INDIAN ALMOND LEAF TERMINALIA CATAPPA
If you’re an aquarist, you’ve probably heard of Indian almond leaf (also known as Catappa leaves). These leaves of the Terminalia catappa tree are especially popular in the betta and shrimp hobby as natural medicine and water conditioner. They are said to help combat fungus and bacterial problems like fin rot and prevent stress by mimicking the natural habitat.
Indian Almond Leaves | How and when to use them!
But how, when and why should you use them?
What are Indian almond leaves?
As mentioned before, Indian almond leaves are the leaves of the Terminalia catappa tree, which grows in large parts of Asia. The leaves are usually harvested by simply picking them off the ground. After drying them, they are ready for use in the aquarium.
What do Indian almond leaves do?
When placed in an aquarium, Indian almond leaves slowly start to decompose. While this happens they turn the water a yellow or brown color by releasing tannins. These tannins lower the pH and are said to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which comes in very handy when you have a fish suffering from finrot or when you’re raising vulnerable fry.
The dark color of the water is considered unsightly by some aquarists, but it actually mimics the natural habitat of many fish species! This definitely makes it something to consider embracing.
When should I use Indian almond leaves?
Indian almond leaves are especially popular in the betta and shrimp hobby but can be used in many situations.
- Adding a few leaves to a quarantine tank with a sick fish can help speed up the healing process; I’ve spoken to betta breeders who have actually stopped using regular fish medication altogether and treat sick fish with nothing but Indian almond leaves and clean water.
- When you’re dealing with fish/invertebrates that prefer soft, acidic water, Indian almond leaves can also be great for stimulating breeding. The tannins released by the leaves help create water conditions that are similar to those in the natural habitat of the fish, which means ideal breeding conditions. If you’re trying to get your bettas or Crystal Red shrimp to breed, adding a few Indian almond leaves to the breeding tank can speed up the process!
- Lastly, there are also situations where Indian almond leaves can be added to the aquarium purely because of the way they stain the water. If you’re interested in setting up an Asian blackwater biotope, which imitates blackwater rivers and streams, Indian almond leaves are a must have. They appear in these regions naturally so they are biotope correct. You can also add the leaves to other aquarium setups with fish that prefer soft, acidic water if you like the look of it.
How do I use Indian almond leaves?
There are a few different ways to use Indian almond leaves; the easiest is to just place them in the aquarium and wait for them to do their job. The more you add, the darker the water gets. You can tear the leaves up if you want the tannins to release more quickly. Once they start decomposing you can take them out or replace them, but it’s also fine to wait for them to be completely decomposed. Shrimp will actually appreciate it if you don’t remove the leaves, as they feed on the decomposing remains.
If you’re not a big fan of leaf litter in your tanks, another option is to soak the leaves separately and adding the stained water while doing a water change. You can also make your own blackwater extract, which is a concentrated version of stained water. This is done by taking a very large amount of Indian almond leaves, boiling them in a pot of water and letting them soak for multiple days afterward. You only have to add a small amount of the extract to your aquarium to get that blackwater look. (And by the way, if you’re not the kind of person who stands around boiling leaves, you can also just buy your Indian almond leaf extract. We don’t judge.)
More about the Indian Almon leaves!
- The secret of tropical fish breeders worldwide!
- Provides a comforting hide area for tropical fish and freshwater shrimp.
- Slowly releases tannins help lower pH naturally.
- Recreates water conditions similar to the naturally soft water tropical habitat.
- Encourages nesting and breeding behaviors.
- The perfect natural substrate for bubble nests.
- Becomes a natural biofilm substrate for delicate freshwater shrimp.
- Can also be used in tropical reptile, insect and amphibian terrariums.
- Natural medicine and water conditioner.
Assuming an average 15.2-25.4cm (6-10″) longleaf, you use one-quarter of this for every 4 Litres (1.1US G.) liters for Bettas or 1-2 leaves per 50 Litres (13.2US G.) for other species. Leave them in the tank for around 15 days in a filter bag or let them lie loose, they will sink after 2–3 days. Expect the water to tint slightly brown with the tannins.
Remove any active carbon before adding them. Afterward, carbon may be used to remove the tannins but this may impact on their benefit.
Just drop a few leaves into your tank. Bettas will start nibbling on the leaves, using them for cover or may even lay eggs on the leaves. PREPARATION: Before placing the product in the aquarium, rinse before use, even after boiling or soaking. A “post-boil soak” in fresh water with a bag of activated carbon is a recommended step, too.
A product from Mexico
Use approximately 1 piece per 30L (9 gallons) of aquarium water. For smaller aquariums, cut the leaves into appropriately sized portions. There are 10 pieces per pouch, approximately 5-7 inches in length.
Note: This product is all natural and organic. Each is unique and may vary in appearance from the sample photo.
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