Aquarium Tips of the Day | No Copper in Reef Tank!

Today’s Aquarium Tip Tank tip of the day will save lives…of your invertebrates in your reef aquarium that is. Maybe you’ve kept a fish-only tank in the past and your fish caught a case of the ich. Fish are a little more resiliant to copper based treatments and when you went to your local fish store to find a cure for the Ich disease the medicine they sold you was copper based. You took the treatment home, followed all of the directions, monitored everything very carefully, and in a little while all of your fish were cured and your aquarium was back to normal! This won’t be the same story you tell if you decide to use the same copper based treatments in a reef aquarium with invertebrates. So, don’t use copper based treatments in your reef tank that contains many beautiful and thriving invertebrates!

Copper is toxic to invertebrates, and if copper based treatments are used directly in your main reef aquarium you will end up killing all of your corals. Then, you will be dealing with much bigger issues than the Ich. You will have an overload of dead organisms and waste in your tank, creating too many nitrites and too much ammonia in the tank for the beneficial bacteria to handle. You then run the risk of complete aquarium meltdown!

Instead, set up a quarantine tank if you haven’t already and move all of your fish into quarantine. There, you can treat your fish without having to worry about taking out all of your inertebrates. I’m not saying that you should just go ahead and dump copper based treatments into your quarantine tank. After all, fish are hardier than corals, but copper can still be toxic to fish if not used correctly. You may want to try the Hypo-Salinity method of curing the Ich in the quarantine tank, but that’s an entirely different topic. For now, just don’t use anything copper based in any tank that you keep corals and invertebrates in, nor in any tank that you think you may keep them in in the future (the copper could get stuck on the sides).

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