Have you ever wondered what a stack of large, dried leaves at the fish store is for? Terminalia catappa, also known as Indian almond leaves (IAL), is a tree native to Asia and Oceania that now grows in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Its fruit seeds have an almond flavor, and its leaves are commonly used in herbal teas and traditional medicines.
When you put a dried catappa leaf in your aquarium, it begins to decompose and produce tannins, which are plant-based compounds that gradually lower the pH and stain the water with a yellow-brown tint. Many people dislike the tannins produced naturally by leaves and driftwood and use chemical filtration to remove the brown tint, but they have many applications in the fishkeeping hobby.
What Is the Purpose of Catappa Leaves?
Catappa leaves, also known as Indian almond leaves, are a popular addition to aquariums for fish and invertebrates that prefer low pH and soft water. They release tannic acid, humic acids, fulvic acids, and other organic compounds with low acidity into the water, which can gradually lower pH levels and promote the health and reproduction of sensitive species like crystal shrimp and certain South American fish. This gradual effect is thought to be safer than using pH buffer chemicals because it is less likely to cause sudden and potentially fatal pH changes. It should be noted that these leaves should not be used for high pH fish such as African cichlids and many livebearers because they require higher pH levels.
Indian almond leaves have other benefits for fish and invertebrates in an aquarium aside from their effect on water chemistry. The leaves have antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help protect fish from disease and heal minor ailments. As the leaves decompose in the water, microorganisms break them down into a layer of biofilm and infusoria, which is an excellent food source for tiny fry and shrimp, particularly in their early stages of life.
Another advantage of Indian almond leaves is that they can be used to create a natural, South American biotype or blackwater aquarium that mimics the natural environment of certain fish species. The tannins in the leaves create darker water, which makes certain fish species stand out and also provides hiding spots for fry and shy bottom dwellers.
It is important to note that Indian almond leaves should be used with caution because they can significantly lower pH levels if too many leaves are used or if they are not removed from the tank when they become too decomposed. Before adding any additional products to your aquarium, it’s always a good idea to research and understand the specific water parameters that your fish and invertebrates require.
How to Use Indian Almond Leaves
When using Indian Almond Leaves (IAL) in your aquarium, remember to do the following:
- Soak the leaves: Before using the dried Indian almond leaves in your aquarium, soak them in water for a few hours or overnight. This will soften them and allow the beneficial compounds they contain to be released.
- Measure and record the pH level of your aquarium water before adding the leaves. This will allow you to keep track of any changes that occur as the leaves degrade and release tannins.
- Add the leaves to the aquarium: After the leaves have soaked, place them in the aquarium. You can either embed them in the substrate or float them on the water’s surface.
- Keep an eye on the water chemistry: As the leaves degrade and tannins are released, keep an eye on the pH levels in your aquarium water. Remove some of the leaves if the pH falls too low.
- Replace the leaves every 2-4 weeks, or whenever they become too decomposed. Old leaves no longer release beneficial compounds and may even pollute water.
- Adjust the quantity: Begin with one or two leaves and observe the water parameters and fish behavior before increasing the quantity.
Freshly fallen leaves are more beneficial than dried leaves because they contain more beneficial compounds. If you have any leftover leaves, store them in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Before using Indian almond leaves or any other type of supplement, it is critical to research and understand the specific water parameters and needs of the fish and invertebrates in your aquarium. To ensure the safe and appropriate use of Indian almond leaves in your aquarium, consult with an expert, such as a veterinarian, aquarist, or pet store specialist. They can advise on the proper quantity, frequency of replacement, and storage of Indian Almond Leaves, as well as how to monitor the water chemistry and any other potential issues that may arise.
How many catappa leaves do I need?
The number of Indian almond leaves (IAL) to use in an aquarium is determined by several factors, including the aquarium’s size, the types of fish and invertebrates kept, and the desired water chemistry. As a general rule, start with one or two leaves and monitor the water parameters and fish behavior. Then, adjust the quantity as needed. It is critical not to overuse the leaves, as doing so can significantly lower the pH levels and harm the fish and invertebrates.
It is critical to regularly monitor the pH levels of the tank and note any changes that occur as the leaves degrade and release tannins. As a general rule, 1-2 leaves per 10 gallons of water can achieve a pH of around 6-7 and a moderate tannin level. You can add more leaves if you want darker water with a lower pH.
Also, replace the leaves every 2-4 weeks or when they become too decomposed, as old leaves will no longer release beneficial compounds and may even pollute the water.
To ensure that the use of Indian almond leaves is appropriate for your specific aquarium and the species of fish or invertebrates you keep, always consult with an expert or conduct research.
Lastly, catappa leaves, also known as Indian almond leaves, are a popular addition to aquariums for fish and invertebrates that prefer low pH and soft water. They release tannic acid, humic acids, fulvic acids, and other organic compounds with low acidity into the water, which can gradually lower pH levels and promote the health and reproduction of sensitive species like crystal shrimp and certain South American fish. The leaves also have slight antibacterial and antifungal properties, can be used to create a natural, South American biotype or blackwater aquarium, and are an excellent food source for tiny fry and shrimp. It is critical to use the leaves with caution, monitoring pH levels, replacing them on a regular basis, and adjusting the quantity as needed. Consult an expert and do your homework to ensure that the use of Indian almond leaves is appropriate for your aquarium and the species of fish or invertebrates you keep. Thank you for visiting ShrimpPro!