How To Remove Copper From DT

4FordFamily

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First of all, best practice is to NEVER dose copper in a display tank, and to use a quarantine tank. It is much easier and safer. Copper in a DT can heavily dampen your nitrogen cycle in your tank, and will leach in to your rock, substrate, and equipment. As a result, the amount of copper you'll need to dose will be astronomically higher in a DT. You may well have ammonia issues because it hinders your nitrogen cycles to varying degrees for a bit. It also makes your copper levels volitile (due to leaching) which is not conducive for an effective 30 day treatment with copper-- as the levels cannot ever dip below 2PPM for chelated copper (such as coppersafe, copperaid, and copper power) or .5PPM (.6 is what I use) for ionic copper (such as cupramine). If the levels do drop below this threshold at any point, you restart your 30 day clock. This can take weeks to stabilize, and subjects your fish to more time in copper than need be. Some fish handle it fine, others may struggle.

So, now that you've been advised NOT to use copper in a DT, here's how I have successfully removed it 5-6 times over the years, succcessfully. My 180 reef has run through copper treatments 3 times over the years and housed clams, inverts, coral, etc without issue afterward.

2018 Edit: If you’re bent on using copper in your DT, buy a Hanna copper checker to accurately measure copper so that your efforts need not be repeated many times due to copper swings.

This works for all types of copper. Polyfiber pads remove chelated copper better, cuprisorb removes ionic copper faster. I use all three regardless.

I use poly fiber pads, cuprisorb, and carbon in conjunction with MASSIVE water changes. After two massive water changes I replace all of the media and let it run a week with all new cuprisorb, carbon, and polyfiber pads and test after a full week. The process takes about two weeks in my experience. Here's how I do it:

Before Treatment:
Remove all rock, coral, and inverts you wish to keep. You can leave some rock for structure but PVC as a replacement is more advisable. I've always left some rock in the tank for structure, say 10-20% of what was there originally. This will work if you don't remove most or all rock but it increases your chances of the removal being more difficult. Remove all carbon, media, phosban, filter pads, seeding sponges (I keep one in sump for seeding new tanks) before dosing copper. Buy an ammonia alert badge by seachem to monitor ammonia, as most tests will test false positives in copper. You can skim for the duration of treatment, or at least I do.

Before Copper Removal:
Remove most/all rock used in the copper treatment. Sand (if applicable) can stay. Equipment and everything else is fine.

Step 1) giant water change (85-90%)
Step 2) add cuprisorb, carbon, and pokyfiber pads
Step 3) replace poly fiber pad after 3-4 days. I run it attached to powerhead for max exposure/flow
Step 4) wait a week, giant water change again.
Step 5) replace all media, wait another week
Step 6) giant water change again. Leave media in for 1-2 more weeks.
Step 7) Test after one week. If not zero, repeat large water change and replace all media.
Step 8) Don't add coral or inverts back until after 3 consecutive days testing twice per day of 0 copper readings. I would recommend using more than one brand of copper test to confirm.

I've done this several times and had the coral back in 2-4 weeks. Test several times over a period of a few days to be sure before adding inverts/coral.

Again, don't go through all of this aggravation. Get a quarantine. This is a pain in the neck and a lot of unnecessary work and risk you need not take in 99/100 cases. Use a hospital tank/QT, instead.

Update: Here is my analysis report from @Christoph. There’s an interesting piece here for the level of copper in my tank after using copper in this tank (and the same sand and rocks remain, I have done it a few times in the same sand and rock) over the years. See below.

2F43730D-64B8-4986-92C4-2AAC5F442974.png
 
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4FordFamily

4FordFamily

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Nicely done!

~Bruce
Thanks! I see people posting about this a lot, and although I don't recommend it -- I figured it might help someone hard-headed like me!
 

melypr1985

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Great info ford!
 

jsker

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Back in the day copper was used to treat the DT, and I used copper to treat my system once. From what I can remember the treatment was successful. I have often wondered why the treatment was stopped,

I am going to follow along on this one.
 
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4FordFamily

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Solracju

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I've dosed my tank with both copper and chloroquine phosphate(removed corals and CUC). Used triton detox product brought my copper levels to zero in no time at all. My tank is full of coral and fish with no ill effects.
 

JoeIII

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The greatest part about the polyfilter is they turn blue/green when they absorb copper, so you can know when they are "done" if you replace the pad and it does not change color.

jsker - the practice of dosing the DT went out of use due to it's toxicity to invertebrates. The difficulty of removing all invertebrates as well as removing all traces of copper afterwards is seen as more than the difficulty of removing fish in many cases.
 

mfinn

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@4FordFamily what about the issue, or non issue of copper and the silicone on a glass tank?
I've never used copper on a tank I considered display tank worthy, but I may have to real soon.
 

Humblefish

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@4FordFamily what about the issue, or non issue of copper and the silicone on a glass tank?
I've never used copper on a tank I considered display tank worthy, but I may have to real soon.

Copper ions may stick to silicone, but it will not absorb them. So, a good wipe down using a vinegar soaked paper towel will remove any copper residue.
 

mfinn

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Copper ions may stick to silicone, but it will not absorb them. So, a good wipe down using a vinegar soaked paper towel will remove any copper residue.
So, if I remember correctly, back quite a few years ago I read that the silicone did get absorbed into the silicone and it would forever ruin that tank for any kind of inverts.
I never really thought about it as I always used a disposable 20-29 gallon tank to use copper in.
But now I'm going to house most my fish in a 90 gallon tank, and I want to run them all through a copper treatment.
Be nice to be able to re-sell that tank and have someone use it as a reef tank.

So it sounds like just another myth?
 

Humblefish

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So it sounds like just another myth?

It is, silicone does not absorb copper or any other medications. The only thing is a dyed medication (e.g. methylene blue, acriflavine) may stain it.
 

scchase

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It is, silicone does not absorb copper or any other medications. The only thing is a dyed medication (e.g. methylene blue, acriflavine) may stain it.
And in my experience even the stain will go away given enough time ie a few years. Not sure how the copper ruins a tank forever myth got started, I have even used copper on live rock, ran the rock through detox and had a reef on it later. Some of the rock in my current reef was treated with copper about 10 years ago and everything looks and grow fine.
P8300139 by Scott Chase, on Flickr
P9180140 by Scott Chase, on Flickr
 

Steve1500

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First of all, best practice is to NEVER dose copper in a display tank, and to use a quarantine tank. It is much easier and safer. Copper in a DT can heavily dampen your nitrogen cycle in your tank, and will leach in to your rock, substrate, and equipment. As a result, the amount of copper you'll need to dose will be astronomically higher in a DT. You may well have ammonia issues because it hinders your nitrogen cycles to varying degrees for a bit. It also makes your copper levels volitile (due to leaching) which is not conducive for an effective 30 day treatment with copper-- as the levels cannot ever dip below 2PPM for chelated copper (such as coppersafe, copperaid, and copper power) or .5PPM (.6 is what I use) for ionic copper (such as cupramine). If the levels do drop below this threshold at any point, you restart your 30 day clock. This can take weeks to stabilize, and subjects your fish to more time in copper than need be. Some fish handle it fine, others may struggle.

So, now that you've been advised NOT to use copper in a DT, here's how I have successfully removed it 5-6 times over the years, succcessfully. My 180 reef has run through copper treatments 3 times over the years and housed clams, inverts, coral, etc without issue afterward.

This works for all types of copper. Polyfiber pads remove chelated copper better, cuprisorb removes ionic copper faster. I use all three regardless.

I use poly fiber pads, cuprisorb, and carbon in conjunction with MASSIVE water changes. After two massive water changes I replace all of the media and let it run a week with all new cuprisorb, carbon, and polyfiber pads and test after a full week. The process takes about two weeks in my experience. Here's how I do it:

Before Treatment:
Remove all rock, coral, and inverts you wish to keep. You can leave some rock for structure but PVC as a replacement is more advisable. I've always left some rock in the tank for structure, say 10-20% of what was there originally. This will work if you don't remove most or all rock but it increases your chances of the removal being more difficult. Remove all carbon, media, phosban, filter pads, seeding sponges (I keep one in sump for seeding new tanks) before dosing copper. Buy an ammonia alert badge by seachem to monitor ammonia, as most tests will test false positives in copper. You can skim for the duration of treatment, or at least I do.

Before Copper Removal:
Remove most/all rock used in the copper treatment. Sand (if applicable) can stay. Equipment and everything else is fine.

Step 1) giant water change (85-90%)
Step 2) add cuprisorb, carbon, and pokyfiber pads
Step 3) replace poly fiber pad after 3-4 days. I run it attached to powerhead for max exposure/flow
Step 4) wait a week, giant water change again.
Step 5) replace all media, wait another week
Step 6) giant water change again. Leave media in for 1-2 more weeks.
Step 7) Test after one week. If not zero, repeat large water change and replace all media.
Step 8) Don't add coral or inverts back until after 3 consecutive days testing twice per day of 0 copper readings. I would recommend using more than one brand of copper test to confirm.

I've done this several times and had the coral back in 2-4 weeks. Test several times over a period of a few days to be sure before adding inverts/coral.

Again, don't go through all of this aggravation. Get a quarantine. This is a pain in the neck and a lot of unnecessary work and risk you need not take in 99/100 cases. Use a hospital tank/QT, instead.


Hello, I am using coppersafe in my QT and after I am done treating these fish with copper, I will then treat them w prazipro. After praz, I will buy some more fish and repeat the copper/praz meds.

Between the coppersafe and praz, do I need to completely remove the copper using this (Ford) method?

Then, when I am ready for the next set of fish, do I need to remove the copper again? What about the praz, do I need to remove that also?

Thanks,
Steve
 
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4FordFamily

4FordFamily

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Hello, I am using coppersafe in my QT and after I am done treating these fish with copper, I will then treat them w prazipro. After praz, I will buy some more fish and repeat the copper/praz meds.

Between the coppersafe and praz, do I need to completely remove the copper using this (Ford) method?

Then, when I am ready for the next set of fish, do I need to remove the copper again? What about the praz, do I need to remove that also?

Thanks,
Steve
If you’re reusing the qt no need to do all of that, just change 100% of the water and start over. :)
 

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