Corydoras aeneus (green) eggs

Antifungal property of leaves on fish eggs

I have always preferred to approach fish keeping in a very natural way. While I have no scientific proof to offer up, my success rate goes hand-in-hand with a simple natural approach as apposed to using more hi-tech methods. It was this “nature’s way” of thinking that lead me to explore the antifungal property of leaves on fish eggs.

A little background

For many years I kept mainly Cichlids in my aquariums. The thought of adding leaves to the tanks simply never occurred to me. It was when my interests changed, and I started keeping freshwater dwarf shrimp and small fish that the benefits of leaves in the aquarium started to catch my attention.

Since freshwater dwarf shrimp primarily graze on micro-fauna growing on everything in the tank, they especially benefit from leaf litter in the tank.

Orange Pearl shrimp grazing on a leaf
Photo by Dennis Ball

Fry of many egg scatter species of fish also benefit from leaf litter in the same way. They may quickly grow to a size where they can eat larger food, but it’s at this very young stage that a steady supply of food is so critical.

You could say that keeping leaves in your fry tanks is basically culturing the tiniest of live foods to get them off to a great start!

Making the connection

Oak leaves
Photo by Dennis Ball

I’m fortunate in that I have a very nice oak tree on my property.  I’m also fortunate in that I live towards the end of a cul de sac and there is no spraying done in my area.

Since I have an abundance of oak leaves, that’s what I mainly use.  I have also used leaves from maple trees and the very large leaves of the sycamore tree.

Now while I don’t have scientific proof for my findings, here is what I have observed from several years of using leaves.

1)  The use of leaves with fish eggs aids in the control of eggs going bad due to fungus.

2)  While leaves won’t always prevent fungus from forming on the eggs, when it does form, it often doesn’t have any detrimental affect on the hatch rate of the eggs.  I’ve had batches of eggs where they looked as though they were going to be ruined by fungus, only to hatch like there was no fungus at all. It was simply amazing.

3)  My fry seem to have a lower mortality rate when the eggs and then the fry have leaf litter in the tank.  I assume it’s in part to the medicinal properties of the tannins and then the micro-fauna that helps feed the tiny fry during their very early stages.

Don’t just take my word for it…

The next time you have some eggs to hatch, toss a handful of leaves in the tank with them and see for yourself.  Leaves are fairly easy to come by, whether collected from your own yard, purchased on-line, or supplied by a fellow hobbyist.

I can’t say I’ve ever had eggs go bad because of the leaves, so there is little risk involved that they will do any harm.  In fact, you may find that they become a very useful addition to your fish room.