bluish tinge and am wondering if it is the copper being skimmed out of the system. <Yes, to a large extent>   Would you recommend discontinuing the skimmer for the next couple of weeks?? thanks Joe <There's a trade-off you'll have to make the call re Joe... The declining quality of water versus the removal of the therapeutic copper. Most folks give up on skimming, measuring free copper levels in either case daily... with water (usually from a clean ongoing system) for changes as needed. Bob Fenner> Medicate With Caution! (A WWM Reader Shares His Experience) Hi Bob.  You are tops. I have learned more from you and your group here in a day than the months I've been addicted to this new hobby.  <Scott F. in for Bob today! We feel the same way about our leader! Glad to be hear for you.> Found you as I searched frantically to find out why my Tang quit eating. Thought my ich days were behind me due to this great long-lived copper treatment.  Thought I could just toss it in, and it would maintain a nice copper level which would prevent the ich from ever bothering my little darlings again.  WRONG!  I just lost a wonderful Tang to septicemia.  I found out too late from you that the antibiotic treatments destroy intestinal fauna in these great little creatures over time. <As does long-term copper exposure, by the way> I really am angry that a word of caution is not put on the label where herbivores are concerned.  Little did I realize, until searching through your data, that this was to be a deadly combination.  <Yep> Please, another word of caution to all and perhaps some of your wisdom to those who may not know of this deadly combination.  Many thanks, Richard <Well stated, Richard. Although copper and other medications are very effective against many of the diseases that we face in the hobby, it's important to look at the potential interaction problems with your animals. Copper can be harmful to many fishes if not monitored religiously for concentration. It is easy to overdo it, especially with tangs and Centropyge angelfishes. This is all the more reason to ALWAYS treat fishes in a separate "hospital" tank for control of the dosage and ease of care. Do your homework before treating your fishes. It will save you a lot of heartache, and will undoubtedly save your fish's lives! Regards, Scott F>

Copper contamination from city water and copper pipes? Hello,  Just have a few questions if you have a couple minutes and don't mind. << That is why we're here, go for it. >>     I filled my 75 gal glass Oceanic RR tank for a test run with a hose that was directly connected to the copper pipes (city water) that runs throughout my house. The copper pipes are approx. 6 years old if that makes any difference. The tank has since been emptied and dried out to fix a few issues.  Once all the issues have been resolved the final fill will be done with RODI water. My questions are.......    - Was it safe for me to test with copper pipes and city tap water for a reef tank? << Sure, I use tap water exclusively.  You can always run some copper remover to be safe, but I wouldn't be worried. >>    - With copper pipes will copper or any other trace elements in the tap water I used for the test run have any ill affects on anything I put in the reef tank? << Nah, I don't think so. >>    - Or did all of the trace elements get removed when I dried out the tank?  << Well a bigger problem or question would be in your salt source and if you add any trace element additives.  I don't think that your previous trace elements are of concern. >>    - If there are still trace elements how do I go about cleaning the tank to remove them?  << Just water, nothing else. >> Sorry for all of the questions and thanks for a great site! << Good luck, no worries. >> <<  Blundell  >> Dog faced Puffer OD on copper My office has a saltwater tank professionally cleaned and cared for once a week. We have grown very attached to our fish and have recently enjoyed the addition of an adorable dog faced puffer. <Congrats, Dogface puffers are one of my favorite fish!> We noticed some white spots on his fins and was treated with copper at least 3 times now. <Big no-no!  Puffers are extremely sensitive to copper, and it should never be used on puffers (or other sensitive animals like inverts/corals etc...).  It will be best to stop treatments like that ASAP.> I have noticed each time it is treated our dog faced puffer will become very immobile and has some discoloration, changing to a darker color. <That is a typical reaction to copper.> After checking your website I am afraid this "professional" company has no idea what they are doing to our adorable dog faced puffer. <This sounds that way.  I learned back that many of the "professionals" aren't that professional.  They don't know everything, and it's best if you do your research to be sure that accidents like this don't happen.> Please offer any advice on how to save our puffer and possibly a new truly professional company in Salt Lake City, Utah. <Sadly I'm not sure of any professional companies in Salt Lake, I had done a search on Aquarium Maintenance online to see if I could help, but it gave me a list.  I wasn't sure who would be good or not, so perhaps if it's best if you ask around. As for you puffer care, the simple act of giving you puffer a freshwater dip for 5-10 minutes and placing him in a tank that is copper free will be the best way to help your little dog-face.  Here are some great places to start learning about puffers. http://www.reefnut.com/Puffer%20Article.htm This is a handy article dealing with puffer care and info. http://puffer.proboards2.com/index.cgi?board=faq   A puffer board.  Totally devoted to puffer care.  A very good place to start getting info.> Thank you for your time. -Sarah <Good luck with your dog-face puffer!  I do hope that it gets better, these are some of the best fish I have ever had the pleasure to keep.  I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. -Magnus>

Copper Aftermath... Well, I'm in a place I never wanted to be with having been forced as a last resort to treat my entire 180 FOWLR with Cupramine for ich. <Yuck> Okay, so I've made my deal with the devil and the ich has cleared up, and the fish are eating and behaving more normal again one week in. <Well, that's good to hear> Now, 1.5 wks into the treatment, the 2 Klein's butterflies seem to be going in the wrong direction. First one, and now the other, has developed rough, kinda "mungy" (?) areas on its skin, with some very small red spots like ulcerations. They both now have one cloudy eye each, and ones fins seem to be eroding.  Not a pretty sight I assure you, but they are both eating like crazy again.  Does it sound like they are suffering effects from the  copper treatment now? <It could be. I've seen similar issues in some tangs and dwarf angels following copper treatment. On the other hand, secondary infections could manifest themselves with this kind of appearance, too.> Also, when I test for copper using the Salifert kit, nothing shows. Is this because the Cupramine copper is highly chelated?   <Could very well be. That's my thinking, too> My inclination is to get the copper out of there now.  What do you think? Mike <Well, Mike, normally, you'd want to follow the manufacturer's directions for a full-duration treatment. However, given the reaction that your fishes are showing, it's probably a good idea to terminate the copper exposure and move on. Sort of the lesser of two evils, if you will. Make liberal use of chemical absorption media, such as Poly Filter and activated carbon. Regular water changes will do the trick as well. Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

The Wisdom of Hospital Tanks (5/31/04) Hey Steve, <Good Morning>   Thanks for you reply, but you people seem to give some VERY bad advice on treating Ick in a Fish-Only-Tank (FOT)! <Bad advice is advice that is dangerous or is guaranteed to fail. Difficult advice, yes. Effective on the experience of many long-time SW fishkeepers, also yes. Bad, I beg to differ.>Why would you not put Coppersafe in a FOT??? <Because it may destabilize/kill the biofilter, because in may kill useful inverts such as amphipods. There really is no such thing as a FOT. There is other animal life, perhaps unseen, in there that may be worth preserving.> I was reading a posting of a guy who had 4 fish with ick in a 90 gallon FOT and he was advised to go buy and set up several QT tanks to treat them when all he needed to do was treat the whole tank! <There is disagreement on this, Our advice is only one opinion. Anyone dealing with a problem like this should seek out multiple opinions and decide which makes sense to them. In my profession, we call this "getting a second (or more) opinion.> My LFS owner says it is stupid to have a QT tank for a FOT. <Too bad he has to resort to insults to justify his opinion.> He says you only need a QT tank for a reef tank because you can't treat it directly with Coppersafe when you can a FOT. If you have a FOT and a fish gets ick you just treat the whole tank! <This is not without risk.> He says Coppersafe will not hurt the other fish <as long as they are not copper-sensitive fish> and chances are they all have ick and the entire tanks has ick so treat the whole damn thing. I hear your argument of contaminating the fake corals, dead rock (or non-reef live rock) and gravel, but as long as you never use it in a reef tank in the future what is the problem! <Never say never. I paid over $500 for the live rock in my FOWLR--I want to be able to still use it if I convert to a reef.>   I am going to send another posting on this subject and I hope you post it <we post everything that is not patently offensive> because I hate seeing bad <in your opinion> advice like this being given out. <This method works.> I can only imagine this poor guy who probably works a 40+ hour week and has a wife and kids spending all this time and money setting up all these QT tanks <A Rubbermaid tub costs $5, a cheap heater about $15 and an adequate filter $20 tops. I've paid more than twice this total cost for a single fish.> for a FOT, how idiotic! <BTW, I work 50+ hours per week, have a wife and four kids, and take 24/7 calls one week out of every five. I have enlisted the assistance of my family with the aquarium. A couple of the kids ar quite interested. I would not have embarked on this if I was the only one in the family who enjoys it.>   Also, I did not say my LFS owner said it was "impossible" to overdose with Coppersafe, he said it was "hard" to overdose with it if you follow the directions, therefore, he said I did not need a Copper test kit <The test kit is also useful to make cure the level in the water is high enough to be effective, not just to be sure it is not toxic.> (By the way, my LFS owner maintains thousands of gallons of tanks in Greenville, SC including a 1,600 gallon system and over 3,000 gallons for the Greenville Hospital System so I think he knows a little about fish keeping!) <No doubt, but his calling our crew stupid says a lot about him too. I have never told a patient that another doctor who treated them was stupid or gave "stupid" advice, even when I thought they were. I avoid this because I was not privy to all of the information that led to the choice of that course of treatment. I merely make the case for why I feel a different course of action is warranted.> FYI, My Yellow Tang made a complete recovery using Coppersafe within two weeks in my QT/FOT and that was several months ago and he is doing fine so I am a fan of Mardel, Coppersafe, but I will check out Cupramine. <Glad to hear your Tang did well. I never impugned the quality of the product. You asked me if it was the best available and I simply stated that there is no proof either way and pointed out that Cupramine is also a well-regarded product.> I see it in the Dr. Fosters catalog and it sounds good and I like Seachem (they make Matrix!). <I too have been quite satisfied with Seachem products, and they enjoy and excellent reputation. Good luck with your tank. I hope all works out well. Steve Allen> Nathan

Re: A note re a query to WWM re SeaChem >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> This gentleman has not communicated this question to us (at least not by e-mail) as of yet, so maybe you could pass onto him our question of exactly what kind of information is he looking for in this regard. We have very limited space on the label as it is and it is used to most efficiently convey all relevant information regarding the use of the product. We recommend turning off the UV sterilizer to prevent conversion of the complexed copper into non-complexed copper (which would result in a toxic level of free copper). However we do not have the room to further expound on why we recommend that and all of the possible ramifications of doing so might have and to what extent those ramifications could occur depending on any number of variables. I think it would be understood by anyone using a medication that it is going to have some kind of negative influence on the bacterial filter... however the extent to which that effect will be made manifest cannot be precisely predicted depending on numerous variables that vary from tank to tank. I think it would also be implied that bacterial filter will not be wiped out using the recommended dosing as that would be unconscionable to produce a product that would do so and not warn the consumer. In short, I understand his desire for more information, but it simply comes down to space restraints and the use of that space to convey only the most critical information. Hopefully this will help. -Greg Morin <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner> Gregory Morin, Ph.D. ~~~~~~~President/CEO~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Seachem Laboratories, Inc. www.seachem.com 888-SEACHEM

Cloudy Eyes (5/19/04) Hello J <Steve Allen tonight> I had some problems before and you were helpful thank you for that. Now I'm back with another one. I bought a P. imperator she landed directly in the QT. After 3 days white spot visited her. My QT is 70L. Started the copper treatment with OODINEX. That's the only one available here . After the third day of treatment she stopped eating, started to stay at the corner of the tank and I don't like the way she's moving.. So I thought its from the copper so I made a water change stopped the treatment she's been now almost 3 days without copper and a daily water change. I think she's more relaxed I don't see any white spots but this morning one of her eyes was cloudy and she had some patches on her fins. <Copper can be hard on the eyes.> By the way my QT has a TUNZE skimmer for 600liters capacity and an EHEIM wet dry filter also for 600liters capacity and a regular filter with sponge. What shall I do if you tell me to go to antibiotics what kind shall I buy and what's the dosage for a 70 liters QT. (the fishes size is 6.25 inches) Or do you recommend something else. <I would suggest a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Choose one that is available to you and dose per the label instructions. The symptoms are indeed concerning for a bacterial infection. One more thing is it possible to keep a 6.25 inch emperor in a 70 liters tank for long. <For the 4 weeks that you need to quarantine to be sure the ich goes away and stays away. Search WWM for more info.> And how long can she survive without eating? <A previously well-fed fish can go a couple of weeks and still recover.> Her response to food is very passive is it a hopeless case?? <Don't despair yet.> My regular tank is 1000 liters <nice tank for an Imperator> FO but I'm afraid to take her there because of the white spots. <Smart. Wait.> Thank you very much for your time, Viken <Hope this helps.> 

Damage Caused By Copper? Or HLLE? Hi,  <Hello there! Scott F. here today!> I've got a question about head and lateral line disease. I recently treated my purple tang with copper for a presumed parasite, possibly ich. He was in copper sulfate for 9 days at the recommended dosage and using a copper test kit to measure levels. He was looking good up until the last day of treatment when I noticed he appeared to be getting head and lateral line disease which I presume is due to the copper. <Probably not HLLE, but it is possibly a skin "reaction" to the copper. I've seen this in other fishes before following copper treatment. HLLE is generally thought to be a result of long-term nutritional and environmental lapses.> He was fed well with its usual diet ( I've had him for 2 years) and was and still is eating very well. The tang is now back in a tank with copper free water with 0 ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. My question is will this resolve on its own with good water quality, proper diet and iodine and vitamin supplements. <It should. If it is damage caused by the copper, it certainly can heal up. HLLE-related symptoms also can spontaneously go into remission and disappear over time, with attention to good environmental conditions and diet> Also is the disfigurement permanent to the fish. Thanks for the help, Larry in Minnesota. <In my experience, Larry, the damage that you see is not permanent. There is no 100% guarantee, but keep doing what you're doing and hope for the best! Regards, Scott F> 

Copper spill     Bob,       Hi, Thank for helping people like myself  who care so much about our creatures. I  have a 55 gal tank with a Sailfin tang, two fire fish , one emerald crab, one turbo snail, two live rock and one 10lb premium rock with a clam, lots of cup coral and some other creatures. I have a copper question. I spilled about a 1&1/2 cups of  copper treated water from my quarantine tank into my 55 gal tank. Some how during the night I had some equipment failure. I had been treating a regal tang for ich. I felt I wasn't ready for it, so I later traded it for the sailfin. At the time of the I was running an undergravel filter, 802 powerhead and a 400 emperor filter with carbon and PhosGuard media added. I have since removed the undergravel filter. I did a water change and changed my carbon media. I had two skunk cleaner shrimp in the tank at the time of the spill. I am wondering would this copper have killed them a month later? <Highly unlikely, but possible> They both died in the same manner one died Thursday morning, and the other Sunday night. They both began to stay in the same place a lot not eating much and began to be really still. Then a few minutes before they died they swim upside down, let the current blow them and around, they were really jerky. Could the copper take this long to kill them if this was the cause? Will it kill my emerald crab that was in there at the time of the spill and snail that I added two days before they died? <I don't think so> I have only had the snail a few days and he seems to be doing fine. I do use regular tap water, stress coat, instant ocean, and proper ph 8.2 when I change my water every two weeks. My nitrates have been getting up to 20 in the last two weeks so I have had to do a weekly water change. My ammonia is 0, nitrites 0,  and my ph is 8.2. Please help if you can.   Thanks  so much, Michelle <You are doing fine... the cause of loss of your shrimp is a mystery to me as well... but not much linked to the copper incident. I would leave off with the use of Stresscoat and engage a separate container to pre-mix and store your new water, match its quality to the main system. Bob Fenner>

Re: Copper spill  Bob,  Hi, Thanks so much for you time. I wrote you the message below about the copper spill. After you wrote me , I did buy a copper test kit. The results showed no copper in the water of my 55 gal tank. So, I bought another shrimp a few days later. It only lived about 24 hours. I think that maybe my aragonite substrate had directly absorbed it because of the undergravel filter. I cleaned out my whole tank , saving only 20gal of the original water. I replaced the substrate with a bag of Aragamax select sand and a bag of Araga live sand. I have placed my fish in a quarantine tank for month. I had a small ich problem with the tang. Do you thing this is enough time for the 55gal tank filter to replace bacteria lost from the removal of the substrate?  <Should be... but would test for ammonia, nitrite, maybe nitrate as well>  I only have the emerald crab and live rock in the 55 gal tank? And should I feed him once a week or so? Thanks so much . Michelle  <Yes and yes. Bob Fenner>

Copper Time  >Hello, just a quick question I have not found an answer for- I recently had a small ICK outbreak in my 72 reef. I now have my fish in a 20GAL quarantine tank treating w/ copper.  >>Hello, and quick is good. I hope you have *all* vertebrates (fish) in the q/t, or your treatment is without purpose.  >I am in to my 10th day of treatment, and was wondering once I finish my copper treatment, clear the copper out of the tank, I would like to get a sponge populated w/ bacteria into the 20GAL to help w/ ammonia until I put the fish back in the main( at least a month's wait).  >>Very good idea, though I suggest ensuring best copper removal by doing water changes AND using a PolyFilter (it will turn blue when saturated with the Cu) before adding the seeded sponge.  >My original thought was to take one of the foam filter pads that I currently have in my Fluval 404 (been in there for a months time) and place this in the 20GAL.  >>Not a good idea, my friend.  >I am currently allowing the 72GAL to go fallow for at least a month but was thinking that taking this foam pad from my 72GAL may have ICK on it.  >>Your thinking is spot on, mate. Also, fallow for a MINIMUM of 6 weeks, 8 are even better. This parasite is known to survive up to 72 days without a host! Keep that temperature up a bit, and let it fallow at least the 6 weeks.  >Obviously I wouldn't want that re-entering my 20GAL quarantine tank.  >>You know, it would SEEM obvious, but you have no idea how many people don't put that much thought into it.  >Any thoughts about this, or a possible suggestion. Thank you  >>Well, I'd try to get something like Bio-Spira to start a colony in a bucket with a working sponge filter, and feed it with raw shrimp to really get it going. As it is, in the main tank you'll still need to feed your bacteria, or the numbers will reduce to suit available food (much like lemmings. NO, not Lemmy! Lemmings!). Keep the shrimp in a bit of pantyhose so it doesn't make a mess. Test, when ammonia and nitrite have zeroed out (or at least when nitrate begins to come up), you know your colonies are good to go! Marina

Coppered Rock (4/4/04)  Greetings from North Dakota. <Where abouts? I spent 3 years at Minot AFB early '90s. Nice folks up there, but too cold for my tastes.> My wife, in an effort to treat sick fish dosed our 30 gal tank with copper and pretty much nuked the Fiji live rock  along with the fish. <Hospital tank next time, right?> I'm sure the rock absorbed quite a bit of the copper and has been dry now for about 6 months. Is it possible to cure the rock back to a "usable" level? <Well, you could put it in a bin of SW and run PolyFilter, copper and maybe use Cuprisorb for weeks/months until the water tests negative for copper. On the other hand, why bother--it's just base rock anyway. If you can't afford a full load of new LR, buy part base rock (or make your own--recipes on web) and part LR. If it were me, I'd toss it to be on the safe side, but you need to make this risk/benefit assessment yourself.> Let me know when you have a moment. And, thank for such an informative website. <A pleasure to play a small part.> Hal <Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

What Might Happen if..? Copper Question  >Hi,  >>Hello.  >Just a quick question.  >>My favorite.  >If I treat a saltwater tank containing live rock with copper will it destroy the biological filtration properties of the rock or just kill any living thing on it?  >>Both. Oh yeah, don't forget that it's likely the live rock will absorb a great deal of copper, to be released over time. Marina

Effect of Copper on Appetite (3/31/04)  Thanks for the reply. <Glad to be of service. Steve Allen back with you.> One other thing, it's been about 5 day's into the  treatment-so far so good, I think. What can I expect to see as far as feeding is concerned? <Well, one would hope they still eat.> How I mean, is that my 2 adult clownfish, normally excellent eaters, have not eaten since I started treatment. At first they showed absolutely no interest in anything as far as food goes. Now, they  show a little interest in some Mysis shrimp, but don't take it in. The firefish eats well, no problem. It's just the clowns wont eat. Any suggestions here, or is this very typical? <Make sure you are maintaining a correct copper level--test it. Keep up with the Mysis. You might even ant to try live brine shrimp jut to get them eating again. One of the garlic-containing appetite stimulants might help. If they seem to be ill-affected by your treatment, you might want to limit to 14 days, although some recommend 21. Hope this helps.>

Copper Treatment (3/28/04)   Hello, great website! <It's a privilege to participate.> I just ran through a great number of pages on ICH and have a couple that I need quick answers to. This evening, I put 1 yellow headed Jawfish and 1 Firefish in my 20gal quarantine tank with non-chelated copper- .3 ppm level. Question is, are these 2 species OK for an ICH treatment for the 2 week duration? <Should be OK for the duration if levels kept properly. 14-21 days is recommended. Consider keeping the fish out of the display for a total of 6 weeks to let the ich in the tank die out.> I have heard of some fish species not being very tolerable to copper, but are not exactly sure which species. <Scaleless fishes are more sensitive.> Finally, the Firefish has not shown any signs at all of contracting ICK, although others in the tank have. I believe it to be a good idea to treat all fish from the tank, showing signs or not. <Agreed.> Would this be accurate. Please advise, thank you. <Do read the FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cufaqs2.htm -- lots of great info. Hope this helps. Steve Allen.>

Copper At Work (Treating Ich With Copper) Bob, <Scott F. in for Bob today!> My Blue Tang had an ich problem, so I treated the tank with copper. My normal operating level is .02. I raised it to .03- nearly lost all fish tank residents (Naso Tangs, 6 Line Wrasse, Percula Clown, and Yellow Tang). I did a water change, and added Mycan, an antibiotic. Is this the correct thing, or do you have any better suggestions. <If you are fighting a parasitic disease, antibiotics are not the appropriate treatment. I'd use copper (monitored carefully- with dosage exactly as specified by the manufacturer) or a Formalin-based product> Also, my Yellow Tang has red lines running down his spinal cord and also around his head. Is this lateral line disease? <Doesn't sound like HLLE to me- could be some other malady> His diet is very good. Every 3rd day, I soak brine shrimp with vitamin C, Zoecon, and soak with a drop of garlic. Also, he eats Formula 2 and Spirulina flakes, as well as dried seaweed on a clip. <Good diet, but you may want to incorporate some fresh macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, into the diet> Any help would be much appreciated for above problem. The Blue Tang is dead, Naso Tang is not moving, but still breathing. Has cloudiness around eyes, and dark spots on body. I think it may be because of the stress he went through. <Could be a contributing factor> Clown seems to be doing ok. Wrasse is very calm and tired. I might be running on, but I want you to know what I have so that maybe you can help. Running hang-on filter with wet-dry protein skimmer, and UV sterilizer. I also am using RO water. All chemistry levels are good, and I removed the copper, thinking that might be the problem, but I didn't notice much improvement yet. Thanks, Fred <Well, Fred- I'm sorry to hear of your losses. It sounds to me like you need to very carefully monitor copper concentration and maintain it exactly as the manufacturer recommends. It sounds like you have been maintaining copper in your tank on a continuous basis? If this is the case, I discourage this practice, especially with tangs, as it can lead to continuous stress for them. If you are not using copper regularly- do run a "full" treatment course with copper before reducing the level. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Kole Without Appetite? Hi Everyone, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I bought a Kole Tang about a week and a half ago.  I brought him home and he began to eat.  A couple of days later, he developed ich.  I treated him with Cupramine in a QT.  Since then, he won't eat.   <Not uncommon with tangs. They don't always do well with it. I've experienced this myself many times. Be very careful when treating with copper, as these fish have delicate digestive fauna, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to copper. This will often diminish their appetite, among other things. I'd follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, and monitor the copper level continuously during the process. If the fish shows serious distress, do discontinue copper use. Often, once the copper level is lowered, the tang will begin to feed again. In the future, Formalin-based treatments might be a better route if you keep tangs.> I have tried everything, from frozen brine shrimp to flakes to Formula Two frozen to Nori on a clip.  Is this a result of the copper?  What else should I offer him?  Thanks.    <Well, besides lowering the copper concentration at some point, you could try a piece of fresh live rock for him to "graze" on. Sometimes, this can tempt an otherwise fussy fish to eat. Also, consider the use of a liquid vitamin supplement, such as Vita Chem, administered right into the water Observe the fish carefully. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Counterattack (Disease Treatment) Hello Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I am currently treating all my fish for ich or velvet in 2 quarantine tanks. They are as follows 40 Gallon                                                    10 Gallons 1 Maculosus Angel 4-5"                              1 Hippo Tank 2-3: 4 False Percula Clowns 2"                           1 Stark's Damsel  3" 2 Lawnmower Blennies 2 Neon Gobies 1 Yellow Tang (deceased) I wanted to use a conservative approach due to the copper sensitivity of several of my fish, so I first did a Hyposalinity with PH and temp adjusted FW dips every 4 days'.....this didn't work. I then tried a formalin treatment, this also didn't work. I gave them a week off from medications and started a Cupramine treatment late last week, following the instructions to the letter (2 drops per gallon, followed up with 2 more drops per gallon 48 hours later) also dosing my change water, which I execute a 25% daily change vacuuming the bottom. I have 2 copper test kits, one shows me a reading of 1 ppm, the others a reading of .015 ppm. If someone ever came up with a series of good test kits they could make a mint in this hobby. Anyway I ordered today the SeaChem Multitest kit for copper, I would hope it would be accurate since they also make the drug. I'm not sure which way to adjust since I don't know what the actual reading is. <I'd err on the side of caution, and not add any more copper until you get that kit in. If you are doing water changes, just don't replenish copper. You can always re-adjust the copper concentration once you can get accurate test results. "Test, then tweak!" as John Tullock would say> Unfortunately, my Yellow Tang passed late Saturday night sometime, 12 hours or so after the second dose of copper, leaving me to believe that the level is too high. How can this be, I follow (what I thought) were the directions perfectly. She was eating fine and her usual active self hours before. She also was not showing any spot, however the Maculosus and several of the Clown are, mainly early in the AM. Do you think this may be velvet, with the quick death? <Could be, but this disease shows very distinct symptoms. Could have also been some other sort of stress...Hard to say from here. If water parameters test acceptable, it may very well be disease or other stress, perhaps even mis-applied medication...> She was not showing any symptoms, but I understand velvet can be stealth. I want to continue the copper treatment, but am scared I will lose others. I suppose I will wait for the new test kit and adjust accordingly, or do you think I should dilute the copper in the meantime? <As above...Be conservative> The Mac is looking a bit sluggish today, but maybe she is a bit freaked out, her and the Tang were very close, always together. To my other problem. In the 10 gallon my Starky has been scratching a lot and here eyes are very cloudy and swollen, I don't believe he can see. Is it OK to use Maracyn and Cupramine together?  I have read through WWM and cannot find a straight answer to this. Its a rock and a hard place, I know I need to rid of the parasite, but I'm not sure he can make it through the way he looks. Also could I add some Epsom salt to help with the inflammation. Sorry for all the questions, don't want to mix a lethal brew here. <Agreed. I'd attack the potentially more lethal parasitic problem first, using the copper product. Then, if still necessary, you could use the Maracyn if the symptoms dictate it as the appropriate remedy...Not together, IMO> BTW, the display tank has been void of fish for a month now, planning on leaving it this way another month. That should be enough time shouldn't it? <I'd be comfortable with two months> Thank you for your time and all of your great work. Best regards, Kurt <My pleasure, Kurt. I like your conservative thinking. It will serve you well as you fight this battle! Success! Regards, Scott F.>

- Once the Display is Coppered - Dear Mr. Fenner, I would like to start by thanking you for all your help in the past and for your timely responses, you're the greatest!! <Well, I hope you don't mind that it's not Mr. Fenner, but JasonC here in his stead.> I now have a new problem that I am hoping you could help me.  First I'll let you know what size tank and the types of fish I have inside. I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank, I currently have a 5" clown trigger, 4.5" emperor angel, 3" powder blue tang, coral beauty, tomato clown, and 4 damsels.  The trigger, tomato, coral, and damsels were the primary fish.  I recently purchased the emperor and powder blue about a month and half ago.  First of all when I purchased the emperor it was in the in between stage, and I just found out that it is a pretty big size for still not changing fully.  I first noticed that its color has been blotchy only after about a couple days of the purchase with occasional scratching.  I purchased the powder blue about a week later. Shortly after I noticed both the powder blue was scratching but had no visible signs of parasites.  It was then that I noticed the emperor had small white blotches all over his body, but no visible sign of parasites on the fins.  I thought at first that maybe this was a sign of my emperor finally changing and have noticed that his green lines were starting to developed, but when i had a friend over to the house (he has about 20 years of saltwater experience) he told me the white blotches where parasites and that i should treat the tank with copper. <Hmm... I learned long ago that there are folks with 20 years experience, and other folks with one year of experience 20 times over... should kick this fellow in the shins.> After reading from your site I realize this was a very bad move.  I have a QT tank but when I began treating I had other fish in it. Any way to make a long story short, I have been treating my 125 with small doses of copper to help prevent any spreading of parasite to any of the other fish and the tank has been coppered up for about a month now at .05-1.0.  About a week ago I noticed the emperor and powder blue still scratching so I began to up the copper in hopes of getting rid of the parasites for good.  I know this was bad move now and I should have done my home work.  There are still no signs of parasites on any of the other fish in the tank, just the powder occasionally scratching and the emperor with his color faded and he looks to be breathing heavy, occasionally scratching and lately he has been hanging around the filters.  Besides studying before I make any moves, lol, what do you suggest I do. <I suggest you prepare and start executing a bunch of fairly large water changes to address water quality and the eventual drop out of your biological filter. Perhaps 35% every other day or so... think the copper will cause water quality problems that will stress these two fish and the others as well, perhaps too much if you don't have the water changes ready. Pick up some activated carbon and run in your filtration loop to remove any free copper.> Thank You
<Cheers, J -- >

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