Theses and Dissertations

Title: Copper concentrations in channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus ponds treated with copper sulfate

Name: McNevin, A.

Degree: MS

Chair: Claude E. Boyd


University: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, AL

Date: 2003

Pages: 56

Keywords: channel catfish,copper sulfate


Copper sulfate is used to reduce blue-green algae blooms and combat off-flavor in channel catfish ponds. Catfish farmers apply copper sulfate to achieve a concentration equal to 0.01 times the total alkalinity (mg/L as CaCO3). A study was performed at the Auburn University Fisheries Research Unit to ascertain the duration of elevated copper concentration following copper sulfate applications and to determine the fate of copper applied at two alkalinity concentrations, 30-50 mg/L and 110-130 mg/L. Copper sulfate was applied biweekly for 14 weeks at 0.3 mg/L for the low alkalinity treatment and 1.2 mg/L for the high alkalinity treatment. Total copper concentrations in ponds were measured incrementally following copper sulfate application until they returned to background levels. Total copper concentrations reached the background level by 48 hours post treatment. In addition, total copper concentrations were determined for 38 catfish production ponds in west central Alabama. The mean and standard deviation were 0.0092 ¤ 0.0087 mg/L. Copper quickly precipitates from the water or is absorbed by the soil following copper sulfate treatment. Concentrations of copper in ponds are elevated immediately following copper sulfate treatment but rapidly decrease to concentrations that seldom exceed the United States Environmental Protection Agency's National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for Priority Toxic Pollutants of 0.013 mg/L. There is little evidence to suggest that copper sulfate treatment will contaminate effluent from catfish ponds because of the short time applied copper remains in the water column. Furthermore, the most frequent applications of copper sulfate occur in late summer months at a time when rainfall is minimal and pond overflow is rare.

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