What is an alder cone?
Alder cones come from black alder trees. These trees naturally occur in Europe but are also an introduced species in many parts of the South Africa. Alder cones look somewhat like tiny pine cones and turn their typical brown color during Autumn. They contain the alder tree’s seeds and can be picked from the tree or collected from the ground.
What do alder cones do?
Well, as you might know, many #Shrimpers go crazy over “leaf litter”. That basically means plant bits, most notably Indian almond leaves. We use these in our aquarium because they are good for our fish and shrimp.
Leaf litter and Alder Cones contain tannins and humins. Tannins are naturally antibacterial and antifungal, which means any product containing them helps protect livestock. As the name suggests they also stain the water anywhere between yellow and very dark brown depending on the amount that is released. Humins are beneficial for plant growth and lower your pH. Both help imitate the natural habitats of fish and shrimp that naturally occur in blackwater rivers, which stimulates breeding and reduces stress.
Alder cones happen to be particularly rich in tannins and humins. Even a small amount of alder cones can give the aquarium water a nice natural stained look and offer all the benefits discussed above. We usually use 2 per 60l tank.
Alder cone benefits for shrimp…
Alder cones have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. This already makes them a great addition to consider for your shrimp tank. The cones are also appreciated as foraging grounds, as they offer a great place for biofilm to grow and can be eaten by the shrimp when they start to break down. They also make great hiding places for baby shrimp and help to gently lower pH if needed.
All in all, shrimp just love alder cones. If you use them in your tank expect some shrimp on there at all times!
How to use alder cones
Alder cones are not difficult to use at all. In fact, it can be as easy as buying a bunch and tossing them into your tank! That being said, most aquarists like to soak the cones beforehand, as they do float at first and can take a while before becoming waterlogged and sinking.
Keep in mind that alder cones can be quite potent; don’t drop a few handfuls in there at once. Try starting with one cone per 20 liter of water. Wait a bit to see what happens and then work your way up from there if desired. The cones leach tannins for about a month, after which you can replace them or just leave them in for the shrimp to munch on.
If, for any reason, you want the beneficial effects of alder cones but don’t want the actual things in your tank, there are still a few options. You can boil your alder cones in a pot of water to create a potent alder cone extract that can be used in small amounts. Alternatively, if you use a canister filter or HOB you can just put the cones in there so they can release their tannins while remaining invisible.
We hope that you found this useful. Head over to the Natural Products section to find them and some other great products from Nature Boys. An Proudly South African Company Supplying all Shrimp Stop’s natural products. They are even working on their own line of foods and we can’t wait to offer it to you. #ZA_ShrimpFam … Keep watching this space, more exciting news to follow #