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Copper in trace element mixes

Subject: Re:  Cu in Microplex

Douglas Skokna wrote:

>I've been using Microplex for 14 months and can say during this time
>that the plants have been doing very well, and the many snails don't
>seem to mind the copper.  I've not had any outbreaks of ich or other
>parasitic disease during this time either which may or not be
>attributable to the copper in the Microplex.  
>A while ago I estimated that based on my addition rate of PMDD made with
>Microplex and 25% water changes every 7-10 days that the concentration
>of copper in my aquarium (110gal) is about 0.2-0.3 ppm, assuming no
>uptake by the plants.  I feel it is important to adhere to the water
>change regimen due to the copper and other trace elements in the PMDD as
>well as it being good aquarium management practice.

As one who lives with tap water copper, I'd like to make a couple of
warnings here.  First, if you don't _know_ the copper level in your water
to be very low, adding .2-.3 ppm copper could _very_ easily put you into
the toxic level for many fish and plants.  This is particularly true if
your water is quite soft.  It is certainly possible to manage a planted
tank with copper levels this high or even higher, but remember that you are
limiting the species of plants you can work with.  I also believe that
copper levels this high are likely to cause stress and shorten the lives of
at least some fish even if it doesn't kill them outright, and that it
lowers fertility.  These are observations that I have made over a period of
6 or 7 years dealing with high copper levels.