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FAQs on Copper Use 1

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

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

Invertebrates, like unwanted disease organisms, are mal-affected by copper exposure

Copper in tank Hello. <Hi, Chris> First of all, I would like to compliment you on your great website. There is so much great info. <Yes indeed, just scratched the surface myself.> My question is in regards to copper use in a fish and live rock tank. I had an outbreak of ick a little while back and my LFS gave me some sea cure and told me to put it in my tank as directed. Since then I have discovered that that was not a good idea. Have I completely ruin my live rock and sand? I really want to get a nice coralline covering. Is this still possible or should I start over? I know that the website said that my tank would never be suitable for invertebrates after copper use. Is there any way it could be? <Afraid so> I would really like to have some snails and cleaner shrimp. The same guy also told me that a freshwater dip was the worst thing you can do to a fish. After reading all the info on your website, I am starting to second guess anything he has ever told me. Please give me any info you can. I am in desperate need of some GOOD information. <I think it is time to 'fire' this LFS and find another! Using the rock/tank for fish only tank would be OK after removal of all copper in the water column. Use Poly-Filter and carbon and a good test kit to confirm> Thank you so much! Keep up the great work! Thanks again ~ Chris <Will do, and take care, Don>

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

Resistant strain of ick?? (Inconsistent use of therapeutics) Dear Dr. Fenner <Just Bob please> I haven't written you in a while. I need some advice dealing with ick or is it. I have battle it ick before. I know what to look for. I have been successful in treating it in the past. My water quality is in check, but my nitrate is climbing since my meds told me to turn off the protein skimmer along with UV. Lets explain what has happened here. About 2 months ago my yellow mimic tang was suffering from a Turbellarian worm (Black Ick). I began a hyposalinity treatment. bringing the water salinity down from 1.020 to1.010 in side of a week. This did stop the disease in it's tracks and it did save me from losing the fish however it was still visible and he was still breathing heavily. I hate using meds, but on the advice of another fish guru he insisted I use the copper since in his opinion hyposalinity may not 100% kill the black ick. I used the Cupramine by SeaChem , and it said to turn U.V, and skimmer off, and remove carbon. The Black ick with in 3 days was gone. I mixed the gravel around every few days. At the same time I had 4 new fish I was quarantining in my old 65 gallon tank that I was selling. I had a very very aggressive purple tang in it, that was beating up all the other new fish. So now the purple tang comes down with ick and so do a few other fish. I started treating with copper and decided I was going to sell the purple tang. I had a really hard time getting the ick to die using Cupramine copper and a low salinity level. About 3 weeks went by I finally I found some one to take the tang. I warned them he had signs of ick. But the fish was very healthy and alert so he took it. Then another week goes by and the other new fish looked good, and I found someone to buy the 65 gallon tank that I was using for quarantine. So I figured the other system had copper in it already and that I would complete the treatment of all the fish together for 1 more week. Another week goes by and I perform a 20% water change turn on U.V, skimmer, carbon etc. Everybody is happy, eating, but then,... what this..... how can this be?.... The black ick is gone, but the familiar signs of white ick are appearing on my new just added coral beauty. It was just one spec, and he wasn't bothered so I watched it a few days. The spec turned 3 salt sized specs, and then I saw a few on my yellow mimic. I said !@#$ I can't believe this. So after a week with no copper, I was advised to redose, and use copper safe. This time it said to just remove carbon and turn of the protein skimmer. A had the levels tested at 0.3 and again the ick was fading all except for one spec on the coral beauty. 2 weeks later it is still there. I my nitrates started to get around 40ppm so I flicked on the protein skimmer. <Good idea... and you were monitoring copper concentrations this whole time? And adjusting same?> Two days after doing that I tested the water again. Not one damn detectable trace of copper was found, using 2 different test kits. <See above> It has now been a week with no trace of copper and I'm scared to redose! What else should I use? This stuff is resistant to the copper., and I have sensitive fish that don't like copper! Angels, puffers, and a lion to be specific. The coral beauty is starting to show more specs again. Every one gets along, and seems to have plenty of room. Stress in my opinion is at a low. My temp is around 78. Everyone is eating! ammonia, and nitrite, is 0. the system is a 125gallon. <I would use either a chelated or non-chelated brand/make of copper... but test for it twice daily, augment as necessary. Please read (this will take a while) here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm on to Cryptocaryon FAQs files, Copper Use...> No is near death of seems stressed. but I watch these things before they become a real problem. What do you suggest, Thanks Jason <Study, act on knowledge, understanding. Bob Fenner>

Copper sulfate in food Today I tried to feed Kent Platinum reef pellet food to my fish. My pepp. and cleaner shrimp ate it instead. They loved it! I then read ingredients, and copper sulfate is listed, along with other vitamins, etc... Could this harm my inverts and my copper sensitive porcupine puffer? Thanks for your help, Laura <I doubt that it is enough to harm the fish, although all best are off on the inverts. Nonetheless, with so many great food choices out there... consider and alternative since you have copper sensitive livestock just to play it safe. Kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Copper and its solubility Bob- I am having trouble finding out at what pH and alkalinity copper comes back into solution in the marine aquarium. I have friends that are hesitant to use copper sulfate because they are afraid the copper that is taken up by calcareous material will be reintroduced and kill the fish. Thank you for your help! J.Warrick <Mmm, w/o looking in a CRC manual or elsewhere, my "guess" is at pHs way below realistic values (above neutral, 7.0) in marine systems. Some will be about after treatment in falling pH situations... but not real troubles in comparison with the results of the loss of alkaline reserve. Bob Fenner>

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

Treating a Tank with Copper Hi Bob. <<Not actually Bob, but JasonC helping out while Bob is away diving.>> You probably remember my e-mail to you about my Ich outbreak after not quarantining my Chromis long enough. I managed to clear it up through dips and copper treatment. All was well for awhile in the q-tank. My 2 year old son must have flipped the switch off the outlet strip that powers everything in that tank. That sat powerless for about 9-10 hours. <<oh no...>> Now my Yellow Tang is coated in Ich. I presume this is do to the 68 degree water that he sat in for hours. <<probably. Most likely the stress of the power outage/low temp compromised the tang's immune system, made it more susceptible.>> He is bad off with Ich. Not eating, rapid breathing, flashing etc.. I dipped him in Methylene blue and re-dosed the tank with copper. I really do not want to stress him out anymore as I am sure it will kill him. <<and with all that copper, he may already be on the way. Stop dosing copper.>> Should I also lower the specific gravity while treating with copper? <<Yes, do this down to about 1.017 - 1.018 and turn the temperature up to 82.>> The tank is highly aerated so oxygen can do its wonders. (It is amazing to me how many fellow hobbyist tanks are so poorly oxygenated!) <<?>> I can just kick myself! Rest assured, if I try to cut a corner now and again it always comes back on me tenfold. <<a truer truth has never been told.>> Zimmy <<Cheers, J -- >>

Copper and Live Rock Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I wrote to you before regarding my problem with white spot in my tank. I was advised to use MarinOomed which I did to no avail so I used copper and this has worked wonders. Before the use of the copper all my fish had died but I made the mistake of not taking out the live rock so all the life and algae has died on that too. I now have a powder brown tang and a juvenile Koran angel fish in there and they are both doing excellent. The colours are the best I have ever seen!! My Question is that will the live rock eventually get life into it and will the algae start to grow again if I just leave it or do I have to replace it?  <that depends on your goals and purpose for the live rock. If it's presence is mostly or only biological for a fish only tank, then you may leave it. If you have any hope of putting inverts in there (or going reef) then the rock must be replaced. Copper chemically binds with all calcareous media (sand, gravel, shell, rock) and will contaminate some inverts on contact even when copper is free from the water column> Also all the parameters are great now to so should I just leave it for nature to take its course or have I already lost the battle and no life will ever grow on the rocks? PS. I have carbon in there also and am told this will remove the copper in time. <the carbon absolutely will not remove copper,<<?! No... it will. RMF>> but a Polyfilter (Poly Bio Marine) will help. Life forms including beneficial algae will certainly return in time... just not all forms that you had previously. Avoid even putting snails or anemones with this rock in the future for the above reasons. Kind regards, Anthony>

More Live Rock/Copper Mr. Fenner: <Anthony Calfo in your service with the follow up> Thanks for the response. However, I do have a few questions on your answers. You indicated it has attached to all of the substrate in the tank live rock, coral gravel, etc..  <yes...chemically bound to all calcareous media even when water tests copper free> After I make sure all of the copper is gone, If I add new live rock will it survive?  <significant copper will not be imparted to the new rock...but the old rock/sand/shells/etc is still a problem> Secondly, can I use the now copper treated rock as base rock or do I throw it away.  <fine for fish only systems...but never with invertebrates that can attach or crawl over it (starfish, anemones, coral, etc)> Do I throw the crushed coral gravel away as well and my colored hard corals that made my wife so appreciative of the tank? <the crushed coral will be cheaper to replace than neutralize... I'll have to ask around for a refresher on how to chemically liberate the copper adsorbed on your curios so they are not wasted> Thank you again for your assistance. I did my reading before hand however I relied upon the LFS for backup and I felt he had more experience than I. I guess I had the correct answer and he did not, but I lost the battle hopefully not the war. <agreed...kind regards, Anthony> Regards, Mendy

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

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

Re: Re: Another question. Thanks JasonC, My HT is up and running. I did a fresh water dip on both the Maroon and Coral. I do have some Coppersafe in the HT and with some Melafix to help heal any open sore left by the parasites. As for the MT, how long should I let in run medicated with Coppersafe at a temp of 84 degrees with a salinity of 1.017? <Two weeks> I just have my Firefish and Scooter in there, which seem only ones not affected by Ick or Marine Velvet. Is that common for these type fish and will they survive treatment of the MT? <Should so> But anyways how long should I let the main run before adding my Coral and Maroon back in? I know I need to have carbon in the system, with a PolyFilter to remove the Copper. Any other advice? <Please read through the many sections of our principal site that deal with copper use... Starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm> And if that doesn't help would I have to restart over with cycling a new tank to remove any remaining copper and disease. Or remove ALL fish and let it sit for awhile? <Perhaps... you will be able to tell if the copper/treatment has impugned your biological nitrifiers by an accumulation of ammonia, nitrite... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Javier

Re: Re: Re: Another question. Thanks, I have read that. My live rock, sand and biological nitrifiers seem okay. I have been consistently monitoring the ammonia and nitrite levels. I have heard different opinions about copper destroying live rock and causing it to turn a bleach white color, while others say copper won't harm the live rock and sand.  <Sufficient copper (cupric ion) concentration will kill most all life on/in live rock and substrates> I keep the copper at about .25 ppm, but consistently add live bacteria to the tank as a precaution. I have read the site and get the impression that what I plan on doing should eliminate the cooper from the tank. I forgot to mention that I also have a protein skimmer. Should that help breakdown contaminants even further and help keep the water cleaner. <Will help.> Thanks Your Web site is very informative and your replies to e-mails, like mine are much appreciated. With problems I have encountered, I have second guessed my self in moving into the hobby of saltwater. But I am determined to get it right and have an excellent display tank running.  <An excellent attitude> I have learned so much over the last few months and learning to catch and watch out for potential problems. Hopefully someday I will become sort of an expert and pass on what I have learned to others. <Indeed you will my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tiny White Bugs Hello Jason, <<Hello!>> Presently, I am treating my q-tank for Ick, with copper. Anyway, this morning I notice tiny little white bugs (size of dust mites) on the glass moving about. I know that this can't be Ick itself, what could it be??? Then I decided to check the main tank and the main tank has these bugs, too. The fish in the main tank are doing great! The funny thing is that the fish that I am treating for Ick have never been in the main tank. It would seen that the copper would kill the little bugs as well as killing Ick. Could these bugs be harmless? If you have any ideals or know what they could be please let me know or if there's anything I can do. <<Sounds like some form of amphipod or copepod and most likely harmless, and maybe even beneficial. You should check the following link to see if you can match it up: http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm >> Thanks, Ron <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Re: sent from PufferNet Jason, <<Hello,>> Thanks for the suggestions and i will check out the FAQ's on the puffers. But i am not familiar with copper. Is that copper like the metal? <<Same element as the metal, but in liquid form.>> Any way is it something that is normally carried at the petstore? <<Yes.>> Again thank you for your time and help. I'm sure my puffer thanks you as well. Ed <<Ed, also check out Bob's answers to various FAQs on Copper in Marine systems. Obviously your puffer isn't a marine fish, but I think some of the information in these links will be of some use as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marparasitcurefaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm Hope that's helpful. Cheers, J -- >>

Re copper use, effect on marine fishes life spans Is it true that if you use copper to treat a disease it lowers the life span of those fish treated. i.e if A hippo was going to live 8 years, now he will only live 4? <Mmm... well, on the one hand/fin... if the fish isn't treated for good cause and subsequently dies... On the other... only a minor diminishment is likely... more on the order of weeks less life> And out of curiosity, how long is the normal lifespan of a healthy Hippo tang. Or any saltwater fish for that matter? <Many Paracanthurus hepatus live to be several years old... the record is more than twenty. Most marines are killed off prematurely... undoubtedly less than a year in captivity... Re the last, where do we/you start counting? If as fertilized eggs, early larval stages, most fishes don't last long at all... Not to be difficult, marine fishes kept in adequate surroundings, with decent care live a few to a handful of years. In very good care, many can live a few decades. Bob Fenner>

Copper/ Wet/dry filters Hi Bob, <<JasonC here, filling in for Bob while he is away, diving>> Great web site, your book is also. Maybe you can help me, I had to copper my main tank, my Purple Tang after being in a hospital tank twice to cure Ick would be reinfected within two days after being put back in the main tank. I am now a believer in a quarantine tank for new arrivals. <<a very common experience for many, myself included>> I purchased a 3 lb piece of live rock to put in my wet/dry and took out the bio balls in an attempt to reduce my nitrates which are at 60PPM as of today, all my other parameters are within limits except for the ph which is at 7.79 . I plan on making my weekly 20% water change tomorrow which typically brings up the PH to 7.9. My questions are will the copper safe I added kill my live cured rock ? <<you mean the 3lb chunk you added after the copper treatment? When did you stop treating with the CopperSafe? How long between that and the live rock addition? Without any specifics, I'd just hazard a guess that yes, you may have harmed your live rock. As an aside, is this the only live rock you have - how big is your system?>> Is the 7.9 Ph range ok or do I need to always have it up to 8.3 ? <<you should try to get the pH to "near sea water" conditions>> If bio balls are causing nitrates to be over produced then why don't the people in the LFS tell the consumers buying the wet/dry's that this is a problem and offer a suggestion to use live rock instead ? <<not all stores have all the information one would think they need - high turnover rates among employees, etc make this very difficult to keep consistent. Does your local fish store sell live rock?>> It seems that many people writing in with questions have this nitrate problem. <<perhaps>> Thanks in advance <<you are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >> Fred

Copper question/s Hi bob, thanks for your prompt answers. I read the sections on parasites and copper and so have a brief education. I went to three stores here in Denver and became very frustrated. I put 80 gallons worth of CopperSafe (the whole bottle) in by 110 yesterday. Spent today looking for a test kit and received lots of bad advice. Luckily I have been immersed in your site so I was prepared for it. "Four weeks treatment minimum, copper doesn't cure velvet, ich has a 29 day life cycle," etc..  <Arggghhh, ridiculous... but so/too typical> This one guy started laughing at me and my 'internet knowledge'. <At least some folks are willing to put their "knowledge", opinions in print for others consideration, dispute.> I noticed a trend of people unwilling to learn or change, I don't understand. <Agreed, and after thinking this "lack of commitment" to learning over for a few years am convinced much has to do with fear, laziness... a fear of "looking foolish", not knowing or appearing to know what one's about... laziness in allocating ones time, efforts to learning disparate facts, the facts behind them...> I didn't know any brands to ask for and everyone had what I needed on the phone but not when I got there. Stores have CopperSafe but no way to test for it. I got talked into using Cupramine by an owner who seemed to know more than the rest and I had read about it on www. <Having been a retailer (on the floor for fourteen years.) and written for the trade magazines (yes there are such "rags" in the industry) for decades (as well as hobbyist, scientific genre)... I can assure you that much has to do with the "life" of folks in the retail end... most have been business people only in the pet-fish interest... and the vast majority for less than two years duration... I could go on... but they/we are "just human"... and given to the same sorts of influences, laxity as this field will allow. A positive note (to save sole/soul): I will not give up trying to encourage the trade to be "a little bit" more sophisticated, professional...> My puffer was in bad shape tonight, sprinting around or laying on the bottom. Maybe its velvet in my tank? Sounds more like the symptoms than those for ich or maybe he doesn't like the copper.  <Maybe Velvet... maybe not even parasitic... definitely don't like copper> I was desperate so I put enough Cupramine in to treat 40 gallons( 110 plus 10 gallon sump minus 80) Now I seem to have a testing dilemma, or do I? Researched test kits on the net and found Sea Chem copper Multitest promising. I think I can find it somewhere in this town. Says it measures all types of copper but the chelated instructions involve waiting 20 minutes before the last step. Will this give me an approximate idea of how much free copper is in the tank?  <Yes> Should I do some huge water changes and keep adding the Cupramine then test only for it? I really appreciate this service you guys are providing. Right now I feel like I have few choices for advice. Muchas gracias Sean from Denver <Mmm, I wouldn't add copper of any sort unless I knew that it would treat what I was using it for... What leads you to believe this is a copper-treatable ailment? What other fishes are showing what symptoms? Have you done any environmental manipulation? Utilized vitamins to boost immunity? Bob Fenner>

Re: Copper, philosophies, paths Bob, No fish, no nada in my main system. Bob who cares about measuring for copper now. I'll just keep on dousing copper until there ain't tomorrow. Just like Carlos we call ourselves " The Copper Twins" . So far I doused about 10 bottles of CopperSafe in my 240. One bottle treats 100 gallons. Am going to make sure that there ain't no more ICK in my 240. With that many bottles doused they wont even phase in their resting stages. Just 5 more days and it will be the 14th day. No more treatment Bob. Am going to do a massive water change, and then bust out the PolyFilter, and use a whole lot of Cuprisorb, by SeaChem. And pull out all that copper. Linstun <Bob Fenner>

Copper, chelated and not Bob, I ran out of chelated copper. But I still have some copper sulfate left. Can I douse this stuff ? Can they be mixed in?? Thanks again. <Can be mixed... how will you measure its level? Bob Fenner> Linstun

Ich problems Hi Bob, I need some advice again. I'm letting my tank go fallow, (17 days so far). I bought a purple tang and a neon goby. Both received a FW dip and are in quarantine now (6 days so far). The tang showed ich symptoms on the 4th day and getting worse daily. I was hoping the goby would help with the ich. I also started raising the temp and lowering spg. However, this morning, the goby looked infected too. I want to copper the tank, but I remember reading that the goby probably would not survive a copper treatment. What would you recommend? <I would use copper, a chelated brand...> Another FW dip?  <Not likely... more stress than it's worth> I can understand prophylactic dips, but it's really hard for me to dip (and add additional stress to) an already sick/stressed fish. Thanks in advance for your advice. Khoi <Bob Fenner>

Nothing but Problems Robert, I had emailed you awhile back about two sick clown fish, and unfortunately they have since died. Anyway, I let the tank go without hosts for a few weeks <How many? With lowering spg, elevating temperature you should wait a month or more...> then I purchased a yellow tank because I have quite a bit of algae. Within an hour the tang had white spots all over him. I can't believe that I am that good at making healthy looking specimens sick. So today I purchased Kordon's Cooper-Tru treatment to treat my main tank (I know you're not supposed to treat your main tank, but if everything gets sick in the main tank what good is it???). I didn't think of my super snails and hermit crabs as invertebrates, but should I remove them from the tank??  <Yes, and quickly!> Also, it says to treat the tank for no longer than ten days, but in your book you discourage prolonged use of cooper treatments with yellow tangs????? <Yes, prolonged as in more than two weeks... for any fish for that matter> Any other advise on how to clean-up my tank would be great, because I'm starting to get really discouraged. It seems as though I've tried to follow your book's instruction with nothing but failure. Thanks for your help. - Tim. <Please read through the "Marine Parasitic Disease" section, FAQs on our site starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm and onto related areas. Bob Fenner>

Is it Ich or something else ? Dear Bob, I have been reading lots of good advices on WetWebMedia since I got my 75 gallon salt-water tank. What a website! <A fun, never-ending odyssey for me.> Now I have a problem. I am very new with salt water. My system includes: - 20 lbs of live rock - undergravel filter with 2 power heads - Magnum 350 external filter with carbon (haven't installed protein skimmer yet) - pH: 8.0, Temp: 78, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 5-10 - Livestock: 2 blue damsels (1 inch), 2 yellow-tailed blue damsels (1 inch), 1 tomato clown (1.5 inches), 1 threadfin butterfly (2.5 inches), 1 purple tang (3 inches), 1 yellow tang (3 inches), 1 Picasso trigger (2.5 inches). <Mmm, how big is the tank?> I got my tank set up over 2 months ago and everything has been just fine until about 5 days ago. Some of my fish (the butterfly and the two tangs) have signs of infections: darting, scrubbing against objects in tank. All of them have been eating like normally, no signs of fasting at all. All the fish look great and normal except the butterfly that has had just a little white spot (about 1/16'') on the fin for almost a week with no spreading or enlarging in size. I read and found out that more than 1 type of infections could cause these symptoms  <Yes> and I don't know what to do. The symptoms don't seem to be severe yet and will they have a chance to get away with it or it will eventually gets worse. There are a few products out there but I don't know which one if I have to treat the tank with them. Is Copper recommended since I have 2 tangs? <I would go with a biological cleaner for now, and leave off with using any "medicines". Please read over this and related sections: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnrfaqs.htm> Thank you very much for your time and have a great day. <Will endeavor to do so... you as well. Do take your time adding more livestock here my friend. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Quang.

Re: Ich Treatment Mr. Fenner, When treating with copper, is it unsafe on human hands? (from tank or directly from bottle) Just thought I ask this question, because there are no warnings for humans. Sorry about asking such a question. <No worries about asking any question in sincerity. Copper solutions are actually quite harsh (caustic) to human touch. Best to avoid contact, and if they end up on your skin, to promptly rinse them off with soap and water. From using copper on a regular basis I have had quite rough and red hands. Bob Fenner>

Help! (copper contamination?) I put the tang ( the one in the 5 gal. hospital tank )back into the main tank, after I had done a weekly water change and I was trying to be careful about not getting any of his water in the main tank. After I had acclimated him I was pouring out the water into the net over the sink and he got stuck in the plastic bag. I was concerned and after I got him out I put him directly into the main tank.... Last night I realized that I hadn't freshwater dipped him. Would he have copper on him that could get into the main tank.? <Very little. Not to worry> Also, this morning my small clown was dead. The shrimp aren't coming out to eat like they usually do (this is early morning, and usually I feed them later in the day ) and they don't seem to go to the tang. He is twitching a little this morning and goes over to the shrimp. Could I have gotten copper in the system ? Cheryl <More likely the Clown loss is not a related event... the Shrimp may be hiding due to the newness of a larger animal in their system. Bob Fenner>

Copper, Magic Juice, other craziness, resultant poor water quality effects hey bob, i stopped using that product by marc Weiss and i removed the large orange tree sponge, along with a good size water change. i also used to have my effluent from the calcium reactor at about 6.50 on the ph monitor, i have raised that to 6.80, could too much CO2 from the reactor have had a factor in the tanks demise as well???. <Of a certainty yes> .a couple of quick questions. you said that these 2 factors could/are the source to my reef tank meltdown by "polluting" the tank, but how could they have effected my calcium level???. <Reductive events in aquatic systems "use up" and precipitate biominerals> ..that has dropped to about 200-250 from 450-500...also, i have never grown any pink calcareous algae, even with a steady calcium level and power compact lighting, but i did have a problem with green hair algae, what is the secret to getting this beautiful algae to grow???. <Please read through the "algae" sections and FAQs posted on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com... you're likely missing alkalinity... or have an inappropriate ration of magnesium at play here...> ..along with my Knop calcium reactor, should i be dosing strontium and iodine as well????. <Maybe... what measured levels do you have?> ..will this help with the calcareous algae????...thanks for your advice again, you always get back to me very quickly with great advice, and i appreciate it <Keep studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

Flame Angel troubles, copper? "flame angel, question" he has got cloudy eye! i have a U.V. sterilizer, and everything's running fine, just my flame starting to act up! why? <Maybe a "bump in the night"?> my changing juvenile emperor angel doesn't take a liking to him very much?  <Angelfishes will fight if not enough room, cover...> am just worried that he is not gonna make it for very long? should i dose the tank with CopperSafe? any input in this matter would be of the utmost importance to me.:) thanks again rob! <Why put in Coppersafe? You need to start back at the beginning... read over the Marine Angels sections and FAQs files stored on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com and the "Disease" sections as well. Bob Fenner>

Dosage of copper hi bob, the SeaChem Cupramine instructed to obtain 0.5ppm of copper and but lots of books on copper said to maintain >0.3 ppm why ? <An artifact of how, the extent that their product is 'attached' to and release cupric ion (the active ingredient... and a "side note" as to how quickly it dissipates (as all such coppers) in seawater (alkaline environments)... The concentration of "free" cupric ion should be, likely will be no more than 0.3ppm though the initial test results (even with a chelated copper test kit) will read higher. Bob Fenner>

Copper use Bob, thanks for the help in the past. Advice worked well. <Ah, very glad to read of your success> The other day my LFS told me I should consider keeping a low copper level in my fish only tank at all times (I think they said .15). Have you ever heard of this practice and what is your opinion on it.  <Do know of this... a very common practice in many shops and wholesalers and a very poor idea... Constant exposure is toxic to fishes... and a less than therapeutic dose does them no good whatsoever... You are welcome to share my thoughts with your dealer, or better, refer them to my posted/expanded opinions and their background posted on the www.wetwebmedia.com site (mostly under copper use and related files, FAQs> I have a 120gal tank with a yellow tang, hippo tang, snowflake eel, lionfish, lawnmower blenny, and a threadfin butterfly, and a small amount of live rock (building up slowly). Thanks Ed <Don't chronically toxify this system with copper or any other therapeutic, please. All the fishes you list have a general sensitivity to cupric ion... Bob Fenner>

Too late for copper? Hi Robert, I wonder if you have a rule of thumb for the treatment opportunity window for ich. It has now been 6 days since we took this fish home. As you know, the fish was very active and there was no evidence of spots on day 0, in the store. On day 2, we noticed the first signs of scratching and perhaps 6 spots. On day 3, there were suddenly 30-50 spots, all over his body. The spots were more consistent with ich than velvet in appearance (white and big, not off-white and dusty small). The very next day, (day 4) there were far, far fewer spots (maybe down to ten). Today there are very few. However, today (day 6) the fish is very miserable.  <Great observations... and an active mind... As you have surmised you are in peril of a widening range of generations of parasites in your system... and yes to the evident question of "widening" treatment times increasing as a coefficient of infection time...> It is completely inactive and lies flat near the bottom. It won't eat, although I have placed a cubic centimetre of emerald entree right in front of him. Although this fish is known for lying flat under corals to rest, this is pretty much continuous. <Not good... Indicative of incapacitation> To bring you up-to-date: Kevin has agreed to help me with his hospital tank starting tomorrow.  <Ah good> Right now I have placed him <Not Kevin I hope!> into an uncycled 10G tank (new) filled with water from the main tank and one sponge-media disc from the Eheim stuffed into the hang-over-the-back jobbie filter that came with it. I did this because the fish looked so desperately sick, I thought time was of the essence and Kevin's help tomorrow evening may come too late. I dosed the tank with the appropriate amount of Mardel Coppersafe. However, I fear that I may already be too late, and I wonder if there's a way to tell. Thanks for your help, Paul <Many parables come to mind... but with follow through, you will prevail. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: tang sick Hello, Bob! I just wanted to write with an update and to ask another question. I have  been treating my tank with copper sulfate for a little over a week now. The fish are looking and acting well. I've removed the carbon filtration and the live rock and have been maintaining 0.15-0.20 levels. I have noticed on your site that you mention levels from 0.20-0.30 and am confused, because I have also seen 0.15-0.20. Are my levels okay - they do appear to be working, but I don't want a recurrence later. <Free cupric ion levels are "tricky" and don't have a wide range of efficacy (too little's no good, a little too much deadly. My numbers are a bit high to guarantee a physiological dose> My copper sulfate also says to continue my UV light, but you have mentioned to stop UV light. <Many formulations of copper are "dropped out" with the use of UV... and to boot, the precipitant can/will cover your lamp, sleeve... But if you're using an unsequestered type and still measuring free copper, no problem> Is it really that big of an issue, I  have been able to maintain levels without too much difficulty. Also, since this outbreak of ich has occurred in the tank in the past (I am not thoroughly convinced however that my student was very diligent in his testing and duration of treatment when the tank was treated last), should I treat for longer than two weeks? <No. Two weeks maximum. Either the protocol will work or not within this time frame... too toxic to continue.> Things are going well so far and I want to maintain it, so I just wanted to check with you. On a slightly related note, would it be bad to add a new fish to the tank right now? I'm not really planning on it, but was just curious. Thanks again, Patti Brown <No to adding more livestock... wait a few weeks till this problem is well past... adding more will/would stress the already stressed situation... Bob Fenner>

Stocking and Copper Use Bob, I crave some quick advice: 1 month ago I purchased 4 acuminatus butterfly's and a Blue Powder tang and 3 Cardinals. I dutifully dipped them (salt water and a commercial dip) and transferred them to a quarantine tank. I treated the tank with CuSO4 and tested to achieve a level of 1.5 (? units). On the second day one of the butterfly's died. On the third day the remaining butterfly's and the tang all appeared quite ill (with tetany) and subsequently died. My assumption was that I killed them with the CuSO4 and that the test kit failed me. I now have 4 false ?Falcula Butterfly's in the quarantine tank. I dipped them and have been observing for 12 days. One of the fish stays apart from the others, feeds little and has a frayed tail fin. It also has 2-3 pink circular lesions on its side, the size and dimension of its scales, and those scales seem slightly raised. One of the other three fish has two similar lesions (which have grown less apparent) and those three are acting quite normally and feeding well. This morning, I started some CuSO4 but am using the less concentrated CopperSafe and I added only the prescribed quantity for 12 gallons into the 29 gallon tank. Do you think that the problem sounds parasitic, or are the lesions only bruises from the fish nipping each other, and is the single fish being ostracized by the other three. How could I determine? Should I continue/increase the CuSO4? Are these butterfly's sensitive to Copper (your book indicates that the Acuminata are not)? thanks, Sam >> <Much to say here... and thank you for writing. The units for free cupric ion are way off in your msg... Am hopeful that this is simply a keying error. And the genus Heniochus are not as sensitive to copper poisoning as most of the genus Chaetodon... and there is a concern for the partial dosing of Coppersafe, or any copper med., chelated or no... Only a physiological dose will do you and your fishes any good... Please review the materials stored on our site re Copper, Acclimation, Quarantine... Home Page , and hopefully I can be of some real help as we narrow down the scope of this discussion (with pursuant emailing). The lessoning is a very bad sign... and you should follow the sorts of environmental manipulation sorted out on the site... Bob Fenner

Hi Bob. Two of my yellow tangs were in the quarantine tank (with copper) for 2 weeks because of ich. They seem to have recovered and I have them transferred to another tank with SG level of 1.015. Just yesterday, I noticed that they have ich again. What should I do? Should I put them back to the quarantine tank with copper? But you did mentioned before that all fishes should not be in the copper solution for more than two weeks. What will be the effects if the fishes were really in the copper for more than two weeks. Please advice. Thanks. >> Yikes... don't know if they were "in the copper" for the two weeks... I suspect the free cupric ion concentration was less than necessary... somewhere between 0.35 to 0.20 ppm and not lower than the last.... I would remove these Tangs to the quarantine system, freshwater dipping them en-route. Bob Fenner

I recently (5 days ago) put a long-nosed butterfly in a 20 gln sick tank to treat for Ich with copper. I have a 'bubble-sponge' type of filter in the sick tank. Ammonia in the sick tank has been a problem. I am not over-feeding and change half the water every other day or more as ammonia is around .3 ppm. How do you keep ammonia down? Do they make poly-type filters that absorb ammonia, but not copper? I have been adding 'Stress-Zyme' and 'Ammonia Detox' hoping that would help. >> The scenario you detail, struggling to keep ammonia down while using chemical medications which kill off nitrifiers, is very common. And best dealt with by way of water changes. As far as I'm aware there are no selective filtrants for nitrogenous wastes that will always not somehow effect copper in solution.  A few suggestions that might well help: Do look into using a sequestered form of copper like Cupramine. These formats are less harsh on the fish life producing the ammonia, and on the microbes processing it to less noxious products. Do consider using "used water from your main system with the addition of some fresh (to lower specific gravity, depending on species of fishes to quite low... 1.010), saving money on salt mix, killing off single-celled parasites, increasing gas solubility during treatment. Bob Fenner 

Copper treatment in regard to question on 3/21 Hi bob, In regard to a question posed to you in yesterdays Q&A, you mentioned that when treating with copper you should not be using a UV light. Why is this?... <Some formulations of copper find themselves rapidly removed by UV exposure...> And also, maybe you could lend me some advise, a family member of mine is a chemist and I asked him to get me a copper sulfate solution. I know you have to add citric acid to it, but would you happen to know the exact concentrations of each that I could tell him?  <There are a few formulations... about ten percent citric (by weight) to a solution that will render about the ppm you want (0.30 maximum) per standard drop... of probably copper sulfate pentahydrate... he can do the expanded notation for the molecular weight...> Thanks for your help! Your column and contribution to FAMA are both helpful and intriguing to the hobby.  <Well put, and I appreciate it> PS I have heard some rumors that environmental restrictions have been placed on the importation of corals and some fish in Europe. Is this true?  <Yes, mainly the UK at this point...> I have also heard rumors that the ban would reach the US soon. I figured you would probably know exactly what is going on here, and be able to set the rumors straight for me. Thanks again. - NAT >> <Hmm, well, you could subscribe to the various listservs...  http://www.topica.com/lists/reefkeepers coral-list@coral.aoml.noaa.gov to try to stay abreast... this is what I do...about all there is to do... am out to Fiji again next month to talk to/with the powers that be... about the industry, curio trade in scleractinians.... and "other sources of mortality"... the null hypothesis (cost of doing nothing), business opportunity cost (what otherwise might be done with the resource...).... who knows what will eventually/ongoing happen? I'm hopeful that reason will prevail... Bob Fenner>

I have a passer (king) angel in a quarantine tank with copper in the tank. Would it be ok to put a cleaner shrimp in with the copper to help the angel out? >> No... the copper would kill the shrimp... actually any non-vertebrate. Just keep the copper level about right (with daily testing), the specific gravity lowered, temperature elevated... and the water quality up. Bob Fenner

Salinity and Copper Question? Hello, I am in the process of restocking my 120 gal. FOWLR tank. I had an ick breakout back in January. I removed all fish with the exception of an 4" damsel and a stars and stripe puffer. The puffer was removed at first but was showing signs of stress in the quarantine tank. I moved Puffy back to the display tank because of the stress he was encountering in quarantine. I know that the display tank had to be totally fish free during this period but the damsel could not be caught and the puffer due to stress was returned. During this period several water changes were initiated and the fish were monitored.  They did not show any other signs of ick. It has been approximately two months and I am now considering restocking my tank with a Miniatus grouper, clown trigger, puffer, and a hardy angel. They will be added gradually and separate after they have been quarantine. My question is this. I have been advised to lower my display tank to 1.017 and run Cupramine in my system. I am hesitant  <Me too... does whoever rendered this advice realize you have live rock in the system? The copper would be missing very quickly with the Cupramine addition, and a corresponding part of your live rock destroyed... Maybe try the lowered spg... not the copper compounds> about this advice and was wondering if you could give me any insight on my options at this point. I really didn't want to add copper to my display tank because of the live rock and some of the critters I have in my aragonite. I was told that it is very difficult to do an invert/fish system.  <Not in my opinion... but requisite to follow strict selection, acclimation, quarantine procedures...> Therefore, it was advised to choose one or the other. But, the advise was that it was better to run Cupramine constantly in the display.  <A very poor idea... toxic and debilitating... constant exposure is contraindicated> Please excuse the length of this inquiry but I feel more comfortable checking all resources. Again Thanks for your time. Tanya Finley >> You're welcome, Bob Fenner, who says you might be lucky to have the entrenched ich problem weakened to the point of non-infectiousness... with stocking new, healthy fishes.... but only experience will tell.... I would have taken the rock out, caught the damsel.... and left the whole tank fish-empty at a low spg, elevated temp....

Bob, I e-mailed you a couple days ago about copper treatment in my tank. I started it, and I have the copper level at .15. I have noticed some small red dots on my yellow tang. Is this a normal thing or is there something else that could be causing that? Thanks again for all your help Andy  >> This sort of Hemorrhagia is common for both parasitic and treatment reasons... not to worry more about... You have to treat the fish... Bob Fenner

Bob I have a 100gal fish only tank Sunset Wrasse, Purple Tang, Clown Trigger,  Min. Grouper, Volitans Lion, Clown Tang & Potters Angel I just had an Ich problem that I had to treat in my Main Tank with copper the spots went away but the fish continued to scratch now the clown trigger & purple tang look pale and all of the fish are constantly scratching the clown is getting cauliflower like spots on his fins I've done a water change and added some TLC now I have a 20Gal. QTANK setup what should I do. By the way they are all eating good just scratching and it looks like there fins are starting rot please advise.  Thanks Rock >> Well, the twenty won't hold all these fishes for treatment or any other purpose... so it's back to treating them in place... Did you use a copper test kit? From the sounds of the looks of the animals and their behavior... it looks like they were alternatively over-coppered, and the ich-under-coppered... You/they still have it... Did you manipulate specific gravity and temperature? There are many possibilities here... and a need to figure out what is going on and make some changes... NOW. Take a read through all the input on Parasitic Diseases under the Marine Articles section of my site www.wetwebmedia.com.... and get ready to add nitrifying bacteria (from the twenty? if you can culture it quick... maybe with some live rock there.... Or from commercial cultures...) and do successive water changes....  Bob Fenner, who doesn't like "this ride" either.

Removing Chelated Copper Unintentionally With chelated copper, do i need to remove Chemipure, skimmer, UV?  <Definitely yes to the removing the Chemipure/carbon, and turning off the UV... you'll have to judge whether turning the skimmer off/leaving it on is "worth it" for what water quality improvement it provides versus the removal of copper> My LFS says to leave the lights on for 2 days, which will cause the ick to drop off the fish (sounds like more stress to me).  <What, part two? I've never heard of such... nonsense... Can whoever this INDIVIDUAL is point me to some sort of reference for this opinion?> By the way, the brackish water thing, he claimed that river water would be cleaner than tap!! <I'm speechless... type-less?> Thanks a million Bob <You're welcome in measure... Bob Fenner>  I really do appreciate all your help, and will learn more as soon as your  book arrives (I have serious doubts about the philosophies that local  retailers hold, enough said). I am, as u remember the Ich man (160 Fish  only), but I am trying to learn from mistakes, and what not to do in the  future. Most of my fish are covered with the small cysts, I have used CopperSafe (chelated ), but cant find a test that will test this type of  copper. My question is this, IS CHELATED COPPER AS EFFECTIVE AS FREE  COPPER? <Not as strong, immediate... but just as effective, and far safer for most folks use... Alternatively, using acidified, or straight copper sulfate solutions requires much more frequent testing, readministration...>  if not, should i do water changes to switch?  <No, I would not switch... stick with the chelated product you're using> Should I continue with  the RxP at the same time, I have a feeling that is too much. <IMO this product does not work... I would not continue it's use>  ARE FRESHWATER  DIPS NECESSARY HERE< AND HOW DO I DO THEM? (i.e. time, ph?, ro or tap?)? <Not necessary, or advisable here. Steps and background on these procedures  can be found archived at www.wetwebmedia.com>  I have a feeling that soon I will know (if not already), too much for the  local stores to handle. Hell, one of them (in a nitrate crisis), told me to  use water from a local river! (Brackish). <What? Was there some explanation of what this was to accomplish?>  I just have an extreme amount of quilt for this occurrence to these majestic  creatures, when i set the tank up i spent well over $800 on skimming, UV,  and live rock to prevent this! I have a feeling I know the answers now, and  even more when i get your book. Thanks again for the help,  tom  <Do, please, carefully read over The Conscientious Marine Aquarist... as an introductory work, the publisher allowed me to in simple, straightforward manner detail about all husbandry issues... Additionally, the articles, book sections and more posted at the WWM site will grant you insight, and hopefully inspiration to solve your current parasitic dilemma and get beyond the (soon to seem) simple, avoidable problems you and your livestock have suffered. Steady on, Bob Fenner>

Does the use of Amquel screw up the application of non-chelated copper? I can't seem to get the copper level up to where it needs to be in the hospital tank.  Is Amquel the reason why? >> Might be... but much more likely "it's" the carbonate/alkaline reserve in your system... do just keep checking the concentration (at least daily) and re-applying as necessary. This is a common problem in marine systems... especially ones with UV's (turn this off), carbon or other chemical filtrants (remove these), supplement histories (stop adding)... Bob Fenner

Bob, Thanks for the Expert Advice. I spent Friday and Saturday getting the gravity to 1.017 and the temp to 83. Had to give the Regal Tang an emergency dip Friday night and thought we'd lost him, but he survived. Now all of the fish have gotten good coloring back and all are eating well. The only things I notice is, of course, the vigorous scratching and shuddering and the fact that they are spending an inordinate amount of time near the water's surface. (BTW, I am running an Emperor 280 and a Magnum 350; no UV, no skimmer) My question is once the visible signs of the parasites are gone, for how much longer should I continue the current treatment. I really want to make certain I am rid of them this time around. I thank you again Bob for saving our fish!! Regards, Patrick >> Yikes, this is a close one... Make the treatment a good two weeks... I'd even wait a good two weeks AFTER no signs of disease... Bob Fenner, who says, keep your eyes on the free copper level... 0.20-0.30 with the Cupramine.  Hi Bob.  I have a 37 gal tank with a 4" Queen, 3" Flame, 3" Regal Tang & 3" Royal Gramma. Is it prudent to add a couple of pieces of cured live rock to my system or did I miss my chance?  Also, I have been battling a parasite problem and the Cupramine has not seemed to completely lick it. I carboned the tank thinking it was licked, but within 2 days my Flame was losing colour and behaving erratically. A quick freshwater dip saved him and I re-introduced the copper, but my aragonite substrate seems to absorb it big time. My copper tests always show blue, which is not one of the choices (only green & purple)  What do you suggest?  Thanks,  Patrick Collins < Hmm, time for a new test kit... for sequestered copper solutions... And do get the live rock, but wait till the ich problem is completely licked. Let's try lowering the specific gravity to 1.017 and raising the temperature to 83F... and keeping the Cupramine at 0.20 to 0.30 ppm... by putting it in  twice a day... And if/when ich symptoms are gone... wait a good month to  place that live rock... The environment betterment it does will help keep  your livestock healthy.  Bob Fenner> Icky Ich I've been battling a problem with Ich for about two months now (water tests fine), taking fish in and out of my main system, putting them into a quarantine tank. They get well but the minute I move them back into the main system they get ick all over again. So I treated my main tank (75 gal SeaClear System II with the protein skimmer, about 80 lbs. of live rock). I put in three ounces of CopperSafe, 1 ounce for each 20 gallons as per the directions. When I tested the copper which should have been 2.5 ppm (stated on the bottle) it was only .25 ppm. Do you have any idea why the copper level was so low only after 2 days of putting in the 3 ounces of CopperSafe. Also, my LFS said I shouldn't have treated my live rock with copper and that I have ruined it. After the copper treatment will bacteria and coralline algae grow back on the treated rock again or is this rock now trash and I need to get new rock? Please help, desperate! >> Yeeikes... I have very good ideas of where the copper is going... much of it in poisoning the life on/in your live rock, binding up with the carbonates in your rock and substrate, out with the foam/collectant in your skimmer....  And yes... you should not treat your live rock with copper compounds.... and no, you haven't necessarily "ruined" it for all time... but need to stop adding the copper, use a chemical filtrant (activated carbon, or PolyFilter) to remove the copper.... and remove your fishes to a treatment tank and take up the CopperSafe use there.... leaving them there for a good month before returning them to the main system... which you can "treat" by lowering the specific gravity to 1.010 for the duration... And much of the life will come back... with time... and would be much helped with adding some new live rock on top of it... in a few months when these problems are solved. Bob Fenner

Copper Treatment Questions Bob, We are new salt water aquarists and would appreciate your comment on some questions about copper treatment in a fish only tank (75 gal).  While we have setup a 10 gal hospital tank, we are not using it since the problem was already established in the main tank. We believe we are treating saltwater ich and have been doing so now for just under 30 days with CuSO4. They generally seem healthy and eat like pigs, but we still observe scratching and the water has a somewhat greenish murkiness to it. The protein skimmer, which we clean daily or more often, is producing a considerable level of scum.  We have religiously monitored NH3, NO3, pH, specific gravity, and temperature which remain safe to ideal. We measure copper levels on a daily basis (as accurately as we can) with a FasTest kit. Typically the level is found to be at about 0.10 ppm each evening even though we add CuSO4 each evening and morning. Here are our questions: Can this level of dissipation be considered normal? <Yes, the skimmer is taking out some of your copper, a good bit is precipitating out on its own (a weak acid due to the sulfate radical... in a basic solution). And I'd do a few other things... listed below> Could the dissipation and greenish murkiness be a result of reaction with what I believe may be relatively high iron content in our well water? <Hmm, maybe... and this (ferrous material) can be tested for... but in all likelihood the ongoing reactions of the copper, food/feeding/wastes... are doing most of this... Do you treat your tapwater in some sort of way before using it? I might/would look into a reverse osmosis unit for you and your systems use myself> If so, what preparation is recommended for such water? <Oh, see above... the RO will make very good quality pet-fish, drinking and cooking water for a low price... The "additional" steps I would take at this point would be to lower your specific gravity to 1.016 and raise the system temperature to 84 F.... Note to browsers: this is a Fish Only system... values are more extreme than for other types of systems... Also, you don't state what sort of Copper Sulphate you're utilizing... pentahydrate? Citrated? Are you mixing it up yourself? I would use/switch to a chelated brand...> All the guidance on copper treatment was consistent until yesterday. We had read and been told that the copper level should be kept at 0.15 ppm and never exceed 0.20 ppm with no water changes during treatment.  Yesterday I purchased a copper test kit from RedSea. The documentation contained in the kit indicated the level needed to be at 3.0 ppm and to do a 25% water change *daily*. In view of the fact that we see what I would think is rapid dissipation and persistence of the scratching, I am inclined to consider this increase. Considering this could be a *life threatening* decision, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance, Rick <What? No to the stated increase... Lots to say here in a short space/time... but know that there are more than one formulation of copper and artifacts of using chelated test kits on non-chelated copper-based formulations... The most FREE copper (Cu++) you want/fishes can stand is 0.30ppm... I would set your Free cupric ion concentration to this in the AM and PM maximally... Unless, and I do hope/trust this is not confusing... That you are using a chelated copper med. with the chelated copper test kit (which "breaks" the chelate bond, revealing the "Total" copper present... but not as cupric ion, in your systems water). And do keep up with the water changes... more important to dilute other metabolites... and replace the copper treatment...  The environmental manipulation I mention (temp. and spg) and keeping the free copper level between 0.15 to 0.30 ppm should rid the system of external parasites in two weeks... It is not advisable to expose your fishes any longer than this (and I know it's already twice past that) to therapeutic levels of copper... Cure it, and the system and use your quarantine system henceforth! Bob "long winded you betcha" Fenner whose further cautionary remarks on copper use, marine parasitic disease, and other related issues are stored at www.wetwebmedia.com>

Copper Treatment Questions - Thanks Bob, A most thorough and thoughtful reply. Thanks. My mistake on the 3.0 ppm reference. I intended to type 0.30 ppm. <Ah, you can imagine my relief... always mindful that slow replies may mean lost livestock... and hobbyist-friends> So far all of our experience has been with non chelated copper in the form of CuSO4, and the RedSea test kit referred to cupric sulfate which would be the same (Cu++ valence state) if I correctly remember back that far. (I am understanding "chelated" to mean in a compound form that does not release all its copper immediately as free ionic Cu++...similar to time release ammonia fertilizer.) <You are correct.. my fave analogous examples are hemoglobin of blood and O2, and cyanuric acid/conditioner and chlorine of pools/spas...> I brought home a reverse osmosis filter system today, and we will implement your other suggestions as well. <You definitely will not regret the purchase... everyone ought to utilize this simple and effective tool> One request, though. I apparently failed to bookmark the site where I found your forum. Could you provide it? I figure the least I can do is give your sponsor an even chance at my business. <Hmm, the introduction to Flying Fish and their archives is www.ffexpress.com... and my old articles, book sections, www.wetwebmedia.com> Thanks again. Rick <You're certainly welcome, Bob Fenner>

Copper Hi Mr. Fenner! I was considering starting up a fish only tank; however, I was concerned with diseases that would affect the fish (angelfish) such as ich etc.  Consequently, is it better to use copper as a long term prophylaxis? Are there long term ill effects on the fish? If not, what is the best product and how should this be done? Another option I considered was to maintain fish and cleaner shrimps in a tank (without the use of copper), is this a good idea? Which in your opinion would result in the least loss of fish due to disease? Thanks so much. Mike >> All good and important questions. Referring to long term, I would not use copper continuously... two weeks maximum. Nothing should be used (chemically) on an ongoing basis... If you eliminate (hyper)infection before introducing your fish livestock, and maintain a constant and optimized environment, "ich" and other external parasites will not become a problem. Yes to the use of facultative cleaners like Lysmata shrimps with your fishes instead of "chemical prep.s". This is by far the best approach... in addition to dips/baths and quarantine on arrival... and appropriate acclimation technique. Bob Fenner

Use of copper Hi! I was considering starting up a fish only tank; however, I was concerned with diseases that would affect the fish (angelfish) such as ich etc.  Consequently, is it better to use copper as a long term prophylaxis? If so, what is the best product and how should this be done? Another option I considered was to maintain fish and cleaner shrimps in a tank (without the use of copper), is this a good idea? Which in your opinion would result in the least loss of fish due to disease? Thanks so much. Mike >> Wowzah, very good questions.... Well, it is my opinion (oh yeah, it's my response...). So, yes to the former, nay to the latter. Copper as prophylactic treatment for external problems... is the better/best way to go... but how long is long for treatment period? About two weeks maximum... continuous copper exposure is not a good thing... And what type of copper? If you really know what you're doing, and have plenty of time... like this is your full-time job... copper sulfate pentahydrate and citric acid (ten percent)... if not a sequestered/chelated product like Cupramine... all with test kits... Biological cleaners (non-obligates) are a good idea... in addition to, not in place of environmental manipulation and copper protocols (current technology... some real vaccines on the way). Bob Fenner, who will/does "call 'em as he sees 'em.

Can i use copper in a tank with live rocks? If not what can be used? >> <Uh, no, not really... many of the live rock organisms will be killed... and the copper would be readily absorbed... and regarding the second question...what are you intending to use the copper for? Bob Fenner>

Bob, will the use of copper actually kills off all the beneficial bacteria. <Not all, but too many of types/amounts that you need... in a long (more than a few days) treatment regimen. Hence the need/use of ammonia test kits... and ready, massive water changes, recharges of established bacteria beds Bob Fenner>

I just setup a hospital tank which contains copper solution. My question is will it kills all beneficial bacteria or should I leave the tank bare? Please advise. Thanks. >> Some types of copper are worse than others, but all will kill off beneficial microbes to a degree. I would leave the tank bare in the sense of not having carbonaceous sand, live or dead rock... but would have elements (plastic pipe parts, other hiding places) for the livestock's mental well-being. And if the animals being kept there are being coppered, I would be diligent about testing the water for free copper ion content (daily at least), keeping the dosage up, and effecting water changes, recharging of bio-media (if using such) on the first signs (ammonia testing, behavior clues) that something was amiss. Thank you! Bob Fenner

Need Ich cure for tank with live rock We have a 65 gallon tank with fish and live rock. Recently, my yellow and purple tangs have started scratching. We believe they have ich. Considering the live rock, our local retailer suggested using a product called Green-X or lowering the salinity to 1.016. Which method would you suggest? If we lower the salinity, how long do we leave it at that measurement? Do we lower it all at once, or a little each day? What about a product called STOP? I read a post on the Flying Fish web site a few days ago that mentioned this product; I've never heard of it. P.S. Is there an existing archive of you're daily questions and answers? I just stumbled upon this bulletin board a few days ago - it's great! I would lower the spg as you state, but not use the Green-X... this product is not very safe, or effective in reef set-ups/tanks with live rock. You can lower the spg all at once (generally I would only bring it down a couple of thousandths per day, but this really is an emergency). The STOP product I definitely do not endorse. If it were me, back on the present situation, I would at least also add a facultative (that is non-obligate) cleaner. You don't list your other livestock, but if it will go in a cleaner shrimp (genus Lysmata) and/or a couple of gobies (genus Gobiosoma) as well to keep the parasite loads down on your fish livestock. They will all know "what to do". If the ich problem gets worse... more spots, apparent loss of vitality, you should set-up a hospital tank, remove the fishes to it, and treat them (with a copper based medication and a test kit for measuring the type of copper med. Used). This may all have to happen soon (a few days) so be ready. Lower the spg, and get those cleaners now! Regarding the archived questions/answers: Yes, ffexpress.com, Petstore.com are intending to "do something" along the lines of archiving all theirs... and I hope this will entail some lengthy informative articles and maybe a logical arrangement of "the best of" Q/A's arranged together... and lots of images... In the meanwhile I have a feeble beginning of such a reference tool with oldie but goodie articles, a bunch (and growing) queries/responses and a smattering of images (many thousands to go...) at www.wetwebmedia.com There's a search engine and list/index of articles there as well. Bob Fenner Bob, Every time I read an article about ick( saltwater) they quote a different kind of medication as the best for eradicating the problem. I have a fish only aquarium and would like to hear from you as which medication you think is the best. How about Oodinium?  Thanks; Luis keep up the excellent work. >> The only effective medicine that I've seen/used for both parasitic reef maladies (and the one used by commercial, wholesale marine livestock businesses and public aquariums) are copper based: from simple copper sulfate (pentahydrate) and maybe citric acid (to keep the copper in solution a bit longer) to more sequestered/chelated varieties (copper in alkano-amine complexes, et al. e.g. Cupramine, CopperSafe...) All the "other" prep.s I've had experience with sometimes work, sometimes don't, on/with some fish species... I only encourage folks to use copper based products to prevent (on the collection/wholesale end) and treat obvious protozoan (ich's a ciliate, Amyloodinium a dinoflagellate) infestations... along with manipulating specific gravity... In some of my very few lucid moments I've written about these disease organisms and copper use. Those articles may be found at my wetwebmedia.com website. Bob Fenner, who reminds you, the pet-fish interest is the "wild west" of understanding currently: some cowboys wanna sell ya somethin', other rustlers don't quite know what the hee-haw they're joshin about. See ya round, pardner

Copper Based Medications What concentration is recommended in a quarantine tank? Scot >> Ideally, 0.20 ppm FREE copper ion preventative, 0.30 ppm FREE copper ion treatment concentrations. Please, pleeeze, PUHLEEEZE re-read this sentence over until you can say it yourself: you need to have the "right" copper based material and "right" test kit to measure FREE copper ion concentration. There are other types of copper, and other test kits.... don't make the mistake of confusing these... Too little copper (let's say 0.15 ppm or less) or too much... much more than 0.30ppm, and you will have no effect or on the high side, poison everything. Bob Fenner

"Tangs, Copper Treatment & Loss of Appetite" Hi Again Bob, You may remember me, we wrote several times last week regarding my sick purple tang, and the Cupramine medication I was using to treat him. He seems to have bounced back nicely, and is doing fine. Unfortunately, I have another (related?) problem now. Three days ago, I noticed that my 6" Naso tang was looking kind of skinny. I've been keeping an eye on him, and it looks like he's stopped eating. As soon as I noticed his drawn in stomach area, I replaced my carbon and did a 50% water change to get rid of the copper. Alas, it seems like he hasn't eaten in the three days since I did this. When I feed, he'll come towards the food, but seems to retreat as soon as he sees the other fish taking it. I've tried live and frozen brine, flake, and I've tried to keep some Nori in the tank for most of the day. His colors look ok, and he still appears relatively active, though he may be spending a bit more time sitting behind tank decorations than he used to.  There were a couple of other things in the tank that had changed right around the time that I medicated the tank: I added a power head to circulate water at the end of the tank opposite the sump return, and right before I medicated, I'd added a 7" Sohal tang to the community (the Naso was the largest fish in the tank up until then). The two large tangs don't seem to have any problems with each other, and were both eating a week into the copper treatment (I noticed the problem with the Naso about a week and a half into it). Do you think his lack of appetite could be due to the copper treatment, or any of the other environmental changes that I've described? What can you suggest to get my fish back on track? I hope you can help, I'm really quite fond of this fish. If you need any more information, please don't hesitate to ask. Thanks in advance for your help. Randi >> Yes, definitely the copper treatments did affect the tangs... And very likely they will "bounce back" and regain their appetites shortly. Surgeonfishes and their relatives are noticeably ill-affected by copper just as you observed. If you can get some there is an algae that is cultured in Hawai'i for the "Poki" industry called "Ogo" that is irresistible to Naso/Lipstick tangs. I have pictures of this species sticking its head out of the water at the shoreline to get this stuff! Otherwise please have faith and keep doing what you're doing... all should be well, better soon. Bob Fenner

My yellow tang and Royal Gramma both seem to have ich. They exhibit white spots on the body and fins. I do not want to add copper treatments as I heard it will inhibit the growth of coral and invertebrates. Also, I heard that you can never really remove heavy metals from a tank once you have added them; thus, by adding Malachite Green or a copper solution of sorts, I am relinquishing my ability to harbor inverts and corals in the future. I am reluctant to start a quarantine tank for two reasons. One I live in a Manhattan apartment and there just isn't the room. Two, catching fish in the tank is no easy task with all the live rock. I heard about a way to get rid of ich by adjusting the salinity. Supposedly, one way that has worked is lowering the salinity to 1.017 for reef tanks (due to coral) or in fish only tanks you can go as low as 1.012. According to the author of this article on the internet, this had no adverse effect on the fish and holding the salinity at these lower levels for 2-3 weeks apparently did the trick. You can check out the aforementioned article at: http://www.netpets.com/fish/health spa/parsalin.html Does this solution have merit? Do you know of any safe ways to remove ich from a tank without quarantine and heavy metal solutions? What will happen if I don't do anything? I'm not really sure why I have ich in the first place. I take great care of the tank with regular water changes, checking the pH and nitrate/ammonia, etc. Everything is always OK, so maybe I'm not doing something right. But as far as I can tell, the water is perfect other than the presence of ich. Your information would be appreciated. Mike Tandhasetti >> Mike.... Do get a quarantine tank and run all your new livestock through it... It can be a ten gallon that can fit... somewhere... this is a two by one foot area... And, no, there are no "magic cures" for the ich problem... and Yes, it does sound like ich, and No, the lowered specific gravity trick will not work in a case where the fishes are infested to any degree and can't be moved to another system. So, do treat the fishes (all of them, not just the ones that are showing the symptoms), and wait a good month before returning them to the main system (to lower the infectivity of the protozoan cause in there)... maybe add a cleaner shrimp (Lysmata), and re-read this message. If you do nothing, your fishes will perish, and the tank will still have to "go fallow", without fish hosts for a month or two... Many articles and FAQs re this situation on my www.wetwebmedia.com site...  Bob Fenner

Great Book! Bob: I had to get out of the marine aquaria hobby about ten years ago, and have been itching to get back into it ever since. I picked up a copy of your "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" earlier in the year, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have found it to be extremely comprehensive on subject matter. Of course, the color pictures are fabulous, and I especially enjoyed the chapters on various species in the second half of the book. It was the catalyst I needed to get back into the hobby! I've also found it to debunk some bad advice I've been given at a few aquarium shops. I set up a 75 gallon tank back in about June, and currently have ten fish. However, I seem to have a persistent ich problem that cropped up a couple of months ago. I have a 10 gallon quarantine tank, and of course, could not remove all my fish to that tank for treatment. Consequently, I had to add copper to my main tank. I added Coppersafe, and maintained the level between 2.0 and 2.5 ppm for about six weeks. The problem seemed to subside, and afterward, with water changes and activated carbon the level dropped to 1.5, and then symptoms reappeared. I added more Coppersafe, but lost a Double-Saddle Butterfly before the added medication started to take effect. Am I forced to permanently run copper in my system, since I can't remove all my fish to my small quarantine tank while I "sterilize" my main tank. I've been told that ionic copper is more effective than chelated (Coppersafe). However, the instructions on the ionic copper state that it should not be used with any chelated copper in the system. Anyhow, I'd never be able to tell how much ionic copper is in the system as long as there's some chelated copper in it. Any suggestions? I suspect you're probably very busy, so if you can't respond, I understand. I mainly wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your book! >> Thank you for writing, welcome back to the fold (the marine hobby), and I always have time for (high praise and) offering my help.  I hear you on the dangers of constant copper use... and the mixing of chelated and non-chelated forms.... Don't do it! Or at least (for browsers, but not in your case), remove the "old" copper first with activated carbon... Now, what I would do in your case: Unless you have a big, mean fish like a trigger that will munch them down in a sec., get a couple (two) of the following: Lysmata Shrimp (amboinensis) and Gobiosoma gobies... Not to worry if these species don't occur in even the same ocean as your other livestock. With low grade, consistent infestations as yours, these facultative cleaners are just the thing to tip the balance in your fishes (and your) favor. Bob Fenner

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