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Could it be from a lowering of the pH??When copper sulfate dissolves it normally drops the pH of the solution. Also some of those electrolysis experiments also include sulfuric acid in the solution.Mg + 2H+ -> Mg2+ + H2More H+ ions in solution would make this reaction more likely to occur.
Cu2O is green (forms from Cu1+ ions)
I don't know if copper forms compounds with nitrate.