Use of Leaves in Aquariums: Part 2

Use of Leaves / Leaf Litter for Shrimp Tanks

Use of leaves or adding leaf litter to your aquarium can benefit your shrimps and fish in many ways. The leaves condition the water and boost shrimp’s health while providing them with an alternative food source. The shrimp either directly eat the leaves or graze the biofilm growing on their surface. There are two types of leaves safe to use in aquariums.

  1. Examples of the leaves that are eaten directly by the shrimp are Mulberry leaves, Guava leaves, Spinach leaves, etc.
  2. Leaves that are not eaten directly by shrimp, examples are Indian Almond leaves, Oak leaves, Alder Cones, etc.

In this article, we will discuss the leaves which are consuming directly by the shrimp. For other leaves and plant matters available to use in aquariums please check here!

Why leaf diet for shrimp?

Meat-based diets are a good source of proteins, which help in boosting the growth and facilitate the breeding of shrimp. Vegetable or Leaf based diets provide more carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.

It is important to feed the shrimp a varied diet consisting of both animal and vegetable-based foods to provide them with a balance of nutrients.

Mulberry leaf


Mulberries are deciduous trees in the genus Moras of the Moraceae family that can grow in many temperate sections of the world. There are three main varieties of Mulberry exist. Black Mulberry, Red Mulberry, and White Mulberry. All these three kinds of Mulberry leaves are proper and safe additions to shrimp aquariums.


Mulberry leaves do not release high amounts of tannins or humic acids like Indian Almond leaves and hence, do not stain the water as much. They have high amounts of carbohydrates, fibers, vitamins, and minerals which makes them excellent sources of natural food for shrimp. A varied diet involving mulberry leaves helps the shrimp to maintain a healthy exoskeleton and aids in the molting process.

Mulberry leaves soften quickly and will quickly eatable by shrimps within a few days.

Guava leaf

The Guava tree is a small tree belonging to the Myrtle family. It bears the fruit guava which is grown and eaten in many parts of the world. The leaves of the guava tree are a good addition to shrimp aquariums.


They are a good source of food for shrimp, though they are not appreciated as much as Mulberry leaves. Their main attraction is their anti-bacterial properties. They prevent and eliminate Luminous bacteria, which are one of the main disease-causing pathogens for shrimps.

Guava leaves do not break down as quickly as other dried leaves, so you do not need to replace or remove them too frequently.

Spinach Leaf


Spinach is a flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is native to Western and Central Asia but can easily grow all over the world. Shrimps are fondly accepting and consume spinach leaves too.


Spinach is rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, iodine, and other minerals. It is useful in enhancing the natural color of shrimp. Shrimps prefer smaller leaves (baby spinach leaves) over larger ones.

Commercially supplied spinach is often frozen and it is important to defrost before adding it to the aquarium.

Stinging Nettle


Stinging Nettles are herbaceous flowering plants that are belonging to the Urticaceae family. They grow in many regions of the world including Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and western North America. They get their name because of the stinging hair-like trichomes present on their leaves and stems and hurts the human skin.


Stinging nettles are a highly nutritious food source for which contains tannins, mineral salts, nutrients, and a variety of vitamins. Stinging nettle is one of the best leafy sources that also contains essential proteins and calcium. They also have high levels of silicate, which aids the molting process of shrimp.

Leaves in the aquarium

You can add the leaves taken from the trees directly to your aquarium. It is vital to ensure that the trees or plants are from a pesticide-free and pollution-free environment. The most substantial issue on this to use the proper amount of leaves to be consumed within one day. In a tank with good filtration, larger water volume, leaves can stay for longer times.

You can boil or blanch the leaves before adding them to the aquarium to remove any dust or critters. Boiling in water also softens the leaves and makes it easier for the shrimp to ingest them.

Some aquarists prefer drying the leaves in sunlight or an oven before using them. This process is optional since it removes some beneficial nutrients along with harmful substances.

Fruit tree leaves break down faster than hardwood tree leaves. If you add an excessive number of leaves, the shrimp might not be able to consume them before they decompose, and this may lead to water quality problems.

List of Leaves/Vegetation for Use in Aquarium

Alder (leaves and cones)BananaBaby spinachPeachHazel (Corylus avellana)
AlmondBeechMadronaPlumLinden Tree
ApricotCrabappleMaplePoplar Walnut
AshGuavaMulberryStinging Nettle 
Indian AlmondHibiscusOakCherry 
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