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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

Is there leaf litter in your Shrimp tank?

This is my simple question.​

There are many positive things related to leaf litter in all kinds of environments and I am wondering who uses it and who does not. I do not mean a leaf or two either, I mean a good layer of this stuff maybe an inch or so thick, but not limited to just covering the tank bottom.

All I can think of is positive results from using it in shrimp tanks, and in my opinion very few people on this forum and in the USA use it in general. Personally I haven't started using it yet for one major reason. The "Bag o' leaves" I grabbed was mistaken as garbage and thrown into the lot next door, and I haven't collected anymore yet.

The idea behind this?

Its simple, shrimp eat things we cant see. Especially things that like lots of surface area and a food source. Leaf litter provides that, and the Shrimp eat it as well. It is said to increase survival rates of young shrimp and older shrimp alike. It seems to be a no loss addition to your shrimp tank right?

The good!

A large amount of leaf litter in your shrimp tank can have numerous positive outcomes. One simple outcome is that it provides a place where shrimp can hide, if you want to add small fish to your tank, adding leaf litter gives the shrimp another advantage. It becomes a self-sufficient food source. With the leaves slowly breaking down there are things at work here, also adding other small bugs like copepods and daphnia possibly also bloodworms and such will provide food if it has shrimp that are not algae eaters exclusively or if you have a fish tank it can make leaving the tank for a week or so much easier. For people wishing to achieve a lower Ph Indian almond leaves and some people report that oak leaves help to lower the hardness of the water. With all this good is there any bad?


Possible problems:

1. Shrimp in general are very sensitive to chemicals and fertilizers. Collecting leaves outside may have lots of those in contact with them.

Solution: Know where you are collecting and possible chemicals. It is best to collect from an area that you know is free of chemical treatments and fertilizers.

2. Leaves releasing tannis and making it impossible to see into your tank.

Solution: Treat your leaf litter beforehand to hopefully avoid that!

3. Its messy having decomposing leaves in my tank.

Solution: Yes it will be messy, but it is for the health of your shrimp especially helping to get more babies to survive. As long as you incorporate it into your tank well, it should look great. This is of course not required to keep shrimp and many people have had success without it so this may not be for you.


Treating leaf litter:


Treating leaf litter can be a very simple process or a very complicated one depending on where you got the leaves and how paranoid you are. There are several easy ways people treat leaf litter.

1. Simply wash off the dirt and debris this is probably the simplest way, which is easiest to do as long as you know that the leaves are safe.
2. Boiling the leaves is another method used. It helps them to release tannis is any is going to be released and it will kill anything on them hopefully. The only downside to this is that it can help them break down faster.
3. Baking them at a 350degrees in the oven for approximately 30 minuets. Followed by letting them cool and soak in water to wash off the debris and hydrate them.
4. Microwaving them also is an option if you have a microwave. I wouldn’t just use the microwave on them, because I doubt it does too much compared to boiling or baking them.
5. Freezing the leaves is an option if you have extra freezer space somewhere. Most Zoos freeze for 30+ days so if you are in a hurry this is impractical.
6. Finally doing a bleach water solution of about 10% bleach 90% water can work. The downside is that they need to have them air dry for a day or so. If they’re going into a tank with sensitive shrimp I would also give them a bath in something similar to Prime because it can’t hurt, but might not do much.
7. The only 100% absolute way to sterilize anything really is to use an autoclave which 99% of the people ever reading this will not have access to. Basically it is a VERY high pressure, pressure cooker that has heat and steam that will kill everything. Trying to use a pressure cooker instead will not work unless you have a very high-pressure pressure cooker.

How Much?

Many people do put in a leaf or two in their tanks, but I would not consider that leaf litter. I would say the minimum requirement to consider you have leaf litter in your tank is to have a good two to three leaves on top of each other at all time in your leaf litter. So a good inch or so should be great. With a larger amount of leaf litter you may have more of a tannis problem so running your filter with carbon and other commercially sold products to remove tannis is probably a good idea if you do not like it. You also may have a fungus/mold outbreak but the shrimp should clean that up within the first week or so.

In Conclusion…

Originally this guide was started by me because I have always wanted to keep poison dart frogs and started reading about all the positives this has with keeping it in their tanks. People swear by it with their Pumilios for raising the young in a good leaf litter with lots of small bugs in it. We have similar problems with our tanks and raising some of the more delicate shrimp so I believe this should help the problem when done correctly. I could never have finished this without all the information on Dendroboard.com and on The Planted Tank.net forums, especially some of the topics on Dendroboard about leaf litter the moderator “Elmoisfive” posted specific temperatures and time for baking leaves, which I used in this article because I had neither time nor temperature for baking.

Thanks for taking the time to read!
-Andrew

Also known as Fish Newb and a hill on Dendroboard.

PS. If there is anything anyone would wish for me to add to make this better please shoot me a PM!

 

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I recently discussed this on APC.

leaves found in urban/suburban areas are
rarely subject to fertilizers and pesticides,
so if you rinse the leaves a while before
putting them in you tank, they'll be fine.

Beech and Oak leaves are best.
they leech the least tanins and
break down the slowest without
altering your water chemistry.

Catt, in general, plants release phosphates
and fish release nitrates, as they degrade.

you can use almond leaves,
but they tanin, are expensive,
and are generally reserved for
fish health applications, not for
tank decor.
 

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I have used leaf litter before but the problem is it creates a lot of mess in the tanks (most of it eventually decays). The problem is you are then left with the stems and other woody pieces of leaves in the tank. If your shrimp are breeding well you will have babies running around everywhere making it really hard to actually clean the mess out....not to mention catching the babies when you want to sell them ;).
 

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Bill; how well do Mulberry leaves maintain their form when long submerged?
how did you know about using them? read elsewhere, or trial and error?
which of these three variation of Mulberry leaf are you working with?



oblong, I agree with your practical concerns. That's why I like to use Lava Rocks in my shrimp breeding tank. they provide lot's of nooks and crannies for shrimp to eat off and hide, and are easy to remove with a quick shake to keep the fry in the tank while cleaning my bare slate bottom tank.
 

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Yes that is the same, Trial and error and seeing how it is a fruit tree I felt safe using it. Not much Oak in the central deserts of AZ. They last about a week or a little more in the RCS tank that is highly populated and a bit longer in the others. The snails hit them hard as well.

No issues with water quality either.

Bill
 

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Bill, sounds like you are basically clipping green mulberry leaves and feeding them to your snails. I think most here are looking for dried brown and red leaves to put in our tanks as natural fall decor, that last longer than a week, and won't get eaten up by most tank inhabitants.
 

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Hi Spypet,

I use only dried brown leaves after soaking to remove tannins. Green leaves are a no-no in a shrimp tank. I prefer not to feed the snails, but they are in most of my tanks LOL The variety I am using is the one on the right in the photo you posted with your question...

I use the leaves as a food source for my shrimp only although I do like the look of them in the tank, sort of gives the natural look...

Here is one of my tanks (RCS)

Bill
 

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I recently discussed this on APC.

leaves found in urban/suburban areas are
rarely subject to fertilizers and pesticides,
so if you rinse the leaves a while before
putting them in you tank, they'll be fine.

.
Maybe not in NY, but here they are. We have our yard perimeter sprayed once a month, at least once per season we spray for fleas, the county comes in several times per year and sprays for mosquitoes...
Makes me nervous using leaves from my backyard, though I do have two huge live oaks.
 

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I've always dried and boiled leaves before putting them in a tank. I've only used oak, but I think the leaves from my cherry tree would be safe. They'd just break down more quickly.
 

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earlier this fall i we down to the lake for an hour of snorkeling in ashallow, quiet bay. a really cool spot that i saw was very still, shallow water up underneath some big silver maples. the trees had already started to lose some leaves, which covered the silty bottom. i thought that that would be such a cool theme for a tank--a leaf-covered bottom with maybe just a single water lily reaching up to the top and throwing shade on the bottom, just like i saw there.

with monitoring of the effects of the leaf matter it could be interesting from an ecological standpoint too.
 

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I was thinking of using leaves from my parents fig tree as thats about the only tree they have in there yard...and I have none in my yard. Anyone have experience with fig leaves?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey guys all good information and things covered thanks.

Spypet, I personally would say generally that information about pesticides is false. They are very commonly used sadly. And especially with delicate shrimp like CRS and BD it makes me nervous thinking about putting them in. Then again I put a LOT more in my tanks than most people do some things straight out of local streems.:icon_cool :icon_roll

Sorry I haven't updated the original post yet, been too tired to really do the other research and write more. I want it to be presentable etc so I'm going to take my time on this. I'm also going to try and cover benefits of using a good sized leaf litter base in community tanks and fish only tanks. Many good things can be seen from leaf litter. In my opinion in most tanks, we are adding too many big things before the small stuff like all the good bugs:thumbsup: more on that later, just some food for thought.

Spy I'm pretty sure all of NE is sprayed from the air for mosquitoes. Personally I'm quiet opposed to that because of the other things it kills, but humans value themselves much higher than the small stuff it seems. I'm pretty posative they use pesticides and the likes in central park as well:thumbsup:

So more coming soon.

-Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
what about leaves from those threes with paper bark?
I believe you're talking of white birch or paper birch, don't know Latin names off hand... :help:

Their leaves are very thin and with that being said I would assume they would not last too long in a shrimp tank, but may look very nice. I'll collect some sometime and see how they do.

Sorry about dp, was ninja'd

-Andrew
 

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Hello Oblongshrinp,

I have not tried fig leaves, but I would think they would be fine. You are not far from me and many yards in your area have male mulberry trees for shade. Nice shade trees and used all over the valley. Come up to Morristown and you can get a sack full, no ferts or sprays. MM 124 on Grand Ave. West to Wickenburg, I manage Desert Oasis Mobile Home Park and we have a bunch of them.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just want to say,

Most tree's leaves will be fine some may be toxic and plan on having a part of the "guide" so to speak about that.

Let me say, no poison oak or ivy should be added to your tank. Just a community message lol...

But usually people want leaves to last a long time so the thicker leaves like oak and magnolia are chosen.

-Andrew
 
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