All About Indian Almond Leaves For Betta Fish
If you have spent any decent amount of time among other betta fish enthusiasts or browsed around on various betta fish centered forums, websites or groups, you may have heard a little something about Indian almond leaves and their use in aquariums housing betta fish. If not, the topic of this article may sound really bizarre to you. Indian almond leaves are used worldwide by betta fish keepers as a sort of homeopathic remedy to many different ailments and conditions that betta fish can have. These leaves are very popular in Southeast Asia and India. In fact, most of these Indian almond leaves available for purchase online are imported from those countries.
Although many people choose to use these almond leaves for homeopathic purposes, there’s been very little in the way of scientific evidence that supports the positive outcomes and claims generated by the users of these awesome smelling leaves. Yes I said awesome smelling. You pick yourself up a package and you can find out for yourself these smell really great. In any case, while there is no real evidence (none that I can find anyway) to support the natural and magical healing powers of these (awesome smelling) leaves, they are actually so popular that I can say it’s quite evident that these leaves little to no risk to your little fish.
(You can see the Indian Almond Leaf in the top left of the betta breeding aquarium setup)
What I’m going to do is write out and describe what other betta fish owners use these for and why. What I’m certainly not going to do is tell you that I myself believe that these Indian almond leaves possess any of the magical healing qualities that many people state they do in fact have. I myself have use them on more than one occasion for more than one reason, but personally I haven’t seen enough evidence to be able to tell for sure that these almond leaves did in fact aid my fighting fish in getting over whatever ailment or condition he was suffering from at the time. However, it will be an interesting read to see what others use these for. Whether you choose to use these leaves in your own betta fish tank, and for whatever reason, will ultimately be left for you to decide. It’s always interesting to try new things, especially when the new things you try don’t pose any threat to your betta fish.
Lastly, before I get into the actual body of the article, you should know that Indian almond leaves can tint your water a bit. I almost forgot to write that in here as I considered that a no-brainer. But as I thought about it, I remembered that the first time my tank experienced these leaves, I actually wasn’t expecting them to tent the water is much as they actually did. I knew they could tint the water, or were supposed to in theory anyway. I mean, that’s actually why I bought them in the first place. Trying to replicate the natural water conditions of a bettas home environment. Betta fish dig that murky water look. Later on I found that not all of my almond leaf shipments tinted the aquarium to the same degree. Some actually didn’t at all. So… your results may vary, but be prepared for a water color change at least to a small degree.
Natures Fight Against Bacteria And Fungus
Because I was speaking about curing ailments with these leaves earlier in this post, I thought I’d start with a common ailment that people use them to try to treat. Many people believe that Indian almond leaves possess homeopathic antifungal/antibacterial properties. For this reason you will inevitably hear betta fish breeders rave about it. I mean, I would certainly sing the praises of a homeopathic remedy towards a bacterial or fungal infection with my betta fish! If it truly worked, that is.
Breeders of betta fish in particular love these magical Indian almond leaves because they believe that the addition of these leaves to the water the female betta fish will be laying eggs in will drastically help to limit funguses that cause betta eggs to spoil. Generally these types of infections happen more often than not when the eggs are in the process of falling to the bottom of the tank and while the eggs rest briefly on the bottom. Bacterial infections taking hold in newly laid eggs can ultimately devastate if not destroy the brood. When you are a betta fish breeder and your livelihood depends on it, you will try anything if not everything to take “chance” out of the equation. I suppose that you do not have to be a professional betta fish breeder in order to “want” to limit chance.
Interestingly enough, nobody really understands what the chemical process is going on between the interaction of the Indian almond leaves and the eggs that supposedly keeps betta fish eggs from spoiling due to bacterial and/or fungal infection. One of the leading theories however, is that the trees that produce these Indian almond leaves do in fact produce a certain chemical that protects itself by warding off predatory insects. There’s a correlation between the chemical produced by the tree that wards off insects and the fact that these leaves limit the amount of betta egg spoilage due to bacteria/fungal infection. In a certain regard, it sort of makes sense. Predatory insects are living creatures and predatory bacteria/fungus are also living creatures… So yeah, I guess it makes sense. I’m just saying is a lot of speculation going on.
You see, when you take some of these Indian almond leaves and place them in a body of water (such as your betta fish tank), there are certain chemicals in the leaves that leach out into the water. You can fairly accurately think of it much the same as you would dipping a bag of tea into something that you would normally dip tea bag into. I’m pretty sure that more than one of you has seen the interaction between a dry bag of tea and a hot cup of water. These Indian almond leaves leach chemicals (tannins) into the water that the betta fish is swimming in there by making available to the fish the amazing medicating properties of the almond leaves. As you can most likely tell by the style and tone of my writing… I’m not completely sold on this whole thing. But I do find it rather interesting nonetheless.
Before I go any further I want the reader to understand that I am all for finding natural and homeopathic remedies for betta fish that do in fact actually work. I would much rather choose to medicate my fish in a natural way rather than rely on harsh and sometimes harmful chemicals of modern day manufactured betta medicine. All that to say though that what I am not “all for” is relying on an unproven, albeit natural, home remedy as the sole way of treating a seriously ill fish. I really don’t like messing around too much when it comes to quickening the time it takes for me to help of fish stop suffering. I am a firm believer in preventative maintenance in general, and don’t mind trying new and “strange” things that I know pose little to no risk at all to my fish in the effort to stave off illness. So with that being fully understood now by you the reader, let’s continue.
Altering The pH(ooie)
One of the more popular claims about the effects of adding Indian almond leaves to your home aquarium is that they can alter (actually lower) the pH levels in the water. Betta fish found in nature typically live in naturally acidic water, more so than an aquarium at home. The vast majority of people want to do the most that they possibly can to mimic the environments that there tropical pets hail from. Therefore it would make sense that the purported ability of lowering the pH level in a fish tank would be a major selling point in the marketing of these almond leaves.
Believe it or not, the jury is actually still out on Indian almond leaves ability to alter the pH levels at all. Some people say they do, some people say they don’t. In my own experience using them, I really couldn’t tell you for a fact if Indian almond leaves do make my fish tanks the city levels rise or not. If they do, the pH difference is negligible. Negligible to the point that fluctuations of such a small degree that I have seen could be caused by many different factors. I have in fact seen the pH levels of my aquariums lower wall having been steeped with Indian almond leaves, I just couldn’t tell you for an absolute fact that the Indian almond leaves encouraged that change.
Furiously Frisky Fishy
Saving the best for last, the most common use for these leaves of Indian almonds is the hope that they will promote and encourage spawning. Little blue pills in brown leaf tea form. Actually, I shouldn’t really poke too much fun about these leaves in this particular section of the article as… There are quite a few betta breeders out there that would bet there bottom betta on this particular magical ability bestowed to betta fish from these almond leaves. Some betta breeders would rather hold off, or not try to breed their bettas at all without the use of these almond leaves.
Now, if you ever bore witness to such fervent faith in almond leaves carried by some of these betta breeders before… You yourself would be a bit curious to see if there is any truth in this interesting claim. Most of you out there reading this probably do not have both a male and female betta fish to “test” this theory on, so let me tell you a story.
There was once a female betta fish that was striped and beautiful. And as it just so happen, there was a male betta fish nearby strutting his stuff, flaring and the whole 9 yards. When the two of them got to “meet” for the very first time, the male betta fish gave chase to the female and beat upon her without stopping (just for those of you that need clarification on this… This is actually something that you look to have happen and not necessarily a bad thing). The perfect pair looked to have been chosen without having to try for another. Fast forward several weeks (about the amount of time that you need Indian almond leaves too steep in the water for), these two fishy fiancés got to give it another go. Without having to go into too much detail, in a nutshell the same thing happened. The male got to do his macho thing and subsequently the female lost a few scales.
So after having the exact same reaction by the mail betta fish and the female betta fish on two separate occasions, one with and one without the addition of Indian almond leaves… What would be your take away from this? Could the Indian almond leaves have helped at all in this situation? Maybe. Might they have not really done a darn thing? Possibly. Dunno. But, that seems to be the general consensus with every application I’ve mentioned up to this point with the addition of Indian almond leaves into an aquarium.
Tea, Almond Leaf, Hot
There are other claims out there that range from increased longevity to increased betta fish appetite to healing and otherwise incurable swim bladder condition. And I’m sure there are many more claims too. The claims that I went, more or less, in depth about are the “big” ones that you might run into though. Now, I’m not saying that Indian almond leaves are “stupid” by any means, nor are the people that believe in them. What I am saying is that there interesting and definitely something that is considered “safe” to try out in your own tanks if you want to. That, and they smell really good! Seriously, make sure that you stick your nose in the bag when you first open the package up and take a good whiff. You’ll want to wallpaper your room with them.