Since I set-up my water aging tub, I have been looking at a cheaper and more concentrated alternative to IAL for some time now. While IAL is great in tanks, I found that it quickly loses its potency if I am frequently removing large volumes of water, as is the case with my tub. Therefore, when Leslie Dear made mention of rooibos on the Wild Betta Australia Facebook page, I was quick to give it a go.
As I have some rather rare and valuable species in my fish room, I didn't want to just go ahead and start adding rooibos to my tank water without checking that the specific brand I was using wasn't going to cause harm. Therefore, I decided to test it out on my Betta coccina group first.
I was a bit liberal with the dosage, but none of the fish reacted adversely to the addition of the rooibos. I used about 1 litre of extract in a 28 litre tank, and that was more than enough to turn the water a wonderful tea-like brown. The group of coccina seemed to appreciate the darker water. However, perhaps most astonishing was the reaction of the Betta brownorum that shares a tank with the group.
Normally, I would rarely catch more than a glimpse of this fish. Therefore, it was a surprise to see him venture out to the front of the tank and engage in some territorial aggression with the coccina female only minutes after the rooibos extract was added.
It's been a couple of days since this first test, and I have not noticed any ill-effects. Yesterday I brewed up a couple of litres of extract, and this morning I added a small amount to my Betta persephone tank. I have noticed that this group of fish prefer a tannin rich environment, so I am probably going to have to add a couple of litres of extract to get the water really dark.
Rather than extract, I am going to be using the rooibos tea bags in my water aging tub. The plan is to float a handful of these in the tub, and replace them whenever they start to degrade or lose their potency.
I picked up a packet of rooibos tea bags from Coles here in Australia. I think it was just under $5 for a small box, but I'm sure if you looked around you could get a better price.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.