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Re: Copper treatment for algae

>From: Carlos Munoz <cmunoz at crystal_cirrus.com>
>    M> Copper will kill the black fuzz or brush algae.
>...and some fish and plants, and likely any beneficial snails.
>Wim's already shown concern that his platys would die from copper.
>This is like spraying insecticide on your pets to kill fleas
>and ticks.  Yeah, it works and some people have had great success, 
>but please treat this like an option of last resort. 

Even as the recommended last resort, it must be used correctly to do the
right job. In fact, anything we use in the aquarium must be used
responsibly and with full knowedge of it consequences. Although I don't
like the idea of spraying insecticide on pets, tick collars are apparently
OK. And I suspect that other types of treatment (powders, dips) are also
fine if the pesticide exposure is limited.

But we don't usually take our aquarium inhabitants to the vet... we
generally rely on the product labels and manufacturer ads for information.
Unfortunately, aquarium products are not closely regulated, ao we need to
be armed with extra information. They contain an EPA registration, but that
does not mean someone checked to see if the labels were correct and
complete. The typical aquarium algicide in the US contains Simazine as the
active ingredient. I haven't checked lately, but in the past, some of the
product labels would be wrong... they have incorrectly talk about adding
second doses, and have used language like "safe for fish and plants." Such
statements are not only technically incorrect, they are illegal. Used
incorrectly, simazine can also kill plants and fishes.
Because copper is not sold in aquarium stores as an algicide does not mean
it is not as good as simazine. In fact, copper used to be sold as an
algicide and it is still commonly used by Florida aquatic plant nurseries.
The sensitivty of aquarium plants to 0.5-1ppm copper is part of Tepoot's
new book. I suspect that copper was replaced by simazine in the aquarium
trade because simazine had become popular for pond usage and someone
decided it might be easier to use in aquariums, especially for the newby.
I should also mention that the sensitivity of algae to each chemical has
been tested and published... and some algae which does not respond to
simazine will succumb to copper. This applies to BBA. Another tid-bit of
information is that copper will also kill several types of green hair algae
(Cladophora and especially Oedogonium). Unfortunately, Pithophora (horse
hair algae) is resistant to copper, but is supposedly sensitive to Simazine. 

Neil Frank