View Full Version : Going to a Copper Sulfate Tank

01/04/2009, 01:12 PM
I tried not to do it, but I keep getting ich in my aquarium. My new fish that I got on Friday is starting to show small signs of ich. I closely watched the temperature this time and there was no temperature change! So it must have been the water quality that is causing the stress. I only have one fish in it (that's all that I've put in it in about four months), but I eventually want to keep other fish in there as well, since it is so cheap to get the fish here in Okinawa. I will probably be on the island less than a year and it's time to get something useful out of my aquarium.

I have also thought about minimizing the rocks in the aquarium and I don't have sand at the bottom of my aquarium. This will make it easier to get rid of the copper in the aquarium if I choose to take the copper out later on.

Before I pour in the Copper Sulfate, I will remove the invertebrates (nothing fancy, just stuff from the tide pools) tonight. I think I will have to destroy the invertes (sea urchins, brittle star, hermit crabs, snails) simply because I don't want to put a disease into the ocean and see an eco system in Okinawa suffer.

I'm sure the Copper Sulfate will put a shock on my aquarium, but it will also get rid of the parasites attacking my fish.

Yes, it hurts to post this, but I want to do something before I throw the whole damn aquarium away.

1. Looking for your thoughts on what to do for easing the shock on the aquarium when I go to Copper Sulfate.

2. If I minimize the rocks in my aquarium, can I leave just a protein skimmer in there and only have about four rocks in to act as a biological filter with only fish in the aquarium?

Appreciate your thoughts and advice. Thanks.


01/04/2009, 06:16 PM
Dont do it. once the copper is in your tank, you arent going to get rid of it. The stuff will permeate your rock and substrate, and just leech right back into the water and kill everything you re-add to the tank. If you watch the selling forums.. people wont even buy a tank that's had copper used in it.. for good reason.

I've got two spare tanks, a 20 gallon and a 29 gallon, that you can use as a quarantine / medicating tank. If you want to borrow one of them its yours.

01/04/2009, 11:24 PM
I had ick before and I heated the **** out of the water and areated the s**t out of it as well. Only becauase the hotter the water the less oxygen content it will hold. Before adding anything to it I'd try that for about 1~2 weeks. Feed lightly and go 50% on the lighting. Some of your pieces might bleach out of the shock but this and some hard semi-wet skimming just might do the trick.. Get a cleaner fish or two as well. They are known to eat the parasites and the cleaner shrimp, though the shrimp may not be able to take the heat...

01/04/2009, 11:33 PM
Just read in the desease forum that a guy used this and dropped the salinity of the water and it was all gone in 4 weeks. Didn't take out anything to include his SPS...its organic...if that matters.

01/04/2009, 11:33 PM
Just read in the desease forum that a guy used this and dropped the salinity of the water and it was all gone in 4 weeks. Didn't take out anything to include his SPS...its organic...if that matters.

01/04/2009, 11:33 PM
Just read in the desease forum that a guy used this and dropped the salinity of the water and it was all gone in 4 weeks. Didn't take out anything to include his SPS...its organic...if that matters.

01/05/2009, 04:16 AM
I agree you dont want to add copper to your display tank, you will never get it all out! Just set up a quarantine tank and treat that, just make sure you quarantine and treat all your fish. You can also use a large rubbermaid container as a quarantine tank. All you need is a powerhead to keep the water moving and do frequent water changes just use local NSW.

01/05/2009, 06:49 AM
go to makemon and buy a lil 1500 yen tank. Use it for when you get new fish. Go to Pet box and ask for the medicine for ich. It will change your water blue. Ask them how much to dose for the size tank.......Quarentine quarentine quarentine! I can't stress that enough. All my fish get treated in quarentine and then if they show signs of mouth rot or anything of that sort I have this yellow powder I got from aquaplanning that will cure that. After about a week in the medicated water then I add them. Since i have done this I have had none that has had ich. This is my fast version, hyposalinity also works but takes awhile since you have to bring slowly back to NSW levels or you definitely will shock them and may kill them! I prefer using a tank besides a rubbermaid tub so i can inspect them multiple times a day to make sure if they are showing ill signs that i treat them accordingly. Good luck and don't use copper in your main tank!!!!

01/05/2009, 07:39 AM
the 'blue' medicine is called methylene blue.. here's a copy/paste from wikipedia on it.. I used to use the stuff extensively when i was breeding discus and other FW fishes.. it's great to prevent egg fungus.

""Methylene blue is used in aquaculture and by tropical fish hobbyists as a treatment for fungal infections. It can also be effective in treating fish infected with ich, the parasitic protozoa Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It is usually used to protect newly laid fish eggs from being infected by fungus or bacteria. This is useful when the hobbyist wants to artificially hatch the fish eggs. Methylene Blue is also very effective when used as part of a "medicated fish bath" for treatment of ammonia, nitrite, and cyanide poisoning as well as for topical and internal treatment of injured or sick fish as a "first response""

01/05/2009, 02:24 PM
Well, my fish is doing better than I thought. The two spots that I thought were ich have not developed much more. If he has ich, it's very small still and they have not grown out of control. I will hold off on treating with ich, and I have since put in a cleaner shrimp to keep anything the fish has under control. I raised the salenity to slow down any parasites. Now I'm giving it time and letting him get better instead of using copper.

01/05/2009, 08:50 PM
What kind of fish has the ich?

01/06/2009, 04:12 AM
if you are going to do hyposalinity i hope you don't have any invertabrates as in clams or corals. They won't survive. If you choose to do hyposalinity you must do it for at least 4 weeks to give the time for the ich in the tank to die off. Then after that, slowly and I mean slowly raise the salinity to keep your fish from going into shock.

01/06/2009, 04:29 AM
My fish never got to the full blown stage of ich. He had what I believed to be the early stages of ich, as I had seen in my other fish six months earlier when they died of ich. Thank you for your inputs and stopping me from jumping to fast to my back-up plan of copper.

He had a couple of small white dots on him that looked like ich and they have since gone away with no external signs of a parasite. Additionally, he is more active, eats real well, and gets around the rocks like a "fish ninja".

I'm still sure he had some kind of parasite working on him, cause last night he was scratching himself a little on a rock.

I wanted to post that he was clear of ich last night, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't going to turn. Now, the fish appears totally cured of any kind of ich without ever using copper sulfate. I will also continue to let him adapt to the tank with minimal changes and hopefully he will be able to thrive more.

Some of the things that I would like to think helped were:
1. A cleaner shrimp.
2. Raising the salinity from 1.021 up to 1.023.
3. Minimal changes to the tank. No matter how bad I wanted to do a water change or move things to see if he was doing alright, I just left it go.
4. A constant temperature. I bought a fan for $15 from the BX before I got the tang. I set the fan on my timer with my lights and it blows a lot of air past the T-1 lights, giving the water a constant 76 degrees.

This forum has also given me serious consideration for getting a plastic tub and creating a hospital tank for new fish. I can safely treat that tub with copper before introducing them to my show tank.

Thanks for everyone's inputs!


01/06/2009, 04:38 AM
Dont go buy a container.. like i said before I've got a 20 gallon tank you can have for quarantine.. I've even got one of those (shitty!) bio wheel filters for it...

01/06/2009, 06:51 AM
what fish are we talking about is showing signs of ich? It isn't a hippo tang by any chance is it? Some fish you seriously need to pay attention to, like the hippo tang. I had a 5 inch one and a 4 inch Powder Brown Tang. I love that Powder brown! He had such a personality on him. Anyways I had a Maroon Clownfish before he had to go b/c I couldn't even clean the tank without him attacking me no matter where in the tank I was cleaning. Well he harassed the Hippo and it ran ich. I monitored the hippo and the spots never went away after a couple days. I got it out and put it in my sick tank. Well when the hippo was all better and i reintroduced it back in the main tank I noticed when i got off deployment the hippo had ich along with the other tang and a couple more fish. Well the two tangs did not survive the hyposalinity in the sick tank. I was ****ed! Well that is just my experience. Best of luck!

01/06/2009, 02:50 PM

I'll take you up on the offer to borrow your tank. I wanna give it at least a week or so before I introduce any fish into the aquarium. This will give him a chance to grow stronger, before the stress of another fish.


You guessed it right, I have a 4-5" hippo tang. I gave the tank plenty of time to cycle and then introduced a hippo tang instead of starting with other fish on purpose. Years ago, I had a nice reef tank and had all kinds of fish in with my corals. I introduced a hippo tang ($110) and he got some kind of bacterial disease and killed off all of my fish. I thought this time I would start with the hippo tang since he is the hardest to keep and it wouldn't hurt anything else.

I cringe to say that I started out with a Hippo tang, since they are one of the harder ones I've found to keep. But I also was looking at going to copper as a plan--which I've learned is really like putting the turnicate on the wound instead of bandaging it first. Thanks folks for the inputs in this forum.

Bottom line, from now on I'm using an isolation tank before introducing any fish to my aquarium! Lionel, you busy this weekend? I'll give you a call and borrow the smaller aquarium. Thanks again.

01/07/2009, 04:48 AM
also it is highly not recomended to use copper on them or on mandarins. Well they require alot of special care for their feeding. What do you feed the tang? Are you feeding it alot of spurilina and vitamin enriched foods. You could try using the new immunstabil theat zeovit released for fish. Also selcon helps and garlic. Well how are your water parameters in your tank? What kind of filtration are you using? I have noticed the cleaner the water the better my fish look? ARe you using a skimmer? Do you have any pics of your set up? Exactly what do you have in your tank. If you are going to put a tank in a small tank i would use that medication and get the tang back into a larger tank. With my experience with tangs they don't do well staying in a small tank long just IME. What are you using for flow in your tank? Did you order anything, I know you were talking about maxijets.

01/08/2009, 04:16 PM
I have had hippo tangs for a long time and found that a daily feeding of nori is a must. I usually put it on the clip twice a day. It keeps the fish fat and healthy.

01/09/2009, 05:05 AM
I have heard a lot of stories about how difficult mandarins are to keep but I have not had any trouble at all with the one I have. I feed freeze dried krill once a day and flakes once a day, I also have a huge ball of chaeto in my sump with a lot of rotifers. The only other things I put in my tank are goldfish for the lion and trace elements/purple up. Anyone else have mandarins? Anyone need any cheato?

01/09/2009, 02:36 PM
I'll take you up on the Chaeto...Im in the middle of doing massive water changes to lower my Phosphates so I need as much natural nutrient suckers as I can get...my chaeto is coming along nicely from a just a few strands to a small soccer ball but this is still dwarfed in my 78 gal sump. just let me know the best time to pick some up. I live on Kishaba housing Camp Foster.

01/09/2009, 07:39 PM
I will be home for most of the day, just give me a call. I live on Kadena inside gate1. 090-2850-6025.

01/10/2009, 07:42 AM
I do I have a mated pair. The male is the largest i have ever seen before. I don't have a refuge but I built a LR refuge with a plastic cover to keep fish out to allow copepods to built up. Some ppl say that wont work but I have had my mandarins and all my other fish that eat copepods alive and well. I watched my mandarins mating the other night it was an awesome sight!

01/11/2009, 04:04 PM
TylerDad...just got on...will all you later...

01/16/2009, 04:50 AM
This is a post I made on my board back home. I pasted it here cause I think it might help you guys figure it out a little better. If you need help with your tank and treatment....LMK. I'll be glad to help out.

Cryptocaryon irritans is a big problem in the marine ornamental fish hobby. It is so pervasive that it is really a matter of when you will have to deal with it and not so much “if” anymore. When I started the hobby back in the mid 80’s it was not near the problem it is today. I cannot really account for why that is, but my supposition is that far less fish were being moved thru the custody chain and better specimens were being collected plus there were fewer vendors so the quality control may have been better....but I have no proof of any of it, just my opinion. I remember driving to Atlanta with my boss to pick out our fish and then drive them back to our store near Augusta. It was so much fun and mind blowing to see all those fish. Plus, being a poor minimum wage high school worker, I got to buy stuff at direct cost...great times. I have seen crypt on many fish in every store in the HR area.....and other areas. Many think that if they go to a LFS and see infected fish, that it is the store’s fault.....some truth to that in a few cases....but it is not all their fault. Others think that if they go to a LFS and the operators are real nice, helpful and invigorating that their fish will also be the same way and that their attitude equates to healthy fish.....and that just isn’t so either. Truth is anyone can experience crypt if they do not understand how NOT to experience it....at least in their display tank. Many times the problems begin well before the LFS owner placed his/her order for the fish in question. The way fish are collected and transported, it is quite easy to see how this parasite gets in to our tanks when the appropriate precautions are not undertaken. But there is great hope and cause for cheers, as it is something that we all can avoid. I refer you to the Quarantine thread.

Crypt is a protozoan parasite that many call “ich”.....a leftover term for it’s freshwater cousin Ichthyopthirius multifiliis. Many just kept the name because its appearance on fish is similar in presentation in both environments and they were already familiar with it. Actually though, it is more correctly referred to as crypt. This parasite has a specific and definite lifecycle. Knowledge of this lifecycle is paramount to understand how to get rid of it. It is nearly impossible to get rid of in a fully stocked reef tank that has fish in it.....at least in my experience and the experience of other aquarists whose knowledge and experiences I trust. I cannot stress enough that this parasite is an actual parasite...like fleas on a dog. It is not “caused” by temperature, poor nutrition, or an assundry of other causes. I even heard someone in one of the LFS say that “all bony fish have it and that stress just brings it out”. There is an element to all of those statements, but to say that fish cannot be completely cured of the parasite and it cannot be totally eradicated from a system is just wrong....it just is. One can have a system where no matter what kind of stress a fish suffers, it will never break out with crypt....because they can create an environment where the parasite is just not present. Again, the key to this is to understand the lifecycle.

Some fish are able to live with the parasite and not die. If one visits Reef Chief and looks at the fish in the 210 as you walk in, there are a few fish in there that exhibit the parasite every week or so....especially the Powder Blue. They manage to not die from this parasite, but that is the exception and not the rule. Sometimes aquarists are able to provide great nutrition and a stable system so that the fish find a tentative balance between their immune function and the parasites invasiveness. Facts are though that crypt is probably the single biggest reason that hobbyists lose fish in a “cycled” aquarium. It usually weakens and stresses the fish to the point that they perish after 2 or three cycles.

Crypt is a obligate fish parasite. It cannot live without a fish host during it’s growth portion of the life cycle. I will start explaining the lifecycle from the attachment to the fish host since that is how nearly everyone will bring it into their aquarium. When the parasite is attached to the fish it is termed the trophont stage. This is the stage where they feed and grow to the salt size particles that you can see with your eyes. When they attach initially you cannot see them...they are too small....that is how you are able to bring home an infected fish and not know it for a week or two. The trophonts borrow under the mucus layer of the fish to mature/feed/grow before they leave the host over the course of a few days...of course all these timeframes are temperature dependent. Higher the temp, the faster the process. At the point they leave the fish they are called protomonts.

Protomonts fall to the substrate and release their cilia...usually at dawn or dusk....and there is a sinister reason for this. Once detached they inch along the bottom until they find a suitable attachment point on some form of calcareous material. Once attached they form a cyst and become tomonts. This occurs over the course of a day usually.

Tomonts are the stage where the parasite undergoes rapid fission and produces the doom that is to come. The tomont rapidly undergoes binary fission to produce a couple hundred new ciliated parasites.....per tomont. This process can take several days or just a few....it depends on the temperature. In any event, once the process is complete the cyst will rupture and release these “babies” to seek out a host to start the process all over. Oh, and this release usually occurs at dawn or dusk....so that hopefully the fish is just sitting right there where it tends to go at night......told you it was sinister. The released babies are called theronts. They look like our childhood drawings of the sun....heck they look like my adult drawings of the sun..LOL...and they have anywhere from 12-24 hours to find a host or their high metabolism gets the best of them and they die.

Theronts attach wherever they can but if too many attach to the gill lamellae, it really poses a threat to the fish. Not only does it interfere with gas exchange, but it can severely limit the fish’s ability to excrete waste and excess salt....adding to the stress.

Brooklynella and oodinium have similar lifecycles...except Brooklynella can leave one fish and infect another and both tend preferentially attach to the gills....and that is why they kill so fast. The gill lamellae are so important for much more than respiration. They also play an enormous role in Na+ and Cl- balance.....not to mention NH3+ excretion. Much of this stuff has to be done against a gradient already so that energy must be expended....and with few surface area if the parasites are attached. This causes the fish to retain higher levels of ammonia in the face of severe stress and an even greater oxygen demand. This is what leads to so many fish perishing.

There are many treatments that are offered for killing crypt. There are also a host of “reef safe” methods that are reported by a few as effective, but that is not my experience.....or the experience of most in general. The general concensus on “why” these methods have bouts of success is that the fish were healthy enough and the parasite weak enough that some immunity was found to allow the fish to overcome the parasite. The analogy I use when discussing this with some, is that Magic Johnson and several others have contracted HIV and not contracted AIDS. Does that mean the majority of people who have contracted HIV have not died within 5 years.....short answer is NO! In any event, crypt is a killer.....even with the best nutrition and fish crack in the world. Just because some people have encountered a great deal of luck and not had to tear down their whole reef to cure the fish, certainly does not mean that most will have that same luck. So I caution anyone who is using a “reef safe” method to treat crypt out of anything other than absolute necessity.

It is also important to note, that the research bears out that the only real vulnerable time to kill the parasite is in the theront stage. The tomonts are protected in their cyst and the theronts are largely protected by the mucus layer of the fish. This fact is why I mentioned why understanding the lifecycle is important. Many aquarists see their fish infected, add some garlic or “reef safe” med....or even a proven med....and see the spots go away and figure the fish is cured.....only to have the cysts rupture several days later and experience as even worse infestation. The research that supports the claims about the lifecycle and the parasites’ vulnerability comes from reading articles published in the mariculture food industry literature. They have performed several research studies on the parasite and we have benefitted in the aquarium hobby as a result.

Copper is still considered the gold standard to treat crypt and oodinium (aka velvet). It is useless against Brooklynella. It must also be stressed to use an ionic copper medication. My personal favorites are the Red Sea copper (it also comes with the test kit) and Sea Cure by Aquarium Systems (it tests accurately with the Red Sea kit too). It is important though to try and ensure that the test kit you have and the copper you are dosing go together. Mainly, that the test kit will accurately register the type of copper you are dosing. I personally had poor results with Salifert’s copper test kit and no longer will use it. The SeaChem kit requires an artist mind to differentiate the shades of blue you have to determine to read your copper level, so I cannot use that one either. Copper has a narrow therapeutic range so you will need to test frequently to keep the dose between too low to kill the parasite and too high to kill the fish. I personally run my copper level at 0.2-0.3 ppm for 3 weeks with the temp at 80F. I then do a series of 50% water changes over 3-4 days and wait another 3 weeks to ensure that the fish has no more outbreaks. If they break out again. I redose but this time shoot for 0.4 ppm. I have never had any parasite make it out of that dose. I did however lose 1 Powder Blue at that dose and that is why I no longer go straight to that anymore. As a note on chelated or aminated (cupramine)......I would keep a therapeutic level with these for a minimum of a month and keep a higher level 0.5-0.7 ppm. I no longer will use them because I find them to be less effective.....but that is just me. They are less reactive, easier on the fish, but also easier on the parasites at the lower doses I recommend for ionic copper.

Hyposalinity has gained a lot of popularity and I myself have used it successfully....just recently too. It is recommended to keep the salinity level at 1.008-1.009 or 11 or 12 ppt. I keep the tank at that level for 4 weeks with the temp at 82-84 F. The theory on exactly how hypo kills the theronts is not exactly known. It is suspected that it renders the theronts unable to swim and they die from lack of finding a host. Hypo does not cause the cysts to rupture with enough certainty to kill all the parasites. Whenever I tried to cut the timeframe shorter than 4 weeks I had reinfestations. The Powder Blue in my tank at Sean’s house and pictured in the photos he posted, spent 5 months in QT as a result of reinfestation because I tried to cut it short. I cured it of crypt with hypo too. Others may have had shorter times, but I could not get the results I needed with less than 4 weeks. A note on the high temps I am recommending.....the lower spg water will hold nearly the same O2 content at those temps as the NSW spg would at 78F, and it helps speed up the lifecycle of the parasite and also speeds up the metabolism of the theronts so they have less time to find a host. Good all the way around.

There is substance called methylene blue that I am able to procure, but you would need to find a source for it. I believe that Fish Pharmacy sells it in a huge lot and Kordon may have started making it available...that would need some investigating to be sure. Use of the 10% solution added until the water is a deep blue is recommended. Dip for 30-45 minutes (or as long as the fish is tolerating it). No need for aeration as the MB actually increases the O2 level the water can hold. I would never rely on this as a definitive measure though, only a step to use before placing the fish into the QT......and hope that no parasites made it thru and possibly help avoid further medication treatment in the QT period.

Formalin...which is 37% formaldehyde and malachite green can also be used effectively but are so hard to control without killing the fish, that they are seldom used anymore. Formalin is carcinogenic to both you and the fish so use caution when handling....but it is however the best treatment for Brooklynella.....if you recognize it in time to help. If someone wants to use these meds, PM me and I will help you as I can. I have used both successfully in the past. I used to really like formalin until I cured a Flame Angel only to have it die of a large head mass 4 months after the treatment.

Hope this all helps. Crypt is a royal PITB and something that you really want to prevent getting into your reef. It alone is enough of a reason to establish a QT tank.

Best wishes to you and your fishes.