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Copper clean-up idea

8752 Views 40 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Buzz_Hog
I was gonna post this as a reply to the invert killer thread, but I though I would just start a new thread and get some ideas:

There has been a running theme of Cu contamination around here lately. Has anyone ever read about treating a tank with EDTA or some other metal-chelating agent to get rid of any trace Cu that might be adhering to the tank? You would want to do it while the tank is empty of anything living, as EDTA will also chelate Ca and Mg and other "good" metal ions, but the thing about EDTA is that once it has chelated to the metal ion, you can just wash the EDTA-Cu complex away. And since reefers usually add PLENTY of calcium to a tank, it wouldn't really matter if there was a little left over in the tank, it would disappear after a few water changes.

The EDTA might also "draw" the Cu out of the glass and silicone etc, as it would bind up free Cu and then the equilibrium would reestablish itself, releasing more Cu from the glass/silicone etc into the water. I could imagine soaking a tank in a solution of EDTA (for days, possible changing the EDTA solution a couple of times?) as a way to clean the tank before setting it up.

There are also other metal chelators out there, EDTA is just the most common. It is used for lead poisoning (you actually drink a solution of EDTA, and the EDTA-Pb complex is excreted).

Am I nuts?
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The only way I've heard of for getting Copper out of a glass tank is with acid baths. Dangerous to say the least. I believe that Edta will only bind with metals that are in solution but since I'm not a chemist I can't say for sure.

If you really want to try it, you might be able to get the EDTA from "Hach". I know a 100 ml bottle of EDTA from Hach, for refills for the test kits , is about $9 - $10 a bottle. If you were looking for quantity or a dry form, (if it comes this way) so you could make your own solution, they might have it. Otherwise maybe Chris or Jerel will pick up on the thread and know the answer and where to get the chemicals.
Buzz_Hog said:
How about a sledge hammer and $99 to buy a new 55 gallon.... :)

Nothing better than relieving stress and curing the problem of a Copper Riddled tank....
This might very well be the easiest and cheapest way to go, especially in the long run... :eek: :funny:
Newfiemom said:
It does only bind in solution. My thought was that the EDTA would complex any free copper, and then the bound copper (in the glass, etc) would leach out into solution to reestablish the "equilibrium", and get complexed, causing more copper to leach out...etc. I can write out some chemical equations for this, but I don't want to be responsible for any seizures that could occur among unsuspecting readers.


Which acid have you heard of using? Nitric would do it, but would probably cloud the glass in the process if you weren't careful.
The problem is that the copper does not leach out of the glass quickly or easily. If it did, then a few days of water changes would be enough to solve the problem.

Hydrochloric acid for acid washing the tank.
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