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Old 01-13-2012, 04:15 AM   #1 
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Indian Almond Leaves

Just wondering how many of you out there use IAL's in your tanks. I'm interested in their antibacterial/antifungal properties. "They" also say it makes the aquarium more like bettas natural habitat....although our fish are long removed from nature. Do you notice a difference with them in the tank? Do your betta's seem happier or healthier with them? With the tannins they release into the water....will the live plants I have ( Java fern, an anubias, a sword and a crypt) be affected? I'm worried about the amount of light that can get to the plants with the change in water color. I currently have a 3 gallon tank with a 6w 6200-6500k (not 100% sure which...hence the range) T5 type bulb. Thanks in advance for the advice and opinions!
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:29 AM   #2 
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I don't understand you're specific questions bc I don't keep live plants other than moss balls currently (though this week I plan on getting something that doesn't require special care). And I don't have any special lighting, I aim a desk lamp over the Kritter Keeper (the black cover filters the har****y of it) but I swear by IAL!! I love the tanned water, it seems more pond like and natural to me. I think it benefits the water's parameters though I couldn't be sure.
I bought my IAL's on ebay from a supplier in Singapore (who also sold me baby moss balls) and they were extremely cheap (about 2-3$ CAN for 30 large leaves)- so even if you got them and didn't like it you could discard or give them away.
Some people's bettas will hide underneath the leaves, They float for a couple days and then they sink so while they float some bettas play and dance and make bubble nests around them, the leaves create a black water effect so the other fish in the tank (if applicable) like shrimp like to scavenge on them.
My betta sleeps underneath one leaf down by the heater, although I have one stuck in as a hammock by the surface -_-"
"They" say it helps bettas because bettas come from a blackwater environment in the wild. I know we have domesticated and humanized them and bred some so they can't even swim, but I honestly found that it benefits him. Tannins are better for healing (fin rot, tail biting, wounds, bloat) and IMPO looks and feels better than a crystal clear sterile tank.
Also, (sorry for the novella!) but if you compare it to domesticated bunnies who live in fear like their wild cousins even with proper home indoors- bettas too can benefit from having items like their wild cousins. Instincts are borne by nature, not nurture :)

Hope this helps :)
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:44 AM   #3 
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I've been using them since October and although I'm not noticing a change in health (my boys have always been healthy) I am noticing they're not tail biting as much and every one has nice fins. But what I do notice is my fish are overall happier. They love building nests under the IAL, the IAL has been Heaven sent for my Kris who can't swim. He love his IAL. I also use it for QT tanks when I take in new fish and have had a easier time helping newbies. I personally can't see myself not using them. Our local breeder sent some when I got my girls/Spidey and I haven't gone back. About to buy my second shipment of it!
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:29 AM   #4 
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Never used the Indian catappa leaves, but I've used oak leaves. The males blew bubble nests within 24 hours of them being added to their tanks. The females in the sorority, it seemed to cause quarrels which would make sense because it's used to condition them for breeding. The only bad thing I've ever had happen was columnaris and that happened with the leaves in the tank. I haven't used them for a while now but I have several nice big oak leaves set aside in case I ever breed my bettas.

Last edited by Brian10962001; 01-13-2012 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:17 PM   #5 
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Location: Moncton, NB, Canada
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 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.

Quality Assurance

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.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:03 PM   #6 
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Thank you so much everyone for your replies!
@pixelatedpaint....thanks for sharing your ILA experiment photos! Definitely decided that ILA is something I want to invest in. I was actually looking at Amy Lin's eBay store the other night! But it's really nice to hear first hand from forum members about their experiences!
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:08 PM   #7 
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I've tried many of the ebay vendors and Amy lim was the only one to send everything on time and nothing go missing. She always sends a gift of more leaves or something useful. Once I even got some IAL bark. Which is awesome for shrimp. Very professional compared to others I've purchased from. I don't mean to advertise for her but honestly many of my orders never came in with other vendors. I simply trust her the most.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:34 PM   #8 
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Wow, y'all have convinced me to try them too, for my tailbiter. I've never seen an ebay seller with over 4000 feedbacks, every single one positive (Amy Lim) - just ordered from her. I hope it does the trick for Curly - I've tried oak leaves, more stimulation, more water changes and less stimulation but he keeps on chomping.

Last edited by SwimmR; 01-13-2012 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:41 PM   #9 
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Just bought the baby leaves from Amy Lin. Will anxiously await their arrival. 10-15 business days is gonna feel like forever!
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:45 PM   #10 
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How big is his tank? How many plants or decor? Do you leave the tank light on a lot? If he is long finned how is the current? Not enough decor, too much current, seeing his reflection too often and a smaller tank than that betta prefers can all be causes of tail biting. I've had bettas who prefer 1 gallons of 5 gallon and 10 gallons and vice versa. All bettas are unique. The IAL certainly helps Maybe because its something found in their natural habitat?

Yay! update when you have them. I am sure your bettas will love them.
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