I use them in all of my tanks. I rescue bettas and most are in pretty bad condition...The effect is seen overnight for me.
There are anti fungal and antibacterial properties as well. I've treated some mild fungal cases with it. But its an awesome pro active action you can take to avoid having issues. Boiling or steeping will remove this beneficial property.
It also speeds up healing of wounds and supposedly hardens scales. IT also induces breeding. I haven't tested it myself but i know my bettas make huge bubble nests when IAL is in their tank.
OH and I tested how the bettas liked it by using it in one of a recent rescue's tank and not adding it to another rescue's tank. It was a 24 hour test and the results were..wow. I added IAL after the test and the same results for the IAl'less betta during the test. They are brothers and were brought home the same time.
This is Brutus.
just got him home and added IAL
No flaring. Serious stress stripe. No bubbles
24 hours after IAL
Bubble nest building. No more stress stripe...which was pretty bad to begin with. Active and flaring.
This is Cassius.
Just got him home. No IAL
Serious stress stripe. No flaring. No bubbles.
24 hours later
the same. no improvement.
24 hours after adding IAL
No stress stripes. Flares...hes not much of a bubble nest builder even now but he makes small ones time to time.
I took photos this time around because i noticed a major difference when I started using IAL. I haven't had a single outbreak of anything since.
I buy my IAL from Amy Lim. Always on time with extra leaves. high quality. She also has a description of the benefits on her page.
Here is some of the info she gives on IAL
Ketapang or Sea Almond or Indian Almond or Terminalia catappa leaves are known to most, if not all Asian breeders softwater / blackwater tropical fishes (including arowana, discus, apostos, bettas, tetras, plecos, killifish etc), to be one of the best water conditioners to promote healing and breeding. They are known to have antibacteria and antifungal properties. Bettas are known to be induced to spawn by just putting a few of the leaves into their tank. Fish suffering finrot or injuries (such as spawning injuries) will definitely benefit from having the leaves in their quarantine tub. But they can be used for the usual aquariums too.
When soaked in water these leaves will leach a strong brown dye that is full of organic acids like humic acids and tannic acids. These may be useful for inhibiting many types of bacteria as well as to detoxify harmful heavy metals found in the aquarium. But that is not all!
Referring to leaves from the Terminalia catappa tree, Dr Robert J. Goldstein (not the podiatrist- wannabe terrorist of Florida; but the aquarist and environmental consultant of North Carolina who wrote numerous book on fish-keepings), writes in his 2002 paper entitled “Water Conditioners and Additives”:
The large, leathery leaves are used in folk medicine to treat infections, indigestion, and other medical conditions. The water extract makes a pharmacologically powerful tea… In southeast Asia, betta breeders add a dried leaf to provide a surface for the bubblenest and to leach substances that protect the fry from diseases. As the leaves decay, they also provide detritus to grow extract-resistant infusoria for the babies. Of 35 aromatic (ring structure) substances identified from these leaves, noteworthy were benzene-acetaldehyde, acetones, and sabinen-hydrate. The first is strongly antimicrobial, and several of the 35 others destroy microbial cell membranes.
And he adds:
“So these leaves are not simply sources of stains and tannins and other acids as we would get from oak or hickory, but rich in many other kinds of complex and highly effective chemicals with a wide range of physiological and antimicrobial effects.”
Most of your leaves will be between 7-10" (and sometimes reaching up to 12"). They are selectively collected from leaves that have naturally fallen and of good quality. See my introduction above, and see photo for indication of quality (colour hue may vary from batch to batch, but all leaves that are greenish or smell green are rejected). And yes, in case you are wondering, the leaves in the photo are crispy dry.
You may wish to note that our leaves are selective picked from those that have naturally fallen from the trees after turning red in a natural chemical/biological process. These are the leaves that tan the blackwater streams in the forest where bettas and arowanas are found. We do not harvest fresh leaves from the trees and dry them. If we do that, the leaves will look very nice and indeed easier to obtain; but we doubt their efficacy for aquatic use. My husband will never use such leaves; and we do not know of any tropical fish breeder who will. All the breeders we know who use Ketapang Leaves will only use naturally fallen and dried ones. Indeed, if you try these naturally fallen leaves once, you will probably never go back to freshly harvested leaves! They have an aromatic smell that freshly harvested leaves do not have (it was this sweet smell that first led breeders and herbalists to suspect that they have beneficial properties), and they have a reddish tinge absent from freshly harvested leaves.
For bettas, put a 1-2 sq inch piece (or a quarter of a leaf) into each 1 gallons (4 litre) jar. For usual aquarium (with tetras, gouramis, arrowanas, apistos etc), put 2-3 leaves per 25 gallons (100 litres) of water for 14-21 days. Simply put the leaves into the aquarium. After 1-2 days the leaves will be water-logged and sink. Apart from their benefical effects on the water, they will tan the water slightly (to a clear amber) and provide a very natural stream-bottom look to your aquarium. Alternatively, you can boil the leaves to make blackwater extract and dose when you need. Soaking the leaves in a bucket for a week will produce a similar result.
All our leaves goes through a four-level quality control:
Our first level quality occurs at picking. We pick the leaves from 6 or 7 different locations in Singapore where in total there are more than a hundred catappa trees which bear good quality leaves (not every catappa tree bear such leave. Some bear only yellow or thin leaves). We only pick leaves that are are freshly fallen from the tree and are dark red or brown (not green) and not bleached (or weather-beaten), whole, and not torn or have large holes (Indian Almond is one of the most delicious trees, so they very likely to get infested by caterpillars * which in itself is a good indication that the tree is not covered with toxic substances).
Our second level occurs at the washing and drying process. Leaves that are still fresh are shade-dried after washing. Some leaves are thrown away at these stage (e.g. leaves that are too dirty, green, or look/smell bad).
Our third level occurs at grade sorting. We are currently using a 5 grade system: Grade A Large (7"+), Grade A small (5-7"); Grade A baby (3-5"); Grade B Large (7"+); Grade C (anything else still usable). Grade A leaves are whole, dark and without holes. Grade B are large leaves which may have small holes or tears.
Our fourth level quality control occurs at packing. As each leave is packed into the ziploc bag, some leaves which passed through the third level are downgraded.
Grade C leaves are smaller leaves that have holes or large leaves that have larger holes or tears and so cannot be classified under Grade B, but are still usable.
We do not use any heating implements (hot iron or microwave or oven) to dry or prepare the leaves as they may destroy the beneficial properties of the leaves. We've always used our leaves as they are after washing and have never experienced any problem with bacterial or parasites etc.