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Copper water lines in my house, is this going to be an issue?

Dec 21, 2010
Not sure if this is the right section or not for this but I know that copper is a no no for the water in the octo tank. I'll have to get some test for copper, but do you think that having the water lines in the house that supply the water for all of the focets is going to be an issue? I was planning on installing a Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Filter or SpectraPure® Maxpure 25 GPD RO/DI System in my house to supply the tank water until I just realized the copper pipes.
I have always wondered about this myself... Unfortunately I believe that will always be a problem for you as I don’t think there is a way to filter out all of the copper. I am betting someone with a little more info on the matter will come along shortly and either confirm or clarify further.
Well I hope it's not going to be an issue this will really put a damper on my plans if I can not produce my own water for the water changes. My LFS is s small shop, and the next place within 75 miles is a Petco.
There are alot of things in tap water/faucet water that can be harmful to a variety of fish/inverts. Cu is not just harmful to cephalopods, but all inverts. And of course most heavy metals can do serious damage to these animals. My best advice is buy a really thurough RO machine and then run the water through some Cuprisorb. This should take the copper levels down to almost completely 0. I'm not sure off of the top of my head how you would rig it to go through the cuprisorb for a long period of time, but like I said, it's the best advice I can give you. We had a Cu issues in one of our tanks at work, so we put a bag of cuprisorb in the overflow and they dropped to 0 in about a week if I remember correctly. If you have some sort of mixing vat that you could hook up a canister filter(Ca+/PO4) and just fill it with cuprisorb instead of other media and put a decent flow through the canister you may get the same results. Though with this you would have to prepare your water well in advance, and testing for Cu prior to a water change would always be recommened for safe measures.

Anyways I hope this helps, and best of luck getting your system set up.
I have copper pipes and I do not use RO or DI. I also had copper plumbing on my tank for the first 4 years of its existence and during the life of my first octo which lived longer than most we see, a full year. I have since removed the copper plumbing in my tank but I still use the water from my faucet to top off. I use tap water and a water treatment chemical that "removes chlorine and heavy metals"
I think too, it can depend a bit on the age of the pipes! We had some pipes here at the lab which if you left a glass of water sitting over night you got a bluegreen deposit on the bottom of the glass! I wouldn't drink it myself, :yuck: never mind use it for animals! (the pipes have since been replaced and a filtration system fitted!) Old pipes are going to be a real problem newer ones with cuprisorb etc will probably be OK, but you'll want to watch your Cu levels closely.
It certainly would be best to avoid copper altogether, but DI will avoid the problem as well. Over the years I've tried various chelating agents with mixed success. Some are toxic to stomatopods!

A couple of things to consider. First, you don't really want to remove ALL copper. Natural seawater has some trace amounts.
Second, the amount of time your water is in contact with copper pipes will determine how much is picked up. Bad scenario - you go away for a week and the water stands stagnant in your copper pipes. You walk in the door and notice the water level in your tank is way down. You run to the sink and draw off a pitcher of water to add to the tank. The concentration of copper will be several times what it would be if you let the water run to flush out the stagnant water.

Hi Roy, what do you consider "trace" amounts of Copper, I've looked up several refs but found a few answers (I know of course it varies with location, season etc etc). I've seen 0.1 ppb to 0.5 ppb. Pretty hard to detect I know, but I like to keep on top of stuff like this!


Thanks Thales, it's not something we worry about much at work (water and critters from much the same place!) but I do like to try and keep my head around this stuff (chemistry, even the basic stuff was never my strongest suit)! Great resource I will pass on to our senior aquarist for his interest!
I am not an expert on RO/DI units and can't tell you the merits of one over another (this one seems like it will do what you need) but there are a few things you need to be aware of that are never in the "ads".

The 100 gpd will not be achieved with normal house pressure so be sure to make your water a couple of days in advance. You will likely get about a gallon an hour from the unit. This is true of all the units and nothing negative about this one.

You will have about 4 x the waste water as you have usable water so be sure you drain is not blocked. We overfilled our sink once, not so bad in the garage but a disaster in a house or an apartment.

You will want to order a large bag of DI sand to compensate for any copper in your plumbing. Changing this out is tricky as you have to get it tightly packed but have NO grains around the threaded cap. I never get it right the first time. My DI canister is similar to this one so, again, this not a negative on this particular unit.

Setting up a float valve to your bucket that will shut off the unit is HIGHLY desirable. The float is mechanical, inexpensive and can likely be purchased with the unit from this supplier if you write a note and ask. Since you will need to leave it on for an hour/gallon and you will need somewhere between .5 to 1 gallon a day for top off water (evaporation) and 5 gallons a week for saltwater exchange, the auto shutoff valve will allow you to minimize your need to monitor the process.
The see through canister with the blue end pieces is the DI (deionization filter - takes out metals) filter. It is filed with a resin (I call it sand) that attracts and holds metals suspended in the water. In places where the water is relatively pure, it is the most important part of the filtration (I need all the help I can get with my water). The resin needs frequent replacing where metal content is high. It is messy but not rocket science.

The first picture is one I annotated for a member who could not remember how all the lines connected after a move so it is more complicated than what you will be using for a removable but it has all the components labeled.

The second picture is the DI canister.

The third shows the simple float valve I mentioned. It is connected to the hose outside the bucket and when the water level raises the float, it shuts off the water. Ignore the black canister. It is a UV sterilzer that has never been functional.


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