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Is brass at all toxic to aquaria?

Discussion in 'Aquatic Microbiology' started by pfcs49, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    Would ~10 inch square brass sheet (200 sq" surface) in 29g tank have any consequences?
    I know brass is commonly used in domestic water systems but how about so much exposed in a quasi-static
    29g pool?
    Please-facts, not opinions/musings.
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    It Depends,The EvilPlantMonster Muses In That Evil-Opininated Way

    Hi,

    Brass containers have been used for centuries to protect water.:) The brass raises the level of copper and kills some noxious forms of bacteria.:eek:

    The question of the toxicity of brass rather depends on the sensitivity of your plants and critters to copper.:)

    I would expect the levels of copper added to 100 liters (my arithmetic has been fuzzy so I will figure based on 100 liters, say 26-gallons) of water to be 0.15-ppm Copper per day or so.
    • I would say with good water changes and maybe some copper loving plants or running filters with activated charcoal it should be manageable.

    • Obviously the more acidic, higher temperature, higher the particle level, flow the more copper (and zinc) added to the water.
    Hope this helps, really kind of depends what you want. Many folks have ponds with ornamental fish and brass art work, fittings and so forth.
    :cool:

    Biollante
     
  3. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    Blues in Brass

    [attachment=880:name]
    I thought this old cornet this might work if all oils were cleaned out of it.

    waterchanger.jpg
     
  4. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    I Rather Like The Idea! I use Stainless Steel Objects...

    Hi,

    Beyond a little copper being added to the water…

    My concern is areas of stagnant water created.
    :confused: I worry about anaerobic zones more than I worry about the oil.

    I am wondering if it would be possible to seal it water tight, say just inside the mouthpiece,well back of the cone and at the pistons and spit valve. Maybe fill with weights so it doesn't float.

    Perhaps Left C (music or computer?) would have some ideas.
    :confused:

    Biollante
     
  5. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    The picture doesn't do it justice-it looks like it belongs near the Titanic wreck site. I've always been as interested in what natural lies underwater as in what debris from civilization lies below, be it a wreck or a steel beer can.
    I'm leaning in the seal it direction which would greatly reduce the exposed area: disassemble and run it thru the dishwasher twice, vigorously rinse/de-soap it, then reassemble sealing the valves and slides, etc with aquarium silicone. It is already, however, deeply corroded in the mouthpiece tube: theres masking tape holding it together where it cracked. Sooner or later it will fill with water which will not be getting changed like the rest of the tank and I wonder if it would become a time bomb when it was disturbed and voided?
    Could you provide info for limits (known/established?) for a healthy environment for fish/shrimps/plants so I could calculate how aggressively I would have to change water to meet or exceed them?
    Is there a simple way to monitor copper/zinc pollution?
    Regards, Phil
     
  6. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death...

    Hi Phil,

    My fear :eek: in any aquarium, swamp, pond, pool, bucket, mud puddle or whatever is always stagnant water, there are places for anaerobic zones, but not exposed to the water column.

    Being brass, brazing is pretty much the way to go, unless Left C or one of the other smart folk knows of some adhesive…

    Brazing brass is a bit tricky, in a way like wielding, just that zinc and copper have such different melting points. It has been a while since I worked with brass; I recall getting a product from a wielding shop, instead of silver, or in addition to, it must have contained bismuth (gold?) it flowed like bronze. I cannot think (always painful:( and seldom fruitful:eek:) what the stuff was called. I would check with a wielding shop.

    • It was kind of expensive but with a little practice I was able to repair a fairly delicate (that is thin) brass portion of a fountain ornament.

    My guess is the tricky part with a cornet is that it is thin walled. Though for your purpose it doesn’t have to be perfect. :) Buy a small sheet of brass, cut it, shape it and braze it in place.

    Another option would be cutting the cornet lengthwise,:eek: giving you effectively two cornets.:rolleyes:

    I like your idea, I think it worth pursuing.:gw:cool:

    Biollante
    I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Dune, Frank Herbert
     
  7. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    No Brass...

    Hi Phil,


    Just had a conversation with a smart person… :gw

    I think the brass, especially older brass is out while the copper might be manageable the zinc and lead are less so, especially in only 29 gallons of water.


    As I say I liked the idea and was even starting to think (there we see the problem
    :eek:) it might work.:(

    Biollante
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Envirotex, Reactive Polymer Resin?

    Response to pm of disappointment...

    Hi Phil,

    Yeah I agree I really liked the idea as well…:(

    I will post on your thread.

    My basic information for calculating the copper leaching came from my handy little pocket reference. I overlooked zinc (my bad) and my friend told me about the older brass and the lead content. Then it was a simple matter of Googling the information.

    Ionization and oxidation rates are perhaps interesting just not particularly meaningful, this is a straight matter of leaching the basic component parts of brass; copper, zinc and lead in the case of older brass. Brass especially brass not intended for use in water is subject to a form of corrosion called “dezincification.”

    These are metals that are toxic to animals and plants in fairly low dosage levels.
    :eek: We get away with brass in ponds and as fittings and such do the high volume of water.

    • Yet if you take a close look around the brass in a pond you notice a distinct lack of life.
    • You may even notice a dead fish or insects do not decompose as readily (or at all?) when floating up against brass.
    • The toxicity of the brass kills the critters that break down the organic materials for us.
    The critters that help the decomposition of dead things are very closely related to the critters that keep ammonia and nitrites under control.

    I had a bit of a computer melt
    :eek: down along with a brain meltdown (TIA) :rolleyes: I have not gotten my bookmarks restored yet and just got the full use of my right hand back.
    But I am afraid the information is good.

    In less than 29-gallons of water I just do not see it working.
    :(

    I had thought that perhaps with twice a week large water changes and running highly activated carbon filters (Chem-Pure might be better) you might manage it.

    No matter how I run the numbers (Wet has a great calculator for stuff in stuff out) there is simply no way it doesn’t end up toxic, fast.

    I even considered and calculated adding EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), to bind the metals.

    Though the automatic water changer gives me an idea…
    :rolleyes:

    Do you have critters and plants already?

    Offhand the best I can suggest is encapsulating the cornet, perhaps in a polymer resin, I do not know if a product such as Envirotex would work…
    :gw

    This might be a good place for one of them-thar Guru types to step in and tell us how it is!

    Biollante
     
  9. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    "Though the automatic water changer gives me an idea…
    Do you have critters and plants already?"

    Not many and they can move.
    I was thinking of dumping the horn in a 5 gal tub and monitoring the water but I need a way to measure the changes other than canary in the cave! Any accessible possibilities you know of? Or sent sample to a lab??
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Water Fleas Don't Bother Water Dogs

    Hi Phil,

    For “canaries” start with small crustaceans, snails (small) and algae.
    :)

    Best chance is with frequent water changes, you may even determine how much, how often along with high mechanical filtration and activated charcoal.

    It might be worth dosing EDTA. That along with good circulation and mechanical filtration might make the difference.
    :confused:

    The water fleas, Daphnia pulex is the preferred but D. magna work well, any really.

    Copepods work well; you will need to look a little closer, cyclops are large enough to be easily observed.

    Whatever you choose or have available a good magnifying glass to observe through the life cycle is important.
    :gw

    Whatever basic algae’s you happen to have around are great indicators.

    Depending where you live these should be readily available with a little effort; of course people will sell them as well.

    Make sure you set up several tubs or whatever so you have something to compare your results.
    :)

    The LC50 on these substances are quite low… Should they reasonably survive then you can move up the food chain.

    The other problem you face is these toxins are bio-accumulative. The chronic exposure LC50 is much lower and the NOEC for lead is well, really low.
    :(

    I still think encasing the cornet offers your best chance.
    :)

    Biollante
     
  11. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    The picture doesn't do the horn justice-the details make it look like some kind of Victorian era debris from a shipwreck.
    It demands a good try! I can imagine it emerging from the slope of the substrate, in a thicket of plants.
    Today I completely disassembled, degreased and cleaned it. I will fill it with sand and seal it with aquarium silicone at every tuning slide, valve assy, etc. I'll seal and plug the bell in a bit, inside the shadow. This should cut exposure by ~40% which must be good a good thing. I put a 5g tank out in the breezeway where it gets light-we'll see how hot it gets. It may need more shade. I'll put some plants in and see that they're stable. If I can get the temp under control, I'll throw in a couple of Guppies. When it's clear things are stable, I'll drop in the horn and see what happens and how fast. In this small environment I'd expect if toxicity is a large issue, it would manifest quickly. I wish I could find an economical way to monitor the copper and zink chemistry. I'm wondering if weekly 33% water changes would keep it in the healthy zone in the 29g. At this point this is my (only) best plan. Any educated coaching is appreciated.
     
  12. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just recently upgraded my eheim 2215 with 12/16mm tubing to a eheim 2217, which has a 16/22mm inlet barb. Didn't want to spend >$100 on a new ADA Lily Pipe, which prob. wouldn't fit properly in my 60P (the 16/22mm Lily Pipes are too long).

    Anyway, I needed a way to convert the 12/16mm hose to 16/22mm barb. Did this by using a "lead-free" brass hose mender for potable water. Has less than .025 ppm lead.
    As for the copper...I have SS+ crs in the tank along with some Amanos and tons of reproducing RCS. No discernable affect thus far.

    That said, there might be a significant difference between soaking a cornet in a 29 gallon aquarium and having water pass through a couple fittings.

    Needless to say, I like to err on the side of caution. I have ordered a plastic 1/2" (12/16mm) x 5/8" (16/22mm) hose mender from a pond supply website. I'd rather eliminate the possibility of Cu leaching into the tank after reading this thread.
     
    #12 Matt F., Jan 27, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2012
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Simple solution.

    Use activated carbon and copper remover(SeaChem sells it, cuprisorb).

    Replace every 2 months or so.

    Avoid shrimp.
     
  14. pfcs49

    pfcs49 Junior Poster

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    Let me complete my story: I set up a little (~3g) test tank with guppies and mirfolia (sp?) (both of which were vigorously healthy/growing for a couple weeks) and stuck the horn in one evening. The next morning, the plants were breaking down.
    By evening there were mostly bare stems and green debris; fish were still OK but results were pretty blatant/experiment discontinued.
     
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