Fish and Treatment Guidelines (with chart)

The following chart is a quick reference guide on what QT protocol should be used according to which type of fish you are running through QT. It will give you an idea of which methods are generally safest with certain species but is not meant to be absolute in most cases. All fish are individuals and can and will react differently than the norm to certain medications or situations. Just because most tangs do well in copper doesn’t mean that every tang will do well. The chart is numbered in levels of tolerance/ease with each method according to the general experience of several knowledgeable people including myself, @4FordFamily, @Humblefish, @eatbreakfast, @evolved and @Brew12. I thank each of them for their input and help in putting this whole thing together. You will also find helpful advice and tips for QT’ing many of the fish in this chart that are deemed more difficult.

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** Angels have been found to be even more sensitive to ammonia poisoning than most other fish so more care should be taken to keep ammonia absolutely absent from the tanks during tank transfer method. This is why they are marked with an elevated risk level with TTM. With copper (both kinds) most angels have been found to be relatively resilient in it provided the copper levels are slowly raised over the course of 4 or 5 days. Taking longer never hurts as long as velvet is not suspected.

** The marked wrasse in this section have been found to be tolerant of these copper products provided the levels are carefully risen to therapeutic levels over the course of 4-10 days. Watching carefully for tolerance issues since all fish are individuals and may react differently than the norm. No wrasses should be treated with CP until more testing can be done to understand why they seem to do so poorly.

** Wrasse in general should be allowed to settle and start eating for several days before copper treatment is started. While they can handle copper, it’s best to give them the time before hand for maximum chance of survival. If a wrasse has an injury or infection before going into QT, that “settling time” should be extended until the injury or infection has healed completely before starting copper. Provide a small glass dish of sand for the wrasse that bury at night to help keep them comfortable while in QT.


Photo by R2R member @Rsaalman

** The harlequin tusk seems to be tolerant of all coppers but care must be taken with how quickly the levels are raised. Take 4-5 days to raise copper up to therapeutic levels and watch for tolerance issues

** I have kept lionfish in copper for long periods before without issue, but it's tricky to get them eating and keep them eating. Also, not all the lions attempted lasted in the copper. It seems that 2 out of 5 would do ok and the rest would perish rather quickly.

** I have kept puffers in copper for periods of time as well, but it was chelated copper and it was risky. They refused to eat for up to 2 weeks and had to be enticed using live foods and whole gulf cost shrimp. I didn't have the luxury of raising the levels slowly, so if it's absolutely needed to treat a puffer with copper, then do so slowly if possible.

**Some Zebrasoma tangs seem to be completely intolerant of copper. This is quickly decided if red blotches, loss of color or the refuse to eat while raising the copper levels. If this happens the fish should be removed into a QT with no copper in it until it resumes eating and it's color has returned. If it happens again after a second try in copper, another QT method should be used if possible.

If you have any questions on an individual species not listed here, please ask. Also, never be afraid to create a thread in the disease forum with QT questions as well.


photo by R2R member @d_adler
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About author
Meredith Presley started keeping marine aquariums in 2007. She’s done everything wrong that can be done in the hobby (mostly but not all in that first year) and that has afforded her to learn a lot of hard lessons. Recently she’s been focused on marine disease diagnosis and treatment and hopes to focus on breeding soon as well. She also keeps a blog with basic info on saltwater keeping and her experiences with her own tank and livestock.

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excellent article. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
A great article... recommended as first 'must read' before starting copper treatment. Thanks Meredith!

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