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FAQs on Copper Removal 1

Related Articles: Copper Use in Marine Systems, Medications

Related FAQs: Copper Removal 2, Live Rock Re-Use, Use, Medication/Products, Testing, Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Marine Tanks, Parasitic Reef Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease

Removing copper
Hi, I made the mistake of putting copper in my tank to kill a disease my fish had about 4 months ago. Now after doing lots of research I am dying to make my tank a reef tank but realize I cannot because of the existing copper in my tank. Is there anyway I can remove the copper from my tank to make it a reef? 
Thank you. Adam
<Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm.  Bob Fenner> 

Can freshwater dips with velvet clog gills? Plus, disappearing copper  11/9/05 I have been battling velvet (Amyloodinium ocellatum) in my tank for over three months. You'd think I was an idiot, but I'm pretty much an expert on the parasite by now (I even helped the not-so-expert local PetSmart to identify and rid their system of velvet). I have spent days reading up on your site over the last few months, which has been helpful, despite my lack of success. I rid PM's 250g tank of velvet, however, I am not having the same luck with my 72. To make a long story short, I lost almost all my fish in two days the first time around, <Can be very virulent> so the tank went fallow for two months and the surviving fish in a QT (with no outbreaks over those two months at all). Upon my re-introduction of a yellow tang, it died overnight from velvet once more. How does velvet survive in a fallow tank for two months?  <On "slime" detritus... a good idea to clean out, lower spg, raise temp...> So the 72g was stripped down, all corals were put in a 30g (which are doing great), and the rock in a tub. I sucked up the 5" DSB, scrubbed the tank dry, and after a 100% water change, the 72g has a 3/4 in sandbed (not live) and is treated with Cupramine (but still has live rock - it's expensive and I didn't want to let it go). <... Cupramine and carbonaceous materials together? Not for long... the carbonate in the substrate and LR will absorb the copper in short order...> Corals will stay in the 30g for 10 weeks so the parasite dies out. The 72g will be treated for a month and the copper will be sucked out if the remaining rock for a month with CupriSorb.  <Uhh, not likely> Sounded like a good plan, but then it got messy. <I'll bet...> 1. I can't get copper to show up in my tank. I've added three times the max dosage of Cupramine (should be 1.5 ppm by now) over the last week and I am still getting a 0 reading on Seachem's copper test.  <Is all gone... absorbed> Seems the copper or the test would be bad, but both seemed to work for Pet's Mart's tank. Everything in my tank should be dead - even fish, but NOTHING is dying. I think the test is right - the one mushroom coral left is thriving, so there can't be much copper. The velvet is thriving too. I think my current fish have fought it off enough that they are immune, but new fish I'm trying to QT have it now (I thought treating new fish would be good, to make sure they didn't have anything from the LFS. now I know that was a very bad idea. please forgive my bad judgment!). <Mmm, not a bad call, just a poor choice of means of execution> I know rock and sand can absorb copper, but can they absorb that much?  <Oh yes... and much more> If so, is it going to release all that at once and wipe out my tank?  <Could, but unlikely to do so... but enough can/could be released to damage other than fishes.> What should I do? I have PVC pipe for them to hide in if I need to trash the rock, but I hate to lose that much LR. it's expensive. <... I would sell, trade to someone with fish-only system aspirations> 2. I've tried a freshwater dip on two fish who have both died. I followed protocol to a tee - R/O water pH matched, temp matched, and aerated for one hour. The yellow tang I dipped bled out of his gills (that's what it looked like) immediately, then quit moving, so I put him back in the QT - I'm assuming he was too far gone and the bursting parasites ripped his lungs up.  <<Hey, mate, fish don't have lungs.  It's the gills they're breathing with.  MH>> He lived for a few hours but died overnight. Was the dip the wrong thing to do? <In this case, yes... I would not FW dip fishes for Velvet treatment...> A new dip bucket was set up for a Coral Beauty which was given to me by Pet's Mart to save. The CB was fine in the freshwater, swimming like nothing was wrong for five minutes. Upon re-introduction  <... why replace the fish/es in an infested system?> to the QT, he freaked out, swimming at the top of the water. He died quickly thereafter, and did not sink. I was told that FW dips for velvet can clog their lungs with the dying parasites tissue. Can that happen? <Yes> Would trapped air be the cause of his floating? <Possibly, but doubtful... more likely disorientation, the fish trying to breath> From experience, I don't want to dip my pink tail trigger (which is the one fish I didn't want to lose - not easy to replace). Is that a bad call? Is there a point where the dip does more damage than good?  <Yes> What is that point?  <Individual cases... how debilitated what species, specimen is...> Is there anything that can be done once it's showing on their body?  <Yes...> He'll probably be gone by morning but I thought I'd ask for next time. Thanks so much for your help and patience. Rockwell Ryan  <... Have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/amylloodiniumart.htm and the Related linked files above? I would do so (again), and the archived materials on Copper Use... You need to treat these afflicted fishes in a system devoid of carbonaceous material... with daily testing... plenty of aeration, water on hand for change-outs. Bob Fenner> 

Purchase of a used 75G tank that may have contained copper? 11/4/05 I am thinking of purchasing a 75G tank with UV sterilizer and wet/dry filter. I would use it as a reef tank. <Okay> The person who now has it probably used medicines in the past, notably copper. No use last 6 months or so.  I would strip down the tank, clean it out, scrub the sides, throw out the sand, rock, bioballs and other disposable media. <Mmm, why?> Question: Would copper still remain on the walls, inside the sterilizer tubing, etc. and likely harm the inverts?  <Very negligible amounts... copper "settles out" as mostly insoluble compounds with time... Some copper is not harmful... in fact, it is often added to prepared aquarium foods... Bob Fenner> 

Copper Catastrophe  9/23/05 Hi, If I ever needed your amazing advice, it's now. I had a major disaster in my 72g reef tank. A copper top battery sitting near the tank rolled off the table and into the sump. It was in there for maybe 5 hours before I found it. The top was pretty corroded. The tank has about 7 LPS, 3 fish, many crabs and snails-all of which look like death warmed over. I did a 50% water change immediately and 5 bags of ChemiPure to the sump. Is all hope lost? From my understanding, all 75 lbs of live rock/50 lbs of sand and the entire tank are now lethal to invertebrates. <Mike, the acid in the battery is more lethal than the copper.  The copper still has to turn into solution.  Ditto on keeping your fingers crossed, maybe even the legs also.  James (Salty Dog)> Fingers crossed, Mike

Copper used in Tank  9/22/05 Good Morning, <a wet morning here> I'm a newbie and been researching since February. Last week I purchased a used Oceanic 175g Bow Front tank. The tank was FOWLR setup stocked with 2 large Angels, 2 Triggers, a Tang and 4-5 smaller fish. I am not keeping the fish. Tank had 125 pounds live rock, 3-4 inches sand bed. Filtration included a large 3-bay Amiracle wet/dry with bio-balls. Also an Ocean Clear canister filter, no skimmer and standard lights. This tank was professionally maintained once a month with 25% water changes and sandbed cleaned. The tank was one of cleanest I have ever seen. After purchasing this tank I learned it had been treated with copper once (9 months ago) to treat a breakout of ich. From what I've read this is a no-no for a reef tank. I plan to start with FOWLR and progress to a reef tank. Should I be concerned that this tank has had copper in it and if so are there any steps I can take to prepare tank for reef tank? <I think you'd be safe after nine months, as a precaution you might want to use a Poly Filter pad for a week or so.> Can I use existing sandbed and liverock? <I would> I plan to replace bio-balls with live rock, add sand for a DSB (5-6"), and add skimmer. Is it recommended to keep using this Ocean Clear filter in a reef tank? <It's a plus, good mechanical filter with lots of area.  You need to clean the cartridge at least twice a month.> I will be setting up tank in 3-4 weeks. Thanks for any help you can provide. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Steve Copper and rocks Dear Mr. Fenner  <James, today> I have been browsing this subject through your site and haven't quite found the answer I was after. 7 years ago I purchased a set up second hand tank 6*2*2 ft with back drop trickle filter over bioballs. The tank was supporting Caulerpa in abundance. I believe one of my tangs had ich so was instructed by local fish supply to medicate tank with copper. Did this and the Caulerpa started to die, so I stopped medicating. I pulled out all of rock, probably a third of the tanks volume and scrubbed what copper I could off them.  My tang was still sick however I didn't want to re medicate as I didn't have a hospital tank (and I could not catch him) and I wanted to keep the Caulerpa. I tried changing the fish's diet, and fed it brown algae growing locally in the bay. All the fish loved it and the ich went away, as well as the Caulerpa.  <Nothing like a natural healthy diet. Must be chicken soup for fish.>  The tank has since been a fish only tank supporting a large community of fish. They have all been healthy for years with supplements of local algae being fed to them. This leads me to believe the rocks are acting as a biological filter.  <Yes, indeed>  I upgraded to a bigger tank 8*2*2 and transferred all the rock. I was intending to set up a reef tank and use the rock as a base. After 5-6 yrs, could I safely assume the copper has leached from the rock?.  <Yes>  The rock is covered in small anemones and full of worms and God only knows what else?  < James (Salty Dog>

Copper Hi, I was sold some copper to treat my puffer but later found out this killed my live rock and sand. So I am getting the copper out and replacing the live rock, should I get new sand too? <Sand does absorb copper and it will be present for quite some time at a residual level. If it were my call, I'd replace it. James (Salty Dog)> 

He Needs a Copper Stopper! (Removing Copper From An Aquarium) Hi folks, <Hello there! Scott F. with you today.> I am slowly trying to convert my 155L tank to a reef system by firstly adding small amounts of live rock each month. I started this wonderful hobby in December 04 and had a case of ich (February) and was foolishly advised to treat with copper in my display tank by my LFS which worked. <Well... good for the fish!> I have performed numerous water changes to reduce the level of copper in the system and thought about taking out the substrate and adding live sand with a large water change to eliminate all the copper readings (which are low 0.01-0.02). Can I add cured live sand straight into my tank and will it survive? <I'd try to remove even more copper by the use of absorptive media such as Poly Filter, which changes color to show that it's absorbing the copper. CupriSorb by Sea Chem is another excellent media to help remove copper.> My live rock (3kg) is doing fine and growing things and are about to add more soon when the ammonia levels reduce. I hope to have about 15-20kg. Will adding the sand effect and help my fish (Blue Damsel, Chromis, & Clown) who I have had since I started? <None of the fishes that you mention are strict sandbed dwellers, so they do not require a sand bed in order to thrive. I'd add sand if you like the look and feel that it's appropriate for your system.> Will treating the tank previously with copper reduce the chance of successfully running a reef system? Thanks for all your time and help. Brad <Well, Brad, copper will continue to leach from substrate, rocks, and the tank itself over time, but the continued use of the aforementioned absorptive media and regular frequent water changes should help dilute the remaining copper to even lower levels. I'd employ these methods for several weeks, then, after continued water testing indicates undetectable copper levels, begin slow and judicious stocking of invertebrates in the system. Proceed with caution. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

New Tank & Tangs Follow-up Thanks for quick response, If I do that, and it is copper based, will I be able to put Corals and Anemones back?  I thought once you introduced Copper you can not get rid of it. How long do you wait to put the stuff back after treatment?  <Scott, yes you will be able to put your inverts back. It will take, safely, 21 to 28 days of treatment to be sure all cysts have hatched and been zapped. After that stage you will need to use a product like PolyFilter or Chemi-Pure to absorb the copper. This will have to be used until you can measure no trace of copper. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again!  <You're welcome>

Light and copper concerns for a reef tank Dear Adam, < Hey Narayan. > Quick question... I purchased a used 100G acrylic aquarium 60X18X20 to use as a FW planted tank. It has a 322W orbit fixture -2X96W and 2X65W. My current reef is a glass 72G with a 384watt orbit fixture - 4X96W. Since the 100G is already drilled, I think I want to move the reef to the 100G and keep the 72G as the FW planted tank. My corals see 4 PC bulbs next to each other now - 4' fixture has 4  96W bulbs each 3' long next to each other. The 100G's 5' light fixture has two bulbs next to each other -a pair of 96W at one end and a pair of 65W at the other end. So, basically only two bulbs are next to each other at any given point. I'm willing to keep the daylight wattage the same if that will help. I don't see a problem with this lighting for Xenia, Capnella and hammer/frogspawn corals which is all I'd ever want to keep. Plus with a 4" DSB, the water will only be 15" deep in the 100G, compared to 18" in the 72G. Any comments...?  < Well the wattage doesn't seem like a lot to me. But as you said, if you are dealing with 15" of water depth that should be enough. I would definitely make the change, mainly because the 100g would be so much better for a reef tank. > Since the 100G is a used tank, I went with the assumption somebody used Copper in the past! Based on the WWM FAQ, I gather that sand and rocks absorb Cu primarily and I need not be concerned with Copper absorbed by the acrylic. Just wanted to run things by you...  < I would wash it out good, and run a copper remover for weeks. Then, I'd have the water tested a local pet store. > Thanks! Narayan < Blundell >

Cupramine in my Sand.. and New Quarantine Tank I really appreciate the wealth of information that's available on your site. I'd sing your praises, but I'm sure I should get to the point. I had an outbreak of marine ich about two months ago and treated the tank with Cupramine since I wasn't planning on ever doing a reef. My wife suddenly decided to tell me that she 'hasn't wanted a reef' because she couldn't justify wanting something so expensive (she's priceless). I've always wanted one, so we're looking at doing the reef thing in our 150 gallon probably in about nine months from now. From what I read about copper, I though I wouldn't be able to use my 'live' aragonite sand for anything reef related... ever. Was I wrong? <Mmm, not "that" big a deal to re-use this substrate... the Cupramine product is likely almost completely insolubilized... You can/could add activated carbon and/or a bit of Polyfilter to your filter flow path to remove the bit that may be present, re-released...> What about using it to make Aragocrete? <Could use it for this as well> What kind of time-line should I work off it is possible to put inverts and the like in there? <Mmm, try your test kit/s... there is likely no soluble cupric ion that is detectable... Know that there is some copper added to many foods purposely... and many source waters have a bit of free copper ion content...> Also, after our experience with ich, we are definitely doing to quarantine tank thing religiously. <Yay!> Would it be wise to run a 20 gallon bare-bottom QT tank with a protein skimmer (waste export), FSB (nitrates & ammonia), and UV sterilizer (parasites, etc...). <Could... I'd add a sponge filter and/or a hang-on... and a few bits of PVC pipe/fittings for cover> Thank you for any help you might be able to give me. Thank you, again. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

High copper readings Hey guys <Hello Max> I am fairly new to the saltwater tanks, I have a 55 gallon and decided to replace with a 155 gallon tank. When we filled the tank with water (after treating it with salt) we noticed a blue tinge to the live sand. Upon further inspection and test somehow we got a high amount of copper in the water.<You may want to test the copper level of your source water.> Apparently it reacted with the salt and turned some of it blue. My question is we have vacuumed out most all of the blue residue and the copper levels are coming down (started @ .4 or higher I believe according to the place we had it tested). However, will this ruin the 50lbs of live rock that we had already placed in the tank?<At that level I would say yes.> and what about the live sand?<That too> We have not moved any fish yet. We do also plan to in the near future start a reef system. What would you suggest? <Max, I would suggest you get a Polyfilter pad or a good grade of activated carbon and use this until you cannot read any copper levels. Once the level drops to 0, remove the pad/carbon and wait a few days and retest.  The copper that has been absorbed by the rock/sand can leach back out.  If you get a copper reading, then reemploy the Polyfilter/carbon.  You may have to repeat this process several times.  Your other option is to chuck the sand but that only gets rid of half the problem, you still have your live(?) rock which I don't believe you want to chuck.  If it were me, I'd go with the first suggestion.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Copper Conversion ??????? Hello Fellas and thanks for taking the time to read this.  I have a Question regarding my FOWLR tank which sits adjoining my Reef.  I have in the past used a product in the FOWLR called or similar to CopperSafe it says on the bottle it is not as toxic as chelated and the like.  I now would like to switch over the FOWLR to another refugium for my reef.  I know I will most likely have to buy all new substrate and rock but will the tank glass and silicone be contaminated ? How about the skimmer pumps and such?  If certain things will be contaminated what may I do to DEcomtaminate such as the rock and glass -silicone skimmer etc. ? Thank You for your time.. <Likely very, very little copper will "come back into solution" that is absorbed onto the materials you list. What little does, and what little you add (through foods, water changes...) is of little consequence... will "go out of solution" quickly... If super-interested you could look for colorimetric assays that go down to ppb (parts per billion, natch)... or titrametric, spectrophotometric gear that even slices and dices thinner... there is some "copper contamination" in most all potable water... it is added to quite a few foods... as a preservative... Bob Fenner> 

Removing Residual Copper.. Hi Bob, <Scott F. in tonight...> First a bit of history. I kept a fish only 75 gallon marine tank for about 8 years. The tank had been treated with copper 2-3 times over that time. I had an "accident" with the tank (canister filter siphon tube came unhooked) and I decided to give up the hobby for a bit after all my water siphoned out :(. <Yuck...> With full intentions to restart a marine tank in the future I held on to the tank, rocks, coral skeletons and substrate (Stored it in a few covered Rubbermaid containers). The stuff was stored away for about 3 years. <Too long to be away...but I'm glad you came back to the hobby!> I restarted the hobby again this summer. I rinsed the substrate and rocks and reset up the tank. The tank has been running for about 2 months and all was well until I introduced a Hippo tang that brought ick with it.  (That will be the last time that I don't qt a new fish!!) <Lousy experience- but a great lesson...And great to have another convert to quarantine!> I am currently trying to learn as much as I can about every facet of reef keeping (I intend to slowly migrate my fish only tank to a reef tank). <Good for you. Take your time and enjoy the journey...No rush here> Anyway, I am currently treating all of my fish with Sea Cure ionic copper in a bare bottomed QT tank. In my quest for knowledge about copper I came across your copper FAQ and it raised some flags in my mind about the possibility that there could still be copper in my rocks, substrate from my original copper treatments several years ago? <I think it may be possible, but it's unlikely. If it makes you feel better, you can run Poly filter in the tank once it's set back up to remove any remaining copper. It turns color (blue) to let you know that it's doing the job...> By the way, I can't thank you enough for the Cu FAQ. It has potentially saved me from making some HUGE mistakes!! <I am a big fan of copper, if used correctly and monitored carefully. I'm glad you enjoyed the FAQs...We have a lot of good information here!> My plan to migrate to a reef tank will include replacing all my substrate with live sand and all my rocks/skeletons with live rock prior to introducing any corals. I will be doing this as a 1 day project when I'm ready in 4-6 months. <Good...again- no rush to do this> A Few Details: - I have had an Arrow Crab and a Cleaner Shrimp in my tank for a few months and they seem fine so far. I did, however, lose a "pink tipped" anemone after about a month and a half. <Anemones are pretty demanding- requiring high water quality and intense lighting> My water currently measures 0 for copper and poly filters have not changed color at all. <Ahh...good- I would not be overly concerned about residual copper at this point, then....> I'm concerned about the possibility of "undetectable" copper leeching out of my rocks/substrate that might contaminate live sand/rock during my transition. <I'd keep the PolyFilter in there on a full time basis...A great overall chemical filtration media> Finally my question: After all that said, will I be successful with this migration given that my current substrate/rocks/skeletons were treated with copper in the past? <With water changes, use of Poly Filter, and the passage of time, you'd be in pretty good shape, IMO> Will I be able to replace my rocks/substrate with live sand/live rock without the fear of future contamination of live rock/sand/inverts/corals? <If the water tests zero copper, and you're using removing media- that's the most that you can do...> Is there any other part of my tank that could be leeching copper? <Maybe, maybe the silicon (if it's a glass tank). otherwise, substrate and rocks would be the other probably source...But as stated above, I would not overly stress out about this. Just test the water and observe your animals carefully> Thank you so much for any help you can provide!!! Bill <My pleasure, Bill! Welcome back! Regards, Scott F>

Copper Stopper (Removing Copper From System) I treated my SW fish only tank about 4 months. I realized afterward that if I wanted to have LR I needed to get rid of the residual copper, so my LFS suggested use of a Polyfilter along with regular water changes. <A good recommendation> I've been doing so for 4 mo. now, but even in my last Poly Filter replacement, the pad was still blue (which the package says points to the removal of copper)  - and I have done any other meds since 4mo. ago. How long does copper stay in system? <Good question. I am not sure of the "half life" of copper in aquariums, but it can bind with substrate and continuously leach out for some time. The Poly Filter excels at copper removal, as you are finding out. I'd get a good copper test kit and find out what the actual concentration is in your system.> I have already put LR in my tank (I guess a rash decision -- but it looks to be doing well) And does the Poly Filter turn blue for other reasons? Also, I did a copper test and it's showing nothing -- although I'm suspicious of the test, someone gave it to me, and I don't know how old it is.... do copper tests go bad? It's a SeaTest caplet form. <It is entirely possible that reagents can degrade or expire, reducing their accuracy. Do get some fresh test reagents. Continue running Poly Filters continuously, along with activated carbon and aggressive water changes. It might be interesting to contact Poly Bio Marine (the manufacturer of Poly Filter) and inquire what the lowest concentration of copper is that will turn the pad blue. In time, the copper should dissipate, but do keep testing. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Cupramine and AZ-NO3 - Hi I've been using AZ-NO3 Nitrate & Dissolved Organics Exporter in my tank and I added Cupramine to the tank and the when i tested the copper level 24hr later it was 0mg/l. I included the description of AZ-NO3 below. AZ-NO3 is a additive not a resin material. I also use PhosGuard in my filter. Is it possible that using AZ-NO3 made it impossible to use Cupramine in my tank? <It is more likely that the copper was absorbed by your substrate and live rock. Product page is here: http://www.marine-monsters.com/front/products/add_azno3.html > Thanks, -Hans <Cheers, J -- >

Copper and Rock (5/21/04) Dear Crew, <Steve Allen here tonight> I just had an ich infection in my damsels and royal gamma and immediately removed them from the display tank to a QT and added Paracure to bring up the level of Cu 2+ ions to 3ppm in the QT. The QT was bare except for a 2 inch layer of sand, so I moved some live rock in for the fish to have a place to hide. <Oops> After I did this I realized it was not such a good idea since the copper would get absorbed by the live rock. The next day I went out and got a bunch of pvc elbows and replaced the rock. I then put the live rock into a bucket and filled it up with water removed from the display tank. I am measuring the copper in the bucket to see if any leaches out. So far I get 0 to 1 ppm. It is very hard to tell from the test how many Cu 2+ ions are in solution. I wish I had a titration test which gave me a better idea. My question is am I wasting my time with the live rock or can it be rescued and returned to the main tank after a week to 10 days of sitting in the bucket while replacing the water every two days? <The rock may leach copper for weeks or months. Do you have invertebrates? Consider your biofilter as well. As expensive as it is, if I were in your place, I would throw away the rock and sand that was exposed to copper. Is it really worth the risk?> Regards, MB 

Throwing away lava rock Good afternoon WWM crew! <Already? Time flies!> I have read your website religiously for a few months and have found it invaluable.  I have a 55 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump underneath, and have had my tank running for almost 3 months now.  I am definitely on a budget, so I have tried to spend just what is necessary, which has sometimes led me to cut corners. And what I have found in my short stint in this hobby is you cannot cut corners. <Generally not w/o ramifications> One of the corners I cut was in the rock department. I didn't have the money when I started for live rock / base rock.  So instead I bought red lava rock and cut caves and holes through it myself (I know, I know, I can hear you groaning).  Through my reading on your website and talking with my LFS representatives, I have learned that this was not a good choice.  But just yesterday I learned that it can actually be causing chemicals to leech into my tank (iron, copper).  So I decided to discard the last cut corner and replace all of the lava rock with a base rock / live rock combination.  So I thoroughly cleaned the tank, vacuumed the sand, and added 21 pounds of base rock and 10 pounds of live rock (plus another 1 pound piece of live rock I had had in the tank for a couple of months).  I then ran all of my water tests including a copper test kit that I had just bought. It is a Red Sea test kit and the greens on the scale for 0 and .1 ppm are so close to the same color that I cannot tell which I have (I have never added any copper and have always used RO water).  So I thought I would just run some activated carbon to clear any traces.  But then I had the heart-pounding realization, that if I do have any copper in my tank, it is already in my sand, my 1 lb piece of live rock, and the $100 of rock I just bought. <Mmm, but not much (copper)... I wouldn't be overly concerned here> I would like to have some invertebrates soon, and potentially down the road some corals.  So here is my question (finally you say).  If the level really is .1 ppm and I run activated carbon, will I be able keep invertebrates? corals? <Yes> or will need to get rid of my substrate, rocks and bio-balls and start over (because I think then I would just quit)?  Is there another test you can recommend that would provide a more accurate reading so I can know if I even need to be concerned?  Are there other things I need to be concerned with in this scenario that I haven't even thought of? <I applaud your concern, but not to worry... what little copper might be in the water and substrate presently will complex, be absorbed by the new LR. Again, not to worry. Bob Fenner> Sorry for the long winded email and thanks in advance for your help.

Copper and an Octopus (4/22/04) <For future reference, please capitalize the proper noun "I" and the first letter of sentences. We post all queries and replies on our site permanently and want them as readable as possible. Our volunteer crew will have a lot more time to answer queries if they don't have to proofread them. Thanks.> OK, I have been reading all your articles about copper removal, but I have to make sure just for self reliance. I added sea cure copper to my tank about a month ago <Never again, right?>, and I just did a 60% water change, added two bags of activated carbon, aquarium systems copper remover, and I'm getting a couple of Polyfilters. How long should I run each of these filters? How often and how much water should I change, and how long should I wait before I should add an Octopus? <A long time.> I thank you very very much for your help. Ryan Satow <Any copper will be deadly, so you want it all out. If you have rock or sand, it may leach out for months to come. I'd run these filters for several days. Carbon is used up and no longer working in as little as a few days depending on how much of various chemicals are in the water. PolyFilter changes color (blue I think) when it absorbs copper. I would do several large water changes. Then remove the chemical filtrations and let things sit for a couple of weeks. Get a good copper test kit and test. If any detectable copper, then it's back to square one. Hope this helps. Steve Allen>

Getting Copper Out of Rock to Make It Safe for an Octopus (4/22/04) What if I boil all my rock? The rock I have is not live rock, so I don't mind do anything that will get me ahead. <No effect. The only thing boiling does is kill stuff. In your shoes, I'd just get rid of the rock and buy new rock if you only plan to use base rock. If you want to keep it, I'd suggest you follow my plan of testing the system for copper after a few weeks to be sure none is leaching out of the rock. Steve Allen.>

Removing Residual Copper Good Morning, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> First let me say thanks for reading and answering my question.  I searched the FAQ's on copper but did not find one that specifically answered my question.  I will be setting up a new 120gal reef tank over the next 2 weeks.  A little history first.  Over 20 years ago I had 3 saltwater tanks housing just fish.  The only items I saved from those tanks were all of the coral heads that I had in the tanks.  When I had those tanks all 3 of them were treated with copper at various times.  My question is if I placed these pieces of coral in my new reef tank do I need to worry about copper leaching out of the coral?  The coral has been in storage boxes for approx. 20 years in my garage.  I would really like to use some, not all, of these pieces intermixed with the live rock and live corals that I plan on purchasing, but not if there is a chance of the copper leaching out and killing everything.   If the coral does indeed have residual copper in them is there a way of removal? Regards, Chuck <Well, Chuck, it's hard to say if there is any residual copper left in these dry coral pieces, especially after all of these years. On the other hand, to be careful, I'd place these corals in a large container or tank with a box filter or internal filter filled with PolyFilter or Cuprisorb, just to be on the safe side. All in all, things should be okay if you take this precautionary step. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Interrupted Ich Treatment? Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I recently had to treat 2 Golden Butterflyfish ( Chaetodon semilarvatus ) in my quarantine tank with Cupramine ( I added my original e-mail below for more details ). It got rid of the Ich outbreak within a few days of treatment, but I am left looking for a few more answers on  the treatment and about the product. <Sure...> a). Due to the fact the fish totally stopped eating from the beginning of this treatment stage, I had to cut the time down to 6 days from the recommended 14 fearing they would become too weak and not recover. This was a judgment call on my part based on their behavior and appearance taking a turn for the worse and I believe I made the right call. Since stopping the treatment 2 weeks ago, no visible signs of the Ick parasite have returned. Now that their appetites are back and they seem healthy, should I re-treat the fish per the instructions to ensure I don't introduce the parasite into my main tank? Or, can I just conduct a low salinity w/ Formalin dip before moving them? <I think you DID make the right call! Good move on your part. Sometimes the treatment can be as bad as the illness, and you were correct in intervening here. If the fish seem fully recovered, I'd avoid another round of copper at this point. Perhaps a simple freshwater dip would be fine as a follow up, again- only if required.> I was planning on putting them in the main tank this weekend but I am hesitant because my local fish store said the shortened dosage time wouldn't totally eradicate the cycle of the parasite. I would like to get them into the main tank soon because I know they would be much happier in there and the overall water quality is better. They have been in quarantine for a month now. <Well, the LFS may be correct. I think that rather than re-introduce them at this time, you should let them "hang out" another couple of weeks in the hospital tank, just to make sure that there is no further re-occurrence. Besides, the extra "fallow time" in the display can't hurt, either. You've brought them this far- no sense in rushing things at this point> b). Although the tank ( All Glass 30 gal. ) is currently being used for quarantine and treatment, I have thought about using it for a mini-reef display tank in the future. A friend mentioned that it wouldn't be a good idea since the copper in the medication would seep into the silicone and be there forever. Is this true in the case of the Cupramine product? The LFS said that I wouldn't even have to remove my rock with this product - but I did anyway to be safe. <Good move) I obviously do not want to have copper leeching out of the silicone if I have corals and invertebrates in it. <Well, you could always drain the tank, and refill it, running Sea Chem's Cuprisorb to help absorb any residual copper. You can never be too careful!> Thanks again guys! Joel <My pleasure, Joel! Good work! Regards, Scott F>

The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Wrong.. >Hi! >>Greetings. >Many thanks for your help in the past. I'll try to be brief. >>It wasn't me, I swear! >I have recently described a situation where I chose to treat my display tank with Cupramine because of the incessant presence of Ich. >>As opposed to fallowing? >No fish loss, just constant irritation and unhappy fish. It is a 125 gallon tank and who would be in a mood to bootstrap it unless necessary. I was advised by a number of people, the local fish stores (several) and the labeling of the product that it would not impact my biological filtration. >>HUH?  You're serious, aren't you?  Sweet Christ on a crutch.   >And that is what I would never have compromised knowingly. I believed them. Mistake 1. What a bunch of crap! >>Indeed. >I have been in the hobby for over 20 years and that was when I used copper last - before this 'great product just recently'. Well, it did get the parasites - they are in the Lord now. But now my tank needs to cycle again with some valuable and dear creatures in it some over 10 years old. >>A dilemma, but certainly not one that can't be worked through. >Mistake 2: I was led to believe that the Cupramine could be cleared from the water by active carbon. >>A portion, yes, but really, PolyFilter is best for this.  Even then, to be safe you'll need to use it repeatedly.  And, it can only fix what hasn't already been fixed by other "stuff" (live rock, silicone, etc.). >I filtered the water for as long as my test kit registered zero. I then added live rock, quite a bit and well cured and many $$$. At this time Nitrite read zero and ammonia high. >>Indicating you have no nitrifying bacteria whatsoever.  That is called "Square One". >When the ammonia did not budge I did some further looking. Then I found out from other sources that Cupramine, not a simple copper sulphate solution, but a very complex one: copper -tris [cupric (tris hydroxy methyl  amino methane)] complex (hope I got that right) can not be totally eliminated with carbon. >>Yes.  However, I must note that of the available products, Cupramine is one I favor, in large part because of its efficacy.  This issue likely would have been encountered with the other products, as well. >I found this out from the helpful staff who make Poly Filter. So, I ended up killing off great bacteria by the Cupramine in water that tested "zero" for copper. Great! Mistake 3. >>Well, at least you're honest about your mistakes. >I did my best to make sense of what happened and I could scalp some people - in part myself for being so trusting.   >>It happens to the best of us.  Ask my "lawyer".  <rolling eyes here> >Since my pH happened to be on the low side of 7.8, I also lowered the tank temperature to 20 C to decrease the % of possible toxic ammonia. >>Ammonia is actually more toxic at higher pH values. >During all this time the fish community remained happy as usual though begging for food which I also decreased to a minimum. >>Why not go ahead and feed, just do more and larger water changes? >Upon the advice of the one knowledgeable aquarist and the Poly Filter guys I padded my Eheim Professional with plenty of their filter material. Alas, it cleared the remaining copper ammonia complex and probably plenty of other contaminants. It then made sense to me to replenish the bacteria culture and after some looking I chose Biozyme. >>Ok. >After two days, the Nitrite level rose suddenly to 1.6 -1.8 which I was not happy with but clearly the cycling started. >>Clearly. >As an emergency measure I got hold of a bottle of Prime to reduce it to 0.8 but because the tank seems to be kicking in, the bacteria need food too as much as the fish don't need the Nitrite. >>Yes, but the bacteria can do with a bit less food than the fish can do with the nitrite.  It *can* be brought back to snuff slowly.  Right NOW is the best time for the addition of new live rock. >I resisted water change because I did not want to upset an already delicate balance especially in view of the pH possibly rising. >>Do a water change, my friend.  The stress on the fish is a bigger issue than not cultivating *enough* nitrifiers.  You see, you WILL get them, just in smaller numbers, but the bigger issue is getting them RE-established first. >My experience with a closed system is that what goes in does not come out all by itself.   >>Indeed.  I think that resembles certain theories of physics, as well. >So, I left that aspect alone. >>Ok. >I am ready to rescue the fish to safety should things become critical. >>Do a water change instead of LETTING things become critical. >To this date, they have not exhibited any sigh of discomfort or toxification, no listlessness, breathing seems normal, no sudden flashing around the tank etc or any infection so they remain in the tank. They eat well when I feed them - tiny scraps.  I reason, why upset them if not absolutely necessary - they are busy enough with bad water. >>I can see your reasoning, but I'm sure you can understand where it hits a point at which it just doesn't make sense. >I would be very (very) grateful for any input about the above. >>Good.  ;) >I am sure I am not alone in this. >>Aw HECK NO! >I am also hoping that this communication may alert others that Cupramine may/does wreak havoc with Nitrosomonas especially and that active carbon may/will not eliminate it completely. >>And Nitrobacter.  Lots of folks believe what's on the bottle, when it's really much safer to assume that all meds will be entirely indiscriminate in what's killed.  Of course, there ARE exceptions to the rule, such as some parasites that are not at all affected by copper treatments. >With thanks for your always useful advice and with kind regards, Peter Paul Biro >>You're welcome, and treat your fish to a Christmas-time water change.  Marina

The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Wrong.. II >>Hi Marina! >>Hello, Peter! >Many thanks for your advice and patience to read through the long saga. >>It's a good thing I LOVE to read, then, eh? >I am happy to report that by the time your email arrived about a day after my email both Nitrite and Ammonia dropped down to the bottom of the readable scale. >>Excellent. >Today, after normal feeding both remain near zero - anyway - the color swatch that represents the lowest measurable amount by both the Hagen and the Red Sea test kits. >>I bet your fish are happy. >They will certainly get fresh water, this time not tap water which here in Montreal looks very suspect at this time. I purchased an ion exchange resin cartridge that should eliminate pollution and questionable stuff in our drinking water. I am keeping active carbon and poly filter in my Eheim as well. >>Sounds like a plan.  There's another Seachem product, the name escapes me at the moment, that is supposed to actually help with some contaminants as well.  Are you using the ion exchange solo, or in conjunction with a reverse osmosis unit?  To the best of my knowledge, both perform better in conjunction with each other. >I am planning several water changes but given the situation as described earlier do you think 20% is enough? >>Not by a long shot.  On the order of 50% is much more like it.  I haven't been able to find the actual graphic, but out there somewhere is a graph showing how doing several small w/c's is actually FAR less effective than doing one large one.  If I recall, it demonstrated that if one performed four 25% w/c's, they would be something like 50% LESS effective in reducing waste/contaminants than doing ONE 50% change.  However, you're communicating with a woman who is severely mathematically declined (bordering on moronic here - don't ask me how I did so well chemistry), so I can only relay what I've read.  Maybe there's someone else on the crew who can wrangle a calculator without getting hurt who might be able to demonstrate this in mathematical terms.  How in the WORLD do I manage to cook?  Don't ask about my checkbook, my mantra is "Thank God for Quicken!".  But, I digress. >I am reluctant to do more in one shot; I would rather do 20% changes say a few days apart until most of the water in the tank could be called fresh. How would you go about it? >>I wouldn't, because going that route you'd have to perform at least double the number of changes.  Don't be afraid of doing one big change, my friend.  It really is ok. >I am enormously relived that my dear little creatures are fine and never showed any sign of stress. >>Indeed! >I also have another question unrelated to this tank. I have a sweet little (14 inch) snowflake eel since about 4 months. My first eel ever.  He is very gentle, gets along with other fish, even those just a bit bigger than bite size for him. He is happy if I pick him up; he hangs on my submerged finger or curls up in my palm. >>Wow, that is amazing.  My own experiences with snowflakes have been somewhat less friendly.  However, I did know a fantastic Zebra moray that was just like this, except he was big around as my thigh (at that time, which was one serious thigh).  He was practically a pet.  No, he WAS a pet. >I got him to eat very quickly, likes fresh shrimp, krill and similar. He stopped accepting food about two weeks ago. I am aware that they go on hunger strikes on occasion. He seems happy, sociable, curious and very active after sunset. This tank has good water quality and has not experienced any mishaps such as my other 125 Gallon tank.  In your experience, at what point should I start to be concerned about his not eating? I offer him food usually every other day to see if he got fed up with his dieting but so far he remains uninterested. >>I wouldn't worry unless it goes much longer than a month.  Do watch his weight, I'm assuming that he's probably in fine mettle.  If he's more active during evening hours, you may wish to wait until then to offer any foods. >I searched your site and others and I read that they do this on occasion but that is about as much as is written about this specific topic. Could you direct me to sources I may have missed? >>Other than Googling it, my only other suggestion would be to join a few saltwater boards and pose the query there.  I am associated with our sister site, WetWebFotos (though don't get to spend as much time there as "here"), the URL is http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  -  then there is another site I visit daily, http://www.reefs.org  - and an immensely popular site is ReefCentral   http://www.reefcentral.com  (I HOPE that's the URL!).  At any of these sites you are likely to find others who have experienced the same issue, and can query as to their experiences, including how long you can expect the diet to continue.  Just don't tell him Dr. Atkins is dead, eh? >With thanks, Peter Paul Biro >>You're again very welcome, and Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad, La Chaim, Inshallah and all that bit.  Marina

Old Quarantine Tank with Copper (12/22/2003) Hi Guys <Howdy! Steve Allen tonight> I've read the words "quarantine, quarantine, quarantine" in Reef Invertebrates so I guess I almost known the answer to this question - but...... I only have one QT (40 litres) that has been exposed to copper, when it got turned into a hospital tanks to treat unwell arrivals. I now want to introduce some inverts ( crabs/shrimp/urchins) to my currently fish only display tank. Shall I risk introducing inverts directly to the DT or risk them in the QT? <I would not risk using the copper-treated tank for inverts. The crew is not of one mind on the issue of QT for inverts. Most recommend QT for all organisms. The biggest concern is possible pathogens in the transport water rather than the inverts themselves. Erring on the side of caution is smartest, but I will admit to not quarantining inverts and algae. I always QT fish. If you want to be safe and QT the inverts, you can do so in a food-safe Rubbermaid container with a sponge filter and heater. The only problem with Rubbermaid's are lack of side visibility. Here in the US, one can get 10G aquariums for $10-15.> I would obviously strip the QT down, but I understand copper gets into the tanks silicon joints and has actually turned my white plastic hood greenish so looks like it's well ingrained. <don't take this risk.> So - the question is - which is the bigger risk. The inverts dying of copper in the QT or inverts introducing disease to my DT? <The Rubbermaid obviates the need for this choice.> Thanks for any suggestions -perhaps on how to de-copper my QT. <This can't be done>  Cheers. Chris  Tomlinson

- After the Copper - I have a 75 gallon tank with a few fish and the tank has been cycled for 9 months now but in the beginning I used copper to cure my parasite problem I took the copper out with carbon) and now my 50 pounds of live rock looks like its dead and nothings growing on it. Should I just add a few more pounds of live rock to help seed my other rock so it will all become live rock or what should I do? Thank you for your help! <I'd run carbon for a little while longer - typically the rock will absorb some of it and then leach it out over time. Your rock is likely now dead, and adding new live rock will re-seed it, but you wouldn't want to kill off the new live rock if the old stuff is still leaching copper. I'd run carbon for about a month, switching it out every week. Cheers, J -- >

- Copper Poisoning - My 2 angelfish are suffering from copper sulfate poisoning, is there anything I can do? <Yes and no... in some sense, the damage is done, but you can still do a couple of things that may nurse the fish through this. I would run chemical filtration in the tank, activated carbon, PolyFilter, etc. Also, lower the salinity to 1.020 so that breathing, etc. are easier on the fish. Make sure the water is well aerated, and change the water frequently.> I already moved them to another tank, but one fish looks really bad. <Good work on the move to the new tank... we'll keep our fingers crossed for you fish.> Any advice would be appreciated.  Thanks, Indigo <Cheers, J -- >

- Copper Poisoning, Follow-up - Thank you very much for your speedy reply and advice. <My pleasure.> They are actually freshwater angels, so I added a little salt to help with respiration. <Oh... sorry for the bad assumption on my part. The addition of the salts is a good idea - same affect as what I recommended, just in reverse.> The female looks fine now. <Glad to hear.> The male is still hanging on by a thin thread; I added some Maracyn 2 to the hospital tank for secondary infections.  Filter has a carbon/poly cartridge, and I am using an airstone.  I tested the water from the original tank for free copper and got .15p.p.m; is this too much for angels? <Likely, yes - will probably take a little while to free the tank of copper - can be absorbed by substrate and decor.> Thanks again, Indigo <Cheers, J -- >

Activated carbon + copper, and disease ID. Hi Crew, Two quick questions. 1) in my quarantine tank I had been running low levels of copper, I have put in some fresh activated carbon into the filter this morning, will that rid the water of the copper?  how long does this typically take?   <Carbon does not remove copper, you'll need a poly-filter or a copper specific resin to get that stuff out.> 2) In my display tank my fish (2 out of 9) have what originally I thought was ich, but after 10 days the other fish show no signs and the salt sprinkle look on the two infected fish more resembles lots of tiny white dots but around them is a cloudy area.  I'm trying to figure out what this is and what to do. <Could be marine velvet or Brooklynella, both get into the gills fairly quickly and smother their host.> The fish are eating very well, no rapid breathing, in general look healthy.  I have been hoping they will fight off whatever it is instead of catching them and stressing them more. <Well, the fish sound pretty good! External parasites are easily removed, so it may be worth the trouble and stress to freshwater dip the two of them and toss them in the quarantine with the remaining copper for a little while. Hope they get better soon! -Kevin> Any suggestions?  Thanks for the help.  Joe

A Stopper For Copper? I have a 120 gal w/ about 80 lbs LR, , 80 lbs live sand, about 2 inches of pebble rock on the very bottom , topped with about 2 in crushed coral and the sand.  2 300 gph power heads, a 900 gph wet dry, protein skimmer, and supplemental oxygenation.  The aquarium has been set up for about 5 months.  I have a coral beauty, fox face, bi color angel, snowflake eel, gold stripe maroon clown, feather duster , long spined urchin, and some hermits.   A month or  so ago a fish not living now came down with white spot.  Unfortunately I treated the whole tank, the affected fish died..  Now one of them has black spot, and my snails are all dead, and my urchin is not dead, but also not active. <Well- I don't need to remind you about the dangers of treating the display tank...I think that you may be seeing the results of residual copper in the tank> The feather duster was acquired after the treatment and came on his own piece of Syn coral.  He is doing well.  But my shrimps died, and inverts in general are not doing well (except for him). <Some are tougher than others...none appreciate copper> All water quality params are good (nh2 = 0,ph is 8.3, alk is normal, sg is 1.025)  nitrate and nitrite = 0 .  A few days ago I put in a poly pad to trap some of the copper. <If you mean PolyFilter- that's a good move. this stuff works> 1.  What do I do for the fish with black spot, and since he is infected if I move him to a  qt, aren't the others going to contract the black spot also  since the orgs are still in the tank ? <Quite possibly. Parasitic diseases are generally quite contagious...It may be advisable to get everyone out for a month or so...Be conservative, but do something...> 2.  Are the inverts not doing well due to copper leaching from the  LR ? I had 2 emerald crabs, and two other urchins that also died . <I can't predict the future, but I'd have to say that there will be some difficulties in the short run, until the copper is gone...> Can I leach the copper , from the LR with an acidic wash, realizing that it will kill all orgs on the rock ? <I think it will just take time, absorptive filter media, and lots of regular water changes...> 3.  If I remove all pebble rock and half of the coral, and add some sand, might it decrease copper levels to a reasonable level to support inverts ? <Perhaps...However, by removing the majority of the substrate, you may be creating some short term biological instability (by removing a good portion of your natural biofilter). You should do some testing for copper with a good test kit. However, some of the copper will be bound up in the substrate and rocks, and may not be detectible. On the whole- you just need to give it time...> 4.If I leach the rock, what ph ? And if so can I re-seed it with  organisms  from a new piece of rock from the pet shop? <I don't like the idea of chemical manipulation to leach the copper from the rock...I still like the idea of time and water changes...It's gonna take a while, so be patient. Or, you could use the rock in a FO tank....> 5.  What meds do you recommend to treat black spot ? <I'd still consider freshwater dips, supplemented by medications that contain copper, formalin, Trichlorofon, or quinine...Lots of good proprietary products out there to deal with this disease> 6 Is macro algae an effective means of reducing  micro algae and silicates ? <Well, it can compete with nuisance algae to consume available nutrients. Silicate, however, needs to be removed from the source water through RO/DI, other pretreatment techniques...Check out this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> Thanks for  any help you can give,  Frank <Glad to help, Frank! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Copper Filter Hello I went to your sponsors they have this powdery stuff you put in a micron mesh bag called Cuprisorb that say it makes water safe for inverts from copper will this work better that the poly filter?<I would stick with the poly filter.  Cody>

Copper in the water 5/14/03 hi I got a list of what is detected in my water from my water plant they said there is .023ppm of copper is this an acceptable level I have kept my tank for 2 years here with no signs of die off from my corals? Thanks JM <there is the very real danger of such contaminants accumulating in living tissues ever so slowly over time. Please do not admit any copper in through your source water. Simply filter it over PolyFilter before using for evap top off or making seawater. Best regards, Anthony>

Can a previously coppered fresh water tank be cleaned and used as a salt tank? Hi gang, You are wonderful people for devoting so much time and information to the masses.  I will try not to take up too much of your time.  I checked through your site at this location http://www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm and learned a lot about copper treatment and what it can do to marine environments.   I do have one question that I could not locate specific information on.  I have a tank that was previously used for freshwater fish. I suspect some of my tank treatments during that time may have had copper in them but I don't know for sure.  I transitioned this tank over to a reef tank and later learned the implications copper can have on this type of life.  In doing the transition,  I had removed everything from the tank and cleaned the tank thoroughly and then dried it thoroughly.  I started the reef tank from scratch with all new substrate, liverock and so on, except for one power filter that had been used on the fresh but was also thoroughly cleaned and reused in the marine setup.  All media in the filter was brand new for the marine tank.  My question is, could the coppered tank and power filter, even though thoroughly cleaned, still present problems for some invertebrates or corals? <Not likely so... the copper is long since either "gone" or absorbed insolubly in/onto substrate, silicone....> Some information in the faq seemed related to my question.  Specially the question someone sent in about copper treating their tang and then putting it in their main tank without freshwater dipping the tang.  The reply given to them was that it shouldn't be a problem so I suspect my situation should not be a problem as well.  My tank has been running for around 9 months with several corals, snails, a cleaner shrimp, hermits, and a single fish.  I haven't seen any negative effects but several faq's mentioned the long term effects of copper. <Actually, probably referring to long-term exposure concerns... from continuous treatment, not residual from previous use> Also, I have run PolyFilter many times in the tank and never seen a color change as the instructions state can occur if metals are present.  What do you think?  Am I ok long term with this setup? <Yes> Thanks so much for your time,  Andy <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Heavy (copper) metal Craig, The Amquel level mentioned heavy metal not copper. Is copper consider a heavy metal? I hope this question is not too dumb.  Jun <Not a dumb question at all!  If it can sequester heavy metals, it can sequester some or all of your copper. Try to stick to water changes to keep the wastes under control. You might run a filter on your main for a few weeks before your next introduction so you have a good bio-filter for your QT. Good luck!  Craig>

Skimmer and Copper Med Question Hi Bob, Questions are: If I use a skimmer on a tank running copper can it be used for a reef tank in the future?    <Yes> If so, are there any steps I need to take to “prep” the skimmer & cleanse it of copper for use on a reef tank. <Really just a scrub and rinse under the sink> Would this apply to other equipment like overflow boxes, specimen containers etc.   <Yes, all dense plastics (styrene, high-density polyethylene, PVC...) can be exposed, cleaned, used again. What little residual copper remains is of no consequence (there's likely more in your foods, salt mixes...) Bob Fenner> Your help is greatly appreciated.  Penny Harkins

- Of Copper and Substrate - Hi Gang, <Hi, JasonC here.> If I use copper to treat my Powder Blue Tang and his chronic Ich problem with about a 3/4 inch layer of Aragonite substrate. Is the substrate going to be contaminated with the copper treatment? <Quick answer - yes. Cheers, J -- >

Copper & Anemones Hi, <Hello Leanne> I have a question on copper and anemones.  I have a 125 gallon tank that I recently treated with copper to eliminate diseases.  I removed my anemones and inverts to another tank and they are doing fine.  I have done several water changes on my 125 gal. tank and the copper level is at or below .05.  Is it safe to put my anemones and inverts back in my main tank. <No, not until there is absolutely no detectable copper>   If not, what can I do to eliminate the copper.  I have been running with charcoal and have approx. 100 lbs of live rock in this tank.  Please help if you can.  Thank you so much in advance for any advice. <You may need to use a "better" variety of activated carbon, or even a product called PolyFilter. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

My anemones (residual copper) Thank you Bob for your reply.  Can you tell me if the live rock will ever be free of the copper or will there always be traces of it in the rock?  Thanks again for your help. <Most all of it (all for practical purposes) "goes away" (becomes non-ionic, bound with other materials) in time. Bob Fenner> Leanne

Lingering Copper? Bob, <Scott F. this morning> I need your help.  I have a 75 gal fish only saltwater tank.  I have treated this tank with copper.  Once about 3 years ago, and one month ago.  I would now like to add live rock, and a clean up crew.  I have used PolyFilters, at the start of using the poly filter, it was dark blue, now after a new poly filter, there is no color change.  I have also been using Cuprisorb, which is also supposed to remove the copper.  When I add the live rock everything will be removed from in the aquarium (dead coral skeletons) except the crushed coral substrate.  Is it now safe to add live rock and a cleaning crew, if I continue to use poly filters, and Cuprisorb to continually remove copper leaking from the substrate?  Thanks for you help.  Daryl <well- that's really hard to say. I think PolyFilters are terrific, but I would not rely solely on this media's lack of color to confirm that copper levels are nil. I'd confirm with an accurate test kit. If a test kit yields undetectable levels of copper, than you may want to experiment with some very inexpensive snails or crabs. Finally, be aware that copper may continue to leach from the substrate over time. It's really impossible to state with 100% certainty that no copper is present (obviously, this is exactly why we recommend using a separate tank for administering copper and other medications). If it were me, quite frankly, I'd break down the tank, clean it again, and replace the substrate just to be safe. Take care, and Good luck!  Scott F.>

Lingering Copper (Pt. 2) Having several fish in the tank, taking it down is not an option I think I will try to add a few snails, see if they live for several weeks, if they make, am I good to go? <As I mentioned previously, I'd test the water for measurable copper, try a few snails, and if they appear to be okay, then proceed with caution. There is never 100% assurance that all the copper is gone without breaking down the tank, so you just have to keep an eye on things.> Will copper hurt coralline algae  I don't want to make this into a reef tank, but I would like colorful coralline covered live rock in the tank, will the lingering copper hurt the coralline algae?  Brown and green algae is growing fine in the tank, does this mean coralline can row also?  Thanks <As you are probably aware, coralline algae is largely dependent upon levels of calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements in the water. I'm not specifically aware of how copper can affect the calcification process, so I'd have to tell you that you'll just have to provide the right conditions for corallines to grow and see what happens. With copper, once again, I have to say that, "When in doubt, drain it out..." (the tank, that is...). Good luck! Scott F>

Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. To whom it may concern, I treated my 180 gallon fish only tank with copper about 3 weeks ago to control an ich breakout and I am now in the process of removing copper with Polyfilter and carbons. <I just wanted to mention for you and the daily FAQ readers, that treating the tank is a bad idea. Many things are affected or killed by copper and it is incredibly hard to remove completely. Copper is absorbed by your sand, gravel, and anything else calcium based. While you may eventually remove it from the water column, it is possible for copper to continue to leach out. It is also problematic for any encrusting or surface feeding animals, say mushrooms or snails added down the road.> The last reading I got was about .010ppm. Before the copper treatment I removed all of my Caulerpa. My question is, how tolerant are various types of Caulerpa to copper? <All algae use copper and iron in small quantities, but your level still seems dangerous to me.> I noticed in the past that this form of Caulerpa that I have appears to stay alive even with copper levels somewhat high. Not sure of the name but they look like long branches, pretty thick with little bell or umbrella shaped leaves attached to stems. Can you identify this Caulerpa for me? <It sounds like a racemosa type. You can confirm by looking over the pictures on www.WetWebMedia.com.> Can I add the Caulerpa back now that the copper levels are a bit lower? <I would work to lower them still prior to reintroduction. Also, when you feel you are ready, add only a small amount as a test and see how it does. -Steven Pro>

Re: Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. <Anthony Calfo with the follow up> Thanks for the quick response. I have about 15 fish in all, some of them larger tangs, some sensitive butterflies.  <Yikes, my friend... have you considered that equals about 1 fish per 10 gallons of water with consideration for displacement for rocks, sand, etc. Heck even if that were not so and you had a large sump of say 50 gallons... that still leaves an overstocked tank. Do consider these fishes adult sizes (some larger ones by admission)... the stress of such close quarters as it relates to their overall vigor, rates of infectious disease, etc. And I understand that these are the 15 fish that lived... there were more in this tank not too long ago. Please don't take this personally Chris... just a factual observation> At the time they were all infected heavily with Cryptocaryon ich. I came back from a 3 day vacation and found the main pump had died.  <very sorry to hear it. Many of us have been there before. Hindsight is indeed 20/20 as they say. For the investment of several thousand dollars that you have here if not the very fishes lives... do consider keeping a second pump on hand with the hopes that a house sitter will catch it or at least that you would be able to respond faster on return. It doesn't even have to be a second top of the line pump... a $100 large mag drive for basic water circulation would be cheap insurance for this system. Voice of experience <G>> I suppose if I could of caught the parasite a day earlier I could have treated each fish one by one in a separate tank but this still would not have ended the life cycle of the parasite which takes at least 14 days to cure.  <hmmm... I don't follow or agree with your math. Have you ID the parasite to know if it is Crypt, Oodinium (Brooklynella, A Turbellid, etc). Each has very different life cycles and some can be broken in as little as 8 days. Still... I run a full 4 week QT myself. No treatment will "sterilize" your fish or tank of course... we are just using good sound fish husbandry to tip the scales very favorably for our fishes in doing so> The parasite would just re-infect the fish from the substrate when returning fish to the main tank. <if you abbreviated the QT yes> Removing them all to my quarantine tank and waiting 30 days for the tank to go fallow was not an option since my quarantine tank is only 20 gallons... <not the fishes fault the QT is too small (at the risk of sounding like I'm picking on you :p). You have a big investment in this tank and lives that depend on you. Be resourceful my friend! A half dozen nestable 20 gal Rubbermaid tubs would fit under a stairwell or in a small closet. The airpump, tubing, etc would all fit inside it. A small investment to have sitting and waiting just in case> it would not accommodate all of these fish.  <as per above suggestion> Some would have died within a few days for sure from either ammonia or nitrite poisoning due to the overload to the filtration.  <Ahhh... Chris. I see the problem now. You can claim ignorance (respectfully said, as in "without knowledge")... you have not been schooled on easy and proper QT protocol... and you are mistaken. The filtration for your hospital tanks (cheap sponge filters, e.g.) can sit ready, waiting and running in your sump at all times while the QT tanks or stacked/nestable tubs sit dry and out of your way. When needed... aged (conditioned) sponge filters are drawn and the display can be topped off after the QT and fish are taken care of. In fact, with the lower water level in the display for having done so... the fish will appropriately be easier to catch. Good planning. You just needed the right advice bud. Now you/we have something to grow from> I tried fresh water dipping the larger ones <excellent and helpful> but the parasites were already heavily infested on all the fish and in the substrate,  <actually tomites/larvae that linger and can easily be siphoned out before the hatch and re-infect> so in my case I had no other option.  <hmmmm> I think treating my tank with copper was a great solution... because NONE of my fish died and they are all fully recovered,  <honestly lucky... I wouldn't call it a great solution. I say this only for fear of it happening again and you hoping for lightning to strike twice. As they say... even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. Heehee... I hope you have a sense of humor :)> look colorful and are eating great. I am not too sure if anyone else would have saved all of these fish unless they had a system that was 'fully capable of supporting this huge fish load' for the duration.  <easy there bud... you just didn't have the correct information at hand. Steve was just trying to advise you fully and not give you the short answer... you did ask for advice right:) If there are limitations to the advice desired... let us know. We get paid the same either way... nada, zip... nil... and like it that way <G>> I knew that the copper would be absorbed by all calculus materials and understood all of the negatives in doing this.  <I'm just amazed with all of the calcareous media in a 180 gallon tank that you were even remotely able to keep the levels therapeutically up daily (testing and dosing 2-3 times daily for most aquarists attempting this)>  I wonder how many people would have been this successful... in removing 15 fish to another system for 30 days then returning them... without one single casualty.  <All if they were prepared to remove them to a planned system for the purpose as all of us should have. If your question is how many of 15 fish would have survived in a 20 gallon tank, however... I agree with you> If you would you happen know of any such person please share this success story with me because that would be very interesting me! No disrespect, but having a large sized tank with adequate filtration readily available for quarantine purposes is an extreme luxury item and not many of us in the hobby would have. <again... just your lack of information on easy/proper QT protocol and preparedness. Do allow me/us to share more information on this topic if you want or need it. And please do not think of it as a "luxury". You scare me dude to hear you say it that way... it implies a lack of understanding of our responsibilities to out fishes. If I owned a Great Dane and lived in a studio apartment knowing that I would be changing jobs and moving in a year to a place that I couldn't take the dog... I wouldn't call the lack of a proper sized home or planning for its full lifespan a luxury... I'd call that poor planning (at least). The dog is not a dry good or commodity... it is a living creature of course. Whole different set of rules and obligations. Same thing holds true with a Naso tang for example that grows to 18-24" as an adult but lives in a 6 foot tank (especially if it must live with 14 other fish of any size). Please understand Chris... I'm not criticizing you (I'm just a wise guy :) )... but I'm not going to say that I didn't sense you feeling attacked of defensive from Steve's reply. I read the reply... and just as Steve stated plainly upfront, "I just wanted to mention for you and the daily FAQ readers..." your reply was answered to serve you AND the hundreds or thousands of people that will read this message as posted in our archives. It would have been unfair to you to not show you a better way, and it would be unfair to other/future readers to let them believe that this was an acceptable situation. I apologize if there was any miscommunication about the way we answer queries. For the record... we are available almost 24 hours a day. Thousands of people will attest to getting responses within minutes (!). Our advice is experienced and valid and free... always has been and will be. You must take it at that. Olive branch bud? If it gives you any more confidence in my second opinion, I studied fish pathology under Gratzek and Blasiola world/leading authorities on the subject. The advice I have proffered you here is based on their wisdom and recommendations of protocol. That's gotta count for something. I wish you the best. With kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. Thanks! Yes, I do have a sense of humor and I can definitely take a joke. <cheers my friend! And good to hear... it nice to be able to look at things with a smile whenever possible :)> I will follow your advise as I have always done before. To be quite frank, most all of my education on fish keeping has come from the Wet Web Media site and I do speak very highly of the site to others.  <I am especially thankful that you/anybody finds it useful enough to refer to others... indeed a sincere compliment and the purpose of it all... helping others to succeed for the greater good of all.> Since I am fairly new to the hobby, (2 years) I agree I still have lot's to learn but I have been very successful considering the short period of time that I have been keeping fish.  <agreed.... but a wonderful journey and education it is. You are definitely on the right track by pondering and questioning.> I'll admit that I am influenced at times by the advise of the LFS guy.  <as we all are or have been. We all would like to have and hope to have the worlds best LFS in our backyard. Indeed, we hope that any and all such merchants would advise us accurately and responsibly> He is the one who told me to defiantly treat the tank with copper.  <alas... one can get good advice at a "bad" store and the worst advice at a great store... it happens.>  In the future I will follow proper QT protocol as suggested in WWM. <it is no fun :) but such methods exist because aquatic scientists (at least in this case) have done the research and shown us a clear path. The numbers don't lie (statistics on morbidity and mortality).> I just need to be more pro-active, more prepared for when any such disaster would happen again and yes I will try some of the techniques as you mentioned.  <excellent, my friend. And knowing that you, I and most folks don't have unlimited time to research and become experts on this and any hobby field... let me suggest that you hone the pursuit of information to get the most bang for your buck: aquarium societies and national conferences like MACNA (Dallas this year www.dfwmas.com) are some of th e very best places to get free, generally unbiased and accurate information open the hobby. Up to date and current too. They are a collection of the most dedicated and/or advanced aquarists all getting together for fellowship and to pick each others brains. Gets my vote for improving your understanding and enjoyment of the hobby> Thanks very much and I apologize if I offended.  <no worries at all, bud... I was worried you were upset or offended. Its all good :)> At the risk of sounding uneducated at times my goal is always to get the right answers.  Thanks very much! <its excellent to ask and challenge most times... better than ignorant silence!> Oh by the way, I have 2 large PVC connected sumps, wet / dry having a very large tower of BIO balls, (15 Gallons!) and other sump with great skimmer <very impressive!> and Caulerpa. I suppose with this filtration I was able to make it through the storm. Lot's surface space in overflow for beneficial bacteria to grow. Most of my fish are small as you can see below so I think I have not overloaded per say but I will definitely stop adding here. <agreed... most have small adult sizes. Indeed do stop adding. As it stands the 3 tangs and 2 butterflies have a collective adult length of about 48"... that's a lot of fish :) And the Trigger...well, heehee... you know. Agreed. The tank is very fine right now. And has plenty of fish for the 3-5 year picture... before the trigger starts to clean house <G>. Do keep learning, sharing and growing... with kind regards, Anthony> Tank Inhabitants... 8" Blue Hippo Tang (large) 6" Purple Tang (large) 4" Kole Tang (med.) 5" Christmas Wrasse (small) 5" Threadfin Butterfly (med.) 4" Raccoon Butterfly (med.) 1" Percula Clown (small) 1 1/2" Clown Trigger (I know, but he's harmless now) 1" Velvet Damsel (small) 3/4" Blue Damsel (small) 2" Bi-color Pseudo (small) 4" Bi-color Angel (med.) 3" Checkered Blenny (small) 1" Green Chromis (small) 3/4" Gold Neon Goby (tiny and very helpful)

Amazing Poly Filters and Coppered Live rock! Anthony, thanks for the help. Is PolyFilter a brand name or product name?  <it is an amazing product "Poly Filter" from Poly-Bio Marine. I swear that I am not a spokesperson or have ever even received a free sample! Its just a great product. It is a pad that acts as a chemical adsorptive media (replaces or compliments carbon). The cool thing is that it changes colors to indicate the contaminants that it picks up: blue for copper, yellow for ammonia, orange for rust, or simply brown for general organics> Some of the live rock had been in the tank during a copper treatment but even directly after that I didn't have any problems with snails and such.  <whoa, bud! That's because the carbonate material did not immediately dissolve and liberate copper. There IS local copper contamination in you water that may not show up on a test kit but will kill invertebrates in the microclimate. All carbonate live rock and sand dissolves slowly in time. 100 lbs of live rock put in a reef tank weighs say 80 lbs 5 years later when the tank is torn down. Carbonate bound copper is slowly being liberated. If you didn't know it before, NO medication should ever be dosed in a display tank. Quarantine tanks and fallow periods take care of sick fish and infected systems> In replacing live rock can over-nighted rock be added directly to the tank?  <absolutely not, my friend. Air-shipped live rock needs to be cured. 7-10 days despite shameful claims by many of "cured" live rock. When the rock arrives in the same narrow cardboard boxes that it was shipped out of Fiji in... rest assured, that rock hasn't seen water for over a week> I am thinking about changing it out anyways for much larger pieces. I have a copper test kit and will give it a go and get back to you.  <no worries... and don't expect to see much copper free in the water... this is a matter of chemical adsorption... not free ions> Thanks again. <best regards, Anthony>

Copper/Live Rock Questions Hey guys, <<And hello to you...>> I understand that copper should not be run with live rock, unless you don't mind bleached rock. :) <<oh... there's more to it than just that.>> If copper was run with live rock, would the rock still be a good source of biological filtration? <<No, the rock absorbs the copper so two things happen, one your doses for treatment will be reduced and two, the rock will forever leach copper back into the system. It would be useless as a biological filter after that.>> Or would it lose this capability? Would the rock ever come back to life? <<Doubtful.>> Most important question I have is, when copper is run with live rock, does the rock become 'uncured'?, i.e, that beautiful brown, smelly, rock? <<It becomes dead.>> I also understand that I would have to rebuild my tank if I planned on deploying a reef. <<eh?>> That's fine, I never plan on having a reef. <<copper will reek havoc on inverts, it's true. But sustained exposure to copper isn't any good for fish either - copper is toxic.>> I'm a fish person and do not plan on keeping them exposed to copper to long. <<Best to do this is in a separate tank, away from the main display for the reasons previously noted.>> Thanks. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Copper/Live Rock Questions Your comment on live rock being a useless biological filtration after copper treatment method is not correct according to a question that was answered on your website. <<I'm sorry, that was my personal opinion and not a verbatim copy and paste.>> I remember Bob Fenner telling a fellow aquarist that you shouldn't treat a tank with live rock with copper, but it all depended on why you purchased the live rock in the first place. If it was to deploy a reef in the future, then definitely no copper, but if you just used the live rock as a biological filtration method, it was fine. <<Well, you made me go back and read pages of Bob's replies to questions like this, and the majority has it that copper will be absorbed by the rock. It is certainly possible that this residual amount of copper could cause no effect to a biological filter, but how can you be sure? If you want to know if I would put rock that had been soaking in copper treated water into either of my tanks, reef or fish only, the answer is no.>> Also, if a tank was treated with copper, how long would it take for all the rock to die? <<Depends on the amount of copper in the tank, size of the dose. Perhaps a couple of days to a week? Never tried... I always treat with copper in separate tanks set aside for only this use. I treat it like it was plutonium. Cheers, J -- >>

Copper in Main Tank Dear Mr. Fenner, I realize that I have made a mistake a month ago by treating the main system with copper for 2 weeks as instructed level. I had trouble catching the fish. What can I do to make up the damage done to the system? Do I have to replace all rocks and sand? <Depends on your intentions. If you wanted to do a hardcore reef tank, replacement is your best bet. If you wanted a fish tank, use a activated carbon, water changes, and Polyfilters will do.> Best regards! Liao I Ching <You too! -Steven Pro>

Tapwater & Copper I just got my annual tap water report from the local water company and wanted to pass a long some information for those still considering whether or not they should invest in a RO or DI unit. The Federal standard for copper in drinking water is 1.3 ppm. That is the action level, defined as, "The concentration of a contaminant, which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or requirements, which a water system must follow." In plain English, the copper level can get as high as 1.3 ppm before they are required to take measures to lower it. The average of 50 household sampled this year was 0.23 ppm, still plenty high enough to kill any and all invert life. -Steven Pro <Thanks for this... the federal level has "gone up" over the years. I recall it being 0.5 ppm free cupric ion, then 1.0... Bob Fenner>

New Tank - Big Oops  Bob, Here is a big mistake from a newbie to the saltwater trade. I have a 125 gal tank with 3-4" crushed  coral substrate, 130 lbs live rock, homemade sump. I cycled the rock and it took about 6 weeks. My levels dropped to 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 5 nitrates. So I added the cleanup crew from FFexpress. Within 24 hours all were dead.  <toxic shock> Started reading and asking questions as to why?? My big mistake was to save a few bucks (stupid seeing I invested so much) and use two copper shutoff valves between my overflow boxes and sump.  <arghhh!!!> These have been installed since tank setup and live rock cycle. Approx 2 months total time. Needless to say those are not inline anymore. So, what do I do next?  <lots of PolyFilters (Poly Bio Marine) for several months to absorb residual free copper... after a 100% water change of course> I want to have inverts and corals sometime. I have noticed your posts about using carbon and poly filters. What are your suggestions and time frames?  <after the big water change... I'm thinking double PolyFilters changes by three weeks time at least twice (6-8 weeks of Polyfilters). Then do a copper test and continue to do so weekly beginning with hardy inverts and polyps to test the water. Resist colonial anemones and snails at first (squishy inverts are more likely to draw/OD copper absorbed in substrate...perhaps more sensitive as a rule. Shrimps, crabs, for macro organisms... Leather corals on their own new rock for corals would be good,> Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you for the information contained in your web site. Sincerely, Bob Haberkorn. <do read, share and pass along your wisdom and a good word about the site, please. Kindly, Anthony>

Copper Hi Bob! Thank you for the info on copper and my serpent starfish. I wanted to let you know that the star past last night. Got him to eat, but I guess it was too little too late. <Sorry to hear/read of your loss> Was reading some FAQ's on your web site and saw that Tufa rocks are a "magnet" for copper. <Yes> I used Seachem's Cupramine, it's a non-chelated copper solution. I wasn't able to get my hands on a Poly filter (they don't carry them in stores out here). Was in a hurry to remove the copper from my system, so I purchased Cuprisorb. Will this be enough to remove the copper from my Tufa, or is there something else I can do. I like the look of the Tufa, and I don't think I'm ready to try real coral. Too much of a newbie to marine aquariums. Any suggestions? <Do run the Cuprisorb continuously in your filter flow path... On the broader scale, please avail yourself of our resources (questions, articles... on WWM), consider joining in on listservs (our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/), perhaps a local hobby club if there is sufficient interest. Do you have good reference works/books? A penchant for learning by reading? Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Kathy

Re: Copper Thank you for your help. Will let you know how things go! <Very well my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Kat

Green serpent starfish (and copper removal) Dear Bob, I purchased a green serpent starfish about 2 months ago.  3 weeks ago I had an outbreak of something that the pet store recommended that I treat with copper. I removed all my invertebrates during the treatment. I put new carbon filters in my filter set up after the treatment was finished (I had removed them during treatment.) After 6 hours with the new carbon, I put my invertebrates back in. My snails died within 48 hours, (I found out after that they don't tolerate copper). My hermit crabs are doing great, but my starfish, Stretch, is having trouble. His spines are all falling off, and he lost a small section of 1 leg. Are stars sensitive to copper?  <Yes, most are quite> Should I remove him from this tank. I have heard that once you use any copper treatment that you can never fully remove it from your system. I don't want to lose Stretch, what can I do? <Use a product called PolyFilter (tm) to assure the bit of copper that may be being "re-released" in your system is removed. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm and beyond. Test to see if there is any discernible copper left... if this animal is not overly-toxified, it will regenerate its lost parts. Bob Fenner> Kathy

More Q's (batteries on the run, copper-electrical removal) Reminded by recent queries: What do you use to recharge your American electronics (rechargeable pc, camera batteries, travel iron, etc) when overseas? <Almost always (nowadays), rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydrides (NiMH), and adaptors to the electrical outlets to fit with step-down transformers (for 220 v, 50 Hz)... with small, light-weight "smart" rechargers that condition the batteries, shut themselves off... I rarely use gear with any "throw away" type, size batteries these days. Mainly AAs (all my Nikon gear), D's for u/w lights, strobes...> And do you recall the chemical cocktail (years since I can remember) for breaking the bond of copper with calcareous media? I'm thinking I read it in a Spotte book somewhere. I'll dig for it unless it is fresh in your memory. <Mmm, danger here, Will Robinson... I would not do this, definitely not relate same over the Net. Such cupric ions can be easily scavenged by commercial products like PolyFilter... Bob Fenner> Thanks...Antoine

Re: Post-copper removal/live rock/wet dry Thanks. And sorry about double sending (you'll find I resent a modified version of this msg yesterday -- thought it may have been lost in email limbo).. OK. Now that I understand (more) about the rock and how to proceed.... (and no, the copper isn't that low yet and we are on about day 3... working on it and the quarantine system gets set up this weekend if nothing else, marine aquariums will help me learn patience, at which I do not excel for the most part). Re: the fish How big does the c. multispinis get in a captive system???  thought less than 6 inches (it's a "dwarf", right???) Same question for the butterflies. <This is posted on WetWebMedia.com> Re: a larger system. Yes, but not sure how big I can go up to -- live in an older East Coast House (probably built in the 30s) in the 2nd and 3rd floors of a duplex. The house has shifted/settled. Floors in some places are not super even/level. Don't want anything to end up on my landlady's head on the ground floor. I have modest carpentry skills at best. <This is also posted on WWM> What else COULD I put in this system to keep my tang company that is from the Red Sea or pretty near -- my sg is at about 1.025/.026??? The tang is slightly smaller than the Fu Manchu -- I'd say 3 to 3.25 inches. <See the many marine livestocking FAQs pages on WWM> Rebecca <Bob Fenner>

Copper and Inverts Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo... author, aquarist and regular wine drinker, in your service> I have treated a small tank of mine with copper to eliminate a breakout of ich. <aiiiieeee! A bare bottomed quarantine tank or the main display?> Approximately how long must I wait to add back the invertebrates? <OK...assuming it was the main display... youa no gonna lika whatta I say.... copper has been absorbed into all calcareous media (rock, gravel, sand, shells, etc.) and as such will be present even after all copper is removed from the water column. So while the water will be copper free, sessile invertebrates like snails, anemones, etc will overdose slowly by contact with the contaminated calcareous surfaces. The substrates have been effectively ruined for inverts and must be replaced...else, enjoy a fish only display. Sorry to drop the bomb...but it is better than watching inverts die slowly over months. This is one reason why quarantine tanks are so strongly encouraged. And the efficacy of meds is also reduced by the buffering substrates. No copper in main displays. Kind regards, Anthony>

Invertebrates after copper? I copper treated my tank when I first set it up because it was my first marine tank and I was playing it safe. Now I have become interested in expanding the tank a bit. Is there any way to treat the water so it is now safe for invertebrates? <Yes. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Hey Bob (Coppered, over-coppered system, consequences) Bob, You remember my 240 gal. Situation? Anyhow I had to put my emperor in a 50 gal. quarantine tank. He's doing great. Anyhow as for my 240 , I had to remove all of the liverock. About 170 lbs. I'm running a trickle filter, ozone gen, skimmer, U.V, etc.. Now I'm going to sell all of the liverock, and add fake/false corals in my tank and REALLY make it a FO tank. That way if I need to douse copper, I wont have to worry about the liverock anymore. My 240 was infected with ick. So I had to Nuke my tank with a lot of copper. Oh when I nuked my 240 there was no fish/life at all. Only the substrate.  Ok here's the BIG question Bob. Its been 2 weeks already. I did a 40 % water change, to pull out the copper, and running carbon. You've mentioned that large angels love aged/seeded systems. My 240 was aged, and seeded before this epidemic. After dousing with copper, and starting fresh now. Is my 240 STILL considered aged, and well seeded?? Or is it considered NEW , and not seeded? Thanks <The latter... Bob Fenner> Linstun water par. current ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 45ppm, because of some die offs from copper. Did water change to lower it.

Copper, mystery origin... Hi Bob, A couple weeks ago I wrote you about a copper problem in my tank. You suggested that I tear down the tank and look for some source of copper or brass. I did indeed do this, but found absolutely nothing. I even ran a metal detector over all the substrate. I even looked in the canister filter and power filter. Nothing! I put everything back together. All the fish are fine. I then put a new piece of PolyFilter in the filter. After a week the PolyFilter has a hint of blue (before after just one day the PolyFilter was deep blue) and there is still a low copper reading using the copper test kit. I think that copper is leaching out of the substrate. <Me too... either the gravel or rock... or some other decor item... As a side-note, at one time some plastic plants had a "copper wire" core (to facilitate their "arrangement")...> This past summer I had an outbreak of ich and treated the tank for about a month with copper, but it sure seems to be a long time for the copper to still be around especially after using carbon and PolyFilter. Should I just let time take its course? <I would, yes> The other problem I had was getting my new juvenile emperor to eat. You said it was probably due to the copper levels, but I didn't make myself clear. The emperor is in a separate tank with no copper problem. I've got him in a 30 gallon semi-quarantine tank (I keep two clowns in it and put new fish in it for a couple of weeks of monitoring before adding to the main tank). Anyhow, I have tried every possible type of food; frozen, flake, and live. The only thing he'll eat is live black worms and he seems to love them. If I mix them in with other foods he will surgically pick the worms out without eating anything else. He goes after everything that is put in the tank but just won't eat it unless it is a black worm. There is about 15 lbs of live rock in the tank, but even after watching him for hours at a time I have never seen him pick at it. I have tried withholding black worms for a couple days to try to force him to eat the other stuff I put in the tank, but he just won't do it. Do you have any suggestions on how I can wean him of the black worms to a more healthy diet of preferably frozen foods?? <A tough one... I would just place this specimen in the main tank, let it look about for "black worms" amongst the greater mass of live rock. Bob Fenner> You help is much appreciated and have a great day and weekend.  JJ

More questions re feeding of fish Hi Bob, I hope I am not bothering you too much with all my questions. If you remember I had a copper problem in one of my tanks which you suggested to solve with PolyFilter. I am still getting a reading of copper in the tank. I am unable to find any source of the copper leaching out. The PolyFilter is very deep blue in color. Do you think it has adsorbed as much copper as it can and to add another piece of PolyFilter? <Maybe... but where is the continuing copper coming from in your systems water? There is a source that is getting it... I would likely skip ahead and take the tank down completely, looking for "pennies", a bit of brass, something that is contributing this cupric ion... You can try more Polyfilter, but if this continues to "go bluer and bluer" some source is adding copper...> Also, for the last couple of weeks I have been get a slight ammonia reading which has increased to an uncomfortable level at this point. I haven't added any fish in 3 months. There is a small flame angel, purple tang, and a flame hawk in the tank. I have a 75 gal with an Eheim canister filter, a power filter, and two Bak-Pak protein skimmers. I feed sparingly once a day and do a 20% water change every two weeks. Any suggestions? <You've had it above...> Finally, If you recall I have had trouble with a juvenile emperor angel which wasn't eating. I put a piece of live rock in with him as you suggested and did get him to eat some black worms, but that's all he'll eat at this point. He darts at everything I drop into the tank but won't eat it unless it is a black worm. How can I get him to eat a better diet? <Cure the copper mystery... this stuff removes fishes' sense of smell... and appetite. Bob Fenner> Thanks a bunch,  JJ

Re: copper Hi Bob, I just wanted to let you know that I got the PolyFilter yesterday and put it in my powerfilter. You wanted to know what color it was. Well it is blue which I assume is the copper, <Yes, very likely> but I am still getting a 0.10 mg/l reading using the copper test kit. How long should I keep it in the filter?  <Mysterious... the copper might be "leaching" back out from some source... do look about in your system... do you have any brass, other copper exposed near the water? Leave the Polyfilter in place> The guy at the LFS said that the PolyFilter would strip everything good out of my tank. Is this true? <What? No.> Also, will it be ok to add the live rock once it is fully cured or do you think there is truly copper left in the tank that will harm the rock? <Not much, "that much" harm... in fact, the LR will greatly help remove the copper. I would place it> As far as the Emperor angel is concerned, I got him to eat a few black worms which I assume is a good sign. <Yes> You told me to put a chunk of the live rock that I am curing into the tank to help, but the ammonia and nitrite levels from the rock tank are off the scale so I am scared of putting a piece into the tank with the Emperor??  <Place one piece and see if this changes the water chemistry> Thanks again for all your help. My knowledge of the marine system has grown exponentially since finding your web site and receiving your sage advice. <Sage, like brush? Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Jeff

Copper Hi Bob, I hope all is well with you. I have a quick question. I have an order of live rock that I want to begin adding to my display tank. The problem is that I previously treated my tank with copper because of an ick outbreak this past summer. I put a bag of carbon into the power filter several weeks ago but I still get a copper reading of about 0.10 (Fas-test by aquarium systems). Can I add live rock at this point?  <Mmm, I would do so... and a unit of PolyFilter to your filter flow path... and do test your test kit on a sample of distilled water... and your rock/water with another test kit...> If not how long do you think it will take to get the copper out of the system?  <I suspect it's "not really there" (your kit is faulty, measuring something else...)> Would adding carbon to the canister filter be better than the power filter? <About the same... whatever's easier for you to sandwich the media between, maintain... Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Jeff Re: copper Wow, quick reply. I tested both freshly mixed salt water and the water that the live rock is in. Both of these tests came back 0. What do you think? <Some other artifactual material in the system giving you the copper reading. As stated, use the PolyFilter, and please report back what sort of color it turns. Bob Fenner>

Re: copper Hey Bob, I feel pretty ignorant asking this question, but what is PolyFilter.  <Sorry here... Yes, a product of the company Poly-Bio-Marine... Their link on our Links Pages (WWM) and some input on the Chemical Filtrant FAQs here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/filtrant.htm> Is it a brand name that I can pick up at the LFS or is it just filter floss? <A fabulous product that many stores don't carry... but most etailers have found and offer it. Bob Fenner>

Copper in reef tank, but I never added it? Hello, I have a 55g tank which has been up for about 2 years. Had a couple of open brains that did well until a renegade crab appeared and took chunks out of them. Also have tried numerous other soft corals such as xenia, mushrooms, various polyps, and leathers, but with very poor luck. This is confusing because, I have successfully kept a coral banded and cleaner shrimp, along with numerous hermit crabs, feather dusters, starfish, snails, etc. coralline algae also proliferates.  <Hmm, not too unlikely that conditions would allow, favor other types of life...> Lighting and water quality are OK and the LFS suggested a copper test even though I have never added any copper to the tank, ever. The only possibility I can remember is that about 1 year ago, the glass on the heater broke and could have leached copper from the coils. Anyhow, FasTest copper test showed .20 ppm copper. I added a CupriSorb pack to the filter, along with activated carbon and have done a number of water changes. 1 month later, the test kit still shows .10 to .20 ppm copper. Could this copper affect soft corals, but not the other inverts and my open brain corals? <Hmm, yes... definitely this much copper will mal-affect invertebrates...> How long should I expect it to take for this mysterious copper to be removed, and could you suggest any other ideas?  Thanks!! <This is a bunch of copper... more than I would suspect from a tapwater source (though do check the water from your sink...) or from the bit that is added to dried foods (yes, as a preservative), or naturally occurring in other foodstuffs... Do you have a chiller on this system? It may be that the "coating" on some part of the components has failed... I would by-pass this unit, re-test for copper in a few days... Also, do use another, perhaps more sensitive copper test kit to "check the checker" here... it may well be that you really don't have copper at all, but another material in your water that is rendering a "false positive"... look for "other reagent" types from LaMotte and Hach corporations... And please read over the "Copper", "Copper Removal" sections on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner

Post-Copper and Copper Removal Problems Hello once again! Now that my fish have completed their two week copper treatment for ich, I am seeing some kind of sores or color loss or something on my imperator and Koran angels. The imperator seems itchy and the Koran seems kind of lethargic, and both have small areas of rough scales and whiteness, but not like a covering of whiteness... more like a loss of color in those areas. I can see the definition of the Emperor's scales in some patches, although he does not appear to have a dropsical condition. I was too cheap to spend $20 on a bottle of Selcon to soak their Nori in during their treatment period and now think perhaps they have a secondary infection. <False economy... a grievous mistake on your part> I also think I may have harmed them because my (very hard to read) dry tab copper test showed high levels of copper (.25 to .50 at times, brought down somewhat by a big water change but not much color change even with a 50% water change). What are the external signs of copper burns?  <You've described them> The clowns, Chromis, damsel, tangs, and dwarf angels are doing peachy...just my 2 blue juv beauties are suffering.  For shame! I can't put the unaffected fish back in my main tank to isolate the angels in the quarantine tank because just yesterday I loaded the main tank with sand and uncured live rock. I was going to let the live rock cycle and the tank to go fallow for another two weeks before returning the fish to the tank. The water is not bad in the q tank...everything is fine there and we have been doing large water changes because of the ammonia, which has now stabilized, although I am concerned about not being able to remove all of the copper. We've put activated carbon as well as poly filter in the Bak-pak, turned the skimmer back on, removed the sponge filters, and changed about 30% of the water last night, but the copper test kit still shows .15. We tested the main tank just to rule out the possibility of bad test reagents, but the results were perfectly clear. The poly filter shows no color at all. <Hmm> I'll do a big water change later tonight, but really want to be able to add my cleaner shrimp and my L. dimidiatus cleaner wrasse (who, by the way, has been with us for nearly 10 weeks <Unusual...> now and is doing very well eating fresh raw shrimp from the grocery store). When will the copper be gone and when can I feel confident about adding the shrimp, hermits, abalone, and anemone to the tank?  <When the reading is zero ppm> There is no gravel or substrate, only PVC pipes for hiding.  As always, I am most grateful for your expert assistance.  Yours, Sherri J. <Bob Fenner>

Copper disaster I recently had a disaster in my reef aquarium (found a penny in it). Needless to say it leached copper into my system and now all my corals have died. All that is left in my tank is my live rock and my clown and mandarin.  <Yikes, sorry to hear/read of your losses... surprised the Mandarin is alive...> I think I am just going to convert over to a fish only tank and keep my live rock. My question is how do I get the copper out of my water?  <Just time going by will do it... but I would add a "unit"/bag of activated carbon, a pad of PolyFilter in your filter flow path... details on this subject are posted on "FAQs about Removing Copper" in the Marine section of the website: www.WetWebMedia.com> On Friday of last week I did a water change (about 20gal), and then did another change on Saturday (another 33gal). My kit is still reading about .10. I have in storage a Tidepool 2 and a magnum 350. Should I load these up with carbon and get them set up to my tank, and is there anything else I could do to hurry the process along? Thanks in advance, Shawna <And I would "check the checker" on this test kit... try another test kit here. Bob Fenner>

Copper Bob, I just have one quick question. If copper has been used in a system is it absolutely necessary to gut the system before putting inverts in or over time does the copper break down and detoxify? Thanks <No need to dismantle the system. Please read over the copper use, removal parts on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com under the Marine Index. Bob Fenner>

Removing copper .... is it now safe ??? Hi Bob, First of all, I wish you a happy new year, and hope you had a lovely Xmas. <Thank you, and yes, visiting adopted family in NJ> I have just a small query about my system. As you may or may not recall, I was about to do a refugium style sump, mainly with a view to growing Caulerpa to export nutrients, and as a food source which can be harvested and fed to my angels / tangs. <A very useful technique> As you may also recall, previous to this I had to treat my tank with a copper based medication due to an outbreak of the dreaded ich (possibly Oodinium ....... the spots were very small ....... but that is irrelevant now) after a power outage. During the course of the treatment, I had to remove my LR to a holding tank (100lbs), to protect it from severe copper exposure. Since then, 6 or 7 weeks have passed, the disease long since cleared up, and things are generally back to normal, and I am now in the middle of a "clean up" operation, to try and get as much copper out of the system as possible. <I understand, and can help> So far, I have done several 25% water changes (about 6 over the past 2 or 3 weeks). I have Tufa rock in there, which was a temporary measure to construct caves while the LR was missing), which I know is a bit of a sponge for copper.  <Yes, as are all calcareous materials, the more the more soluble> This will be removed once it is ready to put the LR back. I have used a couple of rounds of carbon, changing after a few days, and have used a PolyFilter in a canister filter for 3 days also (which turned a yellowish sort of colour ...... apparently blue indicates copper, or blue green) <Yes... and I do doubt if you have any real copper, cupric ion as a consequence of all this> . I am now about to do another 25% water change. Using a Salifert test kit, I cannot detect copper ............. although I find these test kits hard to use, so I might be making a mistake, but to me it reads zero, so it has to be at least very low. Do you think this is an adequate "clean up" ??? As I say, I will be removing the Tufa rock. I know the sand may be contaminated too, but is that really necessary ........ I will not be keeping any inverts. <Yes, I am assured, and assure you, you have no dangerous amounts of copper to contend with> If there is any small amounts of copper left in the system, will it harm the filtering capacity of the rock I know it won't effect aerobic, but anaerobic / nitrate consuming bacteria). I know it would probably damage any "life" which may be on it .... but there never was much anyway, the fish saw to that :-). I have noticed a couple of worms in the mean time on the rock, would it pose a threat to them ??? <Not to worry> My main concern is that if I put the LR back into the tank now, I will damage it's capacity to reduce nitrate ....... which is one of the main purposes it is there for :-) Is this likely ??? <No, all should be fine. Replace the Rock... if there were any small residual it will help remove it... and the life on your rock is languishing in the meanwhile> Also, I would hope to go ahead, and introduce some Caulerpa to my sump (with lights) in about 2 or 3 weeks time ........ will this be ok ??? <Yes> Thanks for reading ..... I am probably worrying unnecessarily. Regards, Matt Silvester <You're doing fine. Bob Fenner>

Copper Toxicity. I received some fish that weren't as healthy as they should be (Velvet).  Being a new tank with living rock and no invertebrates I decided to use copper. Now I am told by the place where I purchased my fish that I will have to discard all my live rock because it will leach out copper and harm invertebrates and the copper kills the coralline algae. What are your thoughts?  John Samuels  <No to the copper leaching out story... you can test this if you don't believe me... The copper does harm invertebrates and algae... but not once it has combined with other chemical species to become insoluble precipitates... It's gone. Maybe use some activated carbon if you have any residual at this point, but when the copper is undetectable... no worries. Do keep your live rock. Bob Fenner>

Copper in Aquariums Dear Mr. Fenner; I am setting up my aquarium again after a move. It has been dry for about a month. Previously I used it as a fish only system and I used copper medication in it several times. However I now want to turn it into a reef tank. I have heard that once you used copper in a tank you should never use it as a reef tank because the copper stays in the silicone and will leach back into the water. <This is more of an "urban/e myth" than fact... very little resoluble copper metal remains to dissolve back out... period> I used a sump and overflow on the tank which I also want to use in the new reef tank. Can I still use the old tank and associated equipment or should I buy new?  <I definitely would use the gear you have... If really concerned, buy and install a "unit" of Boyd's Chemipure, or other sort of activated carbon pack... in your filter flow path... you won't detect any free cupric ion... because... there won't be any> Additionally, I have been getting a lot of conflicting advice about the advantages of compact fluorescents vs. VHO.  <Good arguments for both technologies... similar initial costs per useful "light"... but the CF's are the winners in the long run... until the next big improvement!> Prices for compacts seem to be different between Japanese and German bulbs, is one better than the other?  <IMO, no... much, most all the lamps, fixtures are made by very few people/countries/companies... and relabeled, resold as this and that... look at the stat's for temperature, CRI, price... and that's it> The tank is 29G and I plan to start with soft corals. Which type of lighting system/wattage do you recommend?.  <CF or VHO... in that order... 3-5 watts per gallon (the low end for soft corals (alcyonaceans) only... but with an eye on stonies, clams, maybe higher-intensity light using gorgonians and who knows what down the line... And do endeavor to get gear that can be adapted to a larger system... I sense you're a go-getter who will be getting more involved... and soon> Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated, thank you. Bill >> <Anytime... and do take a read through the materials stored on the site for more egregious opinions... Home Page   Bob Fenner>

Copper Removal. I inherited a 80 Gallon Saltwater tank from a friend that moved of the country. The tank has been running for about 2 1/2 years. I moved into his place when he moved so the tank has never been taken down. He had a problem with ich and about 6 to 8 months ago and add Copper Safe to the tank which did take care of the ich problem.  My question is this. How do I get rid of the copper that is now in the tank? in the past the tank was a fish only tank and it is fine to have a bit of copper. I was told at a LFS that it would just take time. Also they suggested that I bleach all of my rock that I have in the tank (bleach with a PH buffer). I have been looking for some other options and opinions on this matter and have not been able to find anything accept for the opinion that copper is generally not a good thing to use. I would love to add some inverts and some live rock, but at the current time I and unable to do that. Help.  Thanks for your help. Todd >> No worries, and no problem... most all the copper has probably resolved into insoluble complexes... but just to be sure, add a "bag" (unit of Chemipure for instance) of activated carbon in your filter flow path... this will readily absorb permanently, any free copper in the system's water. As will placing the live rock... Bob Fenner


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