With everyone falling over themselves for sinking leaf litter as decoration, it's high time to consider something more substantial than a few shredded oak leaves, reports Nathan Hill.
Coconut palms are found in many regions across the world, and for decades we have used their drupes, hollowed out and cleaned to make spawning and even planting caves, but have always overlooked the foliage. If we’re prepared to look beyond simple, hollowed-out coconuts, these leaves are an exciting find.
Palms generally have low to no toxicity, with coconut one of the safest. Using six of these long term in an 80l tank has been problem free for my own fish.
The leaves take two or three days to sink in my own tank at 25°C/77°F and release no notable tannins or other discolourants. There have been no changes to water quality or chemistry over four weeks of having these leaves as décor and the fish showed no signs of gasping or other distress.
The leaves quickly curl up into tubes once they absorb water and sink, but then mine have partially re-opened with two opening the whole way.
The undersides of the curved leaves make good hiding and even spawning platforms for many fish, though their real worth may be for the paludarium keeper trying to emulate an Asian river bank where overhead growth has dropped on to the banks and into the water’s edge.
Best of all they are light in colour, making them an attractive centrepiece for aquarists with an artistic eye.
If stuck for natural, biotope-friendly alternative décor, give these a look at the earliest opportunity. It’s still too early to say whether they’ll be safe with all freshwater fish, but my own tests with South American and Asian species over the last month have shown nothing averse.
Price: Three-pack large leaves £3.50, five-pack of medium coco leaves £2.99. More info from pollywog.co.uk.
Why not take out a subscription to Practical Fishkeeping magazine? See our latest subscription offer.
Don't forget that PFK is now available to download on the iPad.