Alder Cones are harvested along the streams of the north Black Forest in southwestern Germany. They belong exclusively to the Black alder. The ripe cones are picked directly from the trees in autumn.They then get air-dried. The cones are not picked from the ground, so an optimal quality is ensured.
Ripe alder cones are small, woody fruit stands of the Black alder and are a classic natural material to improve the water quality in the aquarium. For example, they are traditionally used to prepare biotope-compatible water for fishes from blackwater habitats.
Alder cones are rich in active substances such as tannins and renowned for their anti-bacterial and fungicide effect.
In addition, the cones are interesting for the natural aquarium design. Black alder trees typically occur on watersides and in swamps, therefore their cones are often found in natural waters in Europe. Especially in biotope aquariums, alder cones contribute to a natural appearance of the setup.
- Alder cones make the water lightly acidic (lower the pH value)
- They lower the germ density and hinder infections with bacteria or fungus naturally
- Release humic substances, colouring the water brownish
- They improve the well-being of the animals and make the moulting of shrimps easier
- Provide substrate for biofilm that is grazed by shrimps
- Decoration material for a natural, biotop-like appearance of the setup
- Also available as XXL version with extra large cones
What are Alder Cones?
Alder cones are the catkins of black alder trees (Alnus glutinosa). These trees originate from Europe, but have also been introduced to many parts of the United States and Canada. They look like tiny pine cones and turn brown, their characteristic color, during the fall. They contain the alder tree’s seeds and can be picked from the tree or collected from the ground.
There are many reasons aquarists use these little cones, and our alder cones are collected just for us. They are found in areas that are free from pollutants, insecticides, and pesticides.
Tannins & Humins
While alder cones are often used for water conditioning, using them is also great for fish and shrimp. Aquarists are big fans of botanicals like the alder cone, since they contain highly beneficial tannins and humins. The properties of tannins and humins within the cones ensure the optimum growth and health of fish, shrimp, and plants alike.
Tannins are naturally antibacterial and antifungal, which means any botanical that contains these are helping to protect the livestock in your aquarium. Tannins also stain the water anywhere between yellow and very dark brown depending on the amount that is released.
Humins are helpful in plant growth and also lower the pH of your water. They also help to reduce the hardness of water. This creates a biotope for fish and shrimp growth. Tannins and humins help duplicate the natural habitats of fish that live in blackwater rivers, which stimulate spawning and reduces stress.
Other Benefits of Using Alder Cones
A small amount of cones added to your tank can give the aquarium water a nice natural stained look. With their natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, these cones offer a great place for biofilm to grow and can be eaten by the shrimp when they start to dissolve in your aquarium.
Alder cones also make great hiding places for fry (baby fish). They even are beneficial in that they help to lower pH if you need to and want it to be lowered naturally.
Alder Cone Benefits for Shrimp
If you have Amano, Crystal Red, and other types of shrimp in your freshwater aquarium, alder cones are sure to be a hit! Not only do they have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, alder cones provide a feeding station for shrimp.
These inverts will enjoy grazing on the biofilm that grows over the surface of the cones. (This coating contains bacteria, worms, and other tiny microorganisms which shrimp love to feast on.) Once you add the cones to your tank, you are likely to see at least one of your shrimp perched on an alder cone and grazing!
How Do You Use Alder Cones in Aquariums?
If you are new to the aquarium hobby, you’re likely wondering how alder cones should be used. When you initially place your alder cones in the aquarium, they’ll float at first. As they become water-logged, they’ll eventually sink to the bottom. Once settled at the bottom, you’ll see your shrimp and fish peck at the cones.
Another way aquarists use alder cones is by putting them into their filter and allowing the aquarium water to flow through them. (This is a good option if you don’t care for the look of alder cones in your aquarium, or if you don’t have shrimp.)
Alder Cone Tips
Because the cones can become waterlogged and may take a while to sink, many aquarists, including us, find it best to soak them or boil them before they place them in their aquarium. You can also put alder cones into your canister filter so that they can release their tannins, but they will remain unseen to aquarium viewers.
We’d recommend a starting quantity of about 5-8 for every 10 gallons of aquarium capacity, although there is no hard and fast rule about this. They can lower the pH of soft water surprisingly quickly, while imparting a nice brownish tint. Proceed slowly to gauge for yourself the effect that these little cones can impart into your aquarium water chemistry.
Please note that alder cones can be potent if you put too many into your aquarium. Try between 5 to 8 for every 10 gallons.
How Long Do the Cones Last?
At some point, your alder cones will stop releasing their tannins and humins. To ensure that your tank still has plenty of these in the water, you’ll want to replace them every month.
If you have shrimp in your tank, leave a few of the older cones since they are still a source of live food for your shrimp to eat. Keeping fresh cones in your aquarium will also keep the slight brown tint in your water.