It’s eye catching, tranquil and provides for some amazing aquascaping opportunities. Driftwood can be spotted in most of those inspiring freshwater aquariums we find online which encourage us to start a tank in the first place. For those contemplating the construction of a planted tank, I highly recommend the inclusion of at least a few choice pieces of driftwood. Not only does driftwood add a naturalistic charm to any freshwater aquarium, but it also provides additional coverage for your fish if they desire places to hide. Some species of fish even eat wood as a source of their diet. Driftwood simply adds a dynamic that upgrades the aesthetic of any aquarium. But before you go adding some random piece of wood into your tank, it must first be screened and properly prepared for its addition to the aquarium.
When selecting pieces for your aquarium, we would strongly encourage you to search your local fish store (LFS), chain store or retail provides online that sell wood designated as aquarium safe. A few types of wood traditionally seen within aquaria include:
While some have acquired desirable pieces of driftwood from the great outdoors, this does come with a risk. Wood found outside could contain chemicals or toxins which would leach into your aquarium water harming inhabitants. Those that utilize wood acquired directly from outside have reported success by cleansing the selected pieces with a bleach/water mixture. However, we strongly caution against this practice. Bleaching will only treat the biological threats (i.e. bacteria) found within the wood. Toxins and chemicals will still persist following this method of cleaning. Even if you do not have access to a retail store in your area that provides safe aquarium wood, there are numerous retailers online that post pictures of their items so you can select the perfect piece for your aquascape. A quick google search of “aquarium safe driftwood for sale” will provide you with a plethora of options.
Once you have selected your choice pieces, it is time to prepare the wood for aquarium entry. First rinse off your pieces with water and use a clean scrubbing brush (like a toothbrush) to remove any dirt or particulate matter which might have accumulated on the piece. DO NOT USE SOAP! Soaps can leave behind a residue which could prove poisonous to fish. Once the wood has been cleaned, it is time to boil and cure your driftwood.
While some might choose to forgo this step, boiling driftwood provides several benefits:
In order to boil driftwood:
After the wood has been boiled and allowed to cool, it should be safe for aquarium entry. However, we would recommend curing the driftwood once it has been boiled. Curing driftwood provides additional time for tannins to be expelled from the wood and aids in the wood becoming completely waterlogged. Curing driftwood simply involves placing the wood pieces in a container full of water to soak. Wood should be permitted to cure for a minimum of 1 to 2 weeks. Make sure to change the water every couple of days to remove the eliminated tannins. Some wood might require upwards of a month or more before it completely sinks or ceases to emit tannins.
Once the boiling and curing process have been completed, the wood is now ready to be placed within the aquascape.
After driftwood has been introduced to your aquarium, sometimes problems can emerge which keep you from fully enjoying your aquascape. Listed are a few of the more common problems witnessed with driftwood:
Driftwood is a beautiful addition to any freshwater aquarium system. While you can directly add newly purchased driftwood to your tank, it well worth avoiding the risk and possible headaches to properly prepare driftwood for your tank. Boiling and curing newly acquired pieces will help you with issues concerning sterilization, tannins and waterlogging. The extra effort is well worth the intrinsic allure of driftwood within an aquascape.
Let us know if you have any questions and until next time, Keep Krill'in!