Fish Q&A Section: All About Copper

Copper Sulfate, Is it safe?

Many people have had a bad experience with, or are afraid to use Copper Sulfate on their fish because they have been improperly informed on the mixing, dosing and usage of this product.

First we will tell you what Copper does:

Copper Sulfate is pretty much an all-around treatment.  It is an Algaecide, meaning that it kills Algae, it is Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Fungal, works on external Protozoa such as Ich, and works on Oodinium, Sliminess of the skin, and kills certain parasites such as Cryptocaryon Irritans (Salt water Ich) and Crustacea (Argulus).  It also works as a great preventative treatment for most all fish, freshwater or saltwater.  We used to use it on Gill Flukes years ago, but now, the Gill Flukes have become resistant to this treatment.

How to mix up a Copper Solution properly:

Stock solution= 21 grams of Copper Sulfate + 21 grams of Citric Acid Crystals to 1 pint of distilled water.  Shake well.  Use 1 drop per every gallon of aquarium water= .15ppm.  Why use Citric Acid with Copper?  Simple, it sequesters the solution to make it stable.  Copper does not readily dissolve in water.  The Citric Acid helps it to dissolve completely and prevent Copper levels from bouncing around.

How high can I run Copper?

Safe levels are .15ppm to .20ppm.  Any higher may burn the fish and leave them with red sores on their sides.  It is very important to use a Copper test kit when medicating with this product.

How do I remove Copper?

A common misconception about Copper is that it can be removed from the water with activated charcoal.  It can only be removed by either doing water changes, or by using E.D.T.A. (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acidic Acid) to chelate it out of the water.  Remember folks, there is no such thing as a "Chelated Copper Solution", as "Chelated" means "Inactivated".  The proper terminology would be "Sequestered Copper Solution".

Warnings before using Copper:

Although Copper is safe at the correct parts per million, there are certain things that Copper cannot be use on: Saltwater Sharks, Invertebrates, and for sure... reef tanks.

Also, be careful if using Copper to kill algae.  When you dose the tank, the Copper readings will disappear, because the algae will suck it all up.  Then the algae dies, and releases all of the Copper back into the water.

Copper is a heavy metal ion and is considered a "Poison".  Care should be used when handling this product.




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