03-03-2013, 11:20 AM
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The two species are easy to tell apart. The "common" Chocolate, Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, is the left photo in the profile, and the right photo is Sphaerichthys selatanensis which has the distinctive horizontal white stripe that the common does not; stripes on it are vertical only.
Distinguishing male/female is a bit trickier, but use the two indicators mentioned in the profile and see if you can tell on your fish.
Leaves (dried) are not harmful provided they are the "safe" species like oak, beech, almond, and perhaps some others I am not aware of. Some leaves do contain toxins but we don't put these types in aquaria. Those mentioned are safe; I collect oak leaves in the autumn after they have fallen from the tree in my garden, and use them in various tanks. They are antimicrobial as blackwaterguy said. Some aquarists suggest putting a leaf in with the fish when shipping for this reason.
With a lot of leaves, the water will stain slightly brownish, as it does with peat and wood, due to the release of tannins. This is not harmful.