Copper sulfate immersion is common for the prevention and treatment of Cryptocaryon irritans during quarantine of marine teleosts. The National Aquarium in Baltimore has followed a consistent copper sulfate protocol for marine teleost quarantine since 2004. The protocol used copper sulfate pentahydrate as a slow drip to increase copper ions over 3–5 days to a level of 0.18–0.21 mg/L. This level was maintained for 21 days, and then copper ions were rapidly removed with activated carbon filtration and water changes. Quarantine records from 2004–2016 were used to examine mortality of marine teleosts during copper treatment and identify factors that might have influenced mortality. The following records were excluded: brackish and freshwater teleosts (salinity <25 g/L); long-term treatment at subtherapeutic levels (<0.18 mg/L); intentional short courses (<14 days); and use outside of quarantine. Species, system volume, temperature, parasitic outbreaks, concurrent medications, and water quality concerns were evaluated. During this period, 4,835 individual teleosts belonging to 347 different species were treated. From 2004 to 2016, mortality during copper treatment was 4.1% (199/4,835 individuals) and was higher when treatment was started during the first week of quarantine (7.7%, 68/884) rather than later (3.3%, 131/3,951 individuals). Of the mortalities, 24.1% (48/199) occurred during the initial subtherapeutic period, and 75.9% (151/199) occurred during the therapeutic period. No mortalities occurred in 75.5% (262/347) of species during copper treatment. When using a similar methodology, copper sulfate is a safe immersion for quarantine of marine teleosts. Mortalities during copper treatment can be reduced by increasing copper ion levels to therapeutic ranges more slowly (e.g., over 7 days) and starting copper treatment after the first week of quarantine.
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