Cleaning used tank that had copper in it

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by Hayek, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Copper is extremely toxic to octopuses. I recently bought a used tank and would like to keep an octopus in it. How should I go about cleaning it out?

    What I am planning to do:

    Clean the tank with a 10% bleach solution then wash with water many many times.

    Apply silicone on top of the previous silicone.
    -the posts concerning copper in this forum always seem to mention that it is absorbed by the silicone. What if I just cover up the old silicone with new silicone?

    I am planning on buying a new filter, skimmer, sand, and live rock.

    Also, the copper based medication had not been used recently on the tank. It was used 6-12 months ago and the tank ran continuously after that.

    What do you think? Might it work?
     
  2. corw314

    corw314 Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Sorry but octopuses are extremely sensitive even to the tiniest trace of copper and it is fatal to them. Unfortunately I would not take the chance.
     
  3. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    The tank is basically useless for invertebrates. Copper saturates the whole thing, and can not be removed. For the time and money you would spend trying to fix it, you can just get a new 55 at the store, and not worry about it.

    This is the same reason we don't recommend feeding freshwater fish to your ceph, as they are frequently treated with copper based medications (as well as an improper diet balance for the pet ceph).
     
  4. Marquis

    Marquis Larval Mass Registered

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    A rigorous solution

    As a chemist, i would suggest rinsing the aquarium with a 10% solution of EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic acid), which is a chelating agent, followed by three thorough rinses with freshwater.

    EDTA will bind the copper aggressively and as a large molecule can be easily "rinsed away." It can be acquired at any chemical supply house or scientific hobby supplier.

    I would then fill the aquarium with saltwater and allow to sit overnight. Finally a copper test should be performed using a reliable kit.

    There are also more accurate methods to confirm copper leaching, if you're interested. But then you're probably exceeding the cost of a new tank. :banghead:

    I would also indeed replace all the silicone.

    Hope this helps.

    Marquis
     
  5. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    Thank you for the advice. I may follow Marquis' advice then test the tank with an invertebrate or two before ordering an octopus, but then again, it may be cheaper just to buy a new tank. It is only a 47 bow front.
     
  6. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    well, things are looking grimmer by the moment. My apartment has copper pipes. It looks like an octopus is out of the question for the time being.
     
  7. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    I believe copper pipes are OK if you're using an RO/DI filter on your water.
     
  8. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I actually just talked to the owner of my local aquarium shop who seemed to downplay the problems, and he wasn't just trying to sell me equipment. He said since I was going to use new substrate and a new filter that it shouldn't be a big deal. He also said that I could throw some other invertebrates in - like snails - to see whether it was tolerable.

    I asked him about the copper pipes and apparently he has been running his tanks with water from copper pipes for years without RO/DI. I am going to use RO/DI water just to be safe.

    Since I would really like to use this tank, I am going to take precautions and give it a try, if only for progeny.

    Thank you all for the help. I have found this forum to be an invaluable resource.

    (note: this is a local shop I have gone to for years. He isn't just trying to sell me stuff)
     
  9. esquid

    esquid Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    To Hayek: Yes, I'm sure that the LFS owner you were talking to knows the exact LD50 (lethal dose) of ionic copper for cephalopods and other invertebrates and that is why he suggested using LIVING ORGANISMS with a higher tolerance to ionic copper to test the safety of a tank for an organism with a lower tolerance for ionic copper.

    If you had read the previous threads that dealt with copper tainted tanks you would have read that most copper test kits are not sensitive for the level at which ionic copper is fatal to cephs.

    btw I have some dishware that used to have arsenic in it. I rinsed it real well. Can I use you to test and see if it's safe?

    To Marquis: If you have run experiments that have proven that simply rinsing with EDTA renders copper treated tanks safe for cephalopods please publish them. Because I have seen no proof of this yet.
     
  10. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Food for though when discussing success combinations of even very good and well meaning fish stores:

    Even though some fish store owners are also hobbiests, remember that they do not specialize in each of the critters in they sell. They can house critters for a week or two in conditions that will not promote longevity and not see the problems so they can honestly report that they have not had issues. They are in the business of moving their inventory so long term housing is not an intended part of their experience.

    Also note that the suggestion was to REPLACE the silicone (it is thought that it is the silicone and not the glass that retains and leaches the copper). This means stripping it completely, not covering it over with a new layer. Just covering it would only delay the problem as eventually any leaching would contaminate the new silicone as well.

    As an aside, it is the DI part of an RO/DI system (the sandy material in the final stage) that is designed to remove metals. Last we discussed it, Thales was using a good (unlike my tap water) water supply but copper pipes and cleans the water with heavy carbon filtration and extensive DI (much more than the typical set-up) with good ceph success.
     
  11. corw314

    corw314 Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    I myself would not take the risk of getting attached and then watching an octopus die prematurely due to copper poisoning. They are difficult enough without using a known toxin and wondering if all the treatments suggested would even be enough. For me it would be simpler, and safer to just purchase a new tank.
    My :twocents:
     
  12. robind

    robind O. bimaculoides Registered

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    I have a tank that I'm setting up to hopefully use for a ceph in the next few months. It is a used tank. Is it correct that there's really no way to tell if the tank will be safe or not? I could do tests, but as esquid said above, tests aren't sensitive enough to detect the ld50.
     
  13. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I have read the previous posts. I've been lurking this forum obsessively for a couple of weeks which is why I was so disappointed that I found out the tank had copper based medications used at one point.

    I realize that copper tests probably aren't going to pick up a level of copper toxic to octopuses, I was not planning on relying on them.


    You make a good point that the pet shop owner is not likely to know the lethal dose of ionic copper it takes to kill an octopus. Do you? Are there any invertebrates with similar aversions to ionic copper that I could use to test the tank out?

    I'm looking for a solution and could do without the acerbic sarcasm.
     
  14. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    You know, this may be a big fuss about nothing. I don't think the medications used actually contained copper. I'm looking at them now and they are:

    -wardley essentials ick away
    active ingredient: malachite green

    -melafix
    active ingredient: melaleuca

    I thought I had seen one with copper in the title, but I can't seem to find it now. I don't see copper mentioned anywhere on any of the chemicals used.

    I'm assuming they aren't the copper based medications that will ruin a tank. Am I correct?
     
  15. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    I do believe that Malachite Green is typically a metal in suspension.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachite_green

    I agree, there is no need for any mudslinging here. Let's all play nice, o.k.?

    I think that trying to use a tank that had been treated for copper, and sacrificing animals just to see if it is safe, is rather a bad move. Ethically and financially, it would be just as cheap to buy a new tank and not worry about it.

    In the multiple keepers of cephs that I have talked to, the consensus is always the same. New tank for cephs. Always. These people have been breeding octopus and the like for years, and know their stuff. Listen to them, please. Yeah, I know most octos don't live very long, but it is our place as animal keepers to make sure that they get at least some sort of a fruitful life, isn't it?

    Another Point: I don't know any invert keeper who uses copper piping at all. Our water comes straight from the distillery, and is only handled by PVC. (which has its own set of issues, I know)
     
  16. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    cthulhu77 - Are you saying that with copper piping i would be unable to keep a cephalopod or that it would be better if the water didn't go through copper piping?

    I know that I am not going to be able to provide the absolute best living conditions for an octopus. I'm a college student and have a limited budget. I have a decent amount of money to spend, but by no means will I have the best stuff.

    Since it looks like I am going to be investing $600 or more on this tank, I might as well just get a new tank.
     
  17. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    I only use water that is treated at a bottling plant that does not use any copper/lead piping at all.

    Agreed, for the cost, it is easier to just get a new tank and avoid all of the drama.

    Check with a local R/O supplier, and see what their specs are. The one out here let me tour the plant.
     
  18. Scrounger

    Scrounger Cuttlefish Supporter

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    Hayek, is there a fish store near you from which you could buy water? I get my saltwater premixed from my LFS. The stores around here sell RO/DI saltwater for $1.00 to $1.50 per gallon. RO/DI freshwater for top-offs would be cheaper, of course. It may be an option, if the cost is managable.
     
  19. Hayek

    Hayek GPO Registered

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    I recently spoke to several extremely intelligent people who have owned octopuses (engineering Ph.Ds), and from what they have told me, many on this forum go a bit overboard. Three things that conflicted with what I have read here are:

    1. RO isn't necessary - they kept octopuses without using RO water.
    2. It isn't necessary to cycle the tank for 3 months prior to adding the octo, though one should wait a month until ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels fall off after the initial live rock die off.
    3. You can keep an octo without a protein skimmer.
    4. The tank that had one ick treatment with a substance that had malachite green in it sometime during the last 3 years is probably OK to use as long as it wasn't recent or a repetitive treatment and the other equipment is new.

    Once again, this is from people who have successfully kept octopuses in the past. In light of new information, I'm going to try a dwarf in the tank I cleaned, if only so future used tank purchasers have some empirical evidence on which to base a decision.

    I know many of you will frown on this and tell me that I am being cruel to the octopus, but the worst case scenario is that it gets a toxic dose of a heavy metal and dies. In the wild, octopuses have thousands of babies and the vast majority of them don't live full lives. I don't see all that much of a difference. They kill themselves after a year anyway.

    Regardless of whether I start getting hateful replies, I'll post the results.

    edit: also, I'm a student and just don't have $X,XXX lying around to invest in a state of the art octo setup. I've spent over six hundred dollars already....
     
  20. Brock Fluharty

    Brock Fluharty Haliphron Atlanticus Registered

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    Very few people do have $X,XXX lying around. I had an octopus as a high school student last year. I was a freshman/sophomore. I took it slow, rather than going out and buying everything up at once, which let my tank have time to cycle.

    And octopods do not "kill themselves" after a year. Do humans "just kill themselves" after 80 or so years? No. Go look up "lifespan" in the dictionary. That is a terrible attitude to have towards animals.

    "Since an animal doesn't live very long, why shouldn't we just subject them to poisonous conditions, possibly ending their already short lives that much earlier."

    You posted a question, asking for advice. A few people gave you very good, experienced answers. One person (who has 1 post by the way) tells you the answer you want, and you jump at it. If you're not going to give your cephalopod your 100% all, then don't get one. If you can't afford the setup, then you can't afford the octopus. Plain and simple. Maybe try a goldfish, or a betta.

    Brock Fluharty
     

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