Copper going up without my adding any??

SallyWho

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I started my solon fairy wrasse on copper a few days ago. Due to a calculation error, I added maybe a bit too much on the second day and he started acting wonky. I did a quick 20-25% water change because he was swimming near the top and acting like he couldn't get enough air, despite the air stone, powerhead, and hob filter. I didn't add anything the next day. In fact, I have added zero copper to the system in two and a half days, and the levels continue to creep up a little bit. I am using the Hanna checker, the reagents aren't expired, I ran the calibrators, I'm thoroughly rinsing the cuvettes (tap first, then RODI rinses) and drying them between uses....what's up with the copper levels rising? In the QT I have pvc fittings, a plastic plant, a small satchet of ceramic media (I keep a bunch of these in my sump for insta-cycling a newly set up tank), and a small dish of sand in case he wanted to bury himself. You'd think the copper levels would drop as it's absorbed by the media and sand. I mean, it's not jumping hugely, but it is creeping north and it's got me befuddled. What are your thoughts? Should I wait another few days without adding anything and keep testing to see what happens? Add a very small amount to see if the change is more significant?
 
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Jay Hemdal

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What brand of copper are you using?

Have you tried running 3 tests on the Hanna sequentially to check for consistency? I know that digital devices often give me a false sense of accuracy- the numbers always seem so accurate, but multiple tests will identify if the test is consistent....

Jay
 
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SallyWho

SallyWho

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What brand of copper are you using?

Have you tried running 3 tests on the Hanna sequentially to check for consistency? I know that digital devices often give me a false sense of accuracy- the numbers always seem so accurate, but multiple tests will identify if the test is consistent....

Jay
I'm using Copper Power. I have not tried running three in serial. Give me a few minutes- I'll be right back!
 

vetteguy53081

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Check;
- clamps in the tank
- your RO water
- your mixed saltwater before it enters tank
 
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SallyWho

SallyWho

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What brand of copper are you using?

Have you tried running 3 tests on the Hanna sequentially to check for consistency? I know that digital devices often give me a false sense of accuracy- the numbers always seem so accurate, but multiple tests will identify if the test is consistent....

Jay
The three sequential tests were all within 0.2ppm. Oddly, that average is about 0.3ppm higher than it was an hour ago. Maybe not clinically significant, but maybe so?
Are you topping off the tank? With pure RO water, or with Copper Power added to it?
Outside of that emergency water change, I haven't topped off. Oh. Maybe that's it. It's a 10g with a tight fitting lid, but there is a little bit of evaporation. That could be concentrating the copper....I'll top it off with RO and test again later to see if it goes down.
Check;
- clamps in the tank
- your RO water
- your mixed saltwater before it enters tank
There aren't any metal clamps, though there is the magnet on the powerhead. My RO and pre-mixed saltwater are clean.
 

vetteguy53081

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The three sequential tests were all within 0.2ppm. Oddly, that average is about 0.3ppm higher than it was an hour ago. Maybe not clinically significant, but maybe so?

Outside of that emergency water change, I haven't topped off. Oh. Maybe that's it. It's a 10g with a tight fitting lid, but there is a little bit of evaporation. That could be concentrating the copper....I'll top it off with RO and test again later to see if it goes down.

There aren't any metal clamps, though there is the magnet on the powerhead. My RO and pre-mixed saltwater are clean.
When you say clean, you tested for copper?
 

Jay Hemdal

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So - have you checked fresh mixed seawater? It should test less than 0.05 mg/l.

One other thought, and I really don’t put much stock in it: it is possible that if the sand is calcareous, and if the pH drops, some copper bound in that could be released. I’ve seen that happen, but it was in a tank full of coral that had been dosed with ionic copper.

I’ve tracked copper down in commercial systems; a thermistor well in a chiller, and a bushing in a large pump, but copper contamination is pretty rare with home aquarium gear.

Jay
 
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SallyWho

SallyWho

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I checked my RODI (0.02ppm) and mixed saltwater (0.08ppm). The only thing I can think of is that I have a heater in the mixing barrel. My mixing station is fixed and stationary, so the heater just hangs out in there. Could the heater be leaching something into the mix? Today's tank value was 0.56ppm, tested 3x. I still haven't added any copper.
 
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SallyWho

SallyWho

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I may have missed it, but what ppm did you start with?
0.42ppm, tested in the morning. Later that day the fish was acting erratically so I did a 25% water change and haven't added any copper since. It keeps creeping up on its own. I think I'll remove the dish of sand, just in case. He doesn't use it anyway.
 

Jay Hemdal

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I checked my RODI (0.02ppm) and mixed saltwater (0.08ppm). The only thing I can think of is that I have a heater in the mixing barrel. My mixing station is fixed and stationary, so the heater just hangs out in there. Could the heater be leaching something into the mix? Today's tank value was 0.56ppm, tested 3x. I still haven't added any copper.
I think the tester is running a bit high, your RO water should be zero and fresh mixed seawater less than 0.05 ( usually 0.0025). Unless there is copper contamination through the RO, your tester is reading high. Of course, that doesn’t account for a RISE in copper over time. Definitely remove the sand. I don’t think the heater could be the culprit, it would need to have a leaking seal, and that would give you a shock or trip the GFCI.
Jay
 

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