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Using Copper to treat Reef Aquarium Fish

May 18th, 2009 · No Comments

For anyone who does not know I have an article here on Brett’s Reef pertaining to Marine Ich and it includes two treatment types one bieng hyposalinity and using Copper to Treat Marine Ich.  This article has helped many reef aquarists and it is my number two sought after article on Brett’s Reef, mainly becouse of the vast comment section where I give help to those aquarists battling Ich.  A number of questions arrise about the use of copper treating reef aquarium fish and how to go about doing so.  Let’s face it using copper is not safe for the reef aquarium and will kill any invertabres as well as the parasite you are tring to erradicate.  So here are some pointers when using Copper to treat your reef aquarium fish.

Copper as most reef aquarium owners know can wreck havok to a full blown reef aquarium even in small amounts.  The copper that we use to treat our salt water fish is diluted with water and even if some brands claim to be “reef safe” eventually the copper will kill your tanks invertebres and beneficial bacteria, as well as marine Ich.  This is where the quarantine tank comes into play, Copper should only be used in a controlled environment and only if your fish shows signs of an ich infestaion or if other fish in your main reef aquarium show signs of Ich.  When fish are in quaranteen its important to keep an eye on the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate as you would with your main reef tank, Chances are you will be doing water changes and a lot of them becouse the quarantine tank will generally not be cycled if you are cought off guard and the tank is not set up.  Since you will be changing out water from this tank you will ned to check the copper levels as well and adjusting the copper levels as per the manufacters directions.  You will need to do this after every water change.

Once your fish are in the copper treated quarantine tank and have been in there for the copper treatment as per the manufacter’s directions (some copper treatments last up to 14days)you will want to change out water to reduce the levels of copper.  Your main tank should be fish free if fighting ich for nearly 1 month (sometimes longer) so your fish will need to stay in quarantine until your main reef aquarium is free of Ich.  This gives the fish some time in quarantine to acclimate to copper free water (remember your changing out the copper treated water for fresh saltwater after the treatment) and for you to watch to see how your fish is acting and see if it’s feeding well.

After your main reef tank is Ich free and your quarantine reef fish are free of infection you will need to acclimate them in a seperate container with your main reef aquarium’s saltwater. After acclimation to prevent any residual copper it is best to net the fish into your main reef tank.  This will prevent any residual copper treated water from getting into your main reef aquarium.  Remember, even though you changed out the copper treated water for fresh saltwater in your quarantine tank there still will be a small amount of copper left in the water which is why you net the fish instead of dumping it in.

Tags: Saltwater Fish · Saltwater reef aquarium · reef tank