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FAQs on Copper Use,  Prophylactic Treatment

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

Related FAQs: Copper FAQs 1, Copper FAQs 2, Copper FAQs 3, Copper FAQs 4, & FAQs on Copper: Science, Rationale/UseFree Copper/Cupric Ion Compounds (e.g. SeaCure), Chelated Coppers (e.g. Copper Power, ), Making Your Own/DIY Copper Solutions, Measure/Testing, 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

Yes, some businesses (wholesale, retail) do use copper continuously... Is it "worth" the degraded vitality, possibly lowered life spans of the fishes thus exposed? Yes... but to whom?

Filtration recommendations (quar.) and Dechlorinator reaction with Copper, commercial       3/22/15
Hi Bob and Crew,
How are you all?
<Am fine; thank you>
This is Kevin from Washington DC. Long time reader, first time asking. I run a pet store and I had some questions that I hope you could help with. I just set up a new 180G quarantining system in my shop with multiple holding spaces. It’s basically two 90G tanks plumbed into the same sump with multiple dividers to separate the fish. I plan on
quarantining 40 fish at a time of mostly medium sized fishes (First batch are tangs, surgeon fish, angels and triggers).
Since I’ll be using Cupramine and PraziPro in the system, I won’t be running UV or Ozone. Do you think a Fluval FX6 which is rated for 400G will be sufficient filtration for all these fish?
<I'd have two types of filtration running; redundancy, more capacity>

I worry about keeping Ammonia levels in check, I will start doing water changes if I see the Ammonia levels spike but this can get costly if done too frequently
<You are wise here>
. Do you have any other recommendations for filtration for this kind of setup?
<Mmm; many. Posted/archived on WWM>
I've read over your articles of quarantining but I couldn't find info on filtration for commercial operations. What kind of filtration do other retailers usually use on a larger quarantine system, say 400-500G?
<Typically some of a mix of all four: bio., phys. chem., mech... Many choices twixt these...>
I plan on running Cupramine levels at .25, but I saw that you recommended .35. I was just worried that it might be too strong for the angels.
<Trouble for all for too-long exposure; but important to keep a physiological dose present>
Also I’ve been reading over your Commercial Acclimation procedure. You encouraged the use of a PVP *Dechlorinator with the tap water mix (I plan on using Prime) to flush out the ammonia, and then the next step is to start dripping my quarantine water into the trays to raise the PH level back up. Since my quarantine water is already treated with Cupramine, I read that the interaction of the Cupramine and dechlorinator could turn the CU++ to CU+ and make it toxic.
<Could; yes>
Should I prepare the tap water mix 48 hrs beforehand then as Prime is only active for 24-48 hours? *
<Ah, good. This should work... though for a shop; facility of size; I'd just employ carbon in a commercially serviced contactor>
*Thanks ahead of time for your reply .*
<Happy to share; hopeful of increasing your success. Bob Fenner>

Retail (copper) question -- 06/26/07 Hello to the crew! <Michael> It has been a long time since I have had to bother you (2 years) and now I have a question regarding copper in fish only tanks. Since I last wrote I have purchased Aquatic World in Wisconsin and have received some advise <advice> from some of the other LFS regarding marine tanks. We have 78 marine tanks on stand alone filtration systems and after talking to another LFS they informed me that they have had great benefits from running copper in their fish only tanks continuously and recommended we do the same. <Some stores do... ours used to...> I can see the benefit of doing so but I also do not agree that any medicine or chemical should be used if it is not absolutely necessary. I also am curious what the long term effects of this would be to the fish. <Some groups of fishes suffer... most celebratedly the Acanthuroids (Tangs and relatives) from a loss of gut fauna... many others develop (much more readily) neuromast destruction (HLLE...) syndromes with continuous copper exposure...> I simply am not comfortable doing this but would love to hear the crews 2 cents on this. Anything that can cut down on fish illness and livestock loss I am willing to try. Thank you in advance for your help. Michael J. Bukosky <Mmm, well... Is one means... along with dips/baths prophylactically (on arrival) good acclimation, set-up, maintenance, feeding... But does have downsides... along with the above are issues of cost, dangers in over-application, mis-treatment, poisoning of non-target species (algae, invert.s...) If you have a pretty steady "good" turnover of fish livestock, it's worth using a CHELATED variety/product... WITH testing (daily) and re-administration. Bob Fenner>

Testing quarantine tank, coppering mollies prophylactically    4/21/07 Dear Mr. Fenner and staff, <Abell> Thank you for your help and advice on my blue tangs in quarantine.  They seem fine and since they've survived all I've unintentionally put them through, Darwin says that they'll be SUPERFISH by the time they're ready for the main tank. I have two three questions: This one is rhetorical.  Even in high school science experiments, I never got the "right" results like everyone else.  Now ... as an adult, each time I test my water, no matter what kind of kit I use ... I seem to get the most BEAUTIFUL colors in my vial ... <Heeee!> that rarely have any relation to the colors on the chart!!  LOL!    Seriously, I change 1.5 gallons of water in my 8.3 (actual) gallon quarantine tank every other day using RO/DI water from my LFS, yet almost every time I test the water ... I get Ammonia close to zero, Nitrate close to zero and Nitrite in the danger 5.0+ zone. <Not impossible>   Instant Ocean granular test, Aquarium Pharm test tube and Jungle test strips all with the same result.  Given that it's a bare quarantine tank and assuming, as you've suggested that I'm over bio-loaded and under filtered, why am I not seeing Ammonia at danger levels? <Is being readily converted...> Does it make sense for them to be almost zero yet Nitrite to be so high even after water changes?  (the LFS water tests 0/0/0) <Yes... very transient values... fish constantly produce ammonia... leaks through their gills, urinate it out, gets converted by decomposed proteinaceous parts of their undigested food/feces... Microbes present are quickly converting this to nitrite... but the complementary microbes that might convert this to nitrate are missing> As an unrelated question .... what is the procedure for quarantining MOLLIES after acclimating them to salt water? <About the same... a few weeks in isolation... for observation, hardening>   After all, they've been in the ultimate Fresh Water Dip, haven't they?   Are there any parasites or diseases that they can bring with them to the main tank?   <Yes... mainly Amyloodinium> If they should be quarantined, would they tolerate a marine-level copper treatment tank? Thanks Again!!! <Can, but I would not prophylactically expose them to this... Unless symptoms show... Bob Fenner>

Question about Marine Fish Disease... Zebrasoma flavescens, constant Cu exp.  4/18/07 Bob, I have a yellow tang that wants to hide out when food is put in the  tank.  I haven't seen him eating, but it doesn't look like he is losing  much weight.   He also has pale patches above his eyes.  There are no visible white dots on him. His breathing is slightly rapid and when I changed the charcoal filter I  put in the Chemipure Elite he started scratching.  I took out the charcoal  after around 30 minutes, since I read that it removes copper, which I keep in my tank all the time. <A mistake>   He quit scratching when I removed the  charcoal. Also I added an Imperator Angel to the tank and the angel has taken on the task of cleaning the tang.  The angel must see something that I  don't. <Could be... this Pomacanthus is a facultative cleaner in the wild when small> Is there anything more that I should do, other than the copper? Thanks, Sherri <Mmm, all sorts... improve the environment... more/better filtration, skimming... Definitely cease the copper exposure... Bob Fenner>

Re: Question about Marine Fish Disease, constant Cu exp.... using WWM... not abusing the Crew   4/19/07 "<Mmm,  all sorts... improve the environment... more/better filtration, skimming...  Definitely cease the copper exposure... Bob Fenner>" My water checks out perfect each time I test. <For what you have tests, there are tests for...> I have a wet/dry filter  for filtration.  Water is clear.  What should I do  to improve the environment? <Please... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm... yes, much> I was told that by using CopperSafe it would eliminate parasites.  Is  it bad for the fish? <Oh yes... Please... learn to/use the indices, search tool on WWM... there are tens of thousands of "you" (unique ISP sessions) daily... only a couple dozen of "us" (WWM Crew, all volunteer)... Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm and the linked files above... I would convert the Wet dry: http://wetwebmedia.com/wdmodconv.htm and the linked files above... to start. Bob Fenner> Sherri Anderson

Another Angelfish and the Prophylactic Use of Copper ) 3/14/07 Hi guys. <Leslie in for the guys this evening'¦> I have a 120 gallon FOWLR which was nearly "completed" recently.  It has two 3" Regal Tangs, a 3" Yellow Tang, a 3" Coral Beauty, a 4" Purple Tang, a Longnose Hawkfish, a Purple Firefish and a Blackcap Basslet. <Wow, that's quite a combination there. I hope you are planning on a much larger tank sometime in the not to distant future.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but here goes'¦.. your tank is not appropriately stocked. You have 3 more Tangs than the recommended number, which would be one per system unless you have a very large system. 120g would not be considered very large. The Purple firefish belongs in a more docile environment. These fish have a tendency to hide and starve to death when kept with more pugnacious fish.> I had recently added the "final" addition, a very good looking Bluefaced Angel.  It had been at the LFS for 4 weeks and was eating Mysis shrimp. <Very good signs!> I got him and since my quarantine tank was only 10 gallons and he had been looking good at the LFS a added him directly to my tank. <Woops, a larger quarantine tank would be in order.> Of course four days later he has velvet and dies two days after that. <Oh no, so sorry for the loss, but not unusual.> Naturally a day after he died, the Tangs were showing early signs of velvet too. So I bit the bullet and took out the live rock and cleaner crew.  I treated the whole system with copper and even though the two Blue Tangs went down to the bottom on their sides, everyone recovered. <Very lucky, indeed.> So here is my question:  I'd like to replace the Angel with either another Blueface or an Imperator. <Your tank is really to small for either of those fish. If you have your heart set on one of the large Angelfish you really need a bigger tank. Please do yourself and those fish a favor'¦.get a bigger tank and/or return some of those fish your LFS and re think your stocking plan.> Since the live rock is out and the water is medicated could I add the fish while the copper is still in as to avoid any ick or velvet breakout while adding him? <I wouldn't. Copper is a not gentle drug. I am not a fan of using prophylactic medication most of the time.> It's been about three weeks with the copper in the tank.  Your thoughts on this would be appreciated. Francisco J. <Well those are my thoughts, probably not exactly what you wanted to hear but I hope they help, Leslie>

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> Mysterious Fish Losses Hello Scott? <Good morning!> Well thank you for the supportive words about it not being my fault about the sudden Anthias death, the dealer replaced them with 3 Banggai cardinals. <A nice choice! Very accommodating of him/her> I did the same welcoming freshwater ph adjusted with methyl blue dip, and they were fine for 3 days but today 2 of them died.  All of my levels still check out as being good but this is four fish in less than a week, it makes me so sad. <I'm really sorry to hear that...> I do not have copper in my quarantine tank which the dealer said is a mistake, but I choose to see if the fish is sick before treating with medicine but maybe this is costing lives because I am not detecting illness soon enough. <Well- I respectfully disagree with your dealer. I am very pro-copper, but I don't like to use this, or any medication on a prophylactic basis. IMO, medications should only be used when treating a specific disease. Many fishes do not handle copper well, and some fishes can suffer greatly after prolonged exposure to it. I like your procedure of the freshwater/Methylene blue dip. I have never lost a fish using this procedure. If a fish is so far gone that simply not using copper during quarantine led to its death, something is wrong. Either the fish were not healthy to begin with, or there is some other factor at play> In my observation of the cardinals, I thought I only saw one of them that ever ate, although this is hard to say for certain because they all look the same.  I was feeding frozen Mysis.  I think the one that ate is the one that is still alive.  Also today before they died they had white trailing feces, I thought maybe a bacterial infection.  I gave them another dip and they died shortly after.  So I have this one survivor, I don't think he is eating any more and I saw some white feces, so what should I do for him, or is he a goner?  Should I try Maracyn or Maracyn 2, or copper in case of parasites, which I don't see any signs of but I could be missing something.   <I agree- sounds like an internal bacterial infection. Antibiotics should be used. Hopefully, the fish will make it. Generally speaking, these types of infections usually are the result of poor water quality, parasites of some sort, or even injury. I'm not going to point fingers, but I wonder how the overall water quality is at your dealer. Does he seem to select healthy fishes? Sounds like something is not right...> Also if by some miracle he lives, (I am not feeling very optimistic any more) will he be okay by himself or should I try to find him a mate? <I would either keep them alone, or in odd-numbered lots (3, 5, etc)> I have read contrasting things about this.   This hobby is very stressful for me, I hate when any type of living thing dies.  I was so happy and proud of myself after saving my first two fish from ich, through a 2 month hospital and copper and fallow period and now they are so healthy and happy back in the main tank, but now I can't keep any new fish alive for more than 3 days, what is going on?  Like I said all my levels check out and I am doing stuff by the book (Bob Fenner's').  I don't think I will get fish from that dealer any more in case that is the problem, he runs copper in all his tanks and thinks I should too.  Any advice will be greatly appreciated, you guys really are wonderful helping everyone like you do.   Thank you.  Kylee Peterson <Well, Kathy-first of all, don't blame yourself...You are using valid techniques of dipping and quarantine, and it sounds like you're well-disciplined in tank maintenance. It is never pleasant to lose any fishes, but you are doing a great job. I strongly disagree with your dealer about running copper on a continuous basis in your display. It simply is not a great idea for long-term use. Maintaining therapeutic levels of copper is tough enough in a bare quarantine tank for most people, so trying to do this in a tank with rocks, sand, etc. is really tough! And, if you ever intend to keep invertebrates of any kind in the tank in the future, copper will be a constant concern. Your desire to avoid this dealer is a good one, IMO! These losses are too similar to be coincidence! Hang in there, Kathy- you're doing just fine...Unfortunately, bad experiences like this are part of what make us better hobbyists in the long run. Good luck! Scott F>

Copper Dear WWM crew:   Greetings & ongoing thanks for your superb site! <You're welcome> I recently learned that my LFS continuously runs copper in his FO tanks to cut down on parasites. Is this common practice in the industry? <Yes, common... even in public aquariums> Is this a good idea? <No, not really. Would be fine if this were a part of "step 2" in a strict ongoing quarantine process for all incoming fishes... part 1 being just holding fishes in a separate system and going to pt. 2 should they show evidence of parasitic infestation...> Should I be concerned about its affect on the fish? I have not changed my quarantine practices. Thanks, Steve Allen <Mmm, well, I am inclined to encourage you to purchase "short term" exposure fishes (a few weeks) and avoid longer-exposure (month or more) ones. This "middle ground", not too new, not too over-exposed will serve you best> P.S. I was at my local Petco last night & noticed that they had two tanks (shared filtration) full of clowns with white spots all over them and fins rotting off. They were not that way the other day. The young woman working there hadn't noticed and doesn't know jack about saltwater, so I told her she'd better let whoever is in charge know that they have a serious problem in those tanks and the ones connected to them. I guess I won't buy saltwater there any more. <Don't give up proffering your knowledge, advice... for all's sakes. Bob Fenner>

Bio-balls and LR, CuSO4 in commercial systems Dear Bob, <Charles> Thx for your advice. Can I place bio-ball and live rock together in my holdings without removing any of them?  Will nitrate level going down? <Yes, and yes, it should> I guess UV light is still cheaper than Ozonizer such as SANDER. <Yes... to buy and operate> What do you think of alternative such as adding Copper Sulphate? Do you know the exact dosage for 1 litre such that it will kill all bacteria but not toxic enough to kill the fishes? <Very dangerous to use copper sulfate on an ongoing basis... if you do get involved in such practice, make your choice a chelated/sequestered variety (e.g. Coppersafe)... I encourage you to develop and adhere to a protocol of pH-adjusted freshwater baths (on arrival) instead to discount the introduction and spread of ectoparasites. Information re these practices can be understood from a cursory reading of materials archived on WWM. Bob Fenner> Pls advise.  Cheers,  Charles

Copper Hi all- A quick question. My LFS mentioned that they treat all their tanks with copper. <Yes, a standard practice for some.> They have two large displays, one with LR and one with sand, where they keep inverts and corals, snails, shrimps, etc. And they have a bank of about 12 smaller tanks where they keep the incoming fish that arrive every Wednesday. The whole system seems to run on one big loop. <I would be surprised if the liverock, sand, coral, and inverts were not separate.> Since the large tanks have healthy looking inverts I have to assume that these tanks are not subjected to the copper treatment. <I agree.> But it seems like they would be. And what concerns are there about introducing these fish into an reef tank? <Any proper acclimation procedure discards the store water. Take a look at the coverage here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and related files; FAQ's, quarantine, and dips.> I assume they have to package the fish in untreated water, right? <No, they will be bagged in water containing copper.><<Mmm, doubtful. I am very sure Steven is right in stating that the non-fish marine livestock are on a separate, though possibly their own recirculating/combined, filtration system. RMF>> Is this a normal procedure? <For some stores. -Steven Pro>

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