If you are thinking of getting into the world of fish keeping or even if you've only just adopted your first beautiful betta fish, you've probably heard of the many merits of Indian almond leaves. Indian almond leaves, or leaves from the Terminalia catappa tree, are popular additions to a fish tank or aquarium, especially aquariums that are home to betta fish. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here are the important advantages and disadvantages to consider.
The most common reason to add Indian almond leaves to a fish aquarium is that they naturally and safely lower the pH of the water. When you have hard water with a high carbonate level, it can be difficult to maintain the perfect pH level for fish, especially finicky betta fish that thrive at specific pH levels. Rather than adding chemical solutions that only temporarily change the pH, adding Indian almond leaves can safely lower the pH long-term. How does it work? Indian almond leaves are full of tannic acid. When added to the tank, they slowly release these tannins into the water, effectively lowering the pH level.
Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Fungal, Anti-Parasitic
In addition to lowering pH, the tannins in Indian almond leaves have many other health benefits for your fish. In fact, one study proved that the tannins in the leaves are effective at naturally reducing bacterial growth and fungal growth in fish as well as preventing parasites without the need for harmful chemicals.
Another benefit of these multifaceted leaves is that they provide habitat for fish. This is especially useful for breeders because the leaves create the perfect protective location for releasing spawn. They can also function as shelter and food for baby fish, aka fry.
If you like crystal clear water in your aquarium, you might find Indian almond leaves frustrating. That's because the tannins slowly dye the water brown over time, like a teabag in water. Although these tannins are very beneficial to the fish, the darker water does alter the aesthetic. The leaves will also break down over time if left in the tank for too long and many fish keepers find the residue messy and unappealing.
Not Ideal For All Fish
Because the tannins in the leaves lower the pH of the water, they aren't ideal for all types of fish, particularly those that prefer hard water or a higher pH environment.
Contact a local fish supply store to learn more about products like grade A Indian almond leaves.