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Safe copper levels?

>I've had problems with plants growing poorly in my tap water and wondered if
>it was caused by high copper levels. 

Absolutely!  It will kill fish too.

> I recently measured the levels and
>found 1-3 ppm.  Is this high enough to cause problems?  

Definitely.  3ppm is as high as my tap water has ever gotten.

> Does anyone know what
>a reasonably safe copper level is?  

I like to keep water going into the tank no higher than .25 ppm copper.

> What plants that are particularly copper
>intolerant?  Any plants that like high Cu levels? 

Plants that are particularly intolerant are Vals, Sag, Ludwigia, Java
Moss,(not as much as the others)  I'm sure there are others as well.  Most
of my plants tolerate the copper better than some of my fish. (Rainbows are
particularly sensitive, as are some Tanganyican Cichlids)  Crypts are said
to actually _like_ higher copper levels than some other plants... they
certainly do well in my tanks.

> And lastly, is there any
>way to remove copper from tap water?

The first thing to do is run your water for a good long time before adding
it to your tank.  Particularly if your house is new, or if you've recently
had plumbing work done, or a new water heater, you can be picking up a lot
inside the house.  Running the water for a while before using it and
avoiding water from the water heater can solve the problem in these cases.
If, like me, you find that the water supply itself has higher levels of
copper, you'll have to monitor it carefully.  I find that it's highest at
certain times of the year. (late summer for me)  I avoid large water
changes at these times and run the water through carbon followed by poly
pad before using it in the tanks.

Of course DI or RO could remove all of the copper.  Many people would
choose that route.  I think if you want to spawn fish and raise the fry,
you might have to.  I've had very poor luck raising fry of most sorts in my

For most of the year though, as long as the level stays below .5 ppm, I use
the water as is.  I just avoid the plants and fish that don't do well.   I
can still grow many more species than I have room for, and the same is true
with fish species.  There are some compensations... I haven't had a case of
Ich since I've moved into this house, and red algae dies on contact!<g>
Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association