An aquarium is a point of attraction for everyone, tannins and botanicals can help with this. Not only do tannin stained water look good but it improves water quality to ensure the optimum growth and health of the fish. Alder cones, like Indian Almond leaves, impart color as well as maintain chemical characteristics of the water. This can easily be done by using Alder cones which have about the same effect as other woods, leaves, and various botanicals in the water.
While some substances release humic acid along with tannins in the water, others exhibit a completely different mode of action. The difference can be observed in the composition of the released substances and the rate of their release into the aquarium.
What are alder cones?
Alder cones are water quality enhancing botanicals which are mainly used for ‘water conditioning’. Alder cones can lower the pH of the aquarium which in turn not only stimulate the breeding of some fish but also act as an anti-fungal agent and elevates the hatching rate of fish eggs in certain species. Effects of pH rely on the hardness of the water, the harder the water the lower the effect on pH.
Scientifically, alder cones are the reproductive part of the plant which falls under the genus Alnus. Among the several species of alder cones available worldwide, two most common species are Alnus Glutinosa and Alnus Incana.
Being a rich source of the tannic acid, it is extensively used by the shrimp and betta breeders. Upon application to water, the color of the water readily changes to hues of brown due to the release of the humic acids.
The alder cones are mainly procured from Northern Europe due to its abundant availability in that region. Though the bark of the alder tree is rich in tannins, it is the cone that is the source of tannins we desire most for aquaria. Being small, these fruits are a few centimeters only, though the size and shape depends largely on the age of the fruit as well as its species.
Alder Cones An Essential Part Of An Aquarium
The alder cones have some unique properties which make it so special for this purpose. Let’s have a quick view of its importance in the following points:
• Controlling pH: The alder cones can significantly lower the pH of the aqueous system which can be inferred by several reports. A hobbyist performed an experience with Alder cones that is described briefly in the following section.
He took ten ounces of normal water which had a pH of 8.12. Then he treated six samples of that water with one to six cones. The result was astonishing. The pH of the sample which was treated with one cone got lowered to 6.74 within two weeks. On the other hand, the sample treated with 2 cones exhibited pH of 4.79 and the sample treated with 6 cones showed the pH of 3.84. The 12 hours after applying the alder cone is the most crucial part as the pH gets lowered rapidly within this time frame.
As a result of the lowering of the pH, an anti-bacterial property gets incorporated to the aquarium. Research shows that acids can easily pass through the cell membranes of the bacteria. Thus, the growth rate of the bacteria gets significantly lowered. This lowered pH (below 6) provides the shrimp, as well as fish, a healthy aquatic environment to survive provided they match the pH range.
• Rich source of humic acid: Being a rich source of humic acid, it subsequently helps to decrease the hardness of water as well as the pH too. This ensures the formation of a biotope for the increased growth of the shrimps and fishes.
• Food substances for shrimp: Shrimp can feed on alder cones and baby shrimp and fish can use these Alder cones as a place to hide.
• Aesthetic value: Upon applying the alder cones to the aquarium, the water color turns to brown due to the presence of humic acid. This enhances the aesthetic value of the aquarium. It is proven that the Alder cones work more efficiently than the Indian almond leaves or Catappa leaves.
How to apply it in the aquarium?
Applying the alder cones to the aquarium for enhancing water quality is not a tough task. You may apply solid cones directly to the aquarium or put cones in boiled water to get the extracts mixed with the water, then pour the mixture in the aquarium just after cooling.
The effect of the cones is directly proportional to the quality of the cones. Though several qualities are present in the market, purchasing cheap botanicals may not provide you with the expected performance. Rather than simply pouring Alder cones all at once into the water, it is recommended to gradually do so while performing a test to assess its change on the aquarium water. A large sudden change in the water pH can affect shrimp growth and health a lot. Though the pH gets lowered from 7 to 6.4 if one alder cone is applied to 1 liter of water, you may apply 1 alder cone for 10-liters of water initially.
Thus, use alder cones to enhance the aesthetic value of your aquarium as well as to enhance the breeding quality for your fishes. We talked about how water hardness can help or hinder certain fish health and breeding in another article, Alder cones have the ability to do the same. As part of a well balanced and well-designed aquarium, Alder cones can benefit in many ways, for both the fish and the aquarist.