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I hear form some sources here and there that adding in dead leaves will help them eat and such, but how exactly do you prepare the leaves and how does it actually help them?
 

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Yes, they are one of the best things you can put in a shrimp tank. While it looks like the shrimp are "eating the leaves," what is actually happening is the leaves are getting broken down by all kinds of microorganisms, and the shrimp are eating those.

It works best with hardwood leaves (oak, etc.), though obviously it will vary a lot depending upon where you live. You go out and collect some leaves that are brown, from an area where you know there has not been any pesticide use. Rinse off any surface dirt, and then throw them in a bucket. When they are waterlogged enough to naturally sink (usually just a few days), they are ready to put in your tank.

Your shrimp will love you for it. :hungry:
 

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Rinse off any surface dirt, and then throw them in a bucket. When they are waterlogged enough to naturally sink (usually just a few days), they are ready to put in your tank.
I have been doing this lately & the shrimp do love the leaves. Do you throw them in a bucket of water from the tank (like used water after a water change) or use tap water (treated, or not)? I have been soaking the leaves in water from a water change, but am now seeing seed shrimp or other small organisms zipping around in the tank that I did not see before. I'm wondering if I need to adjust the protocol so I don't introduce any nasties.
 

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If you are worried about that, you could always put them through a dilute potassium permangenate dip before soaking them. That should kill anything on them from the outside. I've never done that before but it would certainly be possible.
 

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I am easgerly awaiting for the oak trees to drop their leaves. Then I plan on collecting lots. I intend to boil my leaves for just a little.

I want to get lots so I can freeze them over the winter too.

they say oak is used because when it dies down in autumn, that all the nurtients are drawn back into the tree and leave the leaf.

I understand the leaves also might provide hiding spots for baby shrimp too.
 

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they say oak is used because when it dies down in autumn, that all the nurtients are drawn back into the tree and leave the leaf.
Any deciduous tree draws most of the nutrients back before shedding leaves. If last year's leaves are still available, they are good, too. I don't think you have to worry about unwanted organisms.
 

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I personally think it is a little more hype....

From my experience, yes the shrimp do tend to graze on it for a while, and the leaves makes the tank look nice. But from a functional standpoint, I don't think the leaves really add that much. I haven't noticed a change in how often my shrimp breed or their longevity, etc and I personally could do without them (but I did buy some, so might as well use them!).

So just my 2 cents before anyone rushes out to buy them (which doesn't seem like the case here!)
 

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No need to spend money on leaves. Oak trees are everywhere. Though I heard not to use walnut. Can someone second that?
 

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Walnut leaves release an unusually large amount of dark tannins into the water. Other than that, no problem. Probably they need to be soaked longer with several water changes before they are put in the aquarium.
 

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Guys I have recently tried almond leaves in my shrimp tanks and I see the benefits. The tanin released from the leaves and the decomposition provides better water quality and nutrient to the shrimp. I don't know of the benefits of other leaves but would be willing to hear about the benefits from other leaves as well.
 

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You can use -most- leaves to provide tannin and slow decomposition to improve water quality, though of course you have to keep up water changes or elsethe water gets too dark for plants. Also note that the tannins do chelate metal ions which can make some more bioavailable but they'll lower the water softness so plants that need hard water...

The waxier and harder a leaf is the slower it will take to decompose. Generally the lighter the leaf is in colour the less dark tannins it releases (and most tannins are dark, so generally this means the less tannins total). For instance, the common Magnolia grandiflora is a good choice if you want slow decomposition and moderate tannins. Pines of course decompose very slowly too and have a moderate amount of tannins. They'll also add pine oil which may have a bacteriacidal effect. My pine needle teas have never hurt my fish btw (and they smell nice!).

I've actually used cheap black tea leaves to create a high tannin environment with high decomposition for breeding bettas. I put the tea into a nylon mesh bag and chucked it into the tank with the males and it worked great.

Once a leaf turns brown on the tree and falls off the tree has taken out as much of the proteins (nitrogen) and mobile nutrients (like phosphorus) from the leaves so they won't increase ammonia too much. Now if its a green leaf then yeah, you'll have problems.
 

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Good thread! I collected some oak leaves on a hiking trail the other day straight from the tree. I hope within a month or to they will dry up and then I can start using some.
 
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