Aquarium driftwood is an attractive addition to both cold water and tropical fish tanks. This aquarium decoration can be purchased or found and prepared at home. This article will explain how to choose aquarium driftwood and how to safely add it to your fish tank.
Purchasing Aquarium Driftwood
Purchase aquarium driftwood from a reputable seller. Be sure that the specific piece of driftwood is for use in fish aquariums, and not just reptile tanks or birdcages. The distributor of the driftwood pieces should reveal this information. If you are in doubt about a piece of driftwood, either do not use it, or prepare it for your aquarium as described below.
Aquarium driftwood can be purchased plain, or mounted on a piece of slate or other heavy stone. Plain aquarium driftwood is often dry and will float on the surface of your fish tank. Use fishing line to tie it to a rock, screw it onto a piece of flat stone, or soak it in a bucket of water until it is waterlogged.
Finding Aquarium Driftwood
If you live near a swamp, river, or pond, you can find driftwood that is suitable for your aquarium. Driftwood from the ocean is never appropriate for use in fresh water aquariums.
When collecting aquarium driftwood, consider the size and shape of your fish tank. Both branches and roots make good aquarium driftwood specimens.
There are three main styles of aquarium driftwood: block, branched, and long. Block aquarium driftwood consists of one block of wood, often with interesting impressions or wood patterns. These can replace rocks in a fish tank.
Branched aquarium driftwood has many appendages. It is the most visually interesting, as well as providing more hiding places for the fish. Long driftwood consists of a long branch or spear of wood.
Preparing Aquarium Driftwood
Most purchased driftwood can be placed directly in your aquarium. It is a good idea to rinse it well beforehand, however.
Found driftwood can play host to bacteria, insects, mold, and other things unwanted in the aquarium. It must be prepared carefully before using. Do not use any chemicals or cleaners on the driftwood.
The first step in preparing the aquarium driftwood is scrubbing it with a stiff brush. This will remove loose pieces, moss or mold, and any clinging invertebrates.
For large pieces of aquarium driftwood, soaking it is the next step. With frequent hot water changes, this will wash away some bacteria and mold spores. Small pieces of aquarium driftwood can be boiled. This is a better method of sterilization than rinsing alone.
Both methods will also reduce the tannins in the aquarium driftwood. Tannins discolor aquarium water and decrease pH. This is not harmful, but some aquarium keepers dislike this side effect.