Are you into the look of leaf litter in your aquascape?
If you are, you've probably incorporated Catappa and other leaves into your 'scapes before. And perhaps, you might have considered the beautiful Guava leaf, too! A lot of our customers love the look of leaf litter, but they are a bit leery of the "tint" that Catappa leaves create, and are also concerned with the long-term viability of the leaves.
This is one of many excellent reasons to consider using Guava leaves instead. They have a few advantages over Catappa, namely, they are more "durable", lasting longer in submerged situations than Catappa, and they impart significantly less tannins into the water.
What this means to you, the aquarist, is that you can have many of the aesthetic advantages of Catappa leaves, without some of the characteristics you might find unattractive. Guava (Psidium guajava) provides many chemical benefits for aquarium use, including their well-documented antibacterial properties and their great value as a supplemental food source for ornamental shrimp.
We recommend that you steep them in boiling water for 10 minutes or so prior to use, which will help soften them and make them more palatable to shrimp, as well as to foster a "biofilm" on their surfaces, which provides supplemental grazing for shrimp and small fishes, and fry. As mentioned above, Guava leaves dissolve much more slowly than other leaves, and will last longer before requiring replacement. If you're like us, you'll leave them "in situ" until they completely break down.
So, just how much tint can one expect from Guava versus, say, Catappa leaves of similar size? There is no perfect answer, but I conducted a small and very unscientific experiment to see for myself just how much "tint" they impart.
I prepared 4 "nano"-sized Catappa leaves by steeping them for 10 minutes in boiling water, then placing them in 1 gallon of RO water. I did the same thing with 4 typical-sized Guava leaves.
After 24 hours, the "tint" of the water in the container containing the Catappa leaves was quite significant, whereas the water in the container containing the Guava leaves was much less visually affected. Regrettably, since this "experiment" was about visual impact, I failed to take a before and after pH test on each container- something I will do next time for sure.
The bottom line, as you can clearly see, is that the Guava leaves are an excellent alternative for hobbyists looking for a more modest "tint" to their water. Of course, the impact from both Catappa and Guava can be limited, or mitigated entirely with chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon, Poly Filter, Purigen, etc., along with frequent water changes with "untinted" fresh water.
As you surmise, these are ratios of leaves to water that you would not normally utilize, but I figured, for sake of this "experiment", that they would provide enough distinct visuals for you to see the difference. Next time, I'll check parameters and be a bit more "scientific" in my approach, but I'd say that this little demo did its job.
In the end, the choice is yours, and the effects can vary widely, depending upon the initial source water you start with, and a myriad of other possible factors. Regardless, it's always a good idea to go in with your eyes wide open, as the case may be, to get a good "feel" for the potential of these awesome and highly versatile aquatic botanicals.
Until next time...
Stay curious. Stay "tinted."
And Stay Wet!