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Blue Ridge

Oak leaves and how I use them in shrimp tanks

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Blue Ridge

Posted this on another forum but thought it might be of some use here. For the first few years of shrimp keeping I bought many shrimp-specific items that I no longer see any need for. Among these are dried leaves, cones and such. There's nothing wrong with these "products," but I do feel that they are rather pricey for what they are and most of us probably have similar shrimp foods growing all around us. I've come to use mostly oak leaves for my shrimp and put these in every new tank as well. If there's any downside to these vs catappa and such, it isn't evident. These last about the same amount of time, release some tannins, grow biofilm well and basically "seem" the same to my untrained eye.

I like to cut a limb or find one broken from wind and dry that out rather than picking leaves off of the ground:
EgpkA5s.jpg

After about a month, they will look like this:
susvUJz.jpg

I pull the leaves off and stick them in baggies and crush them somewhat:
3GASqGZ.jpg

Then I add RO water to the baggies and let sit overnight. I didn't photograph this step. Next I strain off the water and add them to tanks. These four have been running with no shrimp, two of them since April. The idea is to let as much algae and biofilm grow as needed:
Ou9YnRI.jpg

Total cost, 9 cents for the baggie, and maybe a penny's worth of RO water. The limb above provided a modest pile of leaf litter for 8 aquariums.

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sdlTBfanUK

I also use oak leaves and some others but I just gather a carrier bag full of brown dropped leaves in winter, unless I speak nicely to a  gardener when they are around doing maintenance in the gardens in winter? House and gardens aren't near enough to a road to suffer from any pollution luckily - important when gathering them that there is no pollution or pesticides etc on them! If you have natural woods nearby that would be a great way to get loads?

They then go in the tank, as is, a few at a time (they float for a day or 2 as they are dry) throughout the year and the rest just stay in the plastic carrier bag - if they were damp/wet when collected I just dry them out on a table in the sun before storing them in the plastic carrier bag. About half an hour of collecting leaves means enough for a whole year. They should be fallen leaves that are brown as far as I am aware, not picked from the tree! I think the others I do this with are mulberry (???) but I do also buy/use Indian Almond Leaves, they won't grow in our climate as far as I know????

Great write up Blue Ridge!

Simon

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Blue Ridge

After a month in the sun, the green leaves turn quite brown. My biggest concern is contamination, and I feel that's less likely if I take them from the air. As for adding water to the bags, that's just to water log them so that they sink right away. Probably lots of ways this can be achieved, just sharing what works for me. 👍

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sdlTBfanUK

That's a handy tip for getting the leaves to sink otherwise they float for a couple of days! We must be quite lucky here as our leaves don't curl/roll up like the ones in your photos. I guess you can just put some water in a cup and let them soak until they sink as well if you don't like/want them floating in the tank until they sink!

Simon

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Blue Ridge
6 hours ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

We must be quite lucky here as our leaves don't curl/roll up like the ones in your photos.

I wonder why that would be? I'd think an oak is an oak wherever it's growing. Perhaps a result of me leaving them in the sun? It's not a big issue, once they get soaked they become pliable and soft it's just a head scratcher...

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jayc
7 hours ago, Blue Ridge said:

Perhaps a result of me leaving them in the sun?

That might be it. I collect my oak leaves in autumn, and they are not curled either.

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