The Hidden Benefits of Almond Leaves

Breeders in Southeast Asia noticed long ago that fish and shrimp that lived in waters next to any Terminalia Catappa tree, or the tropical Indian almond tree from the Leadwood tree family, were found to be healthier and more vibrant than their counterparts in other waters. Almond leaves have been used in the aquarium industry for many years, but those in the beginning stages of the hobby may not know all of the benefits that these leaves pack for shrimp, as well as various fish species. The leaves were found to help keep fish healthy with strong antibacterial properties and promote better breeding.

When the dried leaves fall into the water, they will emit a strong, brown dye that is full of organic acids like tannic acids, which gradually turn the water into a red-brown color, similar to tea, and effectively reduce the ph levels in water, releasing it’s rich organic compounds such as humic acids, flavanoids, and tannins into the water, which absorbs harmful chemicals. Not only do shrimp benefit from almond leaves, but fish that benefit from almond leaves are baby discus, dwarf cichlids, killi fish, catfish, and black water tetras.



Humic and tannic acids are a mixture of complex partially decomposed organic materials, the end product of the conversion of things like plant and animal debris. They are some of the most important components of fertile soil. 

They promote many types of bacteria and detoxify heavy metals in your water. The harder the water the more ineffective that humic acids are. The water produces calcium humates that are not able to be dissolved. So, the higher the water hardness, the higher the presence of humates needs to be in order to achieve an acidifying effect. The softer the water, the less humates are needed and the better the effect. It creates a natural environment similar to that of the lakes in the tropical rainforest and some area of the Amazon River.

Almond Leaves are typically large in size, ranging from 2 inches long to 12 inches, and 4-6 inches in width. They are thick and leathery with an ovoid shape and sport a glossy dark green colour. Before shedding its leaves to survive the dry season, the Terminalia Catappa tree will retract the valuable green pigmentation, leaving the leaves pinkish-reddish or yellow-brown.

You are probably asking how these leaves are beneficial to your shrimp. Adding almond leaves to a tank can help mimic natural habitats and trigger spawning as they make the aquarium more similar to their natural habitat. The medicinal purposes the almond leaves offer are:

  • – Anti-inflammatory
  • – Anti-parasitic
  • – Anti-bacterial
  • – Anti-fungal

AquaLife offers a 4-pack and 50-pack of almond leaves. They are larger in size and ready to use! The easiest method is to put the leaf directly in your aquarium. You may want to use a couple of small leaves or half of a large leaf for a 4 gallon betta tank. If you are using the leaves for a larger community tank, we recommend putting 2-3 large (or 4-6 small) leaves for every 25 gallons.

You do not really need to change the leaves until they begin to disintegrate in about 3 weeks. In fact, if you have shrimp or pleco, they will devour them when they start to disintegrate. If you don’t have a problem with seeing decaying leaves in your tank, you don’t have to change them more frequently than once a month. The issue is if you have a sponge or box filter. The disintegrated leaves will clog up your filter, requiring more frequent changes when the leaves begin to decompose.

Aquarists who keep fish native to soft, acidic, and tannin rich waters, such as the Betta fish, commonly use Almond leaves to mimic the natural conditions of their species in aquaria. Adding Almond leaves to a tank can help trigger spawning since compounds released by the leaves will alter the chemistry of the water, making the aquarium more similar to the habitat from which the fish hails.