• Hello guest! Are you an Apistogramma enthusiast? If so we invite you to join our community and see what it has to offer. Our site is specifically designed for you and it's a great place for Apisto enthusiasts to meet online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your fish and tanks and have a great time with other Apisto enthusiasts. Sign up today!

Leaves for Apistos

Bc95

New Member
Hi
I was wondering what kinds of leaves can you use for an apisto tank (to lower the ph and induce spawning) ? I heard of using oak leaves but was wondering if there were other options that I can use.
 

aquaticclarity

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Most hardwood tree leaves work well. I prefer to get the leaves once they have dried naturally as the tree has pulled a lot of the nutrients in the leaves out. Red oak is my favorite tree leaf to use but white oak, beach, and many other leaves work well too. The red oak leaves hold up longer for me, take on a nice rich red/purple color in the water, and have a great shape.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Trees that naturally grow in more acidic soil are best because their leaves are part of the reason that the soil is acidic. I've never heard of anyone adjusting pH etc. with elm or maple leaves.
 

Bc95

New Member
Thank you guys for the info. Can I use any type if oak leaves because I have a black oak in my yard?
 

Bc95

New Member
I also found some valley oak( Quercus lobata) and some coast live oak(Quercus agrifolia) in my area. Are these okay to use for apistogrammas?
 
Cool, I have tones of white oak here in Oregon, guess I can stop wasting money on almond leaves.

Sent from my Android using Tapatalk 2
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Just realize that the leaves of all species will react differently. Some are more acid producing than other. My suggestion is just try them out and see if you're satisfied.
 

Ben Rhau

Member
Hi all,

I found this thread because I live in San Francisco, where we have a lot of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) but no deciduous oak near my house. We also have magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora) nearby. I wanted to measure the effectiveness of these leaves for acidification of tap water compared with Indian almond leaves (Terminalia catappa). I know there are other reasons to use leaf litter, but it’s not as easy to directly measure those. I don’t know if this information will be useful to anyone outside of the Bay Area, but I found it interesting.

Methods:
I soaked ~0.75g of leaves in 750ml of tap water for 8 days. Negative control is tap water only. My tap water has pH of 8.3 and a conductivity of 49 μS. Containers were covered with parchment paper and kept at room temp (20C).

Caveats:
I don’t have a pH meter, so I’m using liquid test kits that only go down to 6.0.
I don’t have an analytical balance, so I used a kitchen scale for a larger number of leaves at the lower limit of sensitivity, and then scaled down. I know there’s error here, but when I ran the experiment with different parameters, I got similar results (with less resolution).

Here’s what I found:

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 9.50.31 PM.png


I stopped measuring the catappa after Day 4 because I can't measure pH below 6.0. Values for the other treatments did not change after Day 6. I also don’t have a spectrophotometer, but by eye, the catappa leaf water was clearly the mostly darkly stained with tannins. That treatment showed obvious staining after only 1 day, while the others stained more gradually over time.

Though the catappa leaves appear to be the most potent, I have an unlimited supply of live oak leaves, so it seems I’ll use more of those.

-Ben
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
Thank you @Ben Rhau that is really useful, and I think you are definitely good to carry on with the coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) leaves.
My tap water has pH of 8.3 and a conductivity of 49 μS.
That conductivity is really low, so you tap water is already pretty close to RO water.

The high pH may be because your water company add a small amount of a strong base (sodium hydroxide (NaOH)?) to raise the pH and protect copper pipes. I'm not sure about the USA, but in the UK nearly all our soft water is treated to raise pH. Assuming it is NaOH addition it will all go into solution as Na+ and OH- ions, so there is no reserve of buffer, and a small addition of acids (the humic compounds from the leaves) will depress the pH.
I also don’t have a spectrophotometer, but by eye, the catappa leaf water was clearly the mostly darkly stained with tannins. That treatment showed obvious staining after only 1 day, while the others stained more gradually over time.
I think tannin staining is probably a good proxy for pH reduction.

My guess would be that the Terminalia leaves will be completely degraded, while the Magnolia leaves will still be mainly intact.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

Ben Rhau

Member
Yes, they add NaOH to this water. The conductivity has varied, and I've measured it as high as 200 μS, but I've read in local forums that it's typically around 100 μS, still quite soft. I considered adding a small amount of buffer for this experiment to get better separation between my treatments within the testable range. But my first guess was to see if simply using more water (more OH- ions) was enough to do that.

Regarding degradation rate, 8 days was not enough time to completely degrade the leaves. However, you are correct that the Terminalia leaves degrade more rapidly. I've added those to my tank at the same time as Magnolia leaves. Over the course of weeks, the Terminalia are almost down to the skeletons, while the Magnolia are largely intact. The Quercus agrifolia leaves are quite a bit thinner, so perhaps one reason they are better acidifiers is that their surface area is more immediately accessible to water and microbe exchange.

-Ben
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
Yes, they add NaOH to this water
We had a lot of confusion in the UK when they started doing this. People were used to having soft, acid water and they were asking about lowering the pH now their water was "hard", and I was telling them that their water wasn't hard, it was alkaline and that it still didn't have any buffering, but by then you are into the realms of chemistry, and that was a step too far for a lot of people.
The conductivity has varied, and I've measured it as high as 200 μS, but I've read in local forums that it's typically around 100 μS, still quite soft.
I'm lucky, I live in England, where it really does rain a lot, and I use rain-water in the tanks. Our tap supply is from a deep limestone aquifer, and pretty good quality, it is about 18 dKH and 700 microS, and really only contains Ca++ and HCO3- ions, so I can just cut the rainwater with some tap to give me a nominal dKH value in the tanks.

I only measure conductivity and I just keep that in the 80 - 120 microS range. There is nothing magical about that value, our rainwater has some carbonate buffering and I can't reliably get the water much lower than that. I don't keep any "blackwater" fish because of this.

cheers Darrel
 

Ben Rhau

Member
I mix my peat-filtered tap with straight tap to save time. This keeps my pH between 6.5 and 6.8, with conductivity between 170 and 220 μS. The thing that keeps my conductivity up is the ferts. I am certainly starving my plants a little, but if I go lower in potassium or nitrogen, they get really unhappy. I can keep most "common" apistos in this range, but you're right I wouldn't be able to breed blackwater species without changing my setup and water change routine.
 

rasmusW

Active Member
this is always an interesting topic.
small (dumb, maybe) question though... do tree bark of the mentioned tree types yield the same compounds as the leafs?-i'd like to play around with adding shards of beech bark to my tanks.

-r
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
this is always an interesting topic. small (dumb, maybe) question though... do tree bark of the mentioned tree types yield the same compounds as the leafs?-i'd like to play around with adding shards of beech bark to my tanks.
Oak (Quercus spp.) and Alder (Alnus spp.) bark have a lot of tannins, and you can buy <"cinnamon bark etc for shrimp"> tanks etc. Have a look at "Tannin Aquatics" web site they will sell bark etc and have some suggestions for <"suitable barks and usage">.

cheers Darrel
 

rasmusW

Active Member
Thanks darrel!
I should perhaps have been more clear. I was just wondering why we use so little bark in contrast to the use of leafs and if it had to do with anything else than a desired look.

-i guess not...

-r
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
Thanks darrel!
I should perhaps have been more clear. I was just wondering why we use so little bark in contrast to the use of leafs and if it had to do with anything else than a desired look.

-i guess not...-r
I'm not sure, my main thought would be that bark would be a whole lot more difficult to harvest sustainably.

I've used Cork (Quercus suber) in the past (which is a <"sustainable harvest">), but it floats, so you really need to fasten it down, or use it as a "siliconed on" aquarium backing.

Also it isn't cheap, and dead leaves are PYO..........

cheers Darrel
 

rasmusW

Active Member
thanks again.. ye! you are absolutely right. -kinda gives itself, right..?! hehehe
i think i will "secure" some of the beech bark i got. i usually use beech wood to heat up the house.

-r
 
Top