Using Leaves in your Aquariums

🐠 The poll is open for the February TOTM! 🐠
FishForums.net Tank of the Month!
🏆 Click here to Vote! 🏆

connorlindeman

The Past Master
3x Tank of the Month!
Joined
Nov 18, 2021
Messages
3,667
Reaction score
3,146
Location
37.2431° N, 115.7930° W
il_1588xN.4270974634_9o21.jpg


To many beginner hobbyists, collecting leaf litter may not be at the top of their to-do list for setting up their aquarium. But while not popular, leaves can provide many significant benefits in your aquarium.

Why Leaves:
Many fish that you keep in your aquariums(such as discus) will never come into contact with aquarium plants. They would most likely live in a habitat full of leaves and swim in water stained by the tannins. Many of the fish collectors that catch your wild-caught fish will not even consider casting their nets if there is no leaf litter on the substrate.

Benefits:
Some of the benefits of leaf litter come from the released tannins. Adding dead leaves will result in the release of humic substances. This will cause the pH of the water to decrease and will act as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Some will even lower the heavy metal content of the water. Dead leaves can also act as a spawning trigger and can assist in the recovery of fish that have been damaged through fighting or stress.

A Natural Food Source:
The leaves will break down over time, producing infusoria as they do so, and the fish will have a natural food source. This is especially beneficial for fry. Fry grown in aquariums with leaves tend to grow bigger and faster. You will sometimes see the fry grazing on the leaves.

What Leaves to use:
It is very important that you positively identify the leaves before adding them to your tank. It should also be noted that you should only collect leaves that have fallen from the tree and are brown, not fresh green leaves. Fresh living leaves will not dry properly. They will still be green after months, indicating sap content. In autumn, deciduous trees will begin to shed their leaves. These are the leaves that you want to collect and add to your aquarium. Make sure only to collect leaves from places free of pollution and chemicals. You can fill large bags with leaves and store them for the year. If you have trouble identifying leaves, you can use a pocket guide or use the Picture This app. With one picture, the app will identify your leaf in seconds.
You will want to stick to hardwood leaves such as Oak, Maple, Walnut, Chestnut, Beech, and Birch. I prefer Oak leaves, but it's completely up to you.

How much to add:
It is difficult to add too many leaves. Just use your common sense. Adding too many leaves will result in the water turning brown with tannins. This is not harmful, but it may not be to your taste.

Proper use:
Many aquarists boil the leaves before use, but this is not necessary. While it will sterilize them, it will also kill off the beneficial bacteria and shorten their lifespan. I add them straight into the tank. The leaves will float at first, but most will sink within 24 hours. You won't need to remove the leaves because they will naturally break down over time. You can then add more leaves. Some leaves will last longer than others. Indian almond leaves will break down after a few months. Beech leaves can take more than half a year.

I really hope that this motivates you to add some leaves to your aquariums. Your fish will thank you.
il_794xN.4318369283_4mls.jpg
 

joeyr188

Fish Crazy
Joined
Nov 4, 2022
Messages
230
Reaction score
80
Location
Wa state
View attachment 306588

To many beginner hobbyists, collecting leaf litter may not be at the top of their to-do list for setting up their aquarium. But while not popular, leaves can provide many significant benefits in your aquarium.

Why Leaves:
Many fish that you keep in your aquariums(such as discus) will never come into contact with aquarium plants. They would most likely live in a habitat full of leaves and swim in water stained by the tannins. Many of the fish collectors that catch your wild-caught fish will not even consider casting their nets if there is no leaf litter on the substrate.

Benefits:
Some of the benefits of leaf litter come from the released tannins. Adding dead leaves will result in the release of humic substances. This will cause the pH of the water to decrease and will act as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Some will even lower the heavy metal content of the water. Dead leaves can also act as a spawning trigger and can assist in the recovery of fish that have been damaged through fighting or stress.

A Natural Food Source:
The leaves will break down over time, producing infusoria as they do so, and the fish will have a natural food source. This is especially beneficial for fry. Fry grown in aquariums with leaves tend to grow bigger and faster. You will sometimes see the fry grazing on the leaves.

What Leaves to use:
It is very important that you positively identify the leaves before adding them to your tank. It should also be noted that you should only collect leaves that have fallen from the tree and are brown, not fresh green leaves. Fresh living leaves will not dry properly. They will still be green after months, indicating sap content. In autumn, deciduous trees will begin to shed their leaves. These are the leaves that you want to collect and add to your aquarium. Make sure only to collect leaves from places free of pollution and chemicals. You can fill large bags with leaves and store them for the year. If you have trouble identifying leaves, you can use a pocket guide or use the Picture This app. With one picture, the app will identify your leaf in seconds.
You will want to stick to hardwood leaves such as Oak, Maple, Walnut, Chestnut, Beech, and Birch. I prefer Oak leaves, but it's completely up to you.

How much to add:
It is difficult to add too many leaves. Just use your common sense. Adding too many leaves will result in the water turning brown with tannins. This is not harmful, but it may not be to your taste.

Proper use:
Many aquarists boil the leaves before use, but this is not necessary. While it will sterilize them, it will also kill off the beneficial bacteria and shorten their lifespan. I add them straight into the tank. The leaves will float at first, but most will sink within 24 hours. You won't need to remove the leaves because they will naturally break down over time. You can then add more leaves. Some leaves will last longer than others. Indian almond leaves will break down after a few months. Beech leaves can take more than half a year.

I really hope that this motivates you to add some leaves to your aquariums. Your fish will thank you.
View attachment 306589
I can’t find any leaves like that can maple leaves work?
 

Sgooosh

Fish Connoisseur
Tank of the Month!
Fish of the Month!
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
6,528
Reaction score
2,873
Location
United States
I can’t find any leaves like that can maple leaves work?
I think oak leaves are used because they have lots of tannins and break down slowly
I think maple leaves will not harm fish.
maple leaves should not get that messy if they are thicker
 

bigroof

Fish Fanatic
Joined
May 3, 2020
Messages
80
Reaction score
40
Location
London
I agree with leaves being a benefit. When i use to keep betta fish, some body advised me to use a cattapa leaf in it. Luckily my LFS had some. Since then I use them in my tanks and you can just see the fish love it. I only use it in my shrimp and the community tank at the moment. I also like the brown tanning it gives. Gives the tank a natural look.
 

Alice B

Fish Addict
Joined
Feb 20, 2022
Messages
889
Reaction score
734
Location
Fort Worth, TX
I have brown oak leaves, on my shumardi red oak, that haven't blown off yet. Are they good? There is a catalpa at the end of the street but I'm not sure if it still has leaves. I have lots of brown sweetgum leaves, I will have brown live oak leaves. (Obviously I am not going to buy leaves) What should I be collecting?
 

Slaphppy7

Mod-o-holic
Staff member
Global Moderator ⚒️
Joined
Jan 20, 2021
Messages
8,165
Reaction score
6,967
Location
SE Texas
I have brown oak leaves, on my shumardi red oak, that haven't blown off yet. Are they good? There is a catalpa at the end of the street but I'm not sure if it still has leaves. I have lots of brown sweetgum leaves, I will have brown live oak leaves. (Obviously I am not going to buy leaves) What should I be collecting?
Only use leaves that have fallen from the tree, in a pollution-free area

Not sure catalpa leaves are safe for use in aquariums, but cattapa leaves (Indian Almond Leaves) certainly are

Oak leaves are fine
 

sharkweek178

Fishaholic
Joined
Aug 3, 2022
Messages
514
Reaction score
440
Location
Pittsburgh
Be careful where you collect from. By roadways is no good because of the exhaust residue collects on the leaves. I went to a local park that has a lot of oak trees. On a hunch, I called the borough and asked if they had sprayed any pesticides there. Turns out they had. So that was a non starter too.
 

Alice B

Fish Addict
Joined
Feb 20, 2022
Messages
889
Reaction score
734
Location
Fort Worth, TX
I have 2 lots, one has become a small forest, I think leaves from the center area should be free of any exhaust? I'm organic here, I keep bees.
 

emeraldking

Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator ⚒️
Joined
Sep 13, 2016
Messages
3,424
Reaction score
5,074
Location
NL
View attachment 306588

To many beginner hobbyists, collecting leaf litter may not be at the top of their to-do list for setting up their aquarium. But while not popular, leaves can provide many significant benefits in your aquarium.

Why Leaves:
Many fish that you keep in your aquariums(such as discus) will never come into contact with aquarium plants. They would most likely live in a habitat full of leaves and swim in water stained by the tannins. Many of the fish collectors that catch your wild-caught fish will not even consider casting their nets if there is no leaf litter on the substrate.

Benefits:
Some of the benefits of leaf litter come from the released tannins. Adding dead leaves will result in the release of humic substances. This will cause the pH of the water to decrease and will act as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Some will even lower the heavy metal content of the water. Dead leaves can also act as a spawning trigger and can assist in the recovery of fish that have been damaged through fighting or stress.

A Natural Food Source:
The leaves will break down over time, producing infusoria as they do so, and the fish will have a natural food source. This is especially beneficial for fry. Fry grown in aquariums with leaves tend to grow bigger and faster. You will sometimes see the fry grazing on the leaves.

What Leaves to use:
It is very important that you positively identify the leaves before adding them to your tank. It should also be noted that you should only collect leaves that have fallen from the tree and are brown, not fresh green leaves. Fresh living leaves will not dry properly. They will still be green after months, indicating sap content. In autumn, deciduous trees will begin to shed their leaves. These are the leaves that you want to collect and add to your aquarium. Make sure only to collect leaves from places free of pollution and chemicals. You can fill large bags with leaves and store them for the year. If you have trouble identifying leaves, you can use a pocket guide or use the Picture This app. With one picture, the app will identify your leaf in seconds.
You will want to stick to hardwood leaves such as Oak, Maple, Walnut, Chestnut, Beech, and Birch. I prefer Oak leaves, but it's completely up to you.

How much to add:
It is difficult to add too many leaves. Just use your common sense. Adding too many leaves will result in the water turning brown with tannins. This is not harmful, but it may not be to your taste.

Proper use:
Many aquarists boil the leaves before use, but this is not necessary. While it will sterilize them, it will also kill off the beneficial bacteria and shorten their lifespan. I add them straight into the tank. The leaves will float at first, but most will sink within 24 hours. You won't need to remove the leaves because they will naturally break down over time. You can then add more leaves. Some leaves will last longer than others. Indian almond leaves will break down after a few months. Beech leaves can take more than half a year.

I really hope that this motivates you to add some leaves to your aquariums. Your fish will thank you.
View attachment 306589
I use also leaves because of the pointers you've already given overhere. And maybe some of you may think: But don't you have livebearers? I do, but not all livebearers need hard water. But the main thing to me is that I use them as a fungal prevention.
 

TwoTankAmin

Fish Connoisseur
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
5,111
Reaction score
1,040
Location
USA- NY
I have to replace catappas in the one tank here I use them every two weeks. They fall apart and the there is the leaf skeleton and much and bits everywhere. I also use alder cones in the filters and rooibos tea which I brew and add to the changing water.
 

Most reactions

Top