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FAQs on Copper Use, Toxicity, Troubleshooting/Fixing

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

Related FAQs: Exogenous Poisoning (from outside, External, Inorganic, e.g. Metals), Copper 1, Copper 2, Copper 3, Copper 4, & FAQs on Copper: Science, Rationale/Use, Free Copper/Cupric Ion Compounds (e.g. SeaCure), Chelated Coppers (e.g. Copper Power, ), Making Your Own/DIY Copper Solutions, Measure/Testing, Utilization/Duration, Prophylactic Use, Copper Product FAQs, Copper Test FAQs, Copper Removal FAQs, Copper Removal 2, & Live Rock, Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Marine Tanks, Parasitic Reef Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease, Medications/Treatments 1, Medications/Treatments 2, Medications/Treatments 3, Antibiotics/Antimicrobials, Anthelminthics/Vermifuges/Dewormers, Copper FAQs 1, Organophosphates, Epsom/Other Salts, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Furan Compounds, Garlic, Homeopathic Remedies (teas, pepper sauce, other shams...), Malachite Green, Mercury Compounds/Topicals, Methylene Blue, Metronidazole, Quinine Compounds, Sulfas, Treating Disease, Treatment Tanks, Medications/Treatments II, Treating Parasitic Disease, Using Hyposalinity to Treat Parasitic Disease, Garlic Use, Antibiotic Use, Marine Disease 1, Puffer Disease,

Use of copper entails... understanding... the basics of what this material does (besides interrupting metabolic processes of lower life)... is a proteinaceous precipitant to fishes... making them slimier... Some fishes as species, individuals can't take much of this... along with present state of health, other stressors... You must treat carefully, with testing, be ever-vigilant in observing your livestock's behavior. Be ready with new/stored water for change-outs.

Kole Tang; hlth., and Cu f'      10/18/17
Good afternoon Crew,
I unfortunately experienced a loss in my tank last night - my Kole tang.
I've had a Kole Tang previously for years... a curious outgoing fish that was constantly on the move. I have a shallow 60g tank, 79f, 1.024 salinity, no signs of nitrates/nitrites/ammonia - although I have been purposely
allowing a little hair algae to grow for the upcoming arrival of my Kole Tang. I'd say overall I feed rather lightly, sometimes every second day (but am observing my fish growing/fattening up), and only enough that just
a small amount of thawed frozen Mysis/brine/etc... falls to the substrate for my snails/crabs/serpent star, etc
I currently have a few corals, bta, two clowns, yellow watchman goby, royal gramma... I noticed a plump Kole Tang with what appeared to be ICK at my LFS and offered to buy him at a greatly reduced price because I've
successfully QT and treated ICKY fish with Cupramine in the past, and without losses. The Kole Tang went straight into my 30g QT bare bottom tank and I followed the Cupramine instructions as always. The Kole Tang would sometimes eat, sometimes not, but frequently picking away at scraps that had stuck to the foam cover on the filter. He remained active and plump for the 16day QT. With the Cupramine treatment over and no signs of white spots, and what looked like a healthy active fish... I introduced him to my display tank.
The Kole Tang's been shy, not as active, and while I've witnessed him picking away at the glass and rocks from time to time, I rarely saw him feeding with the other fish. Almost two weeks later... Last night, he was on his side in the corner of my tank and breathing rapidly. He still looked to be of a healthy size, but something was obviously wrong. I felt that removing him at that point would cause more stress and certain death.
Watched my cleaner shrimp jump on him at that point, and the Kole Tang swam away. I checked on him this morning and his outer body had been completely picked away by hermit crabs and my serpent starfish.
Question... do you think the death may still be Ick related, even though he appeared to have successfully finished a Cupramine treatment?
<Ick/Crypt might have been a factor... to extent here. As well as the copper exposure. I suspect this fish had a trauma issue though. Perhaps from collection, holding, transport...>
I don't think anything in my tank could've harmed him, and he had no wounds of any sort. I'm assuming my small to medium sized bubble tip anemone wouldn't have been the culprit (unless the BTA had actually caught him and was eating him)?
<Could have had a brush here as well>
I'm stumped... I thought I had success in saving this fish from the store.
<Sometimes Dave, sometimes not. Bob Fenner>
Re: Kole Tang     10/18/17

Could a simple brush from the BTA have done something like that?
<Not likely a Ctenochaetus tang would perish from glancing a BTA; no; not of/by itself>
I was thinking possibly trauma from collection, but in the QT he was really active, breathing at what I perceived to be a normal rate, etc... Cupramine indicates to treat at .5mg/l, and that toxic levels exist at .8mg/l My
treatment was definitely at .5mg/l, having checked multiple times throughout the 16 days. Are some fish (tangs?) more delicate with copper treatments?
<Re copper exposure; there is no sub-physiological dose. Akin to old treatments of humans by mercuricals and arsenicals; you're killing the host by degrees along w/ the parasite. Tangs are amongst the most sensitive fishes to copper poisoning. Bob Fenner>

Cross contamination of copper   8/7/16
Hello there
I hope that you are having a great day Bob.
<Thank you Mark>
I had a question I wanted to run by you. I have a 140g which I just transferred over to a 240g tank. I had moved everything already except for maybe 70lbs of live rock.
Yesterday I accidently grabbed the wrong syringe to check the salinity in my 120g, instead of grabbing the one I use to check salinity I grabbed the one I used to dose Cupramine for my hospital tank. To make matters worse I rinsed the syringe in my old 120g tank. So now my 120g, with my leftover liverock, has about .1ml of Cupramine in it from residual Cupramine.
There's nothing left in the 120g except for live rock which I had wanted to transfer over as well. Should I take any precautions or is the dosage too small to have any effect on the live rock? Thank you.
<Not a worry mate. Turns out that some small amount of cupric ion is actually a micro-nutrient, a necessary component... and found naturally in seawater. The tiny amount you've added is of no deleterious consequence.
Bob Fenner>

cloudy eyes... Cu exp.      3/18/14
Hey Bob,
A week ago I had a scribbled angel who developed some cloudy eyes. It was not unilateral, both eyes were of equal cloudiness.
<Yes; copper involvement speculated as I recall>

My uv light went out, and I am waiting for a replacement bulb to come in, and since then my water had some fog to it. (suggesting a bacterial bloom)
Could this bloom, have caused both eyes to become hazy?
<Not likely>
I pulled the fish out and placed in quarantine on Friday. I used Maracyn Plus, and the eyes are clear and as good as new again. It has been 4 days since using the Maracyn, is there a need to run it a few more days, just like people who need to run the full treatment of antibiotics?
<... the Mardel product likely is/was unnecessary>
Also, should I place him in there now, or wait till the UV light is on again? (should have bulb this coming Monday).
<I wouldn't have the lamp influence me one way or t'other>
I checked WWM, various queries with Maracyn plus, and didn't see anything on this particular antibiotic,
<... re-search: Erythromycin>
as well as full treatment time. The bottle says treat days 1,3,5, but doesn't state how long after day 5 to keep him in there.
Thanks again for all you do
<W. B>
Re cloudy eyes... Cu exp.      3/18/14
Yes copper was in place, Cupramine. I also have Cupramine in QT and the same level, and yet his eyes are vibrant and clear. I did this because I read on WWM that it is fine to run Cupramine and maracyn synergistically. I also wanted to see if in fact it was the .5 Cupramine causing this, and from what I have seen in QT, it is not.
If it wasn't the maracyn that took care of the eyes, not sure what else it could have been, since both tanks have equal amounts of copper, salinity. The only thing different from what I can measure, is the tank temp is running at 82, the QT 79. (degree F of course) Both are at a 1.022 SG.
Maybe the angel didn't like the 82 degree water? Again, the only comparisons I can make from my standpoint.
I will take him out of QT tonight, and place back into DT, with a short acclimation.
Re cloudy eyes... Cu exp.      3/18/14
follow up

Ok, Bob, I stumbled upon something I believe matches up. Amazing what one more piece of literature may entail.
The cloudy eyes were a result of something off in the tank. The maracyn may have helped expedite the healing process, but it may come back when he goes in to DT. So the real cause may lie in the tank. (nitrates, bacterial blooms, etc) In other words, it was a symptom, or secondary sign of something else.
Well considering I personally believe my parameters, (exception of Cupramine) are good, I may have stumbled on what caused it. From the time I got him, until the time he developed foggy eyes (5-6 days), he refused to eat. He was new, and therefore acclimating, but not eating (no nutrition) may have lowered immune system ability, therefore allowing an infection to occur, that may have not happened if he had been eating.
So perhaps rather than use antibiotics in qt, I should be focusing on strengthening him up, getting him to feed, before re-introducing him to DT.
I suppose initial logic and nature says to put the flames out of a burning house. A further superior mind says, to not keep flammables near an open flame to begin with!

Update on Emperor. Cu and angels       3/9/14
Update for your readers - I decided to strip the copper from my tank using Seachem's carbon. I was surprised how long it takes but after a week the copper level was down to 0.1 and I replaced with a second set of carbon for two reasons, after a week I suspect most of the carbon is saturated and also if the pH should drop I did not want the copper going back into the tank.
The Emperor has improved in colour and the blotches have gone. I decided not to treat for internal parasites as having read up I was concerned about my bacteria filtration. The Emperor is still eating well and his weight seems to have stabilised. I am suspicious as to how he was caught (Cyanide etc) but hope his digestive tract bacteria is returning.
<As the fish is eating; and didn't perish almost immediately from; I suspect it is fine>
I have learn that Copper is more sensitive to Emperors than to the mostly harder to keep Regal, Blueface and Majestic Angels, the Regal who was eating half the time when the Copper was at 0.6 is now eating well.
Kind regards,
<Thank you for this report. BobF>
Hole in the head on Majestic and BlueFace Angel      3/9/14

<Hello again>
Fortunately after decreasing the amount of copper in the water, 80% of the "holes" have gone.
Kind regards,
<This too. B>

Ich. & Cu use, SW       2/9/14
Hi Bob,
I understand there are different strains of Ich and currently only my Real Tang has symptoms, the other, two ocellaris, Regal Angel, Emperor, Blueface and Majestic Angel (I like angels) all seem comfortable.
I have 4 questions - if I treat with Cupramine for six weeks as copper seems the only sure way to get rid of Ich
<Do read on WWM, the Net... books re the use of Quinine compounds>

 if I then place carbon in the tank and when the copper tests (API) shows clear therefore that it is negligible and leave fresh carbon in the system to absorb any copper with a pH shift etc can I then place an anemone in the tank as some sites say that the rocks and sand will still kill an anemone on contact?
<Not likely; no>

The other question is as I have read copper can damage fish kidney and liver?
<It can; from long exposure... high concentration as well; though this last generally just kills the specimen/s>

Lastly the Blueface changed from juvenile to adult in six weeks (80%) is this very fast as most people seem amazed.
<Does happen>
Thanks in advance.
<Do you need help searching WWM? Bob Fenner>

Black marks on clownfish in QT      1/25/14
Good afternoon!
After searching the internet for days and asking on forums with no discernible answer, I decided it was time to ask the experts!
My clownfish has been in a hospital tank, undergoing copper treatment for white spot, for 3 weeks now. I originally had two in there but I unfortunately lost the other smaller (male) black and white clown after a few days in the HT. Mona, the larger of the two, is now cured of Whitespot and doing well apart from these marks on her. She had a few black marks that I assumed were caused by my Zoas when I first transferred her. But these new marks look as if the original few spots have dispersed and spread all over her.
<I see these/this>
After looking at pictures of clownfish changing colour as they mature, I'm not convinced this is what's going on.... Those changes seem to be from under the scales and look to be a more even spread of colour. This looks more like the edges of her scaled are trimmed with black.
She is still eating well (tetra marine flakes twice a day, sometimes three times. Once a day I add garlic Xtreme. I feed Mysis every couple of days too). There's no ammonia in the HT, I do a 25% water change every 4/5 days and have an ammonia badge in there too.
I've attached the best pics I could get with a rubbish camera and a fast moving fish! The black shows up most between her middle and back white line but is also on her fins.... Everywhere except her head!
Do you think I need to worry about her/do anything?
Thanks in advance for your help!
<These markings look to be smudges; chromatophore, melanophore: color cells on/in this fish... From? Copper exposure, gen. stress? I would NOT treat for anything pathogenic here. Return this fish to optimized, stable conditions and it should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Black marks on clownfish in QT      1/26/14
Bob, thanks so much for your response.
<Welcome Jen>
Yesterday was the last day of copper treatment at the recommended level so I have now put carbon sponge and PolyFilter in the filter to remove the copper, hopefully Mona will look less grubby soon! I was wondering if lighting may also have had something to do with this and if I should leave the tank light off for a few days? Do you think this may be a factor?
<Not likely... the copper exposure by itself... most all. BobF>

Concern for copper      6/4/13
Dear Crew,
    I am in a possible serious disaster. I just finished cycling my 265 gallon tank. It has two refugiums in the bottom. It was discovered yesterday that one of my kids put a block of wood (4''x4") into one of them probably to see it float. I found a label that says it is pressure treated with "Micronized Copper Azole Compounds". I am pretty much scared to death that all the money and time put into starting up my reef tank has been ruined.
<You removed it immediately I take it... likely the "biomass" absorbed what little was released>
 I'm trying to stay positive by hoping that the wood wasn't in there long enough to seep into the water (I hope you feel the same!). What should I watch for?
<The more/most sensitive organisms... I see below, likely the Gracilaria... dying back>
 I have Copepods all over, Mangroves, Red Gracilaria, and Hermit crabs. I don't know what to do from here.
<Drop in a pound or so of activated carbon, a couple of PolyFilter pads, and if you're so inclined a dozen Hail Mary's and you'll be good to go. Bob Fenner>

rookie mistake; brass- copper incident    1/3/12
Hi WWM Crew.  I've been working on building a 55g reef tank over the past 5 months.  Playing by the rules to allow for cycling, adding fish slowly, diligent water changes with RO/DI water, Sump with a refugium, etc.  Over the past month, I started to add corals.  They would close-up and die within the week.
  Snails had no chance, would also die within a few days.  Although, all 7 fish were ok.  Spending hours of research, I realized I had a brass ball valve between the return pump and the display tank.
 Learned further that brass contains copper
<Yes; an alloy>
... oh joy!  So I promptly remove the ball valve and buy a copper test kit, and sure enough the tank has 0.25 ppm copper... even after two 50% water changes.  Obviously the copper is embedded in all of the live rock and sand.  I've heard Poly Bio Marine Filters will remove copper from the water column, but obviously wont clear it from the rock or sand.
<Well, most all copper will "become insoluble" in time in our systems... and some minute amount is actually an essential element.>
 SO, the big question.  If I run PolyFilters for a few months, will the tank be ok to sustain a reef? 
<Yes; highly likely so>
Or do I need to "bomb-and-pave" (please say "no") and start over with a new tank, new live rock and new sand? 
<I would not start over as you state... Wait a month, re-test for free cupric ion (Cu++), and start w/ a hardier test invertebrate>
Looking for your expertise before I basically start over -sigh-.
Thank you!
<Welcome; and don't despair. Much better times near ahead. Bob Fenner>
Re: rookie mistake    1/3/12

Thank you for the reply Bob!
<Welcome Justin>
A few follow up questions.  Do you think my live rock is now dead-rock? 
<Mmm, no. Assuredly not. Some part of the more "easily killed by copper exposure" is likely killed, died back, but most all will recover. I would not move, or change this out>
Hoping it will also come back and begin to spawn little creatures and 'things' in time.  It's been unusually bear <bare, homonym>, probably due to the copper.  Also, anything I need to do to the substrate to help release any residual copper? 
<No; nada>
Lastly, my LFS does not have PolyFilter but does have other granular media like Kent toxic metal sponge, to remove copper.  Is one better than the other?
<Boyd's Chemipure>
Thanks again,

Itchy Fish. Cu exp.     8/15/12
Hi Crew,
I am wondering if you have any ideas as my fishes seem itchy, I had been treating the tank with copper but about a week ago started removing it with a Polyfilter, Carbon and Kent Toxic Sponge powder. All levels are normal and there is no sign of Ich, fish are all still eating but it is frustrating for them and less so for me. I am guessing at a chemical issue rather than a pathogen infection as they do not seem to be getting any worse or increased breathing rate. All params, pH etc are normal. Regards,
<Search "itchy and copper"... Likely the real issue here. B>

Scratching Regal Angel. Cu irritation likely       8/6/12
Hi Crew, I am not sure you can answer this question as I have done some research on this. I am have tank <?> which did recently have Ich, the Regal Tang (Not Angel)
used to be my barometer to check but surprisingly he/she seems to have built resistance,
a Humbug Damsel and also surprisingly a small Emperor Angel all seem immune. When there is a small outbreak two small (about 1inch) Clown Triggers show the spots.
<Might not be Crypt, a Protozoan...>
I say small as I have been running Copper for about three weeks. There are no signs of any white spot currently as I increased the Copper dosage (Cupramine) I check under daytime and nighttime light and I personally have very good vision (thanks Mum and Dad) My Regal Angel is flicking and I do not know why.
<Highly likely just the copper exposure... is irritating>

There was a small drop in pH to 8.0 which I have corrected, any ideas would be appreciated. He/she also seems to want the Emperor Angel to clean him/her. All fish are eating and breathing OK. Regards, Adam.
<I'd reduce, eliminate the Cu... Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>

Copper in a reef tank    7/13/12
 I have recently had an outbreak of copper in my reef tank. I say outbreak because I have never dosed with copper and do not know how it got in my tank. It is a 120gal tank that has been up for several years. I noticed that my corals and inverts had begun dying over night after thriving for months. After coming up empty on my normal tests I brought water to my LFS were they detected Cu levels.
<How much and by what measure, kit?>
 I immediately got to work removing the few surviving inverts and coral.
<? Why not use a chemical filtrant? Oh, I see this below>
I also have done two 50% water changes and have been running both poly pads and Cuprisorb. I use RO&DI water with reef crystal salt both of which tested as being Cu free. It has been two weeks since this first happened and I am suffering from information overload in regards to Cu. I am trying to track my Cu levels with tests kits but have learned that there are two different "types" of Cu ( bonded and free ionic). Is there anyway to determine which I should be testing for, as I don't know the source of this Cu?
<On the basis of readings themselves... if the Cu++ kit reads zero or close to, you're measuring bound>
Also any ideas as to where this mystery Cu could have come from?
<Yes; your local municipality... the source water... pipes being worked on... added. OR a copper alloy fitting somewhere in your system water dissolving... OR, a saboteur who is or has placed something copper in the system... OR a spurious reading re the copper itself. This last: either the test kit/s may be faulty and/or they may be testing something else as copper. Lastly, there IS some small amount of copper in many foods, commercial ones often have it placed as a preservative AND necessary minor trace element. BUT this amount should NOT show up on a hobbyist test kit>
 I have checked all my equipment for breaks or exposed wires.
<This would be obvious... from the gear failing, the animals being shocked>
 I am wondering if I had bought contaminated rock at some point.
<Doubtful, but another possibility>
Could have taken 3+ years to show up or could my pH have dropped low enough to cause it to be dissolved out. I should mention that whatever happened appears to have had no effect on the fish.
     A very confused and frustrated,
<I'd have a lab, other place test. Bob Fenner>

EMERGENCY: Copper poisoning of 135g reef tank – 06/09/12
Greetings. My name is Thomas.
<Hi Thomas, Jordan here.>
You all have helped me in the past to get my tank to where it is today, or where it was before catastrophe struck, and I am humbly, graciously seeking your advice once again.
<I'm here to help.>
I've searched all over the site today while trying to fix my problem, and done what I could so far based on what I've read.
I have a 135g reef tank that has been thriving nicely for over 10 years now.  I have about 10 various fish, but my main concern are my corals.  It is a mixed reef with everything from Zoas, mushrooms, Ricordea and leathers to Acros, Montis, Hammers, and Goniopora (which have thrived and spread wonderfully for over 5 years and put a hefty dent in my finances).  All corals I put in my tank thrive and multiply quickly up to this point, and your site has made me a happy reefer over the years.  As you can imagine, I'm afraid I'm about to lose thousands of dollars of livestock.
<Uh oh.>
I have a deep sand bed of 5" in both my display tank and my 40 gal refugium/sump, where I grow Chaeto.  There are about 175 pounds of live rock in the main display tank.  I run a phosphate reactor and also 3 bags of carbon in the sump's flow path.  I run an AquaC EV series protein skimmer.  It is a great setup, and I've had 0 readings of Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite for years.
My problem was introduced with a water change today.  I typically change about 35 to 40 gallons of water once a month, which I age for anywhere between 3-30 days in between water changes in a large Rubbermaid Brute trash can with lid.  I run a power head in this can as well as a glass heater.
<I see where this is going. Look into titanium heaters...>
As I was pumping the new water into the tank, I noticed my corals starting to close and expel mucus.  This is highly unusual, and by the time I finished filling the tank I realized that my glass heater in the trash can had shattered, and that the remaining water in the trash can had a smell of electronics/metal.  I had previously put my hand in that water without being shocked and/or dying, so I don't suspect electric shock as the cause of my problem here.  However, I had mixed up this water 3 days ago, and the corrosion on the metal inside the heater had surprisingly become pretty bad, so I suspect it was leaching copper into the water for the full 3 days.
<I do not know the internal make up of aquarium heaters and I'm sure each manufacturer is different but I do not suspect copper to be the killer. The foul smell produced from an electrical fire is the a result of the rubber, plastic, epoxy, and all sorts of other nastiness being released into the air. In your case, all of these chemicals/toxins were released and absorbed into your water.>
My snails and large abalone have all but stopped moving, and all of my corals have closed up completely.  They seem to be beginning to bleach, as well, and they continue to expel enormous amounts of mucus.
<As to be expected.>
I immediately mixed up new water and performed another change of about 30 gallons after giving the trash can a rinse and a bit of a scrub with a filter pad.  I was worried about changing more water than this, though, since I've read that I shouldn't change more than 50% per day or two.
<I would do a 50-75% change at this point. You need to remove the chemicals/toxins as quickly as possible. Large percentage water changes can "shock" a system if parameters are off but you need to be more concerned with removing what was introduced. I would change all carbon and run it a reactor if you have one available.>
I have switched now to a smaller trash can that I usually use for an auto top off system, as I'm worried about using the regular water change trash can as it may be contaminated now.
<I would not suspect but I'd get a new one just for piece of mind.>
 I have mixed up some new water (about 20
gallons) in this new can but am hesitant to do another water change until tomorrow.  How much can I safely change in one day?
<I've done 50% on numerous occasions and know others who have done larger.
The key is parameter matching.>
 And how many days in a row can I do this?
<I'd do water changes every other day, decreasing in percentage as they progress.>
My carbon was getting a little old, so I changed out two of the 3 bags, since changing all 3 might be too much of a change in the biological filtration going on there.
<Change the third bag as well.>
All this has happened in the past 4 or 5 hours, and since it is late, I have not been able to get to the store to purchase poly filter pads to see if I can prove it is copper poisoning and hopefully try and remove some of it.  I will be doing this first thing in the morning.
<I do not suspect copper but it does not hurt to be certain.>
Basically, I believe I have introduced 35 to 40 gallons of copper infused water into my 175 gallons of tank volume (probably about 120 gallons of actual water).  I don't have a copper test kit or poly filter pads, but this seems to be the logical culprit... Do you agree?
<Aquarium heaters are fairly complex for what they do and smoldering circuitry could have released all sorts of unknowns.>
Is there anything else that you can suggest I do?
<Large water changes, fresh carbon, and a little luck.>
 I will cry if I have to start over again from scratch, but my true love of the hobby will inevitably compel me to do so if necessary.
<Lets hope it doesn't come to that.>
Your advice is greatly appreciated, and your expertise and experience are unparalleled.
Thank you.  I anxiously await your reply.
<Best of luck, keep me posted>
Thomas Bolton

Ridding inverts of Ich before adding to DT? & Removing Cu,     3/25/12
Hi Crew,
I have read all the FAQ's on Marine Ich... I have a question that I can't find the answer to.  I put copper in my DT with my fish, LR , & LS a couple months ago b/c I didn't have a QT setup yet (do now) and a couple people told me it was fine to do as long as I removed all inverts which I did.  I found out very soon after that it was a bad thing to do and within 24 hrs, transferred all DT contents to a 50 gal QT. 
First question: I put all my inverts in a friends tank and she got several new fish since then and did not QT and had an outbreak of Ich in her tank.
She has not left her tank fallow to kill off the Ich and I am going to be getting my inverts back from her tomorrow and am worried that they will have Ich on them and infect my tank again. <There is a very slim possibility that a cyst could be attached to a shell or in the water you transfer over, but it is a slim possibility>  I do plan on QT for the inverts for at least 4 weeks, <No need to go this long, the 4 week suggestion for  fish is because the parasite can be in its dormant stage for this long before presenting as the fish is the host.  The parasite cannot host on an invertebrate.  Keeping the Inverts in a separate tank/container for 1 week would be plenty adequate to ensure any cysts have 'hatched' which at that point the free swimming parasite would not be able to find its host and die>> but there are some of them that I am concerned about.  I have pencil urchins, hermit crabs, and turbo snails who are largely, if not totally, dependent on a cycled, mature tank with algae growth which I don't have in my QT tank.  I have a HOB filter in my sump that I plan on putting on the QT and also using the water from the DT to fill the QT.  It is bare bottom.  I have also read the FAQ's on QT setup and I understand for the most part but I am confused as to how a non cycled tank w/o any bio filter can sustain any type of livestock for the recommended time of at least 4 weeks w/o doing daily WC's <Again, 4 weeks not necessary for what you are trying to achieve.  A water change every couple of days will deal with any ammonia that may happen to crop up>.  Is this what is expected? 
What is recommended QT procedure for things like urchins, hermits, & snails? <As mentioned above>
I might normally just go ahead and put them in the DT due to the concern of lack of food in the sterile QT but I am very wary to do so with the knowledge that they are coming from a tank infested with Ich.
Second question: After removing everything from the DT and putting it in  the 50 gal QT, we thoroughly cleaned the DT out and started over completely with all new LR & LS.  We had thought that we would just have to throw out the LR & LS that we had in the tank with the copper treatment.  We transferred the fish back to the DT a couple of weeks ago but hadn't had the time to drain and take down the 50 gal QT we were using. (our new QT is a 30 gal, just so you know we are talking about 3 different tanks here)  A couple of nights ago I was noticing that the LR in the QT had lots of coralline growing on it.  All the coralline that had originally been on the rock before the copper had turned white after putting in the copper so I was surprised to see new colorful growth. <Different types of coraline have different  lighting requirements.  Once your full light is on, this species may fade away and others replace it> I was even more surprised because we haven't turned on the lights on the tank since taking the fish out 2 weeks ago and I thought that light was necessary for coralline to grow.???  As I was examining the coralline on the racks, I got an even bigger shock.  There was all kinds of life on the rocks!!!  Tons of copepods and amphipods, mini feather dusters, pineapple sponge, snails, small starfish (pretty sure it's Asterina) etc.  How is this possible after having so much copper in the tank!?  Since finishing treatment I have done several WC's and not added more copper back in and have been running poly filter in a canister.  I always wanted them, but never had any pods at all before treatment and now they are everywhere!  After seeing all the creatures in there, I did a copper test with API copper test kit.  It is definitely not 0 but is less than .25ppm.  I also tested the water in my DT and it was 0 so I know that my test kit is good and not just showing that there is copper in there when there is not really any.  I just don't understand where these things came from period, and how they are alive in there after having copper in the water for more than 8 weeks now! Thoughts???  Also, I don't have any pods in my DT now and really want some.  Is there any way I can transfer them over w/o transferring the water or rock that has copper in it?  I'm assuming that any readable traces of copper would be harmful to inverts but the evidence in the QT tank with all this life blooming says otherwise.  What do you think???  I do not want to contaminate my DT with copper again!  It was a very expensive newbie mistake!!!  On the other hand, if you don't think the levels of copper showing on my test kit are high enough to hurt any inverts, I would LOVE to be able to use my rock again!  It is very nice, beautiful rock- much nicer than a lot of the new rock that I had to settle for the 2nd time around.  <The Rock can absorb the copper and leach it back into the water column over time.  It is possible for you to fully remove it over time using GAC, Poly filters, and Cuprisorb.  That being said, if you are seeing invertebrate life, it has likely reduced to adequate level>
I am even now questioning if the copper was effective on killing the Ich since there is so much life in the tank now. <Hard to say as you do not mention what type of copper you were using, what levels you kept it at for the treatment period, and how you were testing it>  My fish seem to be Ich free, but it is my understanding that this is very common in hobbyist's tanks to have it in the tank but not see any signs of it except for times of stress that causes outbreaks on the fish. <Agreed>  I also am worried that there may be some sort of internal parasite that has been/is killing my fish.  I had written to you about 3 wks ago about my Koran Angel that was bloated and had white stringy poop and not swimming right.  Seemed indicative to internal parasites, but I couldn't imagine how it could be since there was nothing new added to the tank since they were put in 5-6 wks before and the fish was healthy until all of the sudden.  It died the morning after I wrote to you for advice.  We were devastated and it is even more frustrating to not know what the cause was.  Now my lawnmower blenny is not eating and swimming sideways, sinking to the ground and just laying, sometimes upside down.
This has been going on for 4 or 5 days now and I can't believe he is still alive!  He has been bloated for weeks but otherwise seemed happy and healthy and always ate well. <Perhaps a swim bladder issue>  I had guessed that his bloated belly was due to him being in the QT with no algae to eat since the copper had killed it and he was eating too much protein.  I give dried seaweed on clips but he has never touched it.  I feed Seaweed Extreme pellets, but even they have about 30% protein.  I was very saddened to see him struggling so much the other day and although he is still holding on, he has not improved and I do not think he is going to get better. Crossing my fingers though...  So to sum up, the last part of my ramble, do you think there could be a parasite that is attacking my fish internally one by one?  And if so, what steps should I take??? <I doubt anything like you describe would kill them one by one, they would all succumb.  Any issues with the other fish other than the Blenny? 
That being said, PraziPro is a very safe medication that be used to treat for flukes which tend to be an issue in our hobby and is a good measure to use if you are already QT'ing and treating your fish>
Sorry for all the questions.  This hobby is so much fun but can be so stressful and frustrating when you are having such problems and don't know why or what to do!  I am so grateful that your crew is so knowledgeable and
willing to help!!!  I, and COUNTLESS others appreciate it soooooo much!!!
Re: Ridding inverts of Ich before adding to DT?    3/25/12

Thank you so much for your reply and advice!  I was using Copper Power, a liquid containing 1.26% copper sulfate.  I followed the instructions and the API test kit read that the copper was at 1.0 ppm (maybe higher)... After talking to people on forums and researching online, I found that those levels were too high so I did a water change and didn't add copper so I could lower it to 0.5 ppm.  It has been too long ago for me to remember specific time periods but it was probably about 1 week at the higher levels and well over 3 weeks at the lower levels.  I was recommended the Copper Power<Not familiar with the product> at my LFS but it was only 1 of 2 brands they carried (no Cupramine) <I would order some if you can to keep on hand if you are going to use this type of treatment.  It is much milder on the fish and as effective>
and the Copper Power directions only told to put one ounce per 20 gal of water.  No instructions as to what levels to maintain at and no phone # or website to contact for questions. 
You mentioned a swim bladder issue with the lawnmower blenny... I have read lots of contradictory info about them not having swim bladders and many people with lawnmowers experiencing the same symptoms as mine...<It is true that they do not have bladders, I was making a general statement, sorry for the confusion> Do they in fact have a swim bladder? 
The lawnmower blenny is the only fish currently showing any signs of problems.  At the beginning of copper treatment a couple mo.s ago, we did have a Royal Dottyback that experienced the same symptoms and finally died after a week and a half.  I thought it was due to the copper because it started showing symptoms the morning after we added the copper.  Then we had the Koran Angel with the same symptoms about 3 weeks ago.  It died quickly after showing symptoms compared to the Dottyback and the Lawnmower.  Do you think it is just coincidence that all 3 fishes are experiencing the same symptoms so far apart in time or is it the same thing infecting them? <It is possible that the excessive copper at the beginning along with the prolonged exposure at a relatively safe level (.5ppm is the high end) caused these issues, but that is cautious statement based off the information you have provided.  Here is a link to an experiment to show the effect of high levels of copper on ornamental marine fish. 
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2008/10/breeder. >
Are you saying that it would be wise to treat with PraziPro when QTing fish whether or not they show any signs of parasites? <I do think it is wise and I do so myself.  It is effective against not only external parasites like flukes, but internal worms as well, here is a link to the product, read the description. 
Do you think it would be beneficial at this point to remove the Lawnmower from the DT and put in a HT for PraziPro treatment? <The behavior you describe is not indicative of having any type of internal or external worms/flukes.  So that treatment will not likely impact this specific issue.> He has not been eating
for days so I don't have the concern of there not being algae to eat in the
HT. <A valid concern and your number one issue is getting him to eat.  Is he not interested in dried Nori?>
And lastly, is there any way to transfer the pods from the QT that has low levels of copper still in it to the DT???  MY DT is 70 gal with a 30 gal sump/refugium. <I would be very cautious about getting any water containing copper into your DT.  If there is a way you can get the pods out with a net of some sort, strain them, rinse them with fresh saltwater, and then put them in, that would be fine>
Thanks again! <You are welcome> Lindsey <Bobby>
Re: Ridding inverts of Ich before adding to DT?

The lawnmower has never been interested in dried seaweed of any kind.  He died this evening :(  Sad but I was expecting it.<Sorry to hear, they are very personable fish>  I will find and get some PraziPro & Cupramine to have on hand. Thanks so much for all your help!<You are welcome>

Copper treatment wrongly given, don't want to give up 1/17/12
I am contacting you as last resort before I am forced to give up on my marine tank. Have been given some awful advice from the LFS, they are the ones who started me in the Marine tank, and so have followed their instructions religiously. The tank has only been set up for 3 months, and has 2 common clownfish, 2 cleaner shrimp, 3 turbo snails and some hermit crabs. The water has been cycled for 2 months, we were just waiting to get our new fish.
The female clownfish looked like she had some scratches on her white stripes, and white fluff on her head. We went to the LFS for help and was given this information:
Buy and set up a quarantine tank, use water from the main tank and put a piece of live rock, coral sand and put the shrimps in there for about a month.
Treat the main tank, as is, with copper based medication. The copper will kill any parasite in the water, so treating the quarantine tank is pointless as the fish will go back into untreated water.
<And into a dead tank with little to no denitrifying bacteria to remove ammonia.
Secondly, the disease needs to be diagnosed accurately before selecting a treatment.>
As newbies, and trusting people, we did EXACTLY as told. The snails fell onto their backs (all three sadly died) The hermit crabs slowed down and spent most of the night in their shells. The clownfish died through the night, but I expected that as she had stopped eating.
<Were you told to buy a copper test kit and monitor the copper level? Too low a level will not be effective and too high a level can/will kill fish as well as invertebrates. There are other safer methods of treatment as well.>
I rang my LFS the next day who tried to bluff his way by saying he told me to take the snails out (he
didn't) the hermit crabs shouldn't be affected (another lie), and to keep treating. This was the first sign to me something was badly amiss with his information, so <I> contacted 4 other LFS, who all agreed on possible solution which was:
Do a water change every day for 7 days, use carbon sponge to take out as much copper as possible, set up a protein skimmer (something I was told I didn't need as I have FO tank) to improve water quality,
<Protein skimmers greatly improve water quality and in my opinion, are a must, FO or no FO.>
leave shrimp for month before putting back, even then could still lose them, and NEVER go back to
that LFS!
After 5 days, the male clownfish is still alive, the hermit crabs all made it, the shrimp are alive in the small tank, and I have been told I can't test for copper as the levels will be so low they won't register, but could still kill shrimp.
<A good test kit should read residual copper levels if present.>
Should I carry on with the removal, and continue with this tank, or for the sake of animals and future animals, should I return everything and transform the tank to tropical?
<Well I believe you have learned an important lesson here. Never take one person's advice in this hobby but get advice from others as well. I'd go ahead with your plan and not throw in the towel yet. A good book by a reputable author is highly recommend and our site has volumes of information at your disposal. A link to our marine index can be found here.
James (Salty Dog)>
Sad, but hopeful, from Northampton

Copper and coral 5/17/11
Hi Sara,
I'd like your input on a problem I have/had. I've had three or four large SPS branching corals that have been thriving/growing for over three years. A while back I bought a Raccoon Butterflyfish from my trusted dealer. Shortly after I placed the fish in my system along with the shipping water, the subject corals began bleaching and eventually killing the large head and two Galaxea corals. When I bought the fish, my friend, the owner was not present. I later come to find out that the owner treats his entire display system (fish only of course) with copper. My question to you is, do you believe dumping about 8 cups of this copper treated shipping water into a 5' x 18" x 18" (85 gallons) system could cause this. I'm thinking that in that amount of water, any copper in the bag would be diluted to a non dangerous level, likely just a minute trace. My dealer came over to observe what was going on and he felt there wouldn't be enough copper in the system to cause this. I tend to disagree with him and is why I am asking for your input. I have no other explanation why this could have happened other than the tainted water.
James (Salty)
<Aloha Games,
Good question. There's a lot of highly technical science journal articles on the effect of copper on corals and coral spawning, especially for Acropora species. From what I was able to gather from just briefly reviewing several of these abstracts, copper tolerance appears to vary among Acropora species. However, you can't help but notice that these studies all measure copper concentrations in ug/L. For example, one study looked at the effects of a range of copper solutions of 2 to 20 ug/L on a few different species of Acropora corals. I'll also note that marine invertebrates in general are probably intolerant (to varying degrees) of any concentration of copper higher than 10 ug/L. And I wouldn't be surprised if I found scholarly research to suggest that the tolerance is even lower among stony corals.
Ok, so, let's put this in perspective. I'm sure that copper treatment solutions vary in concentration from brand to brand and in application to application. Also, there's probably some relevance to particular type of copper solution used (i.e. is the solution made with copper sulfate or chelated copper? -- at marine aquarium alkalinity, chelated copper is less toxic to fish, but I'm not sure if it's less toxic to marine invertebrates). So we don't really know how much copper the store owner put in his system, what type of solution he used, or what dosage, etc. But let's just say, for arguments sake, that he brought the copper levels in his system to 0.25 ppm using copper sulfate solution (I believe this is considered, at least by some, to be the "target dose" for therapeutic use). As an aside, I'll note that CopperSafe instructs to maintain levels at 1.5 to 2.0 ppm with their chelated copper, which they seem to suggest is as safe as 0.3 ppm using copper sulfate solution. In any event, for all crude purposes, 1 ppm converts to 1000 ug/L, and thus 0.25 ppm converts to 250 ug/L (way too high for any marine invertebrate). However, your system is 85g and 8 cups is only half a gallon. Thus, your system would have diluted the copper treated water by a factor of roughly 170. So now we're down to a copper concentration of about 1.47ug/L (assuming yours started at 0). Would that be a concentration high enough to harm your corals? I don't know, but I would guess not (or at least, not to the extent you saw).
However, I'm sure it's possible that the store owner over dosed his system. Or maybe my calculations are wrong. Or, maybe your copper levels were already elevated, or perhaps your corals are just particularly sensitive. Who knows?
I do strongly suggest you read this nice article by aquaculture teacher and veterinarian, Roy Yanong;
>James, Sara, am going to post this to WWM if you have no objections. A couple of brief stmt.s/addenda: Some (very small) amount of copper (cupric ion, otherwise) is essential to coral metabolism (and most other life). The amount "brought in" w/ James' BF should be exceedingly little here. Strange to me, there are movements afoot (at the state Senate level here in CA) to do away w/ copper as an anti-fouling paint component... Save the... what? Ourselves AND the planet! Cheers, BobF<
Re: Copper and coral
The amount "brought in" w/ James' BF should be exceedingly little here.
<Agreed... perhaps I took too long to explain why. :-P
-Sara M.>
<Likely that bill-able hours thing! B>
Re: Copper and coral
Hi Bob,
I do not have a problem with you posting this. Awful upset about losing that large colony along with the Galaxea corals. I have two branching corals of another species and these were not affected at all. I might add that all my Shrooms wilted up to less than the size of a penny. They are still bright in color, not dead yet. I ran both a Poly Filter and Chemipure simultaneously after the event occurred although the Chemipure was always in the system. Sure beats the hell out of me, nothing added, nothing changed, no change of salt, parameters stable, SOP the same.
<Not the copper... B>
Re: Copper and coral 5/17/11
Haha, more likely just the habit of answering questions with long answers... :-/
<Ahh, this too. B>

Temporary copper wiring in reef tank 3/4/11
Dear Crew
<Hello Joe.>
I have read in the WWM files that if an urchin chews through electrical cable and exposes copper wiring, it is advisable to do at least a 30% water change. With reference to this, I need to weave the plug end of a pump's cable (without the plug affixed) through some rockwork in my reef tank. I was thinking of sealing up the exposed copper parts with tape or similar.
Total time for this immersion will be less than 5 minutes. Assuming that any seal made is not perfect, will this quick meeting of salt-water and copper facilitate any significant and dangerous leaching of copper into the water column?
<No, you will be fine. Copper is not a hand grenade that destroys in a fraction of a second! That being said it would be a good idea to seal the end (just a little tape will do) for other reasons.>
Any help that you could provide in this would be, as always, hugely appreciated.
Many thanks
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Japanese Dragon Eel and clown trigger. 9/14/10
<Hello Kellvin.>
My fish store is bringing in a Japanese Dragon Eel for me. 25-30cm.
Currently I have a show Clown Triggerfish 25cm and a Banded eel and some grouper. Can the dragon eel be kept together?
<Nothing I would recommend.>
Lastly, can dragon eel tolerate Seachem Cupramine?
<Although it might not die instantly, no moray eel should be brought into contact with copper containing products of any sort.>
Thank you with God Bless. Kellvin.
<Cheers, Marco.>

Cupramine, use, effect on biofiltration 7/2/10
Hey Crew
<Hello Jimmy>
I have gotten conflicting reports on this issue: Will Cupramine have a detrimental effect on the nitrogen cycle of a tank.
<Yes, to an extent, depending on the concentration used>
I called Seachem and they say no, but they do say that the amine moiety <RMF corrected spelling>
<?what is this word?>
on the copper will cause false high readings from ammonia test kits.
<Try using a salicylate kit -- one with a yellow/ green test strip. I find the API kit for this to be excellent>
I know that prophylactic copper treatments are not usually recommended if a fish is otherwise healthy.
<Agreed. Try Chloroquine phosphate http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm>
I have had a closed disease system for many years and am thinking of adding a fish to the system to replace a 13 year old Foxface that has moved on. It took much effort to get my system disease free when I started, and of course, I am going to quarantine. I plan on at least a 6 -8 week quarantine.
<Mmm, too long IMO. 2-3 weeks for fishes is usually adequate. 3 if using CP>
If no visible signs of disease are present is that an adequate indicator that I will not be introducing trouble into the system?
<Usually, yes. Although even when treating prophylactically there are no guarantees. If healthy, and introduced to a stress free and healthy system afterwards most problems are avoided>
Somewhat unrelated question: How often is it acceptable to siphon the gravel (i.e. gravel wash) in a marine tank that uses aragonite substrate? I usually do very small water changes ( 5 gal ) every other day on my 180G FOWLR with great success, takes all of 10 minutes and the system looks great for years. Amazing how this approach has yielded better results than a single 50g water change once a month.
<If you are using gravel, then regular siphoning is required. If using fine sand, then periodic siphoning is fine, and some people never siphon their sand at all! If you have problems with BGA on your sand then it needs to be siphoned off and usually through as well until the problem is resolved. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm >
<No worries>

Please help! It's an emergency! Accidental copper dosing in a reef tank. 5/18/2010
Mr. Fenner (or crew),
I screwed up really bad. My fish only tank houses numerous tangs, and they've all caught ich really bad, so I dosed the tank with Cupramine.
<It is best to put the fish in a hospital tank and treat there.>
I forgot to turn off the skimmer for about a couple of hours (it is one of those CPR hang on the back type), and then proceeded to remove the skimmer and put it on my Nano tank which houses a lot of corals.
<Uh oh...>
I didn't empty out the water in the skimmer, and now I'm guessing all that water from the fish only tank is mixed in with the water in the coral tank. Did I screw up that bad?
<Pro ably not nearly as bad as you think, but in any case, water changes, large ones, ASAP.>
It's 4 in the morning and I can't run out and get a copper test kit, but could you ease my mind some? Or just tell me that I screwed up bad and give me a solution. Thank you so much.
<Water Changes, adding carbon to the filtration system, and perhaps Poly-Filters if they are available. Will soak up any copper>
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cutrbfix.htm >

Huge Mistake, Copper treatment, Cu removal, NO3 contr. 4/12/10
I have been reading your site for information on CopperSafe in the main tank. I didn't find you until after going by the advice of the LFS. And when mentioning what I have read I was told I should not read so much because most of the information is outdated.
<Have heard this myself from several pet stores, sad attitude.>
Now I'm devastated and trying to pick up the pieces. It's a 90 gallon FO tank and I understand that I should replace all of the sand and the live rock is pretty much shot.
I have two clowns, pj bottom, and green Chromis left. Tried to add other fish but they all die within a couple days. Could it be copper from the rocks?
<Doubtful if copper is not showing up on the test kit, more likely something else, do you QT your fish?>
Ammonia and Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5, Copper is not showing up on the test and PH is 8.2.
I have a protein skimmer and using a wet/dry. I'm told this is a good set up for a fish only tank this size but just don't trust anything I've been told any more.
<Wet/dries can be problematic for nitrates but you seem to have these under control.>
What about a bare bottom with live rock? Is that a bad idea? Is it time to give up?
<Bare bottom with live rock can work, so can sand, all depends on what you are looking for. Don't panic.>
Wishing I never gave my 29 gallon away....it was a lot easier. Never one problem.
<Would make a nice QT as well.>
Re: Huge Mistake, Copper treatment, 4/12/10
Chris thanks for getting back to me.
I guess I am working myself into a panic.
<The ulcers aren't worth it.>
I'm tired of tossing money out the window.
<Been there, done that.>
Yes, I do QT my fish.
I didn't at first which is why CopperSafe was in my main tank but I think a lot of us have learned that the hard way.
After two weeks I introduce into the main tank using a slow drip for 2 to 3 hours.
<I would extend the QT period to 4 weeks for most fish, gives a little longer for problems to become visible. Acclimation time seems fine.>
I do 9 gallon water changes every other week with bought water. I've tested that too.
<For long term cost savings and to be able to better control water quality I would investigate purchasing your own RO/DI unit. Far too often I have seen store RO/DI units improperly maintained and producing poor quality water.>
I have read that if it is a Fish Only Tank with NO live rock then a wet dry with bioballs is ok and shouldn't be a problem.
<This is fine, but to me live rock is so key that I would consider using it whenever possible, it really makes life easier.>
Is this a myth?
<No, but it can still cause nitrate problems as organic material is not removed from the tank, just held in the filter where it will still decay.>
If this is true would it be safe to say that I could remove the live rock....well sort of live rock looks pretty bad right now....from the tank and just put base in there adding a piece of live rock every week or so?
<This should be fine, but don't remove it all too fast, make sure the wet/dry can keep up biologically.>
I'm not sure I want to ditch the sand either. I kind of like the look.
Its not a deep sand bed just about an inch to two.
<A thin layer is fine, you won't get the nitrate reduction but doesn't seem to be a problem for you.>
Basically I'm looking to keep a fish only tank and would really like it if the new ones wouldn't die. Its by no means over crowded and no aggressive fish in there.
<You seem fine livestock wise.>
So if its not copper leaching out from the rock and all my other tests have come out fine then what is killing the new fish that come in? I'm really lost here and don't know what else to check. The last thing I want to do is go back to LFS. Have any ideas on where to go from here?
Thanks for the help.
<I am assuming your fish are doing ok during QT and only have problems once introduced to the new tank. What other fish have you tried to add? Since you have a QT at this point I may consider moving all the fish to QT and
starting the main tank over since you are thinking of getting rid of the rock and sand anyway. This would eliminate any disease that your current fish may have some immunity too or whatever toxic conditions that exists.
Nothing obvious jumps out at me that would be causing this issue, and it may save you some headache and work to just get the new base rock, a little sand, and a little live rock and new water and start over. >

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

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

Big mistake: Copper introduction to a display tank. 3/29/2010
I had to set up a hospital tank and am treating 2 clowns, a yellow tang 2 damsels and a snowflake eel with copper.
<Clownfish are extremely sensitive to copper.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnfishart2.htm >
Hope that goes well. BUT, I made a HUGE mistake.
To get the eel and 2 elusive damsels I had to take all the LR out of my display tank, so I figured it would be a good time to clean up a little so I did.
Mixed up some fresh water to help fill display tank back up. To help it get back up to temp I thought it would be a good idea to use 5 gallons from the hospital tank (DUMB DUMB!!!) so long story short I dumped 5 gallons of water with copper in it in my reef tank! OUCH!
<Ouch sums it up nicely. How big is the tank?>
Have not been able to sleep got up at 4AM and I can find 3 out of 4 shrimp (they seem fine) anemone looks normal will look for crabs after I turn the lights on pretty soon. From what I have read I think everything in my tank (Anemone, 1 coral banded, 3 peppermints, 1 sps, 1 brittle star, 1 sand sifting star, 2 feather dusters, 50# LR, and crushed coral substrate) along with all the equipment and tank can never be used for a reef tank again, right?
<I disagree with that in some rare circumstances such as this. Depending on the volume of water in the display tank versus the 5 gallons of coppered water it may have little to no effect. The LR and the substrate will need to be watched closely for signs of die off.>
Real bummer. I can not believe I made such a stupid mistake. And, oh yeah I still have a lot of things (Arrow crab, Orange Ball sponge, Candy Cane Coral, ORA Birds Nest, Curly Q Anemone and a small CUC)coming from DR. Fosters and Smith. WAS planning a nice reef tank.
<You can still have a nice reef tank. You are just going to have to work harder at it.>
Do not know what to do now, am going to do a 50% water change today
<Good, and do another change in a day or two.>
and go get a copper test
<If you are treating fish with copper, you should have a test kit already - Copper is only effective when it is kept to a certain level in the water.>
or just toss everything and give up (JK) Any thoughts?
<Depending on the size of the tank, this may not be as bad as you think. 5 Gallons of coppered water in a 150 gallon tank isn't nearly as bad as 5 gallons of copper in a 55 gallon tank....>
First thing to do is a few large water changes. This will go a long way to diluting the copper that is already in the tank. Next, start running activated carbon and some PolyFilters, and perhaps some Cuprisorb in the tank.
These will soak up any residual copper in the system. I'm sure after doing this, the copper levels will be undetectable. Keep running carbon and Polyfilters in the system for the next 6 months to a year.>
<Read here as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm >
<Good Luck>
Re: Big mistake: Copper introduction to a display tank. 3/29/2010
It is a 55 gallon.
<Ouch. 10% of your water volume was contaminated>
I have carbon and Polly fill in my canister filter.
<Poly fill - the white fluff, or PolyFilter - the chemical absorbent pad?
You want to add PolyFilters.>
Should I change it or add more?
<Add more, and massive water changes, ASAP. In this volume, the remaining love rock and substrate should be considered suspect. Consider replacing the substrate.>

Need help with Possible Cupramine Interaction 3/27/10
I have been looking for a possible solution to a situation I recently had that resulted in the death of multiple fish while in quarantine. I have looked on numerous places on the net but have not been able to find anything that matches what happened.
I purchased 3 red striped Cardinalfish and 2 neon gobies. My plan was to place them into a QT tank first as I had issues with marine Ick in the past and don't want to rip down my main display tank again. Learned my lesson. All new purchases go into quarantine first.
<Okay... you might peruse WWM re this issue. I am not a strict adherent to this mantra... there are several fish families/groups that are better NOT quarantined... the Gobiosoma/Elacatinus among them>
I mixed new salt water using tap water (I know I should use RO but don't have a RO unit yet) filled the QT
<I'd use water from a clean, established system for quarantine, unless I could/was very sure of its quality>
and then added Stress Zyme to remove any chlorine that may be in the tap water. I then waited a couple of days before adding the fish. I also tested the water parameters prior to adding the fish and the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate where all 0, PH was at 8.4, salinity was 1.023 and temperature was 77F. So everything looked good.
I then purchased and slowly acclimated the fish into my quarantine tank (bare tank) and then watched them for two days so that they had a chance to adjust and I could make sure they were eating OK. Everything was look good. Fish were eating, swimming and breathing normally. Basically looking good. My plan then was to do a treatment with Cupramine
<And I would not expose Gobies, and again that Middle English derived word, several fish families/groups to copper products. Read here:
and the linked files above>
after they settled so I could ensure that I would not have an issue once put into my display tank.
<You won't, because they'll likely be dead>
I was doing this as I have had issues with fish acquired from our only LFS store in the past and don't want a repeat. I should also note that I have used Cupramine in the past without issue.
Since I am aware that fish like gobies can be sensitive to a copper treatment I started with 1/2 of the recommended amount
<Copper strength is a threshold event experience... i.e., not having a physiological dose (concentration) does no good... Is actually harmful. Do you understand this?>
(Cupramine: 1/2ml per 10.5 gal instead of 1ml per 10.5 gal recommended) for the first day.
The quarantine tank is 30 gallons so I added 1.5ml. I was going to add the other half dose after 48hrs and then again to achieve a final concentration of 0.3-0.4 mg/l, slightly under the recommended 0.5 mg/l.
I had tested the water after a couple of hours after adding the initial copper dose and it was at ~0.1 mg/l
<This with a chelated copper test kit?>
which is where it should have been at. I am using the Salifert copper test kit. Within 24 hours all 3 of the red stripped Cardinalfish were dead and the gobies (not dead yet) looked like they had copper poisoning. I had not yet added the second dose. One was sitting lifeless at the bottom and the other looked like it was convulsing. After I discovered that the fish died, I immediately tested for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and PH. Ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 0, PH 8.4, temp 77F. I also retested the copper and it was still at 0.1 mg/l.
<Mmm, I'd be reading re testing for Cu++... and checking your test kit against one of known accuracy, with test batch water and the Cupramine added>
Both gobies have also died so obviously something went really wrong in the QT. Right now I am at a loss as to what may have gone wrong.
<... Likely copper poisoning>
So I would like to know if the stress-zyme caused the Cupramine to go from Cu+2 to Cu+ and become lethal.
<Mmm, don't think so... am very familiar with this API product, its constituents... if anything, if there was some active StressZyme left in solution, it would serve to precipitate the Cu>
I did find that you can't use Amquel as this will happen
<Really? What specific component does what with the free copper or its alkano-amine complex?>
so is it possible that using stress-zyme prior to adding the Cupramine caused this to happen or is it possible that there may have been something in the tap water that caused this. Any insight would be appreciated as I don't want a repeat.
Thanks Dan
<Again... please read where you were referred. I would NOT quarantine these two families of fishes period... Dips/baths and summary placement is advised. Bob Fenner>

Re: Need help with Possible Cupramine Interaction 3/28/10
Thanks for the insight. I was not aware that exposing gobies and Cardinalfish to Cupramine was a bad thing.
<Is too toxic for these fishes to be safe, effective>
I am not exactly sure what you mean about " not having a physiological dose does not good... Is actually harmful"
If you mean that to have it remain below the level that works then I understand.
<In part this is so, the other element is that instead of "achieving" anything positive, sub-clinical concentrations poison the hosts. Think of successive approximation events instead... a little kiss from your aunt may not count as a kiss to you, but pregnant is pregnant... This latter is akin to sufficient ranges of copper exposure... a threshold event>
My thought that building up more slowly would be a better approach but apparently this is incorrect. I will not pursue this in the future.
In regards to your question about Amquel, there was a post on the Seachem forums and also on multiple other boards about this.
<Would you please send along this/these links?>
But the one thing that I did not indicate in my first post (as I did not consider it an issue at the time) and I believe may have actually added to the problem is that this was a tank I just re-sealed. I used GE Silicone II glass (100% pure silicone - clear). I did let it dry for several weeks before using it so I dont think that was the issue but, upon a closer read on the tube I noticed that it contains a mold inhibitor.
<Mmm, the 100% product should not>
I should note that this is not obvious and was only something I discovered after re-reading the tube several times and was clued into after looking for a possible answer to my initial problem. I have re-sealed numerous tanks over the years and always used GE clear silicone without incident but it seems that all the new GE silicones have this inhibitor which before they never had.
<This mold inhibitor IS toxic>
So I think what happened was when I removed the carbon and added the Cupramine, the inhibitor combined with the Cupramine caused the water to turn poisonous.
<Is toxic on its own... I don't know of any synergistic effect/s>
I do not have a way to know for sure so I can only assume. I think the reason that everything was OK for the first few days was due to having carbon in the filter. It was probably absorbing anything that was being leached.
Again thanks for the information. I am always trying to learn more to do the right thing.
<Thank you, BobF>

Re: Need help with Possible Cupramine Interaction - 03/28/10
Thanks for the explanation on the sue of Cupramine. Much Appreciated.
As for the use of GE II clear, it is listed as 100% silicone but if you look at the fine print on the back of the tube, then you will see where it says "...that also provides mold free product protection". This is on the Silicone II Clear Premium Waterproof Silicone for Window/Door/Attic/Basement and listed as 100% Silicone.
<Oooh, I sense a big lawsuit here... How can anything be 100%... plus something else?>
Here are the links you requested.
Here is the response from Seachem on their forum:
Re: after Cupramine dosing, can Amquel be added
Once you have finished treating with Cupramine and the copper has been removed from your tank, it is safe to add a water conditioner, such as AmQuel, to combat ammonia. We do not recommend using both products at the same
time, as water conditioners are reducing agents that could reduce the copper to a toxic form.
If you need to perform a water change to lower ammonia levels during the course of treatment, just be sure to re-dose the Cupramine to bring it back up to a therapeutic level.
<Mmm, yes... conversion of Cu++ to Cu+...
Back to my standard suggestion to not use such "Dechlorinator et al. products"... and just pre-mix and store new synthetic seawater if this is the purpose, or skip such conditioners altogether, as both chlorine and "amines" are complexed almost immediately on contact with seawater. Bob Fenner>

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

Did I Poison My Tank?/Copper Treatment 12/11/09
I recently had an ich outbreak in my display tank. I took all of my fish out of the tank and placed them in a quarantine tank for treatment. The fish were treated with a copper based ich treatment and two clowns survived. The last treatment was about a week prior to returning the fish to my display tank. (total time in the quarantine tank was six weeks) I netted the clowns and put them in a small container with about 1 quart of water from the quarantine tank. I then drip acclimated the clowns using a drip line from the display tank. After three hours I
netted the clowns again and returned them to the main tank.
Now its been two weeks since I returned the fish to the display tank and my corals health seem to be on the decline. I have two mushrooms and one green Ricordea and all three seem to not be fully expanding and the
colors are not as vibrant.
<Did you test water parameters at this time?>
Im afraid that I may have introduced copper into my display tank since I used the same net to move the clowns from the quarantine tank to the acclimation container to the display tank. (really big screw on my part,
should have known better)
Does anyone have any experience with this and should I be really concerned as I am or am I just over reacting? Water perimeters have tested excellent as far as pH, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and salinity. Alkalinity, Calcium, and phosphate levels are also in the proper ranges.
<Depending on your tank size (dilution), copper in very small amounts can cause reactions like this and may very well be lethal.
My advice would be to place a Poly Filter in the system. This will remove any traces of copper if present.
James (Salty Dog)>

Copper and a Rookie mistake 9/26/09
Hello! So let me get right to the point. I was looking for ways to install a Phosban reactor in my Oceanic BioCube 29 as hanging it in the back was not an option due to lack of space. So, thinking I was being clever I went to home depot and bought two 1/2 inch barbed hose couplers and two elbows all copper.
After reading the site I saw that there was a person who bought two brass shutoff valves in his quest to save money, and while he had his on there for months, I¹ve had mine for a week before removing it. I¹m unable to get a test done for copper until at least Monday, however I did buy some Poly-Filter (Poly-Bio-Marine Inc) and after 6 hours it has turned a light Aqua indicating that yes I¹ve potentially killed everything from my live rock to my inverts (a Greens Star polyp colony, a small leather toadstool and a Hammer coral), my snails all died, save for two narcissus snails. The 5 Hermits I have are running around as if nothing has happened, and my two Clowns and Striped Damsel can rest assured that they won¹t be getting ich any time soon.
In your opinion, should I do a large water change (although I do not have a place to put my inverts and fish etc) as soon as possible, and can a week of running those brass fittings really leech that much copper in the system?
<Can/does leech "enough" to be of concern, but very likely most all has been removed by the PolyFilter... I would be changing water out here if the life in the system is showing signs of being poisoned still. There are "all plastic" barbs that can be had, substituted for the metal. Online suppliers for such exist... Bob Fenner>

Holes in head on Yellow Long Nosed Butterflyfish 7/28/09
<Good AM, good gosh!>
I have been treating a Yellow Long Nose Butterflyfish from whitespot with copper treatment, which I have found very effective although in the first week it is essential to test the copper level at least three times a day in the first 7 days as it drops very quickly and overdosing is very easy to do and will kill fish in hours.
<Thank you for (re) stating these facts>
Anyway, after two weeks the whitespot seems to have gone but the Yellow Longnose Butterfly now has small holes in his head.
<Resultant from the copper exposure>
Any ideas of what they are would be helpful and hopefully a cure.
<Just good water quality and nutrition as detailed here:
There is also a small about 2inch Copperband in with him which is a new fish I cannot get to eat anything including, brine/mysis shrimp or fresh tuna meat.
PS The salinity is also low 1.010 which by itself did not kill the whitespot.
<The SpG needs to be returned to near seawater strength... as in "good water quality"... Bob Fenner>

Blue Ring Copper Toxic Levels, Pomacanthus hlth. - 06/05/09
Hi there,
I've been treating my blue ring angel for white spot and he seems to be rid of the whitespot.
However he has developed a cloudy eye and it seems pretty severe. He twitched a lot as well and am assuming this is due to long exposure of copper.
<Could well be>
Am planning on doing massive water changes on the weekend and adding a copper removing filter.
Am wondering if the cloudy eye will heal itself with good water quality and also if there is such a point of no return for the eye.
<Likely will cure itself over time, good water quality, nutrition>
Thanks in advance
Thai Pham
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Desperation for anorexic yellow tangs Tang health: Probable copper poisoning 5/31/2009
Hi there
I apologise in advance for the length of this message/question and would also like to congratulate you on the most informative and helpful website I have found.
<Thank you for your kind words.>
I am writing from the UK so will convert to litres.
<Liters, gallons, UK gallons, whichever you are most comfortable with.>
I have 3 marine tanks, 2 display (450l and 400l) and one QT (100l). The QT is my problem NH4 -0, NO2 - 0, pH 8.0, NO3 currently about 10 SG- 1.020 for past week. (I only use in date Salifert test kits so I am sure they are reliable measures, expensive but the best IMO) QT is completely bare except a few plastic pots to hide in, is run by external Fluval 204, 1 wave p/head and 2 air pumps.
<Sounds fine.>
I have had 2 yellow tangs and a maroon clown in the QT for several months now due to various problems/diseases. Within 3 weeks of getting them both tangs developed white spot /ich and I treated this successfully with a copper based treatment called Cuprazin (clown showed no symptoms at all).
<Hmm, not familiar with the product.>
They all fed well until towards the end of the treatment when the tangs stopped eating, but within 2 days of stripping it out and adding vitamins they began eating again. All 3 seemed fine and I was at the end of the
further 4 wk period, almost ready to transfer into display tanks when I went away for a few days and neighbours clearly massively overfed whilst I was gone.
<As neighbors tend to do. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feeding.htm >
NO3 was 15- 20 when I went and a huge 40+ when I returned. Consequently all 3 fish were struggling /breathing more heavily, both tangs displayed reddened areas on both sides at the back end and base of fins, and the clown was covered in grey film patches and some white spots. I obviously did repeated water changes to get control of NO3 again and added an anti internal bacteria product by interpret, with no response, so after required time I discontinued use, changed more water and stripped out ( using Polyfilter). LFS then recommended using a combined malachite green and formalin product as they wondered if it was Brooklynella on the clown?
<Hmm... not Brooklynella.>
I couldn't come up with an alternative diagnosis so I did as suggested for required time, again with no response, so I stripped out ( using carbon) and water changed etc.
<Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/brooklynella.htm >
At this point after searching on your site and everywhere else I decided to just keep improving/maintaining water quality to see if they would heal themselves and indeed this seemed to happen, very steadily the patches became smaller and red colour went paler on tangs and, the clown began to look more normal.
<Very good.>
Throughout these earlier treatments they all kept eating but the tangs were slightly less interested than usual in Nori, however, just as they appeared almost fully recovered one of the tangs started flashing against the
plastic pots repeatedly (near its gills particularly) and stopped eating and the breathing became more rapid. Spoke to LFS and they stated it must be a parasite, not just bacterial due to this behaviour so I began treating with the copper product I had previously used successfully.
Both tangs seemed distressed by this and began doing some strange behaviour - nose pointing upwards/ heavier breathing/ moving around less and neither of them were eating whilst copper was used ( clown again eating like a horse) . I became deeply anxious but continued to treat until the flashing stopped, then stripped out (using Polyfilter) and did 30% water change.
<You need to stop dosing with copper. Copper is toxic, particularly to the natural fauna that live in the digestive tract of Tangs.>
Again I left them to improve and again steadily the red colour continued to fade and the greedier tang started eating again but only brine shrimp (not mysis which is their usual staple) and occasional flake, no Nori whatsoever. The other tang has not eaten since this time which must be at least 4 weeks now, except for one day (when he ate some Nori and one flake). I am astounded that he is still alive and am thoroughly despondent at what to do for him ! He continues to have heavier breathing and moves around but is almost skeletal. I have tried everything I can think of : a huge range of formula flakes/ herbi flake, live brine, mysis, enriched Spirulina/omega 3 frozen food, krill etc etc I have added garlic and vitamins to both food and water. Nori is constantly available and replaced daily. I have racked my brains for changes as the other tang has now also stopped eating for the past 5 days and is getting rapidly thinner too. The clown continues to eat like a horse and is eating for 3 now ! !
<As Clowns will do if given the chance. It doesn't look good for the one Tang, just keep trying to get it to eat.>
In terms of symptoms the clowns have gone except for 1 tiny grey/white spot above the eye. The tangs bodies are yellow again, although there is light pink discolouration on the skeletal one at the back end and one persistent small red patch on the other tang over his brow / forehead and a few red/brown dots on his body.Both tangs still seem to be breathing slightly heavier than their usual pattern.
<Stress, healing.>
The only changes I can think of in the past week are: reducing SG slowly from NSW to 1.020 ( approx 1 week ago) in an attempt to aid healing and breathing, adding extra vitamins to the water on a daily basis ( the product suggests this if they are sick or weakened),adding a skimmer and new carbon.
<Are they still in the QT tank, or are they in the main tank? If they are still in QT, I would get them back in the main tank as soon as possible.>
So my first question is could any of the above be making them anorexic ?
<Stress, repeated exposure to toxins that may or may not have been beneficial>
my second question in desperation and complete confusion is please, please, please do you have any ideas or advice of what else to try ? ? I have scanned your site over and over in the hope of finding some answers or inspiration but so far the only new thoughts I have had are adding some coral sand from existing display tank that contains tangs in case they have lost internal gut fauna/bacteria,
<This is likely.>
adding rotifers/ plankton in the hope they mistakenly ingest some and adding other marine algaes Caulerpa/hair etc (which I did 2 days ago with no success yet)
<I would put them back in the main display.>
Also what do you think the clown had ? and could the anorexia just be a further declining stage before death and if so what disease do you think they have had for future reference of how to treat etc ?
<Likely poor water quality and not necessarily a disease.>
Many thanks for any help you can give, I am absolutely desperate now or would not have bothered you. Please respond quickly if at all possible.
Keep up the great work you do
Many thanks in advance.

Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed
Hello. I'm a true novice. A service takes care of my 300 - 350 gallon tank - which is a gorgeous, built in feature of the home I purchased 2 and a half years ago. I can't say how many pounds of live rock is in the tank, but it's substantial. Of the fish that came with the house, I have lost 4. One, a Jawfish, mysteriously disappeared, another, a damsel was killed due to an accident of a falling piece of decorative coral in the tank, and two fish were lost due to an incident where the temperature rose to 90° (I have since installed a temperature alarm). The hot water incident occurred 6 months ago: an Anthias died right away, and a very hearty Tuskfish (Choerodon fasciata) - a beautiful specimen - survived, but developed respiratory problems which finally killed him 5 months later. His long-time tankmates - a Naso Vlamingi (about 12" long), a Purple Tang, a Cuban Hogfish, 2 Clownfish, 3 Damsels, a Half Moon Angelfish (about 7" long), a Bodianus bimaculatus, a Foxface (Lo Vulpinus), and a Bannerfish - have been fine. After a few weeks of mourning the Tuskfish, 2 weeks ago I asked the gentleman that has always provided service for my aquarium to acquire new replacement fish, which he did (on March 16) from a wholesale place near LAX: a Porcupine Pufferfish, a Purple Velvet Wrasse, and another Tuskfish.
<Mmm, I do hope/trust the new fishes were quarantined, at least run through a prophylactic dip/bath before being introduced to your established system>
The Purple Velvet seemed the worst for wear on introduction. Her mouth was open from the moment I first saw her and
was clearly stressed from being chased by the Cuban. She hid effectively and was slowly making progress in the community, in recent days she was managing to feed without much harassment and the chasing had largely subsided. (The Cuban chased the Tuskfish too, but it didn't seem to faze that fish as much as the Purple Velvet.) My aquarium guy claims that in 30 years of serving aquarium customers, he's never had a negative consequence due to not following Robert Fenner's suggestion of quarantining new fish. (The former homeowner left me all of his books on fish, including The Conscientious Aquarist, which I've been reading.)
<I am the author... and am very surprised at the stmt. from your service... I worked in this aspect of the ornamental trade myself for some 19 years... and will assure you that w/o care taken to exclude parasitic, infectious diseases, not to mention the great good that "resting up" before the trials of introduction with a going social order (see your comments above), MANY more problems ensue. Perhaps your tech. has a very good supplier of livestock that in turn does such preventative measures>
It's a little hard to refute this man because he's all I've had as a source of informative help since I moved here (he also served the former owners), and he seems to have credibility.
<Pretty is as pretty does>
So the new fish entered the aquarium with chelated copper added for 3 days.
<?! NOT recommended>
The dosage was 150 ml of Coppersafe each day for 3 days. It was shortly after this time - perhaps a day or two after stopping the first copper treatment - that I saw the Angelfish declining.
She's been respirating more rapidly and turning pale.
<Please change out a good deal of the water and add GACarbon and/or PolyFilter ASAP, Stat!>
I noticed some sort of darkness near her mouth, but it may have always been like that. Her mouth is open almost constantly - looks a lot like my Tuskfish did after the hot water incident. She's not eating heartily, but she is eating. I talked with my aquarium guy about the Angelfish and he suggested another addition of copper (that was a week following the first treatment) for 3 days. Still no change in the Angelfish. She seems more listless.
Worse, yesterday the new Purple Wrasse began respirating more rapidly (as I said, it always had it's mouth open and seemed relatively stressed) and swimming as if paralyzed in the back: only using its dorsal fins to propel itself. Consequently, rudderless, I've seen it sort of hovering perpendicular, thrashing around during feedings, thrown by jets at the top of the tank. I'm afraid it is going to be hurt by the corals. I have though of getting a net to contain it (like a breeding cage) but worry that it will stress it even more. Often it lets itself sink, and lies under the live rock, panting. Other times, especially during feeding, it swims up and attempts to navigate. I added 1 more day's worth of copper yesterday, but thought better of continuing it.
<Good. Don't!>
I tested the copper today and it is at .50 ppm. After seeing some vague remarks - couldn't find an article dedicated to the topic - that Angelfish may react poorly to copper, I've arranged to have the water changed tomorrow. Decreasing the copper level may help the Angelfish.
<Yes to both... and soon as possible on the water change>
My tank is serviced every two weeks (it was due for a "small service" - cleaning tank glass, changing skimmer socks, checking levels - this Friday). Every 6 weeks there is a "big service" where at least 1/3 (I think it is more like 1/2) of the water is changed. The levels of ammonia, etc. are checked at two week intervals. I've been told my fish are the healthiest of any tank they know of. I feed the following twice daily: 4 cubes of SF Brand Saltwater Multi pack, about an equal amount (actually a little more than a cube size portion) of mysis shrimp, and 1/2 sheet of Nori. Finally, I want to say that the response to the obvious decline of the Angelfish by the other fish gives me increased respect for these animals. The Vlamingi is right beside her as I write - sort of aerating the water around her with his dorsal fins, gently nudging her, or positioning himself supportively beside her. The Cuban Hogfish has also been very attentive to her. There is almost always another one of these tankmates beside her. It truly brings tears to my eyes to see how tender they can be! I just wish I could save her. Any suggestions for this sweet Angelfish and the new arrival, the Purple Velvet Wrasse?
<There are a few important items to impart. First, these fishes should NEVER have been introduced as they were. Secondly, copper should NOT be added to an established system. There are numerous articles, dozens of FAQs files archived on WWM re these issues... I strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with our search tool and indices... In particular, I would read (now) here: Sorry to state, I am in Cozumel (not regretful re this) but can't currently access WWM. Please search/read re Copper Toxicity and its Removal. Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed 3/31/09
Dear Bob,
I'm VERY grateful that you responded as you have. The water change was done this morning, and I've asked for another tomorrow because I didn't see much change in the copper level when I tested.
<Ah, not likely to observe much... this metal is quite transient in most set-up systems... dropping out of solution, binding with substrates....>
Do you suggest more water changes - for example daily for the rest of the week?
<No, I do not... the one is about all the good that can be done thus... Diluting metabolites, further complexing cupric ion. Best now to rely on chemical filtrants as mentioned last email>
It's expensive, but I feel utterly committed to saving my fish! I bought 6 Poly Filters and put them in the external pump reservoir this evening (careful to avoid the pump area).
<Wow, but good>
The filters are changing color: after an hour it was noticeable.
<Ahh, it is so pleasurable to engage an intelligent, caring person as yourself...>
I've asked the aquarium service to bring more in the morning when they come to do another water change. I just ordered 20 more filters online.
<Dang! I wish I owned Poly-Bio-Marine more and more!>
The guy at the aquarium store suggested using Cuprisorb, so I thought why not, but he sold me only 1 sock & for my tank I needed two. I cut up a pair of my nylons to use, put one cup of Cuprisorb in each foot of the nylons and placed these in the skimmer socks - hoping this might help mitigate the problem.
Looking at the Angelfish this evening I see another symptom of either poisoning (or something else?): at the point where her pectoral fins touch her sides, her scales/skin looks pinkish-red - like a sunburn. Could this be a chemical burn?
I noticed her tail was very translucent even two days ago such that one can almost see her blood vessels. I hope she has a chance of survival. I want her to live and forgive me.
<Do keep faith... There is a very good possibility that these fishes will recover in your good care>
The poor Purple Velvet Wrasse is more paralyzed, barely able to navigate, it seems it only has one pectoral fin working now. So sad to see this! It's nightmarish in some respects. Back to thanking you. Can't find enough words to express this gratitude. You're amazingly kind to take time to help someone you don't even know. I've begun the readings you suggest and will try to quickly get up to speed on managing my aquarium myself. Please stay well and enjoy Cozumel.
<Thank you Barbara. Steady on my friend and let's keep moving forward. Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed, Cu removal/toxicity f' 4/2/09
I've seen the copper decrease to about .25 - not as fast a decline as I'd hoped, but at least it is halved.
<Mmm, do look into another brand/make of copper test kit. I suspect your reading is spurious here. Though the copper product that was employed is more "persistent" than others, it should be about "all gone" in the present circumstances>
The 20 additional Poly Filters arrive tomorrow (I depleted the local fish shop's supply after adding two more, making the total 8).
<These "turned" summat blue I take it>
I believe they are removing copper by small increments. (It was so easy and relatively cheap to pour in the poison and so difficult and expensive to remove it!) In your first email you mentioned GACarbon.
<Yes... Sorry for my laxness here: Granulated Activated Carbon>
I'm not sure what it is (I presume it is activated carbon.)
<Yes Barbara>
There is carbon filtration in the form of bags of it in the sump area reservoir, which have probably been there since I bought the house in 2007.
<Mmm, I would remove these... more a source of possible trouble than help when "old">
In order to maximize removal of copper, and other pollutants, I will follow your advice in Conscientious Aquarist, purchase activated carbon, strategically locate it and replace it often.
<Do look into Boyd's Chemipure here... just a few units... placed as it comes in Dacron bag, in your filter/circulation flow path>
The Angelfish is barely eating, though I've seen her nibble on a little Nori.
<A good sign>
Recent observed behavior includes, while lingering in her hiding spot, a thrust forward, move back, thrust forward, move back, repeated several times before stopping. She's obviously uncomfortable, or trying to dislodge something (?). Someone suggested she may have worms and to treat with Prazipro.
<I would not do this at this juncture. Better to allow some time for the fishes' recovery ahead of any further stress>
(He also said Prazipro could be used prophylactically every 6 months.)
<Also not suggested, nor necessary. Where would new worms come from?>
My guess is that the Coppersafe would preclude the likelihood of worms.
<Not so. Cupric ion is really only useful for external Protozoans of various types (and a dangerous Algicide)>
(I very much want to purchase a microscope now as I would love to be able to detect any invasive parasite definitively).
<Ahh! If so, might I direct you to purchasing, using the excellent: "Fish Disease. Diagnosis & Treatment" by Edward Noga? So influential, that my dive/traveling partner, Randy Vallembois, hauled and read his copy on the just completed trip to Cozumel!>
The Angelfish looks almost transparent and generally listless. It was suggested she may be near the end of her natural life, but I don't believe that is the reason because her tankmates, the Foxface & Cuban Wrasse are now barely eating as well.
<Assuredly, either copper poisoning directly or its indirect influence>
I am afraid to do anything in fear I'll make my fish worse.
<Good... that your fear is being translated into (a lack of) action here>
Relying on your advice. I told my aquarium service that I touch your feet as my guru and they aren't to make anymore executive-type decisions regarding my tank from now on. (They killed the sick Purple Velvet Wrasse
without informing me first which truly offended me. After having lived in Japan myself, for 10 years, I subscribe, a bit, to their philosophy of not ending a life -
<As do I>
though I've disagreed with it while living there, unable to find a vet to euthanize a dying pet and viewed as barbaric by many for even considering it!). I am working feverishly to save every member of the tank if possible and without an understanding of what's wrong, we can't predict which, if any of the fish are terminal.
<None are my friend... as long as there is life, there is hope>
The service is limited to monitoring and cleaning the tank now. Period.
I'll ask that the decorative coral is taken out and replaced with a second set (that wasn't exposed to copper), when the tank is cleaned this Friday (though no more water change for 2 weeks). Is there any way to remove copper that may have been absorbed by the coral or is it too minute to be a concern.
<Really, this latter... In the absence of your wanting to stock invertebrates, purposeful algae, perhaps plants... the amount of "free copper" will soon be exceedingly small>
Should I think about changing the coral
sand in the tank?
<I would not>
Any other suggestions? I'm sorry to bombard you with questions.
Thank you!
<Best to stay observant, apply yourself to reading, contemplation re the system, its occupants for now. You are doing about all you can to restore their health. Oh, perhaps a note to try/soak their foods in a vitamin and HUFA product (e.g. Selcon, Micro-Vit, the newer product by SeaChem or H2O Life Foods) ahead of offering, to bolster their health. Otherwise, realizing you're positive involvement here and being satisfied with your efforts. BobF>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed 04/04/09
I'm sending two pictures of the fish that show symptoms of what you have indicated is probably poison/burns from exposure to copper. The Angelfish shows splotchy redness - which includes a patchy redness over eyes and face (though hard to photograph because she is incessantly hiding).
<And the pinkish area on the forward flank>
Also, I'm sending a picture of a red mark on the inside base of the Tang's left pectoral fin. Just want to be sure that these are the result of a chemical burn (result of copper use) and not some other condition.
<Could be due just to copper exposure>
The Tang's red spot looks like a small pimple with surrounding redness. He's eating though not as robustly as before this whole ordeal began. He is very protective of the Angelfish and often places self in close proximity - especially at night during sleeping and when he perceives me closely watching her.
He often blocks my view. The copper level is decreasing - I've used quite a number of Poly Filters. You suggested my copper readings were spurious, but the evidence of fully absorbed poly filters (12) since my first email - used after a water change - seems to indicate that there remained a lot of copper in the system even after removal of water.
<Good gosh>
I put five more Poly filters in the reservoir last night
which this morning showed color change (though more slowly than the early ones). I think the copper reading may have been accurate. My reading this morning is below .25, but not yet 0. The CupriSorb has also shown signs of significant absorption. Seems the copper is on its way! However, my KH reads 14. Seems too high for the Angelfish (which the test kit indicates thrive at 3 - 6! (The aquarium service cleaned the tank yesterday and reported ALK at 12.)
<Mmmm... what is the source of this extra alkalinity here? Supplementation? If so... cut this to zero>
The prescription for high KH is partial water change, however you suggested holding off on it.
<Mmm, I would start these back up again now... On the regular maintenance schedule>
Is there an alternative to bringing it to a level that is more comfortable for the Angelfish in particular without changing water, or should I proceed with a water change?
<Mmm... can be "knocked down" with adding excess alkaline earth/biominerals... like Ca... but I'd dilute with water of lower alk. through changes>
Thank you again and again for being there!
This is a picture of the splotchy red - especially on the face and pectoral fin area of the Angelfish. She's also respirating at a faster rate, and eating very little.
The inside of the pectoral fin of the Tang has what looks like a small pimple with surrounding redness. The Tang spends much time snuggled up to the Angelfish, so if it is a condition that could be spread, this would be a likely locale.
<Not pathogenic (disease-organism induced), but chemical... And I discount secondary infections here. BobF>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed 4-6-09
Hi Bob,
Back again with an update and new issue. The copper is near nil.
What a relief (and ordeal that was)! Thank you so much for the suggestions to use Poly-filters. They truly worked!
<Is indeed a "wonder product">
The Angelfish is
still hanging in there. She seems to like the little Marine Pellets (which I'm soaking in a vitamin mix first), rather than what I would think is higher quality food (the frozen mix I use with Nori), but at least she is eating, although only small amounts at a time.
<Mmm, are these NL Spectrum brand? Do try these... completely nutritious and very palatable>
I am sure you will be disgusted to learn that I just bought a test kit - never used one, until I bought the copper test kit, relying as I have on the aquarium service to do me right. Now I can test more of the water chemistry. Anyway, behold, nitrates are way out of line - I mean 80 - 160 ppm!
<Yeeikes! But... not too surprising... one of the reasons for not using copper in a main display is its effect on useful bacteria...>
Very concerned about the Angelfish's recovery considering conditions. Got another water change on Saturday (~70 gallons of my 300+ tank), with 25 gallons of distilled water that I bought in the hope of reducing the alkalinity/KH. Changed the carbon, it was old ~ 5 - 6 months. Bought a Seachem product, Matrix, which is supposed to aid in Nitrate removal. What else do you suggest?
<Mmm, time going by mostly... There are other ways of remediating NO3... Please read here:
and the linked files above>
I wonder if something is wrong with the system'¦.
<Mmm... at least the copper... but perhaps you will consider some of the possible means of avoiding accumulating nitrates through your reading>
I live in San Pedro. Can you recommend a consultant to help me assess the condition of my set up?
<Mmm, can and will do. A friend, Jim Stime has a service co.... I don't know if his route/s extend all the way to you, but am going to cc him re>
I really don't know who to trust at this point and need advice. It's a pretty steep learning curve at this point, and while I'm trying to acquire more the knowledge, I'm also a grad student at USC with papers due (one is late due to the crisis with the Angelfish). Struggling here. Appreciate all of your help.
Thanks so very much.
<Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed, Jim Stime 4-6-09
Thanks Bob for the link and additional advice.
I've done some reading - need to do a lot more. Chemistry was never my strong suit.
<Take a bit at a time...>
Even so, my guess is that to make for greater comfort in my tank, reducing nitrate would help - yes?
<Very much so>
It's not just the Angelfish affected. I notice several fish with scale/skin anomalies - dark patches or minor lesions. The Bannerfish has what looks like some patches or scrapes on it's face and is maintaining a position in front of the jets. He's been trying to rub against the Tang, I think his face itches. He twitches every now and then. These jerky movements read as pain/discomfort to me. The aquarium seems to be a miserable place at the moment and I think that if I can just balance the water, there may be greater comfort to the fish who obviously have been hurt. So, I ordered the food you recommended - NL Spectrum (I had bought Ocean Nutrition) - as well as a water treatment, AZ-NO3, to reduce nitrate. I have this week off from work, although school is still on, and I hope to closely monitor the tank and try to get a better handle on what is happening to the fish in it while writing the papers I need to complete.
I'm including my phone number in case Jim Stine is able to consult with me: (XXXX). Thank you!
<I will send on to him, otherwise delete. BobF>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed, Jim Stime 4-6-09
Hi Barbara and Bob,
Thank you for considering Aquarium Design / Jim Stime. I understand you are seeking a new aquarium service company? Unfortunately San Pedro is a bit too far for me to travel. I do have two names I can pass along to you. In Long Beach is Age Of Aquariums, ask specifically for Daniel Gilboa at 1-(800) 586-4308. The other is a good friend of mine and I believe he is in Culver City and his name is Cande and his # is 213-247-7600.
Jim Stime, Jr.
Aquarium Design - aquarium installation and service
MyFishTank .com - acrylic aquariums, stands and canopies
Midwater Systems - jellyfish display and production systems
LA Fishguys - web based Aquarium Reality TV www.lafishguys.com
<Thank you Jim. Be seeing you, BobF.>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed, Jim Stime 4/8/09
Dear Bob,
I'm continuing to closely monitor the tank. This morning I noticed something like a tear - irregular red - on the upper portion edge of the Vlamingi's right gill. It represents only about a tenth of the entire gill length, but has me concerned. This is on the opposite side of the white pimple that appears on his left pectoral fin - which while not as red as it was at first, still exists as a raised area which looks like a pimple or small cyst. I'm noticing jerky, irritated movements in the Bannerfish who also has minor lesions on his face and chin (if you can call that portion of a fish's face that!). The Angelfish now has quite a rash - it looks like a sunburn - over much of her upper body, along with spots on her flanks (much like what I photographed). She is hiding less. She does eat a little so I am trying to stretch out feedings to many small ones over the course of the day. I expect to receive the food you recommended today, along with the NO-3 lowering treatment.
I tried to photograph the Vlamingi's gill but just couldn't capture it. Could there be a presence of parasites?
<Mmm, unlikely to highly unlikely... The symptoms mentioned are all attributable to the "cascade effect" originating with the copper use in your main display... the kill-off of beneficial (and not) microbes...>
I know you are pretty sure this is all caused by the Copper, but perhaps because the Nitrate is high there are secondary infections starting up.
<Again... I discount this>
Jim Stine referred me to someone with a Bachelor's in Marine Biology (that helps a lot!), and he's scheduled a consultation with me today to look over my system, make recommendations, and give me a quote for servicing my tank for now on. However, I intend to continue to inform myself of standard practices, no longer willing to let go of responsibility for these beautiful creatures that rely on me.
Thank you again, Bob.
<And you Barbara. BobF>

Re: Angelfish is Pale & Purple Velvet Wrasse is partially paralyzed, Jim Stime 4/8/09
One more issue I've found Bob,
There seems to be a small white worm? parasite? or what? which has attached itself to on of the eyes of the Bannerfish.
<Mmm, no... again, much more likely a bit of the Butterfly's tissue accreting in a "point" from "environmental stress" (in this case the poisoning)>
Perhaps the (previous message detailed) irregularity on the Vlamingi is parasites as well. Oh my! I'm not eager to add Prazipro
<I would NOT>
because of the largely disturbed surface on the Angelfish's skin/scales'¦. Will wait to hear what you think.
Ever grateful - and hope I haven't become a pest,
<Take your time... less is more... B>

Re: Angelfish & Vlamingi 4/8/09
I've attached two pictures. One shows the Angelfish, the other the Vlamingi with the red area of the gill. It seems many of the fish are showing signs of problems. I know that it may all be related to the copper, but given the amount of suffering I've seen I wonder if that explains it all.
<... secondary effects, infectious are always possible... A/the question presents itself though: is the treatment directly for such worth the further damage probable here? It/this is the same question we should ask ourselves when treating human maladies... as individuals to species...>
The new Tuskfish and the Cuban wrasse seem to be respirating a little more quickly and both have been seen lying on the bottom resting (is that normal?). Also, the issue on the eye of the Bannerfish is somewhat resolved. I saw him sort of scrape it off on the side of the aquarium.
<The AZ-NO3 product and time will solve all this. I would ask you to read an outline of an old presentation and series of articles:

Re: Angelfish & Vlamingi 4/26/09
Dear Bob,
Just a quick update.
I was connected to a local aquarist in Long Beach, Dan Gilboa (who has a marine biology B.S.), through your friend Jim Stine. Dan came over to my house to look at the tank and helped me diagnose probable flukes.
He mentioned that Angelfish are particularly sensitive to this parasite. He also found a very high salinity in the tank and immediately removed water, adding fresh water to dilute the salinity.
Within minutes of the treatment the Angelfish seemed better.
<Yes... much easier to breathe (respire) at lower, appropriate spg>
Now she is back to normal - as are all the fish (however the Vlamingi didn't like the PraziPro treatment and barely ate for nearly a week; Dan said it upsets their stomachs).
<Is so>
It was a big ordeal, but as I now see the calmness of all of the members of the tank, and the recovery of the Angelfish, I think back to your kind, responsiveness to my queries.
Your quick attention to my problem helped reduce the suffering of the fish and I am very grateful for your help. Thank you again.
<Thank you for this follow-up Barbara. Am very glad that you have solved the problems here. Bob Fenner>

Copper problems 3/26/09
Hey guys,
<Big B>
I have a 55 gallon tank with a 30 gallon refugium below that's been working for about 4 years now. I use to have assorted corals and inverts, as well as an anemone, live rock and live sand. And now there's only fish because of copper problems. I have not medicated the tank. I only use RO water. So, my problem started when I was desperate to replace a broken pump. The local fish store I've been using was closed so I think I made a foolish purchase at another store that sold pond products. After losing everything but the fish, my local fish store suggested that it was the new pump. They said the pumps made for outdoor ponds sometimes use copper fittings. So, I replaced that pump with one that I purchased from their store. I'm getting anxious to replenish after approximately 5 months of water changes and using poly filter. The copper reading has been about .1 or .2 ppm. Once a week, I replace 5 gallons of water, as well as the poly filter pad. Do you guys have any suggestions for me besides being more patient?
Thanks so much.
<... the PolyFilter should be removing the cupric ion as it becomes available... Your copper readings should be close to zip, zero, nada... and the pad a definite blue in color if copper is present... I'd be "checking your checker"... your copper test kit here. Bob Fenner>

Naso Tang Issue, Cu 2/4/09 Hi, <Hello> I have had this blond Naso Tang for about three weeks. He is currently in quarantine getting copper and Prazi pro treatments. <For what?> As you can see from the picture, he is splotchy. At times, when his skin looks dark grey, he looks very splotchy. <Yes> When his skin is light grey, it doesn't look so bad. He is not the most aggressive eater but does eat. He has not changed his behavior and mostly likes to hide but he will swim around every 15 minutes if there is no sudden movement outside the tank. Is there anything else I can do about the spots? Thanks. Mike <Stop the copper exposure... it's killing this fish. Acanthurids don't "like" cupric ions... These markings, behavior are evidence of poisoning. Bob Fenner>

Sick Harlequin Tusk... Cu 2/3/09 I need you help on fixing our Australian Harlequin Tusk. We have a 60 gallon tank <Too small for housing a Choerodon spp.> with approx. 35 lbs. of live rock and live sand (Caribsea). We have a Fluval 405, <Mmm, am not a fan generally of canister filters for marine system filtration> a Eheim Ecco, protein skimmer (turbo-twist), and two power heads. We have had this tusk approximately 3 weeks. From day one that we received the tusk it had a pleasant personality. It never hid from us, had a great appetite, and would swim out to see us when we came into the room. About a week ago we added a purple tang (small) to the tank. The two of them got along great. The purple tang was always swimming with the tusk. Everything was great until 3 days ago when my husband did a water change. When my husband was near the end of the water change (adding water back into the tank) the tusk went to the bottom of the tank and appeared to be dead. My son touched the tusk and it started to swim around. Since then the tusk will not eat, acts like it is blind because it runs into things, keeps taking vertical positions in the tank, and going to the top and spitting out water (gulping). <Bad signs indeed> We have always keep up on maintenance of our tanks and the perimeters are all within range. The only problem the PH is 7.8 instead of 8.2. <This is a big... huge difference. Likely a factor to a degree here> We have been doing a 15 gallon water change every day to try and raise the ph. The purple tang doesn't seem affected by anything. When my husband did the initial water change the temperature varied 1/2 degree from the temp. of the tank which was 80 degrees. I truly admire this fish and don't want to lose it. Can you offer any suggestions? <I can and will... First, I must ask, make a comment re the origin of this Tuskfish... Many that are collected in Indo. and the P.I. suffer "blindness" issues as you've related here. Can you confirm the origin of this fish? Have you read my article on WWM re this? Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/wrasses/choerodon/faciata.htm and the linked files above... re: Selection esp.> Also, now when the tusk lays at the bottom of the tank, the tang keeps nipping at the tusk to make it move? <Maybe so> Should I move the tusk in a quarantine tank, and if so, would 10 or 20 gallons be sufficient? <I would definitely NOT move this fish, unless you had a much larger, more established system to put it in... Where it is there are overhangs, areas to get out of the light I take it> Also, both the tusk and tang had ich about a week ago. <... Mmm?> The ich was so bad the tang was really agitated we decided it was necessary to add Copper Safe to the tank. <Ohh!> We treated the tank as though it was a 50 gallon to compensate for the live rock. <... With testing for copper level?> We treated the tank on Sunday and the tang seems to be doing better. I have seen no improvement with the tusk. Please help. Thank you. <The behavior you describe is consistent with copper exposure... The Wrasse is being poisoned... Please see WWM re copper use, Crypt treatment. This can't be done in the present tank, in calcareous substrate/rock presence period. Bob Fenner>

Kent Marine Tech M and copper??? 9/8/08 Good evening guy/gals. <Good evening.> Thanks for all the great work you do for the rest of us. It is greatly appreciated! <Thank you!> I was just about to order more Kent Marine Tech M when I looked at the contents of the product it says it contains copper, is that correct? <Yes.> If so, why is it safe to put in a reef tank? <It is such a small, trace amount.> Here is a list of the contents from the online retailer: Contents: Deionized water containing the following elements (as ions): magnesium, chlorine, sulfur, calcium, potassium, bromine, strontium, boron, fluorine, lithium, rubidium, iodine, iron, molybdenum, zinc, nickel, copper, manganese, vanadium, cesium, cobalt, tungsten, selenium, and chromium. Is it because of the form it's in? Sorry, I am not very good at chemistry. I'm sure it must be safe, I would just like to know why. <It just has to do with the quantity of copper, or any other ingredient for that matter. Many things we regard as poisons are found in virtually everything in small amounts, almost immeasurable in many cases. Fact of it is many of these 'trace elements' (everyone start arguing which salt now!) are needed in small quantities for life to exist. It is in artificially elevated levels it becomes an issue.> Thanks for your time. <Welcome, have a good one, Scott V.>

Gobioides broussonetti in SW, Copper in foods 9/4/05 Hello, I have searched your FAQs for information on the Gobioides broussonetti, also known as the violet goby, or dragon fish. I was unable to obtain anything of help. I am aware that they are a brackish fish. Mine is currently in a fresh water tank with two Apteronotus albifrons, black ghost knife fish. I recently removed my snowflake eel from my 55 gallon saltwater tank and was curious if the dragon fish can be acclimated to the conditions of my reef tank. <Can be done... this fish is marine at times, in places. Here on fishbase.org: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3856&genusname=Gobioides&speciesname=broussonetti> The lack of the eel leads me wanting something of its character. If this is possible, a procedure would be greatly appreciated. <Slowly... a few thousandths per week, raise the saltwater/salinity of the Goby's environment (sans the knives of course)> One more unrelated question. I recently noticed that both the flake food i use in my reef tank, (Wardley's) and the frozen brine shrimp, (Ocean Nutrition Brine Shrimp Plus) have copper sulfate listed in the ingredients. <A common preservative> I was under the impression this would kill invertebrates and have discontinued use but have had no adverse side affects. Any input on this matter also would be greatly devoured. I thank you for your time. <Can be problematical in "free" concentration (cupric ion), but there is not much in the foods, and this quickly "falls out of solution". 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

Right Thinking -- Wrong Timing... 12/5/05 I recently purchased a med. size Raccoon Butterfly for my 55 gallon fish only tank. I have 2 False Percula Clowns, and 1 medium size Blue Tang. On the 3rd day I noticed the raccoon scratching on my fake coral and not eating. (The only thing he would eat was frozen brine.) I checked my water and copper and all fine. I brought it to the shop I bought it from and they said it was fine, but to add some more copper. So I did , and it was just above .15 The next morning he stopped scratching, but that night when I got home, he was breathing heavy and sitting on the bottom of the tank, and still wouldn't eat. I noticed as I got him that my tang and him were getting along just fine. So I don't think he was being bullied. I put him in my hospital tank, after a brief FW dip, and he is laying on his side breathing very rapidly. He probably won't make it. I was just wandering if you had any ideas of what might of been the problem. Thanks, Aaron <Well, Aaron, this is a case where all of your intentions were good, but the execution was a bit off. First, you indicated that you have a "hospital tank", which is good! However, you need to use it as a quarantine BEFORE adding new fishes to your display. This will give you the ability to catch and treat illnesses before they get introduced into the display. Also, do think about the long-term implications of your stocking plan. These fishes need a lot more space than a 55 can provide, so consider this... Next, it is always advisable NOT to treat in the display tank, for a variety of reasons. Use that extra tank. Copper sulphate, although highly effective at treating many diseases, can be hard on many fishes, including Butterflies. <<Butterfly-fishes are one of the few animals the staff at the LBAOP will NOT use copper meds on. Marina>> Sometimes, the collateral damage caused to the fish in treating the disease is too great. Formalin-based treatment is recommended in the case of more copper-sensitive fishes. Again, you'll have far greater control of the dosage in a separate tank. Unfortunately, it's hard to say what you're looking at, but it could be a parasitic illness. If your Butterfly is struggling, you may need to reduce the copper level in the treatment tank. Although it may be too late for this fish, if you take this as a valuable lesson, the experience will not have been in vain. Chin up! Don't forget to quarantine before adding fishes to the display! Regards, Scott F.>

Porcupine puffer disease diagnosis... unsuitable water quality, copper exposure, - 01/12/2006 Hello, Your web site seems quite helpful in disease diagnosis, so I hope you can help. I have a 100 gal. saltwater tank that I have had for about 8 months and have had the porcupine puffer for about 7 or so. The problem is that he has not eaten anything in the last 2 weeks, he is still very active and always greets me with excitement. <... have you read on WWM re feeding puffers, Diodontids?> The water quality is good salt 1.022 <I would raise this to near seawater strength... 1.025> ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates less than forty <Keep under twenty...> as far as can tell. I do use copper in the recommended dosage <Stop! This is toxic to your livestock... should not be used on a continuous basis... some folks think never on puffers... can/will account for the non-feeding by itself> and have so since I have had the tank. <This is a mistake> He shows no external signs of disease, he acts hungry when I bring his feeding cup around but when i put the shrimp in he goes for it once or twice then just lets it fall to the bottom. Before I could barely feed my bottom feeder because he would eat everything I put it. I know I need to vary his diet other than shrimp but as of now he does not want to eat, food suggestions would be helpful. The damsel, Sailfin, and snowflake eel are all happy/healthy fish. I don't know what to do he does not match any disease charts he just wont eat. Thanks <... not a disease, unless you consider iatrogenic/induced, poor supplied circumstances as cause... Read on my friend. Your answers are on WWM. Bob Fenner> Stuff the Tang Hi, <Hi - Michael here today> Thank for helping people like myself who care so much about our creatures. <We do our best, thanks for the compliments> I have a 55 gal tank with a Sailfin tang, <Will eventually outgrow a 55 IMO> two fire fish , one emerald crab, one turbo snail, two live rock and one 10lb premium rock with a clam, lots of cup coral and some other creatures. I have a copper question. I spilled about a 1&1/2 cups of copper water from my quarantine tank into my 55 gal tank. <OUCH> I had been treating a regal tang that I felt I wasn't ready for and traded it for the Sailfin. At the time of the I was running an undergravel filter, 802 powerhead and a 400 emperor filter with carbon and PhosGuard media added. <If it's good quality carbon that will go a long way toward absorbing the copper> I did a water change. <Good - how large? 50% or more I hope> I had two skunk cleaner shrimp in the tank at the time of the spill. <The copper will most likely kill any invertebrates in your system> I am wondering would this copper have killed them a month later? <If they died a month after the spill, it could have been stress related, likely because of the spill> They both died in the same manner one died Thursday morning, and the other Sunday night. They both began to stay in the same place a lot not eating much and began to be really still. Then a few minutes before they died they swim upside down, let the current blow them and around, they were really jerky. Could the copper take this long to kill them if this was the cause? <Not likely, but possibly. Probably secondary effects of the copper killed them, though> Will it kill my emerald crab and snail. <If it hasn't done so in the past month, probably not, but definitely run large quantities of high quality activated carbon in your filters, or a Poly Filter to absorb any excess copper. I would also get a copper test kit and see if you have a measurable level still left in your tank> If so what can I do to prevent their deaths? <above :)> I have only had the snail a few days and he seems to be doing fine. I do use regular tap water, instant ocean, and proper ph 8.2 when I change my water every two weeks. My nitrates have been getting up to 20 in the last two weeks so I have had to do a weekly water change. My ammonia is 0, nitrites 0, and my ph is 8.2. Please help if you can. <Hope I have...just make sure there isn't any residual copper still dissolved in your aquarium, as it will stress all inhabitants> Thanks so much, Michelle <Anytime - M. Maddox>

Which Is Worse, the Sickness or the Cure? (7/25/04) Hi <Hello. Steve Allen tonight.> I've just had my first traumatic fish Loss. <So sorry to hear. I know exactly how you feel.> I bought a pair of exquisite wrasses and put them in my 20 gal QT tank with a couple small PC's of live rock and some Halimeda and other macros attached to it. I had the QT set up for around 4 weeks before the fish arrived. It has a small penguin BioWheel/media filter and a SeaClone hang on skimmer. <A rather fancy set-up. A bare tank with PVC fittings to hide in, a heater, and a sponge or power filter is usually quite sufficient.> Everything was good for 2 weeks until Thursday, when I noticed a bunch of small white spots all over him. he was behaving perfectly normal , no scratching or twitching. <Still, it certainly sounds like Ich.> Knowing what it probably was I bought a Copper test (fast test ) and a bottle of SeaCure. Both by Aquarium systems. I removed both fish and performed an 8 minute freshwater dip (with Meth blue) . I tested the tank to make sure copper was at 0, it was and added the dosage. Both fish were totally traumatized but were out and about Friday PM and both ate. To get back to the Fastest, it is a very very difficult to use kit. <All kits are if you ask me. I have a hard time distinguishing one subtle shade's color difference.> First off, there are 2 line on the test vial. And no where on the instructions does it say which one to use. I later called A-systems and was told it was the top one. I was also told to remove the carbon from the tank, it doesn't say that in the directions either. The test colors are all a shade of brown, and according to my test I finally got the dosage to where it was supposed to be. the odd thing was I had to add nearly twice the dosage on the bottle (over 2 days) to get it to the min 15ppm. I woke this morning and saw no fish visible but that wasn't uncommon with these fish because they like to hide in the pvc pipe I gave them for security. I left for work and at 9 my wife calls me and says we have 2 dead wrasses. <:(> I came home and tested the water, the copper was OK, according to the test. I tested the ammonia and it was too high, .5 ppm. <Might have already started to rise from the dead fish between the time of their deaths and the removal of the corpses from the tank.> Could the ammonia have done them both in so quickly??. <I've seen plenty of fish survive this level, but the combination of that with other stressors could perhaps have done it. OTOH, we cannot know if there was any ammonia in the tank before they died, as noted above. Hard to say for sure why they died.> What copper medication and test kit do you recommend?? <CopperSafe is a reputable product and Salifert tests are usually reliable. You need to be sure to match the test kit to the type of copper you are using. Info on this is available in the Copper articles/FAQs. Also, be sure to remove all rock or sand when treating and bear in mind that the copper will usually kill your good bacteria too.> Is there anything I could have done differently?? I was thinking I could have done the dip and a nice water change and observed, but the male had a lot of spots. <Copper can be a touchy medication to uses. Some folks prefer formalin, but another option is the FW dip followed by hyposalinity treatment at elevated temps. Check Steven Pro's excellent ich series at www.reefkeeping.com that started in October (I believe) of 2003.> I'm bummed, I had been looking forward to those gorgeous fish being in my reef tank for a long time. <Understood. Take solace in the fact that you didn't ruin your beautiful reef by skipping QT and introducing ich and then, even worse, putting medicine in the reef. Read the ich article and try again. Next time you have to treat, I am confident you will have a better outcome.>

A Penny for thought Hi, Just a quick question. a few weeks ago I found a penny in the bottom of my 55g. right now there is about 90lbs live rock, a damsel , 71 Astrea snails and 4 peppermint shrimp. Tank has been set up four about 4 months with no deaths. should I be worried about copper leaching out of penny? and if it did would have it already killed anything in the tank if it already did leach ? thanks so much, Chris <Well, it's just one penny... and the modern ones aren't just copper... and you haven't lost anything as you state. I think you're fine here. What little Cu+2 may have been released is gone. Bob Fenner> Re: A Penny for thought Thanks so much. Didn't think it would be a problem, but I just wanted to ask you guys. Finally a source to get accurate info. <Glad to be here, of service. Bob Fenner>

- Is This Bad? - I was propagating some Ricordea last weekend and the piece of live rock I wanted to use had a patch of schmutz on it (algae, really) so I went to the toolbox and found two brand new wire brushes (the kind that look like toothbrushes). One was steel and one was brass. Thinking it might not be good to use the steel one because of rust, I grabbed the brass one. After all, screws and such on ships are brass! I brushed a patch of rock clean with the brass and mounted my specimen on it. On my way to work this morning, I realized that brass is a copper alloy and I may have rendered that tank useless. I did my surgery and propagating in a 10 gallon tank I use to isolate newcomers. I remember reading that that one of the rules of reef keeping is "thou shalt not use a tank that has EVER had copper in it". Tell me that the brass brush didn't ruin my tank. <Well... you could probably say better than me. Has there been any noticeable effect? Are any of your invertebrates suffering? If not, then you are probably in the clear. You could run some activated carbon for a little while and this will hopefully remove any free copper that might be roaming about.> Also, is it safe to put the things from that tank into my show tank? <I think so... really, brass isn't going to separate into its various elements while scrubbing a rock. The chances of you having contaminated the tank are very small. Wouldn't be too concerned... again, you can run carbon as a safeguard.> Thanks for your help. Troy <Cheers, J -- > 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. <Arghhhh!!!> 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>

Flame Angel will not eat while being treated... coppered 3/1/08 Hi guys, I bought a flame angel fish and placed him in my 10 gallon quarantine tank. He was doing well and eating every type of frozen meaty foods that I fed him in addition to eating algae from a clip that I put in the tank daily. He was eating voraciously for over a week and now unfortunately he has come down with a case of Ich. I am treating the tank with Copper but now he has stopped eating. He hasn't eaten for 3 days and he seems to be hanging in with the copper treatment but I'm afraid he'll die from starvation while I am trying to cure the Ich. Do you have any advice for how I can get him to eat? I have tried putting some food in the tank but he just lets it float by and does not go after it like he did before. I'd hate to lose this fish! Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated! Thanks, Lynne <The copper... is mal-affecting this fish... causes it to go off-feed... I would NOT pre-emptorily copper Centropyge, Angels period... See WWM re Copper use, poisoning... I would summarily dip/bath and move this Flame to the main/display tank. Bob Fenner>

Ineffective Copper Treatment. 2/27/08 I am finding Marine Ich to be a real nuisance. I have pulled all of my fish from the main tank for the second time in less than a year because of Marine Ich. The first time all fish spent two months in QT (while the main tank remained fallow) and were treated with copper for the fist two weeks. When the fish were returned to the main tank after two months the signs and symptoms of Marine Ich returned within a few months and I eventually lost the Niger Trigger. <No fun for sure> This is was my motivating factor for pulling out all of the rock and corals again so I could get the fish into QT again. This is the second two week course of copper treatment for these fish in a years time. I used Cupramine again and kept the levels between 0.25-0.50 (Salifert Test kit) as directed by Mr. Fenner last year. I did test each day and sometimes twice without problems or fluctuations in the copper levels. All signs and symptoms of Marine Ich disappeared during the treatment. The fish are now at five weeks in QT tank and two weeks post treatment. After the treatment was completed I did two fifty percent water changes and added charcoal. Copper levels are undetectable and the water parameters are Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, ph 8.3, Alk 3.00, water temp 82, and Specific Gravity 1.025. Now for the problems. The Foxface is again air gulping at the surface and the Blue Hippo Tang had a white spot on it yesterday. All of the respiratory rates on the fish are increasing as well. Copper can cause increased respiratory rates but I do not believe this is the problem since the fish's behavior changes are 2 weeks post treatment. I can only demise the Ich has returned. <Ho buoy> I am now at a loss for an appropriate treatment method without increasing the health risks to the fish. Is Copper still an option or should I consider other options (Hyposalinity) for both the fish and the QT tank? I have reviewed the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and the treatments listed there primarily refer to dips (if my understanding is correct) except for Malachite Green, Methylene Blue, and Copper Sulfate. Other websites lean towards hyposalinity by lowering the salinity to 1.012 over 72 hours with careful monitoring of Ph, and water temp. <I would try the Quinine route.... and thereafter... attempt at "balance"; i.e. keeping the system optimized in the fish/hosts favor> I know there are many treatment options out there but I am at a loss for what would be the safest and most effective treatment for the fish at this time. Any advise you have in this matter would be greatly appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Sincerely, Ward Budde <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/quinmedfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Copper removal, snails dying and nitrates 02/21/2008 Hello my name is matt, <<Hello Matt, Andrew here today>> and I was wondering if you might could help me with my situation? <<I shall do my best for you>> I have a 90 gallon tank with overflow box, with a 165 lbs of live rock, six 25 pound bags of sand,20 gallon sump 2 power heads rated at 600 each the pump in the sump is rated at 1200 and a 125 gallon Corallife skimmer. As far as tank mates I have 20 crabs had 12 snails, one powder brown tang, sail fin tang,2 yellow tangs,2 skunk shrimp and a piece of coral. My snails just died and I don't know from what, I have an idea but im not sure. See it started out when I bought another powder brown to put in the tank and the original one tore him up so I took him out and took him back to the petstore because they are the ones that told me it would be ok to put him in there, shortly after that the powder brown broke out with ick and the other fish got it two so I stared treating with ParaGuard for about 5 days and that helped a little but not much, so I asked the guy at the petstore what to do and he gave me CopperSafe and told me to treat low dosage so it wouldn't hurt the inverts about a week later the snails started dying he gave me another 12 after I did two water changes and they died also. >Not... "safe"... toxic. RMF< <<ParaGuard should not be used in a reef aquarium as it contains malachite green, and this is one thing that should not be added to a reef, fair to use in a hospital or quarantine tank. More reading here regarding Malachite Green http://www.wetwebmedia.com/malachitegreen.htm. Coppersafe, is a better product to use. On the brown tangs, firstly, I would suggest a that you need a larger home, at least 125gal. Stress id the likely cause of the Ich and I can understand the two tangs fighting when the second one was introduced, would not attempt this again. On the issue of inverts, this could be attributed to the ParaGuard. My suggestion would be to run carbon and PolyFilter to clean the water>> My nitrates are at 20 and I cant seem to get them down. Do you think it was the copper that killed the snails or the nitrates? I've been treating with ParaGuard for two weeks now? how can I get rid of the ich and do I need to remove the bio balls this tank has been setup for about 2 months. >... the copper. RMF< <<Ich is best treated in quarantine tanks, and use hypo salinity, allow the display tank to go fallow through the period the fish are in quarantine as this will kill off any parasites that are being hosted in the tank itself. On the bio-balls, you could slowly remove them, say a cup full every 2 - 3 weeks, and replace this with live rock rubble. Do you clean the bio-balls at all? If not, this could attribute to your elevated nitrate levels>> Oh my levels are all correct except for my nitrates my salinity is .028 <<I would lower this down to 1.023 - 1.025>> in the red my temp is 81-82 <<I would drop this temp down a little to 78 - 79f>>. If you could help me out I would greatly appreciate it. <<Thanks for your questions, hope the above helps. A Nixon>>

Does macroalgae absorb/release copper 12/9/07 Hi Crew, <Tom> I have a treatment tank that had been exposed to copper during a crypt treatment. After the treatment cycle I put some Chaeto in this tank and the Chaeto probably got exposed to residual copper. <Mmm, to some...> Do you know if the Chaeto could have absorbed the copper, like rock or decorations can, making it useable in a reef tank? <I doubt it. Strictly speaking, there is quite likely some copper absorption and release that will occur here. The questions are how much, and how quickly? I think very little on both counts. Some copper is actually essential... needed... even included purposely in some formulated foods> I'm curious is if can use this Chaeto to re-establish a refugium tied to a reef tank, or if there's a risk of copper contamination. <Not a problem> Thanks, Tom <I would not be concerned here. Though free cupric ion and other chelated varieties can be toxic, these materials are used as algicides (in addition to epizootic treatments, preventatives)... And IF there was "enough" copper to be of consequence the Chaetomorpha would have been mal-affected, perhaps killed outright. Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Copper and moto tang 10/11/07 Dear Bob, I am very excited to received your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" which I ordered through the net recently. I have started to read it ever since it has reached my hands. <Ahh! Have just finished the fish sections rewrite for a new edition> My hospital quarantine tanks have been loaded with fish on the 7th Oct. eve. SG-1.017 temp 26 deg Cel. Matured sponge filter, 2" P.V.C pipe hardware, Good aeration. Water used bore well, initial pH of 7.4. Now pH is 8.2, Red sea salt. Bob, I have put Koran angel, Wimple, Black backed but, Blue damsel, Picasso trigger, Moto Tang, Pak but, in these separate tanks after freshwater dip (15 min with timer) with Methylene blue. The bags in which they arrived had a pH of 6.3 similar pH was prepared using phosphoric acid (ortho) <Okay... but I'd pH adjust first... with seawater that is acidified... THEN freshwater dip... with elevated pH FW> Expect the Moto tang (dead today morning), one wimple and pak but are hiding and not eating. <Are these tanks bare? I would place some chemically inert material in for hiding... perhaps plastic pipe> Other fishes are fine and eating. I usually start feeding them dried brine shrimp cubes, which they accept initially very well later tetra marine flakes and granules. After 24 hrs, the Moto tang was covered with white spots. I gave him another freshwater dip pH 8.3 as that of the tank in which he was. Then he was shifted to tank with copper. As mentioned earlier I had prepared my own Copper solution. (40 gm.s of Copper Sulphate ( Blue crystals used in swimming pools here) to 10 liters of Distilled water. I intend to use 30 ml for 200 liters to get .015 ppm reading of copper with 1 tsp of citric acid.) <Okay> One day previous to the arrival of the fish I had prepared this tank with copper. It is a 75 liter tank, I added copper and tested the again I kept on adding Cu till I could read 0.025ppm on the API test kit. On colour chart the first reading is 0.25ppm then 0.50ppm. As per my solution I should have added only 15ml but I took more than 7 tests finally ended up adding 50ml till I could read little less then 0.025. 1.Is the solution dilute, 2. Is the test kit not correct. <The solution and kit are likely fine, accurate... the copper itself is being precipitated by the naturally high pH... combining with alkaline materials... falling out of solution, precipitated> The Moto tank was introduced into it this tank on the 8th morning, On the 9th he was dull and sticking low to the tank but balancing. I immediately referred to page 308 of your book and it says that copper is toxic to microfauna is the digestive system. I immediately made 20 liters water change of Sg 1.017 without copper. Next morning that is today It is dead and had a white covering on the dorsal fin and pelvic fin full length. Kindly help as I am now bit confused on using my copper mix on any fish . <Tangs are hard to treat with non-chelated copper solutions, and should not be continuously exposed... A strict two week regimen is called for. No more. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/crypttangs.htm and as much of the linked files above as you find you need to understand.> One last question is can I get rid of the parasites just by isolation and freshwater dips without using copper. Regards, Inderjeet Singh Bansal <Not likely... Better to rely on some formalin added to the freshwater, pH adjusted dip enroute to ensure their eradication. Do you understand this? Bob Fenner>

Possible Copper Poisoning? -- 10/11/07 Dear Crew, <<Hello Sebastian>> As always, thank you very much for the valuable service that you provide, and most of all thanks for tolerating incompetent people like myself. <<Ah, well...you're visits here should be turning that around!>> Hey Eric! <<Hello mate!>> I am almost afraid it's you reading this email, as you probably think I am not qualified to own a fish tank at this point. <<Not at all... Not as long as you keep observing and learning>> I have made another stupid mistake and my favorite invert has passed away. <<Hmm, how do we stop these 'mistakes?' I know!...reading/research 'beforehand'...>> I have an SPS tank as you know, you probably also remember I am treating all my fish in a separate hospital tank going on 2 1/2 weeks now with Copper-Safe. <<I recall, yes>> Well, the other day I was thawing out some frozen Mysis shrimp so I scooped some water from the hospital tank and threw a cube in there for a while. After feeding the fishes, there was some of that food left over, thawed out with hospital tank water, which has Copper-Safe in it. <<I think I know what's coming>> Well, that was about 2 days ago and this morning for no apparent reason I watched as my beloved coral banded shrimp expired. There have been no changes, no fish in the tank, nothing else that I could attribute to his death, except that he ate some of that left over "poisoned" shrimp. Could this be it? <<Is a possibility I suppose...but it is also possibly just a coincidence and the shrimp has expired from natural causes (has a relatively short life-span of a few years). Either way...this is a good opportunity for me to express the need to keep quarantine/hospital tanks separated from the display tanks in very way...to include not sharing equipment (nets, filters, etc.) without sanitizing between uses (for obvious reasons...keeping a sponge filter in your display's sump for a quick bio-startup to a hospital tank wouldn't fall under the same ruling...but it should be sanitized after use/before returning to the display)>> I see no changes in any of my corals, all looks good still, and I am trying very hard to believe that the amount of copper that entered my system through that food is minimal, since I use 2 1/2 teaspoons in 10 gallons of water as directed. Then it was probably about 5 tablespoons of "contaminated water that I threw in the tank. Is it possible that the shrimp died because the soaked Mysis adsorbed the water in which it was thawed out that had the copper in it? <<Again, is a possibility...but I think it unlikely>> All the snails look fine, and all corals. I am so sorry for making this mistake, I know it sounds silly from a grown man, but I kind of grew attached to that shrimp, if you ever have a coral banded, they have a personality, always walking around like they own the whole tank and eating parasites from the tang before he was removed to be treated. I feel awful. <<Is understandable...and not 'silly' at all. We 'all' make mistakes...even after decades in the hobby...and even some where we knew better>> Please let me know what you think about this situation and what you think I should do. <<You can place some Poly-Filter in your filter flow-path for the peace-of-mind...but I think all will be fine regardless>> In addition, how much longer should I treat with Copper Safe? <<21 days en toto>> I have been making water changes every other day, siphoning the bare bottom, replacing half the volume in the hospital tank. I have treated for a total of 16 days now. <<Five days to go then>> Thanks again for all your help, Sebastian <<Always welcome. Eric Russell>>

Changing Diets, Centropyge, reading... 10/1/07 Hi again, <Greg> Well I have a Lemonpeel angel fish in quarantine that came down with a severe cases of Cryptocaryon.? Fortunately, I caught it early and have been able to bring it under control with Cupramine (no more visible spots, breathing returned to normal). Problem is the fish has changed it feeding preferences. <Oh yes> Before the ich and Cupramine, mysid?shrimp and?flake was easily accepted.? Now, only frozen brine is accepted.? The fish does go after the brine eagerly, but will only eat one or two Mysid and/or flakes, then stops until brine is introduced.? How can I train this fish back into a decent food?? Could Cupramine be affecting dietary habits? Thanks, Greg <Yes. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dwfangfdgfaqs.htm BobF>

Re: Copper Range in mg/l, Cu poisoning now... -- 08/31/07 Dear Mr. Fenner <Yo!> As I told you earlier I bought a Clown Triggerfish exactly one week ago and it's in my 20G QT. The first few days he was really active and ate very well. As I spotted some tiny white spots ONLY on the fins I added Chelated Copper the day after I put him in the QT. <The spots may not be treatable thus... may not even be parasitic...> Now after one week with frequent water changes (I change about 6 liters per change) the ammonia is at 0.15 -- 0.2, nitrates is at almost 0 & Salinity is at 0.017. And the copper level is somewhere in between 0.15 -- 0.30 according to my ZOOLEK Copper test kit. But the problem is that he is not active or swims as much as he used to be in the first few days and doesn't eat that much although he eats (prawn meat) slowly. He often hides near the dead coral I have placed in the QT. Whenever I go near the tank he runs to a upper corner and almost keeps is face above water. He freaks out when I go near the tank. <All symptoms of copper poisoning...> So obviously there is something wrong. I wanted to give him another freshwater dip and put him in my established 80G main tank but I am sacred <scared maybe> to face another white spot <... do you have access to a cheap microscope, some familiarity with same?> problem as my main tank is running smoothly. There are few white spots on his fins although I am not completely sure whether it's Ich. I pointed a torchlight on his body and looked really close but there are absolutely no white spots on his body and his colors are very vibrant. What am I supposed to do now? I don't wanna lose this wonderful fish. Let me know whether you need any other information to diagnose what's going on. Please give me some advice. Thanks in advance for your advice, Best regards, Rachel <... I would not have exposed this fish to copper given what you have presented... I would read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm and learn to/use the indices, search tool... BobF>

Re: Copper Range in mg/l -- 08/31/07 Dear Mr. Fenner Thanks for the advice. I do have a friend who owns a Microscope. What am I supposed to do with it. Can I test for Ich through a microscope? <The holociliate of about the right size... two nuclei...> And if the Trigger is copper poisoned should I change the entire water in the QT and replace it with non-copper treated water? <I would, yes> or as it been almost 9 days without any signs white spots on his body should i directly put him to the main after a freshwater dip? <Yes, I would> I really really appreciate your view. Thanks, Best regards, Rachel <You have read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaqs.htm RMF> Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment 8/22/07 Dear Sir, Your site is the best I have come across on the net. I have learned lots from your wonderful Site. I have a question. Can one treat the marine fish while in hyposalinity with copper sulphate? <Can> What is the effects of copper in such a salinity. <More toxic...> Regards, Inderjeet Singh <Bob Fenner>

Re: Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment 8/26/07 Dear Sir, Thank you for the prompt reply, You have said copper can be used so should I keep a level of 0.15 mg/l as suggested or reduce it. <I would maintain this as a minimum stated concentration> Your second answer is not clearly understood by me. It will be toxic to what, the fish or the parasites.? Regards, Inderjeet Singh. <The host fishes... the lowering of spg makes copper exposure more dangerous. BobF>

Re: Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment 8/28/07 Dear Bob, Thanks again, This is going to be a bit long mail so please do excuse me I am Architect turned Aquarist, this hobby has changed my profession I am a serious LFS hobbyist doing my job for past 5 years in freshwater. <Neat! I too was self-directed to a life of enjoyment, study and sharing in our interest> Here in India Marine is not much popular. Recently I visited Singapore for the Aquarama Exhibition . <Ahh! Have gone to most of these biannual industry get-togethers> I was inspired with Marine setups and the Underwater World. <The UK co. I take it> I set up my tanks for marine and got two consignments of fish sadly all the fish died within two weeks because of Velvet. Then I started to read and browse the net and I came to WWM. This is my favourite site. I spend most of my spare time reading your articles. I now give my fish the fresh water dips and am trying to quarantine them. <Ah, good> Now I have been successful to keep the fish alive. Your site is a big Ocean of knowledge. <Thank you my friend> The reasons of my earlier question is that I am confused and not sure what method I should use? 1. Only Hyposalinity ? 2. Only Copper treatment Or 3. Both 1 and 2 ? <Depends a good deal on the species, specimens in question... For many that are sensitive or in bad initial health, neither may be appropriate... For incoming fishes, pH adjusted freshwater dips with a bit of formalin (as detailed on WWM) is my favorite prophylactic approach...> Now, the reason I am asking you the above question is that I have set up 40 tanks of 15 gallons in circulation to a common sump. All tanks are individually connected with of 3/4" pvc pipes for inlet and outlet. In the Sump the water is filtering through Ceramic rings, filter pads of different grade, bio balls. The water is then pumped back. I plan to quarantine marine fish in these tanks. <Mmm, much we should state here... each of these tanks flows back independently I hope... and you have VERY good mechanical (one micron or less) AND physical (e.g. UV) sterilization to exclude the sharing of parasites...> I read on the net that Protein Skimmer must not be used as the organic waste will remove the copper.? <Yes... w/ or w/o the waste... and the waste alone> I am using API test kits NH3, NO2, NO3, pH and Cu. Do I need to monitor anything else? What method should I use from the above? <Dips, baths... and keep good records of what species from what suppliers have problems... Arrange your ordering to reflect...> Salt used is Red Sea as this is the only salt commonly available in India. <As your business grows... do consider becoming a distributor for other brands... and product lines... Marine keeping will explode some day (and I think soon) in India> I have prepared my own Copper Sulphate solution by mixing 40 gm.s of Copper Sulphate ( Blue crystals used in swimming pools here) to 10 liters of Distilled water. I intend to use 30 ml for 200 liters to get .015 ppm reading of copper. <I would add 4-5 grams of citric acid to your mix here... much better... to keep the CuSO4 . 5H2O in solution> I want your advice for any other precautions that I should take while Quarantine. My tanks are recycling now. And soon I shall add the fish when the NH3 and NO2 readings are ZERO. Thanks once again. Regards, Inder. <I will gladly help you in your endeavours. Life to you. Bob Fenner>

Cupramine and Nitrites - 7/4/07 Quick question/observation... Currently quarantining 3 fish: Tuskfish, 2 x Bannerfish in a 20gallon glass bottom tank with a Fluval 104 Filtre. The foam pads were left in but the ceramic stones were removed as they seemed to absorb the Seachem Cupramine product that I was using to treat my fish. <Not them, but the "biofilm" on them...> I was conducting 30% water changes every second day. I have been using ONLY water from my Reef Tank which maintains pristine water conditions (no signs of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH 8.2). <Good that you have this available> I have been using Cupramine as directed thus maintaining the copper level at .5PPM in my tank. The fish seem to be doing fine. I have done 2 different water tests on my reef tank to ensure my quarantine tank is getting optimal water conditions but have only been doing Ammonia, pH, and Copper testing on my quarantine tank. pH is fine, no traces of Ammonia, and the appropriate Copper level of .5PPM. Last night (after two weeks) decided to do a thorough water test on the quarantine as I am going away this upcoming weekend. Every thing checks out except Nitrites are off the charts. I retested my Reef Tank and everything checked out... so I did a water change in my quarantine tank... lowering the water to a level to just the point that my fish could still swim (i.e. about 80%) and then syphoned reef tank water back into the quarantine tank to fill it back up. Note: Salinity and temperature are identical matches. I then topped off the appropriate Cupramine dose to get me back up to approximately .5PPM of copper. 2hrs later, I did another test... nitrites are still off the charts. <Yes... the "secondary" microbes that convert the nitrite to nitrate are being inhibited by copper exposure and a lack of substrate> Seachem Cupramine's FAQ's say to basically ignore Ammonia readings that are unreal... something to do with the majority of Ammonia test kits pick up something in the Cupramine. Basically SeaChem's stance, is to do frequent water changes and not worry about unreal ammonia readings. However, my ammonia readings are in check... no signs of ammonia. Are you familiar with this issue? If I did an 80% water change, I'd expect to see no signs of Nitrite or at least a severely diluted reading. Are you thinking the test kit is reacting with the Cupramine product to give me a false reading? <Mmm, no, I don't think so. But I encourage you to contact SeaChem's technical customer support... They're excellent... and ask directly if this test kit can/does yield such false positives...> As I mentioned before, fish in quarantine are acting normal and feeding eagerly. Not only have I been doing the water changes as per above... but after every feeding I am syphoning out any leftovers so that no visible solids remain in the tank. I even opened up the Fluval canister filtre to see if there was solid food waste caught in the foam cartridges... nothing. Do you figure I am ok? Tried to get hold of Seachem today... but 4th of July and no one's picking up the phones... David Brynlund <I do think you're okay here... Do just keep up with the measuring for Copper, doing the water changes... Bob Fenner> Re: Cupramine and Nitrites - 7/4/07 Thanks for the super urgent response Bob... You're the greatest! <Welcome> You said that you think I am ok here. Do you mean, relax and keep vacuuming up solid waste and my 30% waterchanges every two days? Or should I be actively trying to get those nitrites down by mass water changes daily? <The former> So, the Cupramine inhibits the nitrites from breaking down into less harmful nitrates? <Indirectly in a few ways, yes> Aren't the nitrites toxic though? <Are... or more to the point, pertinence here, can be under various other co-factored incidences> If I recall correctly the reading is about 4PPM maybe a little higher. I'm still confused as to how an 80% water change would NOT dilute my readings? <Mmmm... is a bit artifactual... I do wish we were face to face... and I knew your chemistry and physics backgd. a bit... Is/are diluted, but the sensitivity of the kits is so poor, the actual subjectivity of reading such... that the difference here is hard to make out> Yes, I'll give Seachem a shout tomorrow... David Brynlund <Do please send along your synopsis of what is said. Cheers, BobF> Re: Cupramine and Nitrites 7/5/07 Hi Bob, spoke to Seachem today... <Ahh!> Would be a pleasure to meet face to face sometime... Chemistry and physics background? Hmm, well I did fairly well in Chem/Phys through high school, but I'm an educated Finance guy. <A good combo. I taught H.S. level in these subjects for a few years... and have an ongoing interest of course...> Tech Support at SeaChem said that Ammonia is the only parameter that should yield a false positive. <Yes, as I, and I believe you thought as well> With a bare bottom tank and only foam cartridges for filtration, she mentioned that likely any sort of biological bacteria was held in the ceramic stones and I removed them. <Good> Therefore, I didn't have the biological bacteria present to continue the process as you mentioned... Converting Nitrite to Nitrate. She recommended using a product called Seachem MATRIX as non-copper absorbing bacteria holding stones and then using their SeaChem Stability additive to introduce or reintroduce the beneficial bacteria to continue the Nitrite - Nitrate cycle. She mentioned I should be setting up these products about 3 days prior to introducing new fish for quarantine or fish for medicating (if possible)... And then removing the product afterwards. <Mmm, sounds reasonable> Now I know for next time. My 3 fish are still doing well in quarantine and have finished their Cupramine treatment... The Tuskfish has also shed his Lyco##### (I forget the name of the cotton like fungus I sent you pics of and my employer has blocked all hobby sites on our network server... DOH!). <Yikes... Lymphocystis> All seems well. My main display 200gallon system has remained fallow less one snowflake moray eel now for 2 weeks. Shall I give it another week? Two weeks? <This latter...> Before introducing them back into main display? <I would "wait" a good month total> I guess I am a little bit eager now to get them back in there given the nitrite levels. By the time I locate or order SeaChem's recommended product it could be 10 days... As my retailers here don't carry either of those products. <... Man! What will it take to urge the trade to be/come just a bit more sophisticated! Well, we're doing our part I hope/trust> Thanks again! David Brynlund <And you. Bob Fenner>

Response to Ich Question Posted 7/4/07 7/5/07 I was reading FAQs today and noticed the question/guidance entitled "Cupramine and Nitrites - 7/4/07". I wanted to share my experiences because I experienced something similar, with tragic results. <I thank you for this> I too treated my HT with copper (ionic copper sulfate, not Cupramine) and my nitrites shot up in spite of constant water changes, vacuuming, etc. I too have a SeaChem copper test kit and checked copper twice daily to ensure that I was maintaining proper copper level. My fish were likewise feeding and acting well. And then they died. They had no visible ich infestation, so my only guess was that they died from prolonged exposure to nitrites coupled with exposure to the copper. <Might be... at least a factor> I think SeaChem test kit tells you to follow a special protocol if you're using chelated copper. Not sure whether Cupramine falls into that category. <Does> My point is, my experience suggests not to ignore high nitrite levels and to do frequent water changes. This makes life hard when using chelated products, which is why the authors of many articles I have read prefer the use of ionic copper sulfate. Just my two cents. Andy <Mmm, benefits (chelates are "longer lasting") to both... Bob Fenner.

Nitrite Question, Copper murdered my nitrifying bacteria? (And QT) 6/7/07 Hello Crew. <'Allo!> I have a question about the effect of copper on nitrifying bacteria. <Kills 'em.> I have a 30 gallon marine QT/hospital tank that I cycled with two mollies. <Poor mollies...> I have since had to introduce my four fish---a tiny gold stripe maroon, a tiny blue hippo, a lawnmower blenny and a 3.5" yellow tang--into the hospital tank to allow my display tank to go fallow because my blue hippo got Ich (I know, I know . . .). <Hope this is a big system we're talking about, 125g+ ???> Of course, my ammonia and nitrites shot up - ammonia went from 0 to 2 ppm and nitrites went from 0 to 2.5 ppm. I'm treating the tank with copper (keeping it between .15 and .30 ppm, but boy are those tests hard to read!). <Seachem?> They've been in the tank 5 days. The blue tang and maroon clown are happy as clams--you'd think they have known each other since birth. They seem totally unaffected by either the copper or ammonia/nitrite levels. <I'm sure they are affected, whether or not it's apparent.> The lawnmower blenny, who was perfectly healthy when I removed him from the display on Saturday, is now resting peacefully in pet heaven with my German shorthaired pointer. The yellow tang is hanging in there--he hasn't eaten since entry into the tank and periodically leans over to one side, but he is responsive when I approach the tank, stick my hand in, etc., and he's alive every morning when the lights come on. His breathing is not labored, but I can tell he's not feeling great. I have been doing 20% water changes daily and re-dosing to maintain proper copper levels. <Hmm... maybe you should brush up on QT setups? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QuarMarFishes.htm You need to be doing water changes that will keep the toxic byproducts of their respiration and feeding to a minimum. Usually 20% is not enough with four animals in a 30-gallon. > Yesterday, I added Bio-Spira, which dropped my ammonia down to 0 overnight but my nitrites were still about 1.5-2.0 ppm this morning. <Hmm, the addition of Bio-Spira is mostly moot at this point. As you are seeing, the copper has deleterious effects on the bacteria, and they won't properly establish in the presence of medication. This is a good reason to use the water from your main tank to dilute the toxins in the QT whenever testing indicates a need. Think of it as aggressive water-changes for your main system...> My questions: What effect will the copper have on my nitrifying bacteria? <See above.> Do you recommend that I do multiple doses of Bio-Spira while I'm treating with copper? <No doses would be fine.> Do you recommend anything different with respect to the yellow tang to up his chances of survival? <Just refine your approach to new species introduction in the future. I think you have taken a concerned and proactive approach to the current situation.> My LFS will cure ich without chemicals (using an incredibly ingenious, patent-pending (no kidding) top secret method--I'd have to kill you if I told you how it works) for $5 per day. <Per fish? What a racket! I should've thought of that one!> I could send him there until I ran the copper treatment on the other two fish and then put him back in the QT, but it would certainly be cheaper to just buy another yellow tang (but what kind of father would I be??). <Yes, we usually shy from relating importance of our livestock to their cash value...> Thanks for your guidance. <You are most welcome, but I bet you will do fine as you are. Do some google searching here on WWM and read as much as you can. In no time, you may be the one answering the Q's. > Andy <-GrahamT>

Re: Copper murdered my nitrifying bacteria? (And QT) 6/7/07 -- 6/8/07 Follow up for Graham: <Howdy, Andrew.> My tank is 110 gallons. <Good.> Your inquiry about Seachem copper test - - - yes, why do you ask? Is that a bad test kit brand? <Well, it a hard test to read results from. The slider, right? [Shudders]> All of my test kits are Seachem, except my calcium test. I sure wish there was an easy to read test kit--do you have any recommendations? < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coppertestfaqs.htm > I know that everyone speaks highly of Salifert, but I have to give up an arm to buy one of those kits. <Hmm... get what you pay for, I'm afraid. I like the Lamotte kit Rick O. has with the colorimeter (sp?)... makes the testing a snap.> As for QT, I know, I know--I was an idiot, thought I could beat the odds, will never, ever, ever do it again, will quarantine all new arrivals for at least 2 weeks, etc. Hindsight is always 20-20. <Been there.> I was in the hobby 20 years ago and just got back in it. Didn't realize how much it has changed until I read Bob's book and found this website, both of which have really opened my eyes. <Been there, too. Was out of the hobby for ten years when I fell back in...> I promise to keep the questions coming . . . <Oh, goody!!! -GrahamT> Andy

Bringing a Ht back on-line after killing off nitrifying bacteria with copper -- 06/19/07 Dear Bob or other venerable member of the Crew, <Howzit?> I had a thought . . . . which (surprise) prompted a question . . . relating to my long-standing Ich saga with which Bob has been helping me out. I placed my four fish in a 30 gallon HT to battle Ich, dosed with copper and monitored religiously for 13 days, with water changes, before everyone started dying due, I can only assume, to elevated nitrite levels (1.5 -2.0 ppm) caused by the copper hatin' on my nitrifying bacteria, in spite of 30% daily water changes (I know . . . wasn't enough). The sole survivor of my uneducated husbandry practices is my gold stripe maroon. The maroon has 3 more weeks in HT/QT before my display tank has completed its fallow period. Once everyone started dying, I pulled the copper out of the water with a combination of activated charcoal (Kent Reef Carbon) and water changes (plus it's been almost a week since I last dozed) <Or dosed!> and now my levels are undetectable, and then added Bio-Spira. My ammonia is 0, and my nitrites are slooooowwwwwlllly coming down and are now higher than 0.5 but lower than 1 ppm. My HT/QT if filtered with a Marineland hang on the back power filter with BioWheel (can the copper permanently pollute this paper BioWheel?) <Won't> and penguin powerhead for circulation. Although the clown seems to be doing fine, I am constantly worried about the nitrite levels in the tank and breathe a sigh of relief every morning when I turn the light on and he's still alive. So, I want to maximize his chances of survival (he wasn't cheap and I he's cool). Well, the obvious is doing massive water changes every day to dilute the pollution until the tank re-cycles, but I'm going through salt like a Cod Salter. So, my thought . . . One of my LFS sells fully cured reef rubble for $3.99 per lb. If one can quickly cycle a tank with live rock, why not buy 3 lbs of cured reef rubble and drop in the HT? <Good idea> It sure would be cheaper than either salt or Bio-Spira and could work instantly? <A bit slower> Another reason for this is that it would allow me to keep the QT up and running once I pull my fish out without having to break it down only to bring it back up when I buy a new fish for quarantine. I could buy a few mollies for $2, acclimate them and they could be the permanent inhabitants of the QT. If I ever needed to run copper or some other medicine, I could simply put the reef rubble in a nylon filter bag and drop it in the sump of the display tank for the treatment period. <Yes> Three fears came to mind about doing this, though. First, even though I *think* I pulled all the copper out, does enough copper remain to have an adverse effect on the reef rubble? <Minimally> A sub-question--because I used Ionized Copper Sulfate that precipitates out, would it be prudent to siphon the glass bottom to remove any copper precipitate that is resting on the bottom and on which my reef rubble will sit? <Yes, worth doing... with all Crypt-infested systems actually> Second, assuming that the reef rubble is truly cured and assuming that I get clean pieces that don't have any appreciable life on them (sponges, etc.), am I taking the chance that I may actually exacerbate the problem by jolting my system with ammonia and then nitrite when the rock starts eating and pooping in my tank, or will any spike be quickly dealt with by the rock's bacteria? <Not much, if, as you state, this material is more or less fully cured> And finally, and probably most importantly, am I taking the chance that all of my hard work killing my fish with copper to remove Ich will be negated by the reintroduction of Ich or some other parasite that hikes in on the live rock? Thanks!!!! Andy <Mmm, check the system the rock is in... this should be a small concern. Bob Fenner>

Copper toxicity question? 6/6/07 Hello all, <Howdy> I am finding it is time for my second question in 3 years. I would have thought the answer to my question would be easy to find in your FAQ's and articles but it is not. So here is my question. What are the signs and symptoms of copper toxicity in a marine fish? <Usually... rapid, shallow breathing, disorientation, gasping near the surface, often head tilted upward... to lethargy, deep/labored breathing on the bottom... Possibly apparent mucus production on the body, fins... death> The reason for my question is I have treated my fish in a QT tank for the prescribed amount of time and all visible signs and symptoms of marine ich are gone except increased respiratory rates in about half of the fish. <Hopefully with daily plus testing of copper...> The rapid breathing developed near the end of the copper treatment. The main tank remained fallow for two months before the fish were moved back. They have all been back in the main tank now for over two months. I then ordered three new fish on line and all were in great health on arrival. All three were eating on the same day placed in the QT tank. I did a 2 week treatment with copper after they were in the QT tank for two weeks. None of the fish ever showed any problems until near the end of the copper treatment. Guess what the problem was. It is rapid respiratory rates only. None of the new fish ever had the visible white spots you would expect to see with marine ich. I treated these new fish out of fear of introducing ich to the main display again. If you should need any other information I would be happy to provide it for you. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Copper toxicity question? -- 06/08/07 Sorry about the two e-mail question. Your prompt response to the initial question made me think of another I should have asked in the first e-mail about copper toxicity. <Ah yes... the nature of this media... the rationale for our posting responses for perusal...> I did perform daily copper checks. I used Cupramine buffered active copper and tested daily with a level of 0.50 mg/l for two weeks. <Mmm... this is actually too much free cupric ion... I want to mention to browsers to not allow this Cu++ level to go beyond 0.35 ppm or the equivalent units of mg/l> I used the Salifert test kit and read it as best I could with the color scale provided. <I would also like to recommend other brands of copper test kits... Posted on WWM> After two weeks I did two fifty percent water changes over 3 days and added carbon. Two of the three fish in QT are in perfect health and no worse for the wear including a flame angel. <Good> The problem fish is a false percula (wild caught) specimen. He is exhibiting the signs and symptoms described to me by Mr. Fenner in the initial e-mail. <Well... am sure you are aware of my admonitions re these wild-caught instead of captive-produced specimens... AND they ARE clowns... do behave "oddly" at times... AND they, along with many other fishes that live in close association with non-vertebrates are more sensitive to the same sorts of challenges> I was wonder what the recovery time is or if there is a recovery time for copper toxicity. <Weeks> I was also wondering what else I could do besides ideal water conditions and no copper to help this fish along on the road to recovery. <Mmm, perhaps the use of Polyfilter, HUFA/Vitamin prep.s... in the water, food> I really hate the thought that I may be the source of this fish's health problems. <Source and cure> Again, thank you for your time and consideration in this matter. Sincerely, Budde <Welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Cataracts and HLLS???? -- 04/30/07 I have a 110 Gal tank. 100 lbs. live rock, 100 lbs. live sand. I have one Blue Damsel, one Talbot Damsel, one Blue/Green Chromis, all healthy. I also have one Yellow Eye Kole Tang, and one Radiant Wrasse. They have all been through a six week quarantine (the tang and wrasse at the same time) and after much stress and treatment on the fish, and myself they appeared to be fungus and ich free. My wrasse started acting funny the last week or two of quarantine even though he looked beautiful. I thought it was because the now healthy tang was becoming territorial and picking on the wrasse. <Maybe> So in week five I put a small container of new washed sand in the bottom to give the wrasse somewhere to bury himself for protection. His damage from the tang healed immediately. After the six weeks they seemed great so I put them into my display. Unfortunately under the bright lights of my display tank I can see two problems. The wrasse has cloudiness in his eyes one worse than the other no bulging or anything just like a cloudy film. Is this cataracts and can I treat this. <Is likely "environmental" in origin... and will go on its own> He swims around and runs into the rocks and glass when he comes out and I feel so bad for him. He is not eating that I can see. The tang appears to have scars on his face like small divots. Could this be HLLS. <Mmm, maybe... this is a symptom... not an actual disease... could be resultant simply from stress from the quarantine...> Not much algae grew in the quarantine tank and he would not eat any seaweed or algae foods. I tried everything I could buy that was seaweed or algae, dried, frozen, flakes and sheets, even with the garlic entice added. I could only get him to eat omega brine shrimp soaked in Zoe. Now that he is in the main tank he picks at Ocean Nutrition's Formula Two and eats the algae off the rocks and glass. Will this help. <Yes> LFS is no help. I don't want this to get worse and everything I read on your site says diet, diet, diet. The wrasse and tang had a tough quarantine I treated them with the following, (not at the same time and with a few days rest between treatments) Quick cure (Formalin and Malachite Green), <Toxic... the symptoms above are actually very likely from this exposure...> Fish Mox, <Amoxicillin for browsers> Kick Ich, and Rally. <These are scams> Could any of these treatments be the cause. I'm sorry for the length but I'm lost and have tried researching your site. Could not get a decent picture of the wrasse <Keep practicing, reading... the indices, search tool... BobF>

Good pic, eh?

Contaminated equipment... SW... 3/19/07 Hi there, <Hello, Brandon here.> I'm been running a 6G nano for about a year now, recently (2 months ago) I started using an old heater/pump in a plastic bucket to heat and aerate RO water for a 2L bi-weekly water change. <This is a good idea.> I lost a snail last month and today it seems another has bitten the dust. <I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they most likely starved to death. Most people recommend 1 snail per 10 gallons. Keeping two in this tank likely extinguished their food supply, or took it down to negligible levels. Think about it like this, if I gave you one chicken nugget a day, you are still eating right? But eventually you will starve to death. Same thing with the snails. While it is true that they need algae to live, they need a specific amount per day, if they cannot get this they will slowly starve.> The parameters are: Nitrate 15ppm, Amm 0, Nitrite 0, Ph 8.1, Sal 1.025, Temp 26c, Alk 2.7 and have been stable. <The Nitrate is a little high. Would be better if it was under 10 ppm. I will assume that your Alk is 2.7 mg/L since you did not say. This translates out to 7.8 dKH. This is low. Ideally you want to shoot for 10-12 dKH, or about 4mg/L. This will give you a more stable pH.> If the old heater/pump was used in a freshwater tank with a copper based treatment would the copper possibly be getting in the water it is aerating/heating? <Anything is possible, but if there were copper in the water, the crustaceans that you mention below would likely be doing extremely poorly, or dead. All crustaceans are extremely sensitive to copper.> The Zoanthids in the tank are also retracted, hermits and shrimps seem fine. <This is most likely due to the NO3 levels. Try cleaning out your filters once a week, and see if this solves the NO3 problem.> All the best <Good luck to you. Brandon.> Luke

Huma Huma help 1/2/07 hello. <Hello, Graham here.> I have had a catastrophe... and want to help save my last fish... I purchased some turbo snails from the local pet store and after introducing them to my 75 gallon tank all my fish started scratching. I added Sea Cure and that was the end of my marine life. I lost 2 clown 2 damsel 1 yellow tang and my emperor angel.. now my trigger is left but he is still scratching away at his side. he has his whole belly red and flakey now. what can I do ? My tank was all zeros for no2, no3 and ammonia and a ph of 8.0-8.2.... I now have him out of the tank and in a quarantine.. he seems to be fine but he is scratching his skin really bad...I an dosing him with sea cure BTW. <Very hard to diagnose a problem like this when you can't see it. Send a high-resolution .JPG that has been either compressed in an image editor or to a .ZIP file. (Make sure the file is no bigger than 500k, but preferably under 100k) If you cannot send a pic, I recommend you try to work out an identification from our FAQs using the search tool.> Thanks Josh <Welcome.> <P.S. Bob F. : Please jump in if you see a red flag I'm missing! -Graham> <<Mmm... copper poisoning... removing the copper, hope, time going by... RMF>>

Maracyn and Coppersafe Reaction 1/16/07 Boy did I screw up. <Uh-oh.> I have 125 marine tank. I had a huge case of ich...I added CopperSafe. <Doh!> The next day all my fish had pink fungus all over them. I added Maracyn. <Doh!> Now my tank looks like swamp water. <I bet.> I am losing fish one by one. <Not surprising unfortunately.> I don't know what is killing them now there is no sign of ich or the pink stuff. <The fact that you declared nuclear war on your tank.> I only added Maracyn once. <One time too many sadly.> My water STILL is swamp water green. HELP!!!! I have already done: 50% water change <Good> 80% water change <Good> 100% water change <Good> I have put a phosphate filter in the sump and a pantyhose sock with some granular phosphate remover. I leave my white lights off hoping that the light won't promote growth. Okay, I have now replaced ALL of the following: Live rock all 140# Live sand all 60# Water Now running Phosphate Carbon AmQuel and Cycle for life and water is still turning green slowly HELP!!!!! Emily Gansereit <The double hit of copper and antibiotics has made your tank hostile to most all marine life. The tank is now cycling and living organisms are starting to re-colonize the tank. This starts with the toughest, usually lower forms of life, like free floating algae. Best bet now is to test for copper in the water, if found do more water changes. Get some Poly-Filters and run these along with carbon and the Phosphate remover. Water changes are your friend for the foreseeable future. Also get a QT tank to avoid this situation if the future. With time and proper care the tank should return to normal.> <Chris>

Copper... measure mostly 1/17/06 I have a copper question. I know it is not good to have in your main tank, which is why I started a new 125 gallon reef ready tank and used my own RO/di unit, but after making the initial 125 gallons of water that read 0 on my TDS meter, and getting that in my tank. My next water readings were in the 50's, then kept getting a little higher. <... in the presence of? Gravel, rock? Sea salt? All will show, increase TDS> I didn't think much of it, but I found out I need to repack the di membranes. Anyway, I had some copper tests left over from my previous tank and decided to take a test just for kicks. It turned out that the reading was at .05. (the lowest # on the scale, however it was picking it up). <Likely artifactual> My question is, Is the copper that I got out of my tap water through my di unit as harmful and hard to get rid of as the actual regular copper medication. I bought a Pura filtration pad and am running that, along with activated carbon in my powerheads. I have 150 lbs. of live sand, and 100 lbs. of live rock, and one tomato clownfish in the tank now. Everything seems fine, but I want to get the copper out. It's probably been in for maybe a week or two before I caught it and put the Pura pad in. Am I too late, or do I still have some hope. Please advise me. Thank You for all of your past and Future help. Aaron <Not a worry... even if present... will be transient. Bob Fenner>

Upside-down Regal Tang ... parasitized, copper poisoned main system - 03/26/2006 I recently upgraded my marine tank from a 75gal to a 120gallon tank. A few days after the move I noticed the beginnings of ICH on my juvenile Emperor Angelfish and my Red Basslet. <The system itself is infested> Upon the advice of a friend of mine I gradually lowered the salinity in the tank to 1.014 and started using Cupramine. <Not the main/display tank... no....> The ICH started to clear up, everybody stopped scratching and the tank seemed to be much better. <Just cycled off...> Then about five days ago, a week or so into the treatment I noticed my 1" Regal Tang lying on her side on the bottom gasping. Her eyes were so puffed up she looked more like a Black Moor Goldfish than a Tang and she was a bit swollen and bloated looking. I immediately tested the water and all water parameters are fine. Nitrite and Ammonia zero, Ph 8.5, and Nitrates below 20ppm. The only thing I could think might be wrong was the sign efficiently lowered salinity was causing her to absorb too much water. (I'm not sure exactly how the whole thing works but from what I understand Marine fish are designed to absorb water and excrete salt. So since she was in a lower salinity she soaked too much up maybe?) <Interesting proposition. Much more likely poisoned by the copper/system treatment> Anyway, I put her in a floating breeder trap with a few pieces of macro algae for cover and began to slowly raise the salinity in the tank back up. I've got the salinity back up to 1.020 now. By the day after I'd put her in the breeder trap the Regal Tang's eyes had started to go back down to normal. After five days they're down all the way. But the rest of her is still puffy and bloated. Not to the extent that her scales are standing out on end like Dropsy, she's just puffy. Even along her dorsal fin she's puffy. And she's stuck upside-down. <Do orient like this in all such space> She can right herself and swim a little but as soon as she stops swimming she goes belly up once again. I've been throwing a few flakes in for her each day but she's not eating and is not even interested in the Macro Algae. Is there anything else I can do for her? Does she just need more time to recover or is it hopeless? <... You've got a bit of reading to do... Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/parasittksfaqs.htm the linked files above, Copper Use, the Paracanthurus article and FAQs... Bob Fenner> Blind Harlequin Tusk? 9/21/05 Howdy Crew, I've recently purchased a 4" long Harlequin Tusk. After about 5 days in QT it was showing signs of ich. I waited a couple of days to see if it would clear up on it's own and it did not. The fish never stopped eating and was acting normal. So I read up on treating them for ich and saw on WWM that you can use copper but that in too high of a concentration, will cause them to go blind. <Can, yes> I decided to go ahead with the copper as the ich wasn't getting any better. I used Mardel Copper Safe and treated with less than the bottle prescribed hoping the tusk wouldn't go blind. This was yesterday and at feeding time last night, the fish was swimming around looking for food but wasn't really finding any. I think he's gone blind. My question is, can a tusk regain their sight? <Highly unlikely this fish is blind, was blinded... Very likely it "doesn't feel like eating" due to copper exposure> I immediately put a bag of carbon in the filter to remove the copper and did a 1/3 water change with RO/DI water. Thanks for all your help. <Mmm, you'll have to devise some method of treatment... Bob Fenner>

Copper in marine systems 9/21/05 Hi Bob I have been reading about copper on your website and I have a few questions about how long term copper exposure affects fish. I read that fish can get copper poisoning, but how can you tell? What are the symptoms? <Mmm, some of them... include rapid breathing while the fish is setting on the bottom, at an angle near the top... to very labored/slow breathing... glassed over eyes, milky body appearance, for marines: drooping fins... > What do you think about keeping tanks constantly dosed with copper as a preventative measure for disease? <A poor idea... many stores, some wholesale operations utilize copper on a continuous to semi-continuous basis... long-term exposure shortens lifespans considerably> I am just learning about saltwater systems and am trying to gather as much information as possible. <Let's settle on "as practical"> Are some marine fish more sensitive to copper than others? <Oh yes> Are scaleless fish more sensitive than scaled? <Definitely> What exactly does long-term copper exposure do to a fish? <... several things... how much of this do you want to discuss? The histopathology? Just gross morphology? Maybe just a key example? The loss of packed-cell volume in the blood is one such effect... real trouble, as the hematocrits of fishes are high, DO quite low in seawater> I read somewhere that copper can eventually kill off all the intestinal fauna in a fish. Is that true? <Yes> What else can happen? <Too much to elaborate here... If truly interested, a trip to a large/college library, search tools there is in order> I know copper is a heavy metal and I would not think that any exposure it that great. Thank you so much for your time and help! Regards, Kristina <You show tremendous curiosity and intelligence... Might I suggest you use your interest, abilities here to do said search, write up for the pet-fish magazines, pulp and e-... I will help you sell such. Bob Fenner> Copper treatment and bad reaction - 10/28/2005 Hey guys, another question for you. <Fire away.> My Pakistani in QT has been in copper for a week now and he has no more Ich left but now he's darting/flashing/twitching. <Uh-Oh.> Is this another outbreak coming or is it from copper exposure? <It does sound like poisoning.> Should I take him out or leave him in for the maximum of the two week period (it states in the FAQ'S that a good rule of thumb is 2 weeks of copper exposure for a fish to avoid giving copper poisoning)? <You should do an immediate, large water change. Run some PolyFilter or carbon to remove the rest of the copper.> I went this long without harming him, I don't want to take on any additional high risk. <I would back off of the copper treatment and watch for improvements. How high is your copper reading?> Thanks, Jay <Thank you for helping me address a weak point. - Josh>

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

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

Medicating with Copper We are treating with Coppersafe right now and our water is cloudy.....is that normal? We have also put in Melafix.... that is what we were told to do? Our Coppersafe is at the correct levels, just wondering if it causes cloudy water? <Hello, the cloudy water could be caused by a heavy bio load, insufficient filtration, or over feeding. If you are medicating with Coppersafe in your main display tank the substrate is going to absorb all of the copper and destroy your biological filtration, which could also cause the cloudy water. Copper in a display is pretty much useless, quarantine the fish in a QT tank and let the display run without fish for 4 weeks. Frequent water changes will help as well. Best Regards, Gage>

Cupramine and bacteria Dear Bob, <Joanne> Thank you for your wonderful and informative web site. I have an important and urgent question. Here is the situation. I have a 120G marine tank. Some months ago I had some disease(s) wipe out most of my fish - to date we could not positively identify the disease but I am sure one of them was ich. I am 30 years in the hobby and I think I have some experience - I hope - but it seems never enough. With the fish that survived some ich did too but never serious. The fish and the ich seemed to strike a balance of power and so it did not seem more pressing that to keep the tank clean as usual. <This happens... some sort of induced/acquired immunity/stasis> Recently, because I wish to introduce more fish to the tank (I have two puffers now) I decided that it was imperative to treat the tank with copper. I chose Cupramine as it was most recommended and added it at the recommended dosage. I was assured by the company and the dealers in the local shops here in Montreal that it does not interfere with the biological filtration. How can that be? <Not... does interfere... may destroy entirely> Since its introduction the ich is almost gone with some new generations hatching every few days but in decreasing numbers. My ammonia shot up but oddly not the nitrite which is hardly measurable. Because I want to keep stress as low as possible I chose to use a chemical agent called Prime to reduce the ammonia which it does if I use it regularly. I also added some Cycle to replenish the nitrifying bacteria but I am not certain if the copper has not interfered with that too. <Will> My question is this. Did I kill the bacteria culture in my filter bed? <Possibly, or at least sent them into a sort of "metabolic check"> How can I tell? At this time should I worry more about the ich or the ammonia? <Both, equally... as either could be cause for your puffers loss> With many thanks and kind regards, Peter Paul Biro <Do monitor ammonia... consider other treatment modes in future. Will cc Ananda here (our puffer aficionado). Bob Fenner

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