Indian Almond Leaves and Alder Cones in a Shrimp Tank

Indian Almond Leaves and Alder Cones in a Shrimp Tank

Today we will talk mainly about Indian almond leaves (link to check the price on Amazon) also known as Terminalia catappa leaves.

Many advanced shrimp keepers use these leaves in their tanks because of their outstanding qualities and properties. Even more, these leaves have also been used for years by tropical fish keepers as well (besides shrimp these leaves are excellent for fish like betta, discus, gouramis, killifish, tetras, arrowana, angelfish, South American dwarf cichlids, corys, plecos, and many other). Let’s find out why.

Actually, there are several main reasons why aquarists go crazy over Indian almond leaves:

1. Water quality and Indian Almond Leaves.

When Almond leaves are added to water, they start leeching many beneficial substances into it (including humic acid, tannic acids which help to lower pH naturally), and minerals that are beneficial to your shrimp or fish.

It also creates a natural water environment for freshwater inhabitants. Naturally, in the wild, the shrimp are found in slow-moving streams with leaf litter from the surrounding trees. Adding Indian almond leaves replicates that in your aquarium and gives them a more natural home environment.

2. Indian Almond Leaves and Shrimp Diet

Once the leaf is in a tank, a multitude of microorganisms will begin to colonize the leaf creating biofilm. Shrimp’s natural diet is a biofilm, having an extra place for that is highly beneficial to your shrimp. With time they will also eat the leaf itself as it breaks down (the stem is usually left behind).

It’s a natural source of food just to give them that extra bit of nutrition. Also if you have snails in your aquarium, the snails will eat the leaves and poop. In their turn, shrimp will eat the poop which is very important to the natural diet. Variety is very important in the diet.

Unfortunately, people are prone to underestimate the importance of a healthy shrimp diet. As a result, they often lose a lot of shrimp. If you give your shrimp the same food day after day, it will not work well for you and your shrimp. It is better to have at least 3 different kinds of foods and they will thank you with abundant progeny.

Indian almond leaves just provide a natural alternative source of foods for your shrimp. You can read more about “How and what to feed your shrimp” right here.

3. Antifungal Properties of Indian Almond Leaves for your Shrimp

It makes your fish or shrimp more resistant to bacterial inflation because of the released compounds (which have antifungal and antibacterial properties). This will also help your shrimp to save from many parasites. The protection of livestock is the number one priority for any aquarist.

4. pH Control and Indian Almond Leaves

It can be used to lower your pH or to keep your pH at a certain level if you do not have an adequate substrate for that.

A little bit of science facts about Indian almond leaves:

The phytochemical analysis revealed
(concentrations mg/100g):
the presence of tannins (0.50±0.58, 0.49±0.58, 0.47±0.56),
saponins (2.67±1.33, 2.99±1.41, 3.31±1.49),
alkaloids (1.20±0.89, 1.32±0.89, 1.23±0.90),
phenols (0.32±0.49, 0.45±0.55, 0.35±0.48),
flavonoids (0.93±0.79, 0.86±0.76, 0.65±0.66),
anthraquinones (0.02±0.05, 0.03±0.06, 0.04±0.65)
and glycosides (-, 6.12±2.02, 2.10±1.18) 
The proximate nutritional analysis revealed:
crude protein 4.2±1.67,
fibre content 12.9±2.94,
fat content 4.6±1.75,
ash content 12.1±2.84,
moisture content 8.3±2.35,
and carbohydrate content 57.9±6.21.

The result showed that the leaves were very high in glycosides, saponins, and alkaloids but low in tannins, phenols, flavonoids, and anthraquinones.

In simple words, this study justifies the use of Terminalia catappa leaves (Indian Almond Leaves) by traditional practitioners to treat various ailments and by pharmaceutical companies to produce useful drugs. The leaves are a rich source of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Indian Almond Leaves / Catappa leaves and Shrimp

  • Improves the natural color of shrimp
  • Provides micro-organisms
  • Helps the molting process, (reduces mortality rate during this stage)
  • Has acids and gives out natural tannins (which have anti-bacterial quality)
  • Provides anti-fungal properties (for fish it helps with fin rot)
  • Excellent medicinal properties (prevents diseases)
  • Slightly reduces pH
  • Promote spawning (natural viagra)

Proper usage:
1. Put the leaves in boiling water for 5-10 min. If you do not do that and add them directly, they will usually sink after one to two days.
2. Let them cool down.
3. Put it into the aquarium until the leave is eaten. It usually takes a few days. If it is not eaten, replace them in 2-3 days or just leave it there.
4. One leaf is enough for 20-40 liters (5-10 gallons) of water.
5. The leaves will turn your tank water in a brown color (depends on how many leaves were added). If you want to avoid it, you can pre-soak the leaves for a few days to leach out some of the tannins.

Other Leaves and Their Benefits in Your Shrimp Tank

Mulberry Leaves and Shrimp

  • Exceptional food source
  • High in carbohydrate and fiber
  • Contains a lot of vitamins (A, B1, B2) and minerals (Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, and Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium)
  • Great contribution for the shells
  • Improves the molting process

Nutrient analysis:
• Protein 22.60%
• Carbohydrate 42.25%
• Fat 4.57%
• Fiber 24.23%

Proper usage:
1. Put the leave in boiling water for 5-10 min. If you do not do that and add them directly, they will usually sink after one to two days.
2. Let them cool down.
3. Put it into the aquarium until the leave is eaten. It usually takes a few days. If it is not eaten, replace them in 2-3 days.

Guava Leaves and Shrimp

  • Have anti-bacterial properties
  • Good help to fight off diseases such as Vibrio and Luminous Bacteria
  • Natural source of food for shrimp (100% organic)

Proper usage:
1. Put it in boiling water for 10-15 min.
2. Let them cool off
3. Put the leaf into the tank. It takes more time to make Guava leaves soft, compared to other dried leaves. They are more firm and as a result, do not break down easily. It means that you will not have to replace them that often.

Banana Leaves and Shrimp

  • Decreases the risk of getting sick
  • Prevents fungal outbreaks
  • Stimulates shrimp natural color
  • Provides micro-organisms and biofilm
  • Stimulates breeding
  • slightly reduces pH
  • excellent for tropical fish

Proper usage:
1. Do not require any preliminary treatment. The leaf can be added to the tank as it is.
2. Alternative option. The leaf can be added to a separate jar and left for 1-2 days. When water turns black, it can be added to the aquarium.

Indian Almond Bark / Catappa Bark and Shrimp

  • Enhances the natural color
  • Helps the molting process (decreases the mortality rate during this stage)
  • Has acids and releases tannins (which have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties)
  • preventing diseases
  • Strong healing properties
  • Decreases pH
  • Promote spawning

What is the difference between Indian Almond Bark and Indian Almond Leaves?
1. Indian Almond Bark will fall to the bottom at once.
2. It has a slower release rate of nutrients

Proper usage:
1. You need to boil it for 5-10 min.
2. Let it cool down before putting in the tank.
3. Leaves must be replaced every 1 or 2 weeks

Alder Cones and Shrimp

  • Provides micro-organisms and biofilm
  • Has gallusowych acid, organic acids, and flavonoids
  • Contain tannic acids (around 15%)
  • Has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • Lower the germ density and hinder infections
  • Decreases pH
  • Provide additional hiding places for young shrimp
  • Available as XXL version (extra-large cones, but they do not release many tannins).

Alder Cones compared to Banana or Indian Almond Leaves are significantly more potent. That is why you can add them to the tank only in small doses. It also releases humic substances, coloring the water brownish.

Proper usage:
1. Can be added directly to the tank.
2. One cone will be good enough for 20 liters (5 gallons) of water. If you have the XXL version, in this case, one cone is good for 40 liters (10 gallons) of water.
3. The effects of Alder cones last for 1-2 months. After that, you need to replace them or leave them as a decoration and safe place for your shrimp livestock.

Alternative option

If by some reason, you do not want to put Alder Cones in your aquarium but would like to have all the beneficial effects of these cones, you can still have.
1. You need to boil it to make an alder cone extract. The extract can be added to your aquarium in small amounts.
2. You can put the Alder Cone a canister filter if you use one. It will be invisible but you will get everything you need.

Alder cones are quite common in many countries. So if you decide to collect them yourself, be sure to do that away from pollutants and pesticides.  If not it is safer to buy from a trusted seller.


Actually, the list of dried leaves is rather long. There are many others like Amaranth Leaves, Catappa Logs, Bamboo Charcoal, Catappa Essence, Humic Black Water, Montmorillonite Powder and etc. I have just mentioned the most popular ones.

Some shrimp keepers use a variety of other dried leaves that have similar effects. For example, hardwood leaves like Oak or Ash, or dried fruit leaves such as peach. Yet again, make sure and never forget that your dried leaves do not have any pesticides or dangerous chemicals. Your aquarium is a very fragile eco-system and pollutants can easily destroy it.

And the last question which you may ask.

Why Dried Leaves? Can I use a Fresh One?

It is highly NOT recommended to use fresh or wind-fallen leaves. Unlike dry ones, fresh leaves are still full of chlorophyll, sugars, sap and etc. It means that they will decompose in the tank and foul the water.

pH table

25 thoughts on “Indian Almond Leaves and Alder Cones in a Shrimp Tank

    1. Hi,
      This is a very interesting question. Actually, there is like zero informatin about cypress cones and their effect on the animals. I have not found it on any of the following “toxic plants” databases:

      Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
      Cornell University’s Plants Poisonous to Livestock
      Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System
      University of Illinois’ Plants Toxic to Animals

      Unfortunately, the fact that a plant does not appear on a toxic plant database does not guarantee that the plant is completely non-toxic. However, with a plant so widespread and well-known as bald cypress, the fact that it is not named as being even mildly toxic is a very good sign. Nonetheless, I would be very cautious and I would have tested it on the small tank first.
      Sorry that I could not give you a better answer.

      Best regards,

  1. Can i use both an Indian almond leaf and an adler cone in the same tank ? My tank is a shrimp only tank and is 2 gallons

    1. Hi Marina,
      Yes you can. Just pick the smallest one and do not forget to boil everything before putting in the tank.
      Best regards,

  2. Hi Michael,
    Do you have any details on where you can buy the different types of leaves from. In particular the mulberry leaves. I have the Indian Almond leaves.

    1. Hi Meschelle,

      You can check out
      They are selling lots of different leaves.

      Best regards,

  3. Hi Michael
    Spinach leaves can I put fresh ones in the tank.
    I.just got the shrimp today but sadly got fresh almond leaves. Hence they have no food.
    Pls email me as I am in India

    1. Hi Oscar Pereira,
      Yes, it is possible to give shrimp fresh spinach leaves if you are sure that they are not contaminated with pesticides or some other nasty stuff.
      That is why I always recommend boiling vegetables. In addition, by boiling them they become soft and can be easily consumed.
      Best regards,

  4. It’s interesting when you shared that Indian almond leaves have anti-fungal properties and excellent medicinal properties that can help prevent any diseases for your fish. My brother just mentioned the other day that he is worried about his fish in the aquarium since they seem to look restless even though he already gave them food several times a day. I will suggest to him getting some Indian almond leaves that have excellent benefits from a reliable supplier.

  5. hi Michael,

    can i pick the green IAL and sun dry it for later use. any difference between fallen and green leaves.


    1. Hi Chong King Tong,
      Of course, you can prepare the leaves yourself.
      Just be careful, they should be free of any contamination and completely dry.
      Best regards,

  6. Hello,
    I have a guava tree and saw in the article I can use them, so do I have to let leaves dry out before using them with my shrimp?

    1. Hi Luis Elicea,
      I would not recommend using fresh leaves. Dried leaves only have fiber and nutrients, whereas fresh ones can contaminate water.
      Best regards,

  7. Many thanks for sharing. I wanted to add an alder cone to a newl blue dream neocaridina 5 gallon shrimp tank I am setting up. I tead it may not be a good idea given Neocaridina shrimp do best in tanks which have higher PH, GH and KH to the point that many breeders will even add some crushed coral to their tanks. Do you think adding an alder cone with almond leaf alter the water parameters too much to kill the shrimp or inhibit their willingness to give me babies

    1. Hi John S,
      Do not worry. Adding an alder cone with a few almond leaves will not affect your water parameters to the point when it becomes dangerous for the shrimp.
      I need to say that pH fluctuates more in our tanks depending on the day time compared to a few leaves.
      Best regards,

  8. Hi Michael,
    I have a 10 gallon tank and about 14 shrimp. How many almond leaves should I add and how long can I leave them in the tank?

    1. Hi Kim,
      Even though I mentioned in the article that one leaf can be enough for a 10-gallon tank, I forgot to add that it is based on your shrimp consumption rate.
      In general, you can easily add 2,3,5, etc. leaves as long as they benefit your tank.
      Ideally, your shrimp should be able to eat them before they completely decompose and potentially spoil your water.
      In your case, I’d add 1-2 leaves. It will be enough. 
      You can leave them until they are completely eaten and only vein remains.
      Best regards,

  9. Hi Michael,
    Thank you so much for the information on leaves. Is it ok to feed banana and Indian almond leaves to baby golden apple snails? Also how much powdered egg shell should I add to my 52L tank? Many thanks,

    1. Hi Linda Alexander,
      >Is it ok to feed banana and Indian almond leaves to baby golden apple snails?
      >Also how much powdered egg shell should I add to my 52L tank?
      Are you sure that you need it? Do you have soft water? If there are no problems with the snails shell why should you add more calcium?
      Frankly saying, I would recommend adding cuttlefish bones instead of powdered eggs.
      Best regards,

  10. Great Review Michael. I used to have a few Mulberry Trees in my yard. Now, there are none.

    Thanks for the Link.

    Best Regards.

    1. Hi Dolores Cobb Phifer,
      You are welcome 🙂
      Best regards,

  11. Hi. Thank you for your listings! I found them very helpful and have added many leaves to my tanks👌

  12. Hey Michael, thank you for all this information! I just ordered a variety pack of leaves for my tank from Nature Aquascapes. It has Cholla Wood, Catappa leaves, Malaysian Bamboo leaves, banana leaves, guava leaves, and more. Do you suggest I rotate through these leaves one at a time, or put small parts of each in the tank once? I just want the best for my shrimp 🙂

    1. Hi Peter Glynn,
      Hi, with all these New Year holidays, I couldn’t get back to you sooner.
      Regarding the question, in this case, I don’t have a specific strategy. Basically, I use the leaves that I currently have. I don’t see anything wrong with combining them in different ways.
      Best regards,

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