Monday, May 18, 2009

Daun Ketapang - Huu Kwang Leaves

Most of the tropical fishes that lives in the rivers and lakes, their natural and best environment is Black Water. Black water have a distinctive brownish tea like colour and contain many dissolved organic materials.

It was first noticed that fishes living around the water where the ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond trees grew are found much more vibrant, beautiful and healthy. Thus started the practice of putting in ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves into aquariums to try and achieve the same condition as those found in their natural environment.

Ketapang Leaves, is aimed for water reconditioning based on betta's environment

The ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond tree is a big 'pagoda-shaped' tree with distinctly tiered branching. The origin of the tree is in Malaysia and Thailand. A noted pecularity of this species is the tendency for its leaves to turn bright red and fall - a rarity in the tropics where most trees remain evergreen throughout the year. The bark, fruit and leaves of the tree have traditionally been used to treat various ailments ranging from skin disease, dysentery, headaches and colic in children. Research has identified properties which could be used in treating hypertension.

Ketapang/Huu Kwang (TERMINALIA CATAPPA, or commonly called tropical almond, badamier, Java almond, amandier de Cayenne, wild almond, Indian almond, myrobalan, Malabar almond, Singapore almond, Huu kwang, Sea almond, kobateishi) tree is known to produce a poison in its leaves and sap to defend against insect parasites. When the dried leaves falls into the river, a strong brown dye is given off. The dye is full of organic acids like humic and tannins.

So the dried Ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves actually release organic acids like humic and tannins which lowers the pH of the water, absorbs harmful chemicals and help create a soothing and calm environment for the fish.

What is Humic Acid? Is it a mixture of several organic acids? Humic acids are a complex mixture of partially "decomposed" and otherwise transformed organic materials. The freshwater humic acids can come from a variety of sources, most of which are on land (decomposing terrestrial vegetation.) These substances wash into lakes and rivers, undergoing further transformations along the way, and ultimately into the ocean.

Humic acid contains Sulfur, Nitrogen and Phosphorus in varying amounts. It also contains metals such as Ca, Mg, Cu, Zn etc. which can be 'chelated' in some undefined way. Humic acid can be broken down into two groups based on the polarity and size of the individual 'compounds'.

The smaller, more polar fraction is generally termed fulvic acid and the larger, more non-polar fraction is generally termed humic acid. Humic acids are the end product of microbial degradation of plant and animal debris and are one of the most important constituents of fertile soils.

Tannins, lignins and fulvic acids are sub classes of humic acids. They all tint the water yellow.

Tannic and humic acids may be useful for inhibiting many types of bacteria including cyano-bacteria and are fairly benign for your fish.

Another paradoxical effect of humic acids is the detoxification of heavy metals. Humic material and detritus in the aquarium also rapidly absorb and detoxify many chemicals including zinc, aluminum and copper! One might expect them to be made more, not less toxic by humic acids, but the studies seem to indicate a detoxifying effect.

Also important to know: The harder the water the more ineffective the humic acids - - - more exactly: the dissolved lime in the water produces undissolvable calcium humates. So, the higher the water hardness, the higher must be the supply of humates in order to achieve an acidifying effect. The softer the water, the less humates are needed and the better the effect. It creates a natural environment similar to that of the lakes in the tropical rainforest and some area of the Amazon River. It also induces spawning for most soft water and acid loving fishes. Too much of the ketapang/Huu Kwang/Indian Almond leaves may result in too low the water pH.