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The amazing Indian almond leaves come from the (catappa tree) not from an almond tree as the name leads you to suspect. The trees grow in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Varying leave sizes from 6 to 10 inches and around 5 inches wide. These leaves used in the aquarium will affect your water chemistry. Water color will change to a yellow, red tea color, to some this change in water appearance is appealing. I consider myself one of these people; It produces that natural presence of a calm river or marshy area, area that comes to mind in the US that reminds me of this is the Suwanee River. The Suwanee runs from Georgia down to Florida, and it derives a tannic color from all the decomposing matter from the Okefenokee Swamp.
Benefits of these leaves
A word of caution before purchasing Indian almond leaves is to first test your water pH levels (affiliate link), if your pH level is already low or on the lower side for the species of fish you have you may not want to add these leaves as it may cause your pH to be too low for said species. Benefiting tannins release into the water and can lower the pH. Never add to many leaves at once, a sudden change could lower the pH levels, not allowing adequate time for fish to adjust to the decrease in pH. Changes or additions you make to your aquarium need to be done slowly and not all at once if it is a drastic change, it could harm or kill your fish.
Lowering of pH is the main reason people use the leaves, like myself with high pH water from the tap I add Indian Almond leaves to most of my aquariums to help reduce the high pH, the amount I use does not cause a dramatic drop in pH usually only minus (.1-.4). When more and more leaves are added it will continue to lower your pH.
Indian Almond leaves help mimic a natural habitat that reduces the stress on fish. If you have seen these leaves in water before you may have noticed the water change color, this is the tannins being released into the water caused by the leaves decaying. They can provide a good food source for some species, some fish species use the leaf litter gathered at the bottom of the aquarium for safe rearing of fry.
The greatest benefit of Indian alomond leaves is its ability to lower pH levels without the use chemicals that can cause rapid changes to water pH levels, affecting your aquarium fish. Indian almond leaves will help maintain a more stable pH rather than using chemicals to lower pH which have rapid changes to water chemistry. Using these leaves, is ideal because THEY ARE NATURAL.
species of fish that benefit
Fish species that catappa leaves are ideal for are those species that come from habitats where leaf litter is prevalent in the water, my albino bristlenose plecos enjoy them a lot. Other examples are gourami’s, discus, some dwarf cichlids, and most bettas. The betta industry has used them to mimic the natural habitat of the betta fish. It has been reported that Indian almond leaves can help fight fungus and bacteria associated with fin rot.
The downside of Indian almond leaves is the change in water color that hinders hobbyist’s from using them. If a natural look is desired, then these leaves are for you, but if you’re going for a classic aquarium look that’s bright colorful showing all the colors of your fish this is not the option for you.
An excessive amount of leaf litter sitting in your aquarium can make it look dirty if you do not regularly clean it, pulling the old leaf skeletons from your substrate will help. I have only run into the skeleton’s needing pulled out in my pleco tanks as they will eat the leaves more than other species.
As stated above, if the species of fish has a set pH level, going to low can harm your fish, making them very uncomfortable or even causing death. Prior to putting Indian almond leaves into your aquarium, check your water parameters.
· Check pH and water parameters prior to purchasing and using these leaves in your aquarium.
· Creates a more natural habitat for your fish; not everyone likes this look
· Causes aquarium to have a dirty appearance
Almond leaves have great benefits for your aquarium and the species you stock, the real decision is whether you enjoy the look and appreciate the health of your fish that benefit from Indian almond leaves. If you’re hesitant on how it would look or whether you will enjoy it, adding some to your aquarium is easy and if you decide it is not for you, take the leaves out and after a couple water changes the water will clear up. A similar natural product that does the same thing but is much smaller is alder cones which I will cover in another post.