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Domestic Leaves for Shrimps?

Steve R.

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I know that people use Indian almond leaves or banana leaves to increase water quality and to allow biofilm growth as a food source for shrimps.

What domestic (not tropical USA)  leaves can be used? I doubt that only exotic ones will do.

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I always collect leaves at same location and same time, and test it with Culls first for each batch, before I feed it in main tanks.

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Oak?????????   My yard is FULL of dead oak leaves!!!!   bags and bags of them.  do you think its safe to use them if I boil them?


Don't boil it, it would lose nutrient in it.

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I posted this on The Planted Tank's forum a couple of years ago, and this thread was brought to my attention, so it seemed appropriate to share the information here as well.   Most of the information here is in regards to fresh leaves as opposed to dry, but it may be of interest to you.  


As far as dried leaves go, I use oak, maple, and fruit tree leaves.  They adore apple and pear leaves, but you've got to use a lot of caution with trees that are treated as frequently as fruit trees are and make sure you know the history of the leaves.  


Regarding green leaves, I feed my shrimp spinach and turnip greens fairly regularly, but I decided to see whether they liked common weeds and other plants that grow in my yard.  The reason was both one of convenience and nutrition.  It's very easy to pick some oxalis on my way into the house from my car and the nutritional content of these various plants may be able to more effectively feed shrimp than exclusively feeding spinach or turnip greens.  I stuck to plants that I knew were edible for humans and were fairly widespread geographically.


Note: I do not treat my lawn in any way, and haven't for years.  If you're using herbicides and insecticides and decide to feed the treated plants to your shrimp, it's on your head.



All plants were picked, rinsed, and promptly parboiled in the microwave for 1 minute.  The parboiled leaves were then frozen into ice cubes for storage until testing.  The leaves were offered to a small tank (3 gallons) of cherry shrimp after not feeding them for 1 day.  The shrimp's immediate reaction was noted and the condition of the leaves after 12 hours and 24 hours was recorded.  Leaves were removed after 24 hours.  No attempt was made to standardize portion size.


Only a single test was done for each leaf type.  It is entirely possible that repeated testing would reveal different results.  If you try these foods and find that your shrimp react differently, please post your results on this thread.  Additionally, some of the plants took much longer to be consumed than others simply because of the quantity available.  



These were very well received.  Juvenile shrimp were interested immediately, the leaf was partially consumed within a day.  **A caution: Fruit trees are often treated for insects.  If you do not know for certain that the tree has not been treated this season, do not use the leaves.**

Immediate: Juveniles before it hit the bottom  12h: Several shrimp  24h: Much interest, leaf partially consumed.  2 days: Gone


Clover - White: Surprisingly little interest.  

Immediate: Investigated but ignored  12h: Untouched  24h: Untouched


Dandelion - Young:  Dandelion leaves less than 2" in length were chosen.  These were very well received by the shrimp and were completely eaten within an hour.  Their response to young dandelion leaves was on par to their response to spinach or turnip greens.

Immediate: High interest  12h: Completely consumed  24h: -


Dandelion - Old: Sections of dandelion leaves with length greater than 5" were chosen.  Little interest.

Immediate: High initial interest  12h: Almost untouched  24h: Almost untouched


Grape:  Smaller leaves were chosen, less than 4" across.  These were very well received and were eaten much more like a tree leaf than a spinach leaf.  Aside from young dandelion leaves, these were by far the most popular of the plants I tried.

Immediate: High interest  12h: Numerous shrimp eating  24h: Almost consumed, many shrimp still eating (I let them finish it, as it seemed mean to take away the leaf while they were enjoying it so much.)


Oxalis:  Also known as wood sorrel.  These were eaten, but there was not the initial rush to devour them that was seen with dandelions and grapes.  A small quantity was used, so it is hard to compare the response to something like a grape leaf.

Immediate: Little interest  12h: Almost consumed 24h: Consumed


Broadleaf Plantain - Young and Old:  Two separate tests were done with broadleaf plantains (which are not closely related to the tropical bananas of the same name.)  Both were underwhelming.

Immediate: Swarmed by juvenile shrimp  12h: Almost untouched  24h: Almost untouched


Raspberry leaves:  Ignored initially, devoured later.  I left this in the tank for a few days and it wound up being thoroughly enjoyed.  The shrimp treated it much more like a tree leaf than a spinach leaf.

Immediate: Some interest  12h: Untouched  24h: Untouched  4 days: Gone


Rose leaves are fairly thick, so I expected them to be treated as a tree leaf.  There was a surprising amount of interest in the leaf as soon as it was in the water, however, and the shrimp were still nibbling at it 24 hours later.  Four days out, it was consumed completely.  **A caution: Roses are some of the most heavily treated plants people keep in their gardens.  If you are uncertain about whether a rose bush has been treated, do not use the leaves.**

Immediate: Moderate interest  12h: Appearance unchanged, shrimp still interested  24h: Some holes, shrimp still interested  4 days: Gone


Rose Petal: Very difficult to sink, devoured once it hit bottom.  My shrimp rarely swim up to floating food, so there was no surprise when this didn't attract a lot of interest while bumping around at the top of the tank.  Gone in a couple of hours once it hit bottom.  Times are from when it finally sank.  Next spring I hope to test apple, pear, and multiflora rose petals, all closely related plants.  **A caution: Roses are some of the most heavily treated plants people keep in their gardens.  If you are uncertain about whether a rose bush has been treated, do not use the petals.  I personally would avoid any and all commercially purchased flower petals as well.**

Immediate: Frenzy  12h: Gone  24h: Still Gone :)


Wild Strawberry: Very surprising, but these were completely ignored.

Immediate: No interest  12h: Untouched  24h: Untouched


Analysis:  By far the best received plants from my backyard were grape leaves, rose petals, and young dandelion leaves.  Oxalis leaves were also consumed completely.  The introduction of these leaves, especially grape leaves, which can easily be dried and stored through the winter, should provide some additional variety to my shrimp's diet.


Plants I would like to try but was unable to find in my yard:

Lamb's Quarters (I'd probably eat this one myself rather than giving it to the shrimp...)

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  • 11 months later...

I've recently tested out some dried oak leaves in my RCS tank, wanted my shrimp to give me feedback on what leaves they prefer the most.  I used red and black oak leaves which I blanched in very hot water for 5-10 minutes.  


I first added a red oak leaf, and then a black oak leaf a few days later.  Both leaves have been in the tank for over a week (>10 days for the red oak leaf).


The RCS couldn't be less interested if they tried.  I think I've seen shrimp grazing on either leaf about 2 times during the duration, and not for a long time when they did.  


What am I missing here?..........I thought shrimp were supposed to dine at the ole' oak leaf cafe.  I'm about as sure as one could be that these leaves weren't treated in any way, they came from deep within Missouri timber.  Is a taste for oak leaves more of a caridina-thing?

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I recently added some pieces of a oak leaf in my tanks too and  so far no interest in them. I just washed the leaf before dropped it to the tank and my water turned almost brown! Never had this happened with guava nor IAT leaves.


But it seems to me the oak leaf is too hard for shrimps and it should stay longer in water then it will grow biofilm that shrimps will consume.


And I wanted to ask if anyone tried maple leaves? I have a few maple trees in our front/back yard but haven't tried to give the leaves to my shrimps yet.

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The red oak leaves do seem to have more of a wax-like coating or sheen to them........but the black oak leaves do not.  I'm also hoping that with more time they will reach a point where they are dined upon.  Will update if this becomes the case.

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Looks like the Amazonas and Practical Fishkeeping magazine both have articles about "domestic" leaf litter in their new issues. Sadly don't have a link directly to either, but might be worth checking out. This is all I could find on the two.


http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/issue.php?issue=77 "Free Tank Decor"


I looked around for the Amazonas one, but I can't find it. I might be crazy.

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Oak beech guava papaya noni mulberry walnut apple peach cherry dandelion amaranth, and many others are all good if grown organically. But be careful as many areas do vector control for mosquitos, and areas of orchards are often treated with pesticides by air, which on windy days can travel miles and end up in your backyard. ALWAYS test your hand collected leaves in a cull tank first.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I pick only the dried out leaves (oak, maple) from a forest near me.  I don't boil them or do anything to them except shake them out thoroughly for insect eggs on them.  Never had a problem with shrimps not eating off them, they take a while to sink but once on the bottom they have already started to rot and the biofilm is of great interest to the shrimps.  Be careful of picking any leaves near a street/road because exhaust from traffic can be sucked into the leaves and you don't want those. 


Also if there is an apple orchard, make sure they don't spray the trees as the leaves will be toxic to the shrimps.

Organic farms in the fall will probably be your best bet...just go ask if you can pick some of the dried out leaves off the trees....you aren't doing anything bad to the tree, so most farmers won't mind.


Boiling the leaves can be done, but in my experience unnecessary if you don't pick near roads/lawns that can/may have been sprayed or could be contaminated with traffic emmissions.  Forests/trails are the best places to pick them...now is a great time as most of the trees have dried leaves still hanging on them.....always pick the ones on the tree and not on the forest floor (dogs and other animals may have gone to the bathroom on them) and you don't want that.   Also look for alder trees with little cones still hanging, these are anti-biotic in nature and great for shrimp tanks, the properties are soooo beneficial to the tank.  We keep some in our Betta tanks too.

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