Copper and shrimp: Myth vs Truth
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:08 PM   #1
GeToChKn
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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.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:15 PM   #2
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is there a known Level of Copper that is toxic to inverts?
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquatic Delight View Post
is there a known Level of Copper that is toxic to inverts?
This is the only thing I can find that has been posted before.

http://y.petalphile.com/cu
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:32 PM   #4
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What about the copper contained in fertilizers?
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
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What about the copper contained in fertilizers?
Not sure, as I don't dose my tanks except my community tank with cull shrimp but lots of people seem to dose all kinds of ferts without any effect. I'll let someone else chime in with a better response on the amount of copper in most ferts or something and then I could add that to the main post.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:48 PM   #6
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I have an older home...approx early 1950's. All copper pipes and no problems. What I have read in the past is that the worst of the copper problem leaches out while the pipes are relatively new... doesn't make sense but I have no problems....but not acid water either.

Another article floating around states that copper becomes toxic to shrimps at approx .44 and up. Traces of copper in foods and plants are no where near .44
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:00 PM   #7
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4PPM of copper is where things start to die
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:20 PM   #8
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New copper pipes haven't had a chance to oxidize on the inside, its that layer of oxidation that protects the pipe and prevents copper from entering your water. Therefore, older homes would be better than a new home.

I think copper is overblown, ferts, foods, copper pipes, all safe, stay away from algaecides and medications.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordalphus View Post
New copper pipes haven't had a chance to oxidize on the inside, its that layer of oxidation that protects the pipe and prevents copper from entering your water. Therefore, older homes would be better than a new home.

I think copper is overblown, ferts, foods, copper pipes, all safe, stay away from algaecides and medications.
That's the main point of this thread I guess. lol. I just see every week something with dead shrimp thinking the copper in the food was the cause, so I thought maybe this would help those who find it.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:26 PM   #10
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Copper pipes isn't a problem until they're 100+ years old. They break up into large chunks. Usually, run your water 1 minute before you collect the water.

Copper in high concentration is used as an insecticide and algaecide.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:28 PM   #11
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With regards to copper piping, I remember the best thing to do is when you use tap water... allow the water to flow for about 30secs to ~1min just incase there is high traces of copper in water.

After that 30s-~1min, you can fill your bucket.

Right now in my tanks... All I use is tap water. I fill a bucket, put an airstone in it for a few days, and use that as my top offs..

I currently have 4 Berried Yellow, 1 Red Rili, 2 CRS.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:30 PM   #12
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There's just no correct answers to this kind of stuff. It's like smoking, it kills some but not all. Hard to quantify.

Best policy is to avoid it, for it being copper, CO2, ferts, ... etc. You'll likely be okay if you do it, and it doesn't mean your shrimps will always be happy and healthy if you don't do any of them.

For the copper issue however, I believe the trace amount for food is fine 99.9% of the time.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:30 PM   #13
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For the fert copper question.. I used osmocote plus ice cubes and WAY too much of it and it ended up clouding my tank and my shrimp are still alive and kickin. I also use purigen if that makes a difference.

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Old 06-01-2012, 05:35 PM   #14
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If everything has trace amounts of copper like Tap water, Spinach, Pellet Food, Flourish, plants etc etc...... wont that biuld up to a harmfull amount in a weeks time just before each WC ?
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:43 PM   #15
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Granted I don't have high end shrimp, but my ghost shrimp are fine with the copper pipes in our house (about 12-13 years old) and I take no special measures when doing water changes. They live in a community tank that I dose with pfertz N+, rootmedics macros, flourish root tabs in the substrate. I just use tap water (well water) and don't heat, age, or anything - it just gets added in as quickly as I can put it in with a 50% WC weekly

I've had 4 (or more, they hide well) ghost shrimp in this tank for about 3 months now like this without any issue. The females are regularly berried

I'm not sure if my information will be too helpful for anyone as I obviously have a more basic shrimp but thought it worth posting regardless
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