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leaves & gravel vacuuming

dan4x4

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11 Nov 2013
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Can you have a healthy aquarium where the substrate is covered in leaves? Provided I add them slowly maybe a couple a week and build up? With the target being approx 30% of the tank.

I know there was a post recently about gravel vacuuming and I gravel vacuum every week, I guess I won't be able to do this effectively if covered in leaves.

I always go out this time of year and collect oak leaves.

Last year I added oak leaves and some alder cones. Alder cones looked to produce the most tannins. This year I might boil the alder cones and use the stained water to get the shade of water I'm after.

I intermittently use catappa leaves. I don't use them all the time, as it would get expensive, considering you're buying stuff you can go and collect for free when out with the dog.

I might just do it anyways. Unless many people tell me this is a terrible idea.

I have 7-10 x filtration.
 

Edvet

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Why would you want to vacuum gravel all the time?
You have a filter maintaining water quality, plants and water changes do the same. In the gravel a lot of bacteria reside keeping the tank healthy too.
I biotope like tanks a thick layer of mulch in a corner provides nourishment to offspring. Nature isn't sterile, it's balanced
 

dan4x4

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Honestly, even if I gravel vac twice weekly I have plenty of build up of organic waste.

I think this was partly due to the Aponogeton boivinianus and Aponogeton madagascariensis struggling to survive and dropping leaves.

Also I get algae along the glass on the front, despite their being an inch between where the dirt starts and the glass on the aquarium.
 

dan4x4

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I'm going to try beech leaves as I know they take longer to break down.

Also going to boil some alder cones and use the water this time.

I just hope it doesn't become an algae fest.
 

ceg4048

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Err.. there's plenty of reason to gravel vac.
Our tanks are NOT nature. They are constructs of our imagination, just...like...The Matrix.
Eliminating organic waste in the gravel AND in the filter medium is a really important procedure because this is a closed system not a natural an open system. In a CO2 tank the rate of organic waste production is absurdly high, with nowhere to go. In a low tech tank you can get away with it, because everything happens an order of magnitude more slowly. If you are injecting high levels of CO2 then you should consider cleaning your filter every 2-3 weeks.

As far as the oak leaves go, you should be OK as long as the leaves aren't left long enough to rot.

Cheers,
 
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I also collected oak leaves this week. Drying them out now. I leave them in there forever. Dry leaves can be stored in bags for future use so when I find a pristine source I take enough to last till next autumn
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dan4x4

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Nice tank splattered brains. Do you put yours straight into the tank or boil them first? I really like the colour of the water you have.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I call the leaves we add deliberately "structural leaf litter" to differentiate them from dead leaves from aquatic plants etc. I have some "structural leaves" in all my tanks.

There is a useful article (on Seriously Fish), by the Betta etc breeder Colin Dunlop <"All the leaves are brown">.

Tannin Aquatics also have <"some articles"> about the items they sell.

Some leaves are very resistant to decay, and @Lindy tells me that Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) leaves are the longest lasting she has used so far. Other "leaves that last" are Beech (Fagus sylvatica), Camellia, Oak (Quercus spp.) and Evergreen Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora).

It isn't like adding a soft, green, plant leaf, when you add dead leaf litter from an Oak tree etc. all the sugars and proteins (that would have contributed to the bioload) have already been withdrawn by the plant, before it sheds the leaf.

What is left are the structural carbohydrates that the plant builds its "skeleton" with, and the tannins etc that are there to deter grazers, fungi and bacteria.

If you want a less messy way of adding tannins, Alder "cones" (Alnus spp.) work really well, but hey don't create the grazing surfaces and crevices that the leaves do.

cheers Darrel
 
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Lindy

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If you are after a tea stain then rooibos tea bags are the cheapest way to do it without the potential ph drop with alder cones. Beech leaves don't give much stain but last ages so make a great combination with rooibos bags. Loquat leaves do last a long time but not longer than beech. I prefer the loquat in the big tank though as they are much bigger and have gorgeous colour and texture.
a2ab0f98605fc72828ff89a3df0f89e2.jpg


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dan4x4

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Ah thanks Lindy that might work better! I'll give it ago.

Loquat leaves definitely have more of a jungle look about them than beech. Do you have your own Loquat plant or do you buy them online? I might try growing one for the leaves as they do look awesome.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
If you are after a tea stain then rooibos tea bags are the cheapest way to do it without the potential ph drop with alder cones.
There are some <"threads on Planetcatfish"> about <"Rooibos tea bags">.
Loquat leaves definitely have more of a jungle look about them than beech. Do you have your own Loquat plant or do you buy them online? I might try growing one for the leaves as they do look awesome.
Lindy has her own personal supplier of Loquat leaves;).

Other than <"Tannin Aquatics"> I'm not aware of another seller of whole dead leaves. Magnolia grandiflora leaves are also big and structural and they are sold for <"Dart Frog vivaria"> etc.

If you want to try "grow your own" the Loquat tree <"isn't entirely hardy">, but should be OK in the S of England, unless you live somewhere cold, even then it may be OK on a sunny wall.

I grew my original tree from a fruit pip, but I've never seen a fruiting one in the UK, other than at RBG Kew (in the Kew Palace garden?). You can grew it from a semi-hardwood cutting (that is how I grew the other ones), but they are slow to root and air-layering might be a better option. I never seen one for sale at a Garden Centre etc, but <"some Nurseries"> sell them.

cheers Darrel
http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=43486&p=296967&hilit=Rooibos#p296967
 

Lindy

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Ah thanks Lindy that might work better! I'll give it ago.

Loquat leaves definitely have more of a jungle look about them than beech. Do you have your own Loquat plant or do you buy them online? I might try growing one for the leaves as they do look awesome.
Darrel very kindly keeps me in Loquat

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Nelson

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Some info here as well http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/articles/2016/10/28/free-tank-decor

I also boil Alder cones to get darker water.I just steep leaves in boiling water.
Think I might have to try the teabags though :D.

I find you do get quite a build up of waste under the leaves,but I remove the leaves once a month to get most out.
Then put the good ones back in and some fresh ones.

https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/nelsons-low-tech-asian-blackwater.46145/

https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/nelsons-120p.43159/page-4
 

zozo

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I don't use so many of them, don't realy like to black water.. But near my home there is a piece of land growing a lot of young beech and oak trees and there are also Alder trees. It's heaven for me, go there every fall and always collect the smalles leaves from the smalles trees i can find. Keeps the whole scale of the scape a bit more in perspective.. I have to many plants to use those huge cappata leaves, they cover to much area.
 

dan4x4

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Well the tannins are in, i used 2 bags. it looks darker more yellow in real life.

I think I need a darker shade for a more natural look.
 

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dan4x4

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another pic - maybe makes it look a bit better.
 

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dan4x4

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compared to this.
 

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