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Old 02-26-2010, 03:55 PM   #1
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Past copper treatment - future of tank??

I will say one thing, I'm REALLY good at finding tanks in trouble.

I evaluated another FOWLR tank today which is also in a restaurant. I only talked to the owner of the restaurant, and will be talking to the employee who maintains it next week. Here's the skinny:

Approx 250g custom acrylic
30-40g acrylic sump w/bio-balls (lots), decent skimmer, and 2 external pumps
2 powerheads in tank
Approx 150 lbs LR w/light amount of cyano
Aragonite gravel substrate, 3/4" to 1" deep
2x 18" Coralife 10KK/Actinic PC fixtures
1 Yellow Tang (owner told me their clowns died recently, don't know about other fish)

Here's my observations, API kits unless noted. Hold on to your seat, it gets bumpy:

Temp 65.4 F (yes, 65.4)
pH 7.9
Salinity 31 ppt
Salifert KH 4.5
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 600-800 (I diluted the water with RO mixed SW 20:1 and got 30-40ppm)
Salifert Phosphate 8-10 (read 0.25 to 0.5 with same 20:1 solution, and over 3 with 2:1)
Copper 0

Owner told me his employee 'scrubbed the rock' recently which is why I'm guessing there was only light cyano growth.

A friend of mine had done some work on this tank, and isn't able to anymore, but he told me that it was a 'copper tank', that at some point in time, it had been treated. So my question, hence the thread title, is what now?

Since copper tested 0 ppm, is there any way this system could be redone as a reef tank, or even a FOWLR with inverts, etc?

Would that involve a total tear-down, clean-out, piping replacement, etc, the whole works, or is it just not ever going to be able to house corals or inverts - ever?

Either way, in my opinion, it's a total tear down. I did that other tank with the big puffer in my other journal

Tank Journal - 135 FOWLR

And I'm still fighting the cyano battle after 2 months. If I do this one, it's a redo - only 1 fish to save, and I can do that at home in a hospital tank.

Thanks for the input ahead of time!!
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:07 PM   #2
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If the rock was in the tank when it was treated, it absorbed the copper and it will slowly leech out over time. Take a piece out and put it in a pale of saltwater with a powerhead. Let it sit a week or so and test it for copper. You will probably need 2 types of copper test kits tho. 1 for chelated copper and 1 for non chelated....unless you know exactly which copper product they used.

I would never use it in a tank with inverts or corals.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice on the rock/bucket and chelated/non-chelated. Question: Which one does API test for? What about Salifert?

Also, if I were to convince them to do a complete do-over, including throwing away all substrate/LR and anything else that could absorb copper and start from scratch, would the tank/sump (acrylic) still leech copper into the water? What about power heads/pumps?
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:30 PM   #4
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You are good at finding tannkin trouble Floyd.
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:12 AM   #5
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API is for chelated, Salifert will work for non chelated.

The plastic and acrylic is fine. Unless they turned green, I doubt they could or did absorb anything.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:18 AM   #6
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The sand will soak in more copper than anything so that should be tossed. The bioballs can also be tossed. As for the live rock, there is hope if you don't want to toss it and if both tests run at 0 I would test it by adding a mushroom coral, green star polyps, or something in that neighborhood. You may have to run a polyfilter (there's another product I can't remember right now to also help alleviate copper) in conjunction with carbon for the long haul *if* copper is present. It is up to you whether the money for new live rock is worth the frustrations of dealing with copper (might be easier to start from scratch).
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:37 AM   #7
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Thank you, I was hoping that was the case.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, if this were a glass tank, would the silicone absorb enough copper to make the tank unsafe for reef?
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:40 PM   #8
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No. The silicone won't absorb any, and if there was any absorbed it would be such a small amount if wouldn't be anything to worry about. Even the synthetic salt we use has trace amounts of copper in it.
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Ok, well that definitely clears up a misunderstanding about copper that I had. For some reason, I was under the impression that once copper was used in a tank, that tank was forever tainted. Now I understand that it's only limited to materials that can absorb and release copper, like LR, substrate, bioballs, etc. Thanks much for clearing that up!
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