Cones, leaves and spawning caves from Rare Aquatics

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On a recent shoptour to Cheshire we gathered great goodies from Rare Aquatics in Crewe — from uber-essentials to the unusual and pleasant.

Alder cones and almond leaves are tank musts for serious Corydoras and Apistogramma breeders, in no small part due to their claimed anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties when used correctly.

These also release huge amounts of raw tannic acids, creating the blackwater conditions many South American biotope fans crave. They will reduce pH at the same time.

We also played with different breeding tubes, caves and pipes — some open ended and some not — for the catfish/apisto enthusiast. Former PFK editor Karen Youngs is using some at the moment, and they have proved popular with several of her  L-number plecs. We’ve come across some truly tacky ornaments on our travels, but these certainly aren’t among them.

They have an air of professionalism, both unobtrusive and far from garishly coloured. There are multiple designs and colours, ranging from a pleasing cream down to a deep oscuro (dark brown), with terracotta and slate between. A few are truly inventive!

All are made of inert materials, so there’s no risk to water chemistry.

We were also given mobile phone strings with famous loricariid figues attached, myself opting for the mighty Royal panaque, although we also received an Adonis and Scarlet plec variety. The fish are surprisingly detailed given their size and are instantly recognisable.

Prices: Almond leaves £3.80 per bag, Alder cones £1.50 for 30, Spawning caves from £5, loricariid mobile phone strings £5.99 each.