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Wood in aquarium


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  • Regular Member

I've heard mixed feelings regarding driftwood being put in aquariums, but what about part of a tree branch fresh from a tree? I was planning on redoing my 40 gallon long with dirt and lots of plants, and I thought it might look nice with a piece of wood in there to go with the natural look. A good-sized branch of a birch tree fell during a windstorm the other week, so there are plenty of pieces for me to choose from, if it would still be ok for the fish. I would peel off the bark or any excessive pieces/ debris, and rinse and soak it before hand, along with making sure there are no sharp edges before it would go in the tank.

Does anyone have any thoughts/experience on this? (And of course when looking at the cut branches, my thoughts immediately go to fish!) :blush::whistle:happydance

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  • Regular Member

Along with what you mentioned, I would make sure there are no places where water could become stagnant. Stagnant water is where harmful anaerobic bacteria grow and may harm your fish. Besides that, like you mentioned, no sharp edges, and a LONG soak and rinse would be necessary. I've never done this personally, so I would wait for another person to comment that actually has. The same rules apply to driftwood, but I'm just not sure what's different about fresh wood. Heck, it might not even sink!

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I would be concerned about chemicals, fertilizers, etc. that the tree may have absorbed from the ground. I also think it will rot rather easily. I would stick to something that is meant for aquariums such as Mopani wood.

Edited by jmetzger72
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  • Regular Member

I don't think you can really take branches from trees outside and stick it in your tank. The risk of rotting etc. is too great when it's in the tank. Google 'manzanita driftwood' -- it's a thin type of driftwood that resembles a tree branch, it's very pretty. Just be mindful not to get one that is too sharp or overly branchy, as your goldfish can injure themselves on it easily. You can even tie some moss to the ends to resemble a real tree branch. :)

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  • Regular Member

If you buy driftwood from a pet store, make sure it's aquarium-safe. Pet stores (like PetSmart) sell a different kind of driftwood for reptiles that is not safe for your fish.

By the way, the tannins in the driftwood will color your tank water brownish, so you'll have to soak the wood for a long while in a bucket until the water runs clear, before adding it to your tank.

Also, driftwood can lower the pH of your tank water, which may be helpful if your water's pH is high.

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  • Regular Member

My understanding is that most of the 'driftwood' we buy in stores is not technically driftwood. It's wood from other sources that has been dried, boiled, soaked and smoothed. This process ensures that there is nothing living in the wood, that it has been sterilized, will sink in your tank and won't have any sharp edges that might harm your fish. Provided you go through this rather lengthy process (I have no reference for this, but I imagine it could take months depending on the size of the wood) I don't see why you couldn't use the branches that fell from your tree. That being said it might not be worth the time and effort and it may be easier to just buy a piece of wood from your lfs.

I haven't looked, but there might be a reference available online for how to prepare the wood. A chunk of time on google might be in order :idont

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  • Regular Member

You can make driftwood from fresh branches. It's rather lengthy, involved and easier to buy driftwood. The curing process involves stripping layers back and soaking for up to a year.

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Thanks for the replies everyone! :)

I think that for now, I will not try taking one of the branches and putting it my aquarium as it's probably not really worth the risk or time it would take to soak it and prepare it to be used in my tanks safely. I may keep my eyes open for some wood from an aquarium store to use instead, though. :P

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Regular Member

Your real question was not answered: "what about a tree branch fresh from a tree?".

Any wood placed in an aquarium has to be dry. This prevents any sap and resin from being released into the water. Also some fresh trees have natural insect repellant chemicals that may not be good for fish. It takes time and drying for the sap, resin, and repellant chemicals to evaporate from the tree.

You mentioned that the branch is from a birch tree. That's good because birch is hardwood and hardwood fairs better in water. Softwood decays much quicker than hardwoods and can make a mess in an aquarium.

If you allowed the birch branch to dry out, then soaked out the majority of tannins, you might have a beautiful piece for your tank. However, I don't know how long it will take, or how birch wood will hold up under water long term.

Edited by Acro
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  • Regular Member

I like Malaysian driftwood. I got a beautiful piece from Bob's Tropical Plants for only $11!

I personally would not use a piece I found. I tried this already, thinking it was silly to buy driftwood when I live next to a beach. Unfortunately, this didn't work out - there were dead things (like barnacles) in all the pieces I found. :(

Here is my Malaysian driftwood:

u5ase5es.jpg

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