keeping water clear with almond leaves - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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keeping water clear with almond leaves

I have fairly hard water in the South Bay Area, and I plan to be keeping Altum Angel fish soon, and these fish require softer water.

I was thinking about using some oak or almond leaves in my canister to soften the water, but I hate the look of brown water. I currently use purigen in both my canisters and was wondering if the purigen would be able to absorb the tannins released but still allow the water to be softened?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 04:54 PM
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i'm not positive but i dont think that the effects of the leaves are that much, ro water would probably be your best bet
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Would oak leaves work better? I have an RO/DI set up for drinking water, but it produces only a few gallons a day, and it'd be hard to "stock up" on it in order to do a 20+ gallon water change.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 06:02 PM
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I've got one of these http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/store/...rd-system.html but with two membranes instead of one. I can fill a large-size garbage can with water in about 5 hours.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 06:15 PM
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You can also buy RO/DI water from a LFS as well. One near me sells it .30 per gallon.


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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 06:48 PM
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Oak leaves make the water yellow. Indian almond leaves make the water more brown.
Just filter with peat to soften and then carbon to remove the color. Soaking the peat before hand to take out some color helps too. I just use garden peat stuffed in a media bag and thrown in an old HOB on the side of a bucket.
I make my own blackwater extract with oak leaves for tetras and just put a little piece of indian almond leaf in the bottom of the betta bowl/tank if I am using that. Indian almond leaf works better than oak for bettas----makes them bulletproof. The oak extract works for me to spawn tetras whenever I think I am going to have time to raise the babies. I like the color for bettas and tetras; keeps bettas calmer and makes tetras color up better.
Oak and Indian almond leaves arent really what you want to use just to soften tank water.
For me its more of a treatment or preventative medicine in my tanks or betta bowls. It does help keep algae and bacteria in check though.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
...........
For me its more of a treatment or preventative medicine in my tanks or betta bowls. It does help keep algae and bacteria in check though.
Have you seen any discussion where someone has verified that those leaves will actually do that? I have been intrigued by them for some time, but I can't yet figure out why they would be effective. People who use them with good results isn't really a "proof" that they work. To do that one needs to do some comparison testing.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-23-2010, 09:28 PM
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i was thinking about trying them too.
there is someone on aquariumadvice.com that is selling them.

hoppy, i'm not really that scientific kinda guy, if i were to buy them what type of testing would you do?
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 02:38 AM
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I have done my own experiments and the results are definitive to me.
I've raised and bred bettas my whole life, hardly ever in an aquarium except to grow out fry. When I was skeptical I put it to the test by putting a one inch square of Indian Almond Lead in 3 of my bowls and didn't in my 3 controls. I made notes every week for a month. After 1 month the blackwater bowls were fine but the controls needed a water change badly. The blackwater bowls were still fine after 2 more months! The control fish were not in breeding condition but the blackwater fish were still blowing bubbles and readily mated even after 3 months without water changes.
After I sold off a bunch of my breeders I inherited a couple of bettas in bad condition (both had velvet) from a friend and put one in a blackwater bowl and another in the same water minus a chunk of almond leaf. After a week the blackwater betta was totally healed and the other was definitely not. That was enough for me.
I've seen some leaves being sold as Indian Almond leaves that were not so ask the LFS if they have tried them themselves.
I couldn't get neons to breed for the longest time until I saw a recipe for DIY blackwater extract online that used oak leaves so I tried that with a little tinkering and BAM the females fattened up and they spawned a few weeks later.
Dont EVER use the Tetra brand blackwater extract! It is just B vitamins and some boiled peat. It is extremely acidic and it even has nicotinamide (a B vitamin that is derived from nicotine and is used as a stimulant in laboratory animals). We used to dope earthworms with chewing tobacco in college to dissect them easier so I am guessing nicotine does not agree with fish as well.

You can make the extract with the almond leaves but I just let it happen naturally because I don't want to waste the leaves.
The tetra viagra recipe is as follows:
Find a bunch of dry oak leaves (20 is plenty--I used white oak) from an area that doesn't spray poisons, then wash them with water to get any dirt off. Then dry them in the sun again. Once they are dry, plop them in a pot with tap water and let them soak for a day or two. Then put the pot on the stove and boil them until the water looks like weak coffee or strong tea. It doesn't taste good so don't drink it. Let it cool. Strain it through coffee filters or cheese cloth. I then stored it in an old water bottle with a squirt lid that I had sterilized with boiling water. I kept it in a dark cabinet in case it spoiled when exposed to light. I then mixed it with some tank water in a cup and poured it on in. It will lower the pH a tad and also stain the water yellow but it won't make it cloudy. I was able to remove the color with activated carbon once but it might have removed the good qualities along with it.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 02:43 AM
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Using oak leaves, peat moss, and other leaves that make water acid, and decrease hardness is a classic way of softening water. This is a comparatively long, slow process and will tint the water in the process. It's great if you want your own "blackwater". IMHO, it's a pain to do and too much like work.

Also note the trend by some to change 50% of the water in the tank a week. If your using your own "blackwater" that's a lot of containers around just to make it.

I recommend you go out get an RO/DI unit. One that makes 25 to 75 gal per day should work fine for most people. The water will be clean, colorless, and all set for use. You can use a product like RO/Right if you want to build a little hardness in the water prior to use. Discus keepers and reef keepers have been using RO/DI water for years. The initial cost is about $150, which when compared to some items available in the hobby, is inexpensive. Plus, it's a lot less work.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 03:23 AM
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May I suggest the clear version of atison's betta spa? some along the lines of this : http://ibcbettas.org/eshop/index.php...roducts_id=518
It has all the effects of IAL but as a prepared liquid. I've never used the clear version personally, but the colored version works just as well as IALs. Just my 2 cents.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timwag2001 View Post
i was thinking about trying them too.
there is someone on aquariumadvice.com that is selling them.

hoppy, i'm not really that scientific kinda guy, if i were to buy them what type of testing would you do?
Since I'm not a chemist it isn't easy for me to figure out the best way to test something like this. I think I would want to test the water to see what water changes occurred with the leaves. Then I might try to match the changed water using some other way to get there, and run a tank with each type of water, same plants, substrate, light, and fish. Then I would watch for differences. After doing this 2 or 3 times with significant differences, I would conclude that the leaves were effective.

Of course if you have a problem, do something different, and the problem goes away, you will want to continue with whatever you think was the fix. But, until you do more rigorous testing you can never be sure that what you did was really the fix.

This type of testing has probably already been done, but I haven't seen any report on it that I can remember. Franco's experience in his post above makes me think these leaves really do what they are reputed to do.

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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 05:06 PM
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In planted tanks that I used IAL or my Tetra Viagra Extract, I noticed that greenwater algae, green spot algae, and nasty brown hair algae were all reduced to near nothing. I currenty have a large betta bowl with driftwood bits covered with java fern, water lettuce, and duckweed in it that was been having cloudiness problems and a biofilm forming on the surface (oil slick). I scrounged up my old almond leaves that I found when packing to move this next week and put a piece in there. 2 days later the water went from murky to slighly yellow but clear and the water lettuce seems to be bouncing back. The betta is all feisty and his appetite has improved. I wish I had found my leaves sooner.
I miss having my dozens and dozens of bettas and my tanks but being able to put all my effort into just one betta bowl and a couple of experiment tanks is much less work. I've done parameter tests on the blackwater bowls and tanks before and they seem to show reduced nitrogen (any form) and a slight drop in pH but hardness and alkalinity don't seem any more effected than normal (maybe decreasing at a slightly faster rate). I attributed these findings to an increase in efficiency by the plants. The blackwater let changed something so that they could absorb more N and use the bicarbonates more readily possibly. The death of the algae could have helped, too.

I always found softening water with peat to be easy. I just let the filter run and walk away. Then I can dilute it if it gets to acidic then run it through carbon. I got a 100 lb bag of activated carbon from an old employer (aquaculture research) and have never had to buy the overpriced stuff at the store. For God's sake its just burned coconut shells!
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 06:43 PM
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When something is that effective there has to be a discoverable reason. That is where being an experienced chemist would help. I just don't have the education nor the experience to either guess what the reason is or figure out how to prove it.

A little googling led me to these, and other articles:
http://www.sciencearticlesonline.com...r-conditioner/

vet.kku.ac.th/journal/pdf/jv181/4.pdf

No mention in any that I read, about anti algae properties.

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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2010, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco View Post
I have done my own experiments and the results are definitive to me.
I've raised and bred bettas my whole life, hardly ever in an aquarium except to grow out fry. When I was skeptical I put it to the test by putting a one inch square of Indian Almond Lead in 3 of my bowls and didn't in my 3 controls. I made notes every week for a month. After 1 month the blackwater bowls were fine but the controls needed a water change badly. The blackwater bowls were still fine after 2 more months! The control fish were not in breeding condition but the blackwater fish were still blowing bubbles and readily mated even after 3 months without water changes.
The topic is about almond leaves and keeping water clear, not breeding bettas. In case you forgot...........I can make similar claims with adding manzanita or oak wood with shrimps.

Does not mean I'd be correct however.
Correlation? Sure? Cause or any decent understanding about how and why?
No way. It's inconclusive.


Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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