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Discussion Starter #1
I've seen tons of different kinds of leaves for sales - oak, magnolia, sea grape, almond, ficus, fig, etc... Are these all used just for leaf litter on the ground of vivs? What's the difference in all the different kinds?
 

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Most of those just break down faster, but almond leaves are for tads, as they add beneficial tannins that the tads eat.
 

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Most of those just break down faster, but almond leaves are for tads, as they add beneficial tannins that the tads eat.
i think you have your info a little mixed up.

the leaves listed are ones used primarily because they DO last longer in vivs (dont break down faster)

also, tannins and tanic acid, arent (as far as i know) consumed, rather it has a natural anti-fungal property that makes its use a sort of substitute for methylene blue. its one of those added benefits to using leaves which are generally added to provide tads with security.

tads will eat some algae or bacterial that grows on the leaves though.

james
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Which, in general, are the best to use as leaf litter? I'm no where near the point of worrying about making tannins in the water. One of my aquariums has a nice big piece of driftwood that makes more than enough tannins to go around.
 

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It's really up to you in the end. How big is your tank? I generally use a mixture of live oak leaves and sea grape leaves in my tank. The sea grape leaves are big, but don't break down as fast as the oak leaves. I put down a carpet of sea grape and mix in a bunch of live oak to break up the uniformity. Unless it's a big viv, having all large leaves looks a bit out of place IMO.
 

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You should be able to find plenty of magnolia leaves in NC...that may help you decide. Others (sea grape, live oak) you will have to buy unless you take a trip to the coast. I use mostly mag leaves because they are the best local choice. They last a really long time in the viv and are big enough to offer shelter, even to larger species/morphs. I have a bunch of live oak leaves that I collected that I mix in with the mag leaves just because I like the way they look. So yeah, finding a clean mag tree locally will be your best bet if you don't want to buy leaves.
 

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Dont forget the ability to produce microfauna. I've experimented with TONS of different leaves over the past several. Mostly tropical species but some northern strains as well. I've found that some species of leaf litter (like strangler figs, which occor in areas some species of frog commonly kept are native to) are great for microfauna growth. I noticed this when I was collecting leaves to try for different projects... that the leaf litter under strangler fig trees were PACKED with tons of different microfauna. Native isopods, several types of springtail, tiny ants, spiders etc were everywhere. Since that discovery I've been using them in vivs as an under layer in my substrate and have noticed greatly improved microfauna growth. I'm also using them in my spring and iso cultures with improved results. They aren't the pretties leaf litter available but bugs LOVE them... Because of their structure I thought they would break down very fast (and they do break down faster than the others) but they last a few months and leave a cool "skeleton" behind. At least I think its cool :)

As for the others I use them ALL. I use live oaks in all of my vert set ups. I use magnolia and sea grape in my larger vivs. I'm using some GIANT elastica leaves in place of coco huts in some larger vivs. Thats another long lasting ficus species that leaves a skeleton. And I use indian almond leaves for tad tea. ALL of my vivs will be getting a good layer of strangler fig now after seeing the microfauna results. And so far no ph issues.

I'm also trying a few other non native leaf types. We'll see how they turn out ;)
 
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Palm (or palmetto) fronds are really cool. They are big enough to provide shelter, they last a long time, and, what looks more tropical than palms? If you have access to guava leaves, they form nice "curls" as they dry, leaving little tubes. They do break down on the faster side, though. I've tried some other tropical leaves too. Ceiba and Adansonia break down pretty quickly, Brachychiton and Pseudobomax a little more slowly. Figs do leave cool skeletons. Personally, I like to use as many kind as I can get ahold of. The greater the variety, the better IMHO.


EDIT: also, a handful of dried twigs goes a long way toward keeping your LL fluffy :)
 

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i think you have your info a little mixed up.

the leaves listed are ones used primarily because they DO last longer in vivs (dont break down faster)

also, tannins and tanic acid, arent (as far as i know) consumed, rather it has a natural anti-fungal property that makes its use a sort of substitute for methylene blue. its one of those added benefits to using leaves which are generally added to provide tads with security.

tads will eat some algae or bacterial that grows on the leaves though.

james
Thanks James. I actually forgot to edit that post, I meant to say some break down faster than others. Never knew that tads didn't eat the tannins. Again thanks.
 

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Which, in general, are the best to use as leaf litter? I'm no where near the point of worrying about making tannins in the water. One of my aquariums has a nice big piece of driftwood that makes more than enough tannins to go around.
I'd either use magnolia leaves or live oak. Mag leafs can hold water that frogs may lay clutches in but are big, live oaks break down a little faster but are smaller. Unless your breeding or have a large tank (imo) go for oaks or something of similar size.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This is exactly the information I was looking for, thank you all for your input!
I'm new to the area but I've never been anywhere in NC where there aren't magnolia trees around. I'll go scout out some leaves, bake them for a few minutes, and throw them into the viv. I've got a ficus tree and I read some people use those leaves, I might try taking a smaller leaf or two off that as well and see how it goes.
Thanks again for all your help!
 

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Which, in general, are the best to use as leaf litter? I'm no where near the point of worrying about making tannins in the water. One of my aquariums has a nice big piece of driftwood that makes more than enough tannins to go around.
I like to cover the substrate with live oak leaves and then some magnolia on top of that. Magnolia makes good hidey spots for the frogs.

Being in NC, you shouldn't have much problem finding live oak and magnolia. I grab mine out of the yard, boil it a few minutes to get the creepy crawlies off of it, let it cool and dry, and ta da! :D

It's almost time for the leaves to start falling again. Fill up a couple garbage bags to get you through the year.
 

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This is exactly the information I was looking for, thank you all for your input!
I'm new to the area but I've never been anywhere in NC where there aren't magnolia trees around. I'll go scout out some leaves, bake them for a few minutes, and throw them into the viv. I've got a ficus tree and I read some people use those leaves, I might try taking a smaller leaf or two off that as well and see how it goes.
Thanks again for all your help!
Ficus will work too but will break down faster than oak, but that's ok. I use some maple leaves because it breaks down fast, for the microfauna.

Have someone who's been around a while point out a few oak trees to you. We have several kinds and once you've seen them, they are easy to spot.
 

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One important point missing...Make absolutely sure you are collecting from a "clean" area. If you just get them from a park, they are probably full of pesticides.
 
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