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JDM 12-13-2012 08:02 AM

Aquascape components... leaves
I was thinking about the various items that might go into the tank, sand, driftwood and rocks, I'm not a fan of plastic anything or decorative toys. While reading some of the fish profiles I noted some, particularly loaches I think, liked leave litter, some sort of almond leaf was mentioned.

Last evening I had a response from Mikaila31 on a post about filtering where she mentioned about having a filterless tank, I thought it might be in her tank link but it was not. The tank that was there (nice video presentation BTW Mikaila31) had some leaves that I think were some sort of Oak.

Here is the video link:

55gal planted caecilian tank - 55 gallon Freshwater fish tank

If I put in leaves, are there ones to stay away from and is are there any particular preparation that I would have to perform on the leaves in order to use them in a tank?

Does anyone else put this sort of "regular" stuff in a tank?


Byron 12-13-2012 12:58 PM

I use oak leaves now and then, for food for fry. Dried leaves placed into the aquarium will effuse a sort of slime (I can't see it) and Infusoria appear, and fry will greedily eat this as a first food. The nutritional value declines over a few weeks I believe, although the leaves will stay and very slowly decompose over months. My Farlowella vitatta fry have been grazing oak leaves and growing well for 3 months now. It is rather neat, the way they go for these; at each weekly water change I add 5-6 leaves, and remove the oldest, and within a few minutes of refilling the tank, the three fry are charging onto the new leaves and grazing like mad.

With some fish, thinking of certain South American dwarf cichlids, a litter of leaves is ideal. The fish will flip these over in search of food, and use them as spawning sites. Fry hide under the leaves. All this is natural behaviours in the wild.

As to which leaves are safe/unsafe. I have read that oak, beech and almond leaves are fine. I'm sure there are others, I just haven't come across them. I have an oak tree in my yard, so this supplies all I need; this autumn I have so far collected several hundred leaves. There are some that do contain toxins and should never be used, but off the top of my head I can't remember names. I just remember the safe ones and stay with those.

And I agree, that is a lovely video Mikaila :welldone: , very nice indeed.:nicefish:


JDM 12-13-2012 02:22 PM

Walnut would be toxic for certain.

I have seen reference to almond and beech regarding branches... just the leaves were a new idea to me... of course this whole aquarium thing is new as well.


jentralala 12-13-2012 06:05 PM

I have several kuhli loaches in my tank, and I recently introduced oak leaves to give them more places to hide and to eat. They love swimming in and out of the leaves and sleeping in them.
I also like how the leaves fill up empty space under a driftwood 'arch' I have that blocks light where plants can't grow. I love the natural look of it.

To prepare the leaves I boiled them in treated water for about 15 minutes to remove some of the tannins. I've also heard that this 'toughens' the leaves to last longer in the aquarium, but I have no idea if that's true or not.

JDM 12-23-2012 12:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Magnolia leaves just came to mind.

I attached a pic of a dried one, it is probably got a treatment on it as it is a part of some sort of arrangement but we have a magnolia tree out front for untreated leaves. The pic is of the bottom and you can see a bit of the top showing, the two sides are quite different and may be interesting in the tank.

It seems to be a fairly thick leaf and may last longer before it starts to really break down.

Odd, I cannot load more than one picture using the iPad. I don't think that the pics are too large as it just replaces the first one I selected with the next one.


Byron 12-23-2012 03:28 PM

Until someone can confirm this is safe, I would not risk magnolia leaves. I have read that the thicker leaves tend to be toxic. Unless I can find someone reliable to say this or that leaf is OK, it doesn't go in my tanks.

I'll tell you an experience a friend of mine had. He has been on several collecting trips to South America, primarily collecting cichlids. On one trip, he also brought back some leaves that were in the creek with the fish, and this species (can't remember which) used these leaves as spawning sites. He set up the tank for the fish and put the leaves in, and everything seemed fine for several weeks. Then literally overnight, the fish became sick and in a matter of days were all dead. Tests revealed that the leaves contained a natural but highly toxic sap. Obviously in the natural watercourse this had no impact as it would be carried downstream and the fish/water ratio would be minimal anyway. So even something perfectly natural for the fish in their habitat can turn out to be deadly within the confines of an aquarium.


JDM 12-23-2012 03:57 PM


Originally Posted by Byron (Post 1359912)
....even something perfectly natural for the fish in their habitat can turn out to be deadly within the confines of an aquarium.


Good point. I certainly wasn't going to put them in unless someone could say they were ok and I could find other concurring opinions.


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