The What, Why and Where of Botanical Use in the Aquarium

The What, Why and Where of Botanical Use in the Aquarium

The What:

  • What are Botanicals? Botanical use is not new per se but are becoming more and more popular in the hobby so they are “new” to many. To keep this really simple – Botanicals are dead plant matter. Examples of this are: leaves, cones, bark, wood, and seed pods.

 The Why:

The why is the number one question folks ask – Why use Botanicals? Though not technically needed in your aquarium for fish to survive they do offer a myriad of benefits to the tank. Believe it or not, your aquarium is a living breathing thing. You have a tiny Eco-System inside that glass box. The use of botanicals will aid in the health and well-being of that ecosystem.

  • Botanicals as they break down naturally release acids within. As the botanicals such as seed pods, wood, leaves, and cones slowly break down they release the different acids within known as “Tannins”. These acids are tannic, humic, and fluvic. As they break down and release these acids the result is the tanning of the water you see – AKA Tannins. The acids will lower pH while also soften the water.  the tinted water can also provide UV protection by filtering out sunlight so yes, they will help if you use them in your ponds or outdoor tubs as well.
  • Botanicals can help in preventing disease. The tannins released have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. These properties once protected the plant matter when it was alive. When the botanicals are submerged in water the tannins released now will aid in protection your fish and inverts. Some of the common issues with fish they will help with are things like Fin Rot, body or slime cot issues, and will also aid as an anti-fungal for fish eggs (You can use the concentrated tannins similar to the use of Methylene Blue.
  • Botanicals provide biofilm. Biofilm is a result of the botanicals breaking down. As they break down the biofilm is microscopic food source for detritivores, shrimp, snails, small fish, and all fry species (Regardless of the fish’s natural origin. Yes, they are even good for Rift Lake Species!). This biofilm also is a food source for infusoria which in turn is food source for minute fry species such as
  • Botanicals though not essential for breeding many fish species they do aid. Botanicals add a natural element to the tank which aids some species by adding barriers, hides, and believe it or not the tannins reduce some visibility which allows a more private encounter for said species. Do you like peeping toms? As far as “hides, some botanicals like Sterculia, Trumpet, Bael, and even lotus pods may provide shelter as the fish or shrimp spawn.
  • Botanicals are highly recommended for your “soft” water fish and inverts all the time – some examples include: South American and West African Cichlids, Characins (tetras, pencilfish, etc.), Anabantoidei (betta, paradise and gouramis), Cyprinidae (barbs, rasboras, and danio, Killifish in general, and of course freshwater shrimp.
  • Botanicals come in many different forms soft and hard. The leaves will include all of the leaf types and some of the thinner pods. The hard types would include your drift woods and many other pod types that are thicker and “woodier”. Softer botanicals are mainly your leaf types. All have unique benefits beyond their ascetics.

The Where:

This is the easiest one of all: KJE AQUATICS – Huge selections at some of the best prices found anywhere worldwide – WWW.KJEAQUATICS.COM

Some types KJE stock but not limited to are :

  • Indian Almond Leaves – Also knows as Catappa leaves found from the Catappa trees throughout Southeast Asia.  A fun fact our friend Chris Biggs pointed out tom me is the Latin word for Almond is PIMA – hence the product one company may have “tried” to say is a good “Natural” medicine known as Pimafix . Some may know our views on the “Fixes”, if not then look to see if we sell them? Our leaves are sourced from a friend here in the USA from his family in Vietnam.  


As we stated, the list above is just a small pinch of the leaves and pods we actually stock – Find many more plus all your other needs for the aquarium hobby (and in the case of botanicals, you terrariums and paladariums also)  @ KJE AQUATICS – WWW.KJEAQUATICS.COM

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