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Old 30th October 2016   #1
Ian
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Default Oak leaves

Autumn is coming and the trees are starting to shed their leaves. I am thinking of going to the park and collecting a lot of oak leaves for my newt and salamander tanks.
Do I have to do anything to the leaves before putting them in the newt tank. I just hope there are no mites on the leaves. Will they be ok as there are no traffic fumes or insecticides / pesticides used near them.
Are there any other leaves that can be used, ie apple tree, cherry, willow. Tgese are the trees I have in my back garden The cherry (black cherry tree) has lovely red leaves on it at the moment.
Thanks in advance.



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Old 30th October 2016   #2
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Default Re: Oak leaves

I love using leaves in all my enclosures but tend to avoid recently fallen ones. Do a Google Scholar search and you will find tons of scientific work on leaves. Oak leaves contain a lot of tannin which produces weak tannic acid. This might be good for Amazonian tetras but some evidence suggests it can harm amphibian skin, there's research to back this. Incidently, I save all these papers and articles using the app Pocket or Books on my iPad/iPhone , For me, it's beech every time but also sweet chestnut. Go into the woods and scrape some of the top leaf mould and not so freshly fallen leaves. They'd have been degraded a bit by rain and fungi that way they won't be so attractive to slime mounds and bacteria. If you do use the freshly fallen leaves, soak them over night and rinse them off that way if there are any 'nutrients' and tannins still in the leaves they'll be leached out. Mites never worried me but beware, I have found leeches on more than one occasion so consider microwaving them!



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Old 30th October 2016   #3
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Default Re: Oak leaves

Thanks. I was thinking of nuking them for about 30 seconds. Should kill anything unwanted on them that the eye cannot see. I think I will soak them over night as you suggest.
I still have not found out if cherry leaves are any good. When I had shrimps in a tank, I bought Indian Almond leaves. Expensive for what you get. I found out after that I could have used oak leaves and somewhere I read any fruit leaves or any leaves from hard wood trees. Fruit trees are all hard wood. I have black cherry, apple, blackcurrant and red cherry in my garden. Cant harvest the cherries cos the wild pigeons eat them while they are green still.

Still, I have put some cherry leaves in soak for 24 hours and will nuke them tuesday. They will be ground cover for the sals. I will see what tannins come out or might dehydrate some in a box with a bulb in it. Easy to make a dehydrator.



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Old 30th October 2016   #4
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Default Re: Oak leaves

I always felt if rabbits can eat the leaves they'll be safe and I'll use them, so fruit trees and hazel, acers, lime, ash, plum, hawthorn etc are perfectly ok in my mind. I'd not be keen on elder or black currant as they have very pungent leaves which obviously has a function. Ever greens I'd not use due to their phenols although some species of salamander do occur in woods containing fir etc.



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Old 30th October 2016   #5
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Default Re: Oak leaves

I was thinking back to when I had hamsters. Pine is bad for pets. Wood shavings are dusty and the sap in pine is harmless to most, if not all, rodents. If not safe for them, may not be safe for other species. All hard wood is ok. I know what you mean about hte black currant. The bush we have does smell a bit and since I 'pruned' it 2 years ago, the currants dont seem to do well after the flowers. So I wont be using them. Mostly the cherry and apple leaves. I will have plenty.
Plus I go out and lift the carpet in the garden (to kill the weeds) and collect the woodlice. Seen loads of slug eggs under it yesterday. If the local frogs around here dont eat them or the slugs, I doubt the sals would eat them. Shame though. All that free food. lol.



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Old 11th November 2016   #6
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Default Re: Oak leaves

Just been out to take the dog for a walk to the woods about 30 min walk away. I got a nice surprise when I got there .Oak trees everywhere. Good job I took a carrier bag with me. I got a load. I think I have enough with half a bag full. Got to boil them now and put some in with my shrimps and some in with the sals. I think I will just boil the ones for the shrimps so they sink o the bottom.



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Old 11th November 2016   #7
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Default Re: Oak leaves

I've been trying out Oak and Beech leaves as a substrate in some of my firebelly tanks and I think I'm sold. Tank maintenance is much easier than with sand, as the leaves break down over time they get siphoned away during water changes, so I just chuck a few more in to replace them.
Interestingly, since I swapped to leaves the newts are much more active, they spend long periods searching through the leaves for anything edible, or just use them for cover when they want to rest.
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Old 12th November 2016   #8
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Default Re: Oak leaves

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Originally Posted by Chinadog View Post
I've been trying out Oak and Beech leaves as a substrate in some of my firebelly tanks and I think I'm sold. Tank maintenance is much easier than with sand, as the leaves break down over time they get siphoned away during water changes, so I just chuck a few more in to replace them.
Interestingly, since I swapped to leaves the newts are much more active, they spend long periods searching through the leaves for anything edible, or just use them for cover when they want to rest.
Beautiful setup! Is that elodea?



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Old 12th November 2016   #9
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Default Re: Oak leaves

Thanks! :)
It's a mix of Egeria densa (Anacharis) and Elodea canadensis. I had to completely tear down the tank recently to get rid of some worm like critters that were eating all the newt eggs and afterwards they were the only plants I had to hand. I'm almost glad I had to do it now, though.



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Old 12th November 2016   #10
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Default Re: Oak leaves

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Originally Posted by Chinadog View Post
Thanks! :)
It's a mix of Egeria densa (Anacharis) and Elodea canadensis. I had to completely tear down the tank recently to get rid of some worm like critters that were eating all the newt eggs and afterwards they were the only plants I had to hand. I'm almost glad I had to do it now, though.
Yeah, it looks very good with just those plants. I think limited plant and fish (I'm mostly a fish guy) selections in some tanks make the biggest aesthetic/visual impact.



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Old 12th November 2016   #11
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Default Re: Oak leaves

Agreed, I think the fishkeeping hobby is slowly coming round to that way of thinking rather than time bomb tanks made from multiple species from multiple continents. I don't have fish anymore apart from my Koi pool, but I was always inspired by people like Heiko Blehar and tried to plan my set ups as biotope type tanks as much as possible.



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Old 12th November 2016   #12
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Default Re: Oak leaves

I am the same. I am going away from tropical fish. I had a marine tank and the fish and shrimp died whenever I did a part water change. Too expensive to replace fish every time I do a water change. My lobster tank has 6 mollies, 1 male guppy, 1 glowline tetra and a small bristlenose pleck in it. All these fish were given to me to retank from friends. I might end up with another community tank next year, but I have enough with the lobster tank, the newt tank and the salamander tank.

The oak leaves are in the sals tank piled up at one side. I nuked them before I put them in, but I have not moistened them yet. I spray the tank down every 2 days as the mosses and water bowl keeps the humidity high.
Sick of the maggots turning into flies that the sals have not eaten. They burrow in the soil.



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