Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Copper and shrimp: Myth vs Truth
Maybe if we get enough info here, this can be a sticky as it seems to be a big point a lot of people get misinformation on and the first thing everyone blames over shrimp deaths.
Q) Why did my shrimp die?
A) Usually with a bit of googling (or bing'ing or whatever) people who experience some dead shrimp come across a thread that says copper is bad for shrimp and usually snails. They thought they were doing good by researching and finding out shrimp like a more algae-veggie based food and bought some name brand algae wafers or algae based fish flakes only to their horror that upon further looking, it contain traces of copper and copper had to be blamed for the deaths.
Q) Do shrimp need copper?
A) The fact is shrimp need traces of copper in their blood like we do. No copper at all is not good for them as they can't survive without traces of it.
Q) Where does this myth come from?
A) When keeping aquarium shrimp first started, there wasn't a rush to have shrimp only tanks. People got the first few shrimp being imported and added them to their community tanks. A fish would get sick or get ich and they would treat with normal meds. A lot of meds, especially ich meds can contain lots of copper as it's effective at killing ich. After treatment, all their shrimp would be dead. Therefore the myth was started that copper kills shrimp.
Q) What if I have infected fish?
A) Your best bet is to remove your fish and treat, remove your shrimp and treat and then run carbon/cuprisorb or something else to remove the copper before adding the shrimp back or find a different medication to treat with. Myself, I treat ich infected shrimp by removing them, and putting them in a separate tank with aquarium salts and heat. I find this one of the best ways to get rid of ich and any new fish should be quarantined anyways, especially when coming from overstocked fish store tanks
Q) What if I just feed fresh veggies instead of fish store food, then there is no copper right?
A) False. Spinach, Kale, Spirulina, all contain trace amounts of copper in them.
Q) What about copper pipes?
A) Most homes have copper pipes. Older home have older copper pipes that could leech a small amount of copper into their water. Many people use tap water and have used it for years without effect. Granted, the odd home may have a bad case of copper leeching but for the most part, it's not going to be a problem. I have no figures on average amounts of copper leeched by pipes, so if anyone has any info, I can add it here.
Any other info, please chime in. This is all based off reading online and putting stuff together. If anything is wrong, please post it here so I can edit it. Just trying to get a post together so people can find some info and not freak out over copper in the food they are feeding and instantly blame some algae wafers for a tank full of dead shrimp.
20g platy, , 2 x 10g shrimp, 3 x 20g shrimp, 7.5g shrimp and 1 great dane/mastiff puppy.
Sump Pimp #2
My Tanks and my shrimps