Have you heard of Indian almond leaves?
Did you know they have uses for axolotl tanks?
Keep reading to find out!
Indian Almond Leaf Benefits
Indian almond leaves possess mild antifungal properties.
When used over a long period of time in the aquarium, they can help to keep fungus at bay by contributing to a blackwater environment.
The antifungal activity of IAL is relatively mild, so it is best used as a preventative for fungus in my experience.
The tannins in the leaves may help to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria in your tank.
There are some interesting studies about this effect as it relates to betta fish.
Basically, at the right concentration, the extract showed promising antibacterial effects in the study, where it was used as a bath, and tested against aeromonas strain bacteria (the kind that can cause red leg disease).
Some fish breeders in Asia will use Indian Almond Leaf to help increase survival of fry.
3. Source of food for snails and shrimp
As the leaf ultimately decays in your tank, it becomes a nice snack for scavenging critters such as shrimp and snails.
It's a good idea to keep these little janitors in your axolotl's aquarium with these leaves, because they will help clean them up as they rot and prevent them from doing more harm than good.
Does IAL Work for Axolotl Fungus?
Indian almond leaf likely possesses some beneficial elements to help in combating fungus, but how effective it is depends on the severity and type of fungus your axolotl has, as well as the concentration you use it at.
Based on my experience, it might be best used as a preventative rather than a treatment because it doesn't seem to be very strong.
It's worth a shot, but if it doesn't do anything, you might want to go for the big guns and get yourself a bottle of Axie Aid fungus, parasite & bacteria treatment.
How to Use Indian Almond Leaf in Your Tank
One large (approximately 8") leaf can be placed in the tank per 10 gallons of water.
It should be changed when it decomposes unless your tank has the biodiversity needed to break it down into nutritious matter for the plants to uptake.
What About Lowering the pH?
Firstly, I will say this:
Don't stress about this too much.
If it is a problem, it's fixable.
If you are concerned about the buffering potential of IAL, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First is that as long as your GH and KH are in the proper ranges and the pH doesn't dip too low, your lotls should be fine.
But if you have softer water and/or are concerned about the water getting too acidic, I've got good news.
So if your water is relatively hard, this should be enough to prevent the pH from dipping into the unsafe zone for your axolotl.
Now, that said:
The acidifying factors can be countered by the addition of something that replenishes alkalinity.
What's that, you ask?
There is actually more than one way to do that.
Crushed coral is one.
A soil underlayer in the substrate is another.
What About Brown Water?
Sorry I don't have better news, but...
You are going to have to accept the discolored water if you want the full benefits of Indian Almond Leaf!
Having a "blackwater aquarium" can be an acquired taste.
Some really like it, some really don't.
The blacker the water = the more concentrated the IAL is = the more benefits to your axolotl.
Now, you as the aquarist have most of the control over how dark you want your water.
The intensity of the tannins is determined by leaf size and quantity in relation to water volume.
Regular water changes offers some means of dilution.
But more dilution means you aren't getting the full benefits.
What About Ammonia?
This can be an issue if the Indian Almond Leaf you use has not been properly dried first before using.
The fragrant smell is lovely, but if it is strong, it is a sign that it is not properly dried.
If you have a good filter, it's probably not a big deal, as it should convert the excess ammonia relatively quickly, but it is something to keep in mind, say if you are going to tub your axolotl with IAL.
As the leaves decay, they may also produce ammonia, so that is something to keep in mind.
Indian almond leaves might be worth keeping around if you don't mind having a blackwater tank in an effort to prevent fungal infections in your axolotl.
They might also be a good first course of treatment in the case of mild infections as well.