Aquarium Driftwood Problems | What Should You Do?

aquarium driftwood problems

Did you know that you can put driftwood in your aquarium

Not just any old driftwood, but driftwood that has been wetted and dried meticulously over a period of time in order to ensure it is fish, frog, turtle, and any other aquarium-dwelling creature safe.

When collecting driftwood from the outside, it is important to remove the very top layer of any loose bark, sharp points, and scrape off any other potentially harmful things. 

This can be done with a scraper, knife, or dremel depending on what you have handy. 

You want to avoid having any sharp edges because fish can poke their sensitive eyes on them.

After scrubbing and rinsing your driftwood, you should soak the driftwood in a bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution to kill off any harmful bacteria or pathogens. 

After soaking, power-rinse your driftwood and move onto the boiling step of the process. Boil the driftwood in extremely hot water for several hours, and then leave the driftwood outside to dry for several days.

Driftwood inevitably leases tannins into the water, and some choose to soak their driftwood for several weeks to expel as many contaminants as possible before submerging. 

Is the Aquarium Driftwood Safe? ​

To make a long story short: yes and no. If you buy your driftwood from a petstore, your driftwood has already been cured and will not cause any detriment to your aquarium life. 

However, if you collect driftwood from a nearby stream and place it in your aquarium without taking the proper precautions, you could cause the pH, ammonia, nitrites or nitrates to go haywire – all of which are vitally important to the health of your aquarium.

If you’re willing to spend the money, and it can be quite a lot depending on the amount of labor that went into the driftwood and its size, 

Buying driftwood from a petstore is the quickest and surefire way to make sure your driftwood is completely safe. 

How to Clean and Prepare Driftwood for an Aquarium

Aquarium driftwood can be stunning in a beautiful aquascape, and can add a sturdy foundation to decorate on and around. 

Additionally, aquarium driftwood is pretty unique and whatever piece you buy or cure is most likely a one-of-a-kind piece, only found in your aquarium. 

Other aquarium decorations are mass-produced and often made cheaply, but driftwood comes right from nature and enhances the natural environment of the aquarium.

Fish in the wild and captivity use driftwood as safe refuges, and can even become the home of snail eggs or baby fish who require cover.

 Aquarium driftwood also has substantial benefits for the chemical balances of the water, and it helps to keep the water’s pH low without adding in extra chemicals. 

Are there Any Negatives of Aquarium Driftwood? ​

Most of the negatives that come with “aquarium driftwood” is that the driftwood is not actually meant for an aquarium, or it is not ready just yet. 

Uncleaned or uncured driftwood can cause contaminates such as tannins to leak into the aquarium water, sometimes causing harm to the aquarium life.

When collecting your own aquarium driftwood, you also need to be weary of collecting driftwoods that are soft, such as cedar and pine, because they deteriorate quickly upon being submerged in water. 

It is useful before attempting to make your own aquarium driftwood, which can be risky, to do thorough research about how to identify different types of wood and how to cure them in preparation.

Extremely large pieces of aquarium driftwood may need to be secured to hold them in position so that the hard bark does not bang against the aquarium glass. This can be done with large aquarium rocks. 

How To Know If The Driftwood Safe For Aquarium

Before putting your driftwood in the aquarium, you have to be sure that it has no side effects and is safe for your aquarium. But how do you know if the driftwood is safe for your aquarium?

If you have soft wood that contains span or resin is unsafe for your fish. Because this type of driftwood releases toxic leach into water and can make your fish sick, for this reason, softwood is considered unsafe for fish tanks.

Pine trees and other evergreens that are unable to make shed are judged as softwood.

But the problem arises when you discover the wood is washed. And then, it would be difficult to identify what trees this wood comes from

However, when you face a problem like this, measure the wood by pressing on that strongly with your fingernail. 

If the wood is digable, then you should think it is softwood, and if the wood is hard to dig into, then it is hardwood.

Wood that has fewer tannins are safe for aquarium

If you found wood from the beach or anywhere, most probably, it would be unsafe for your fish tank.

However, you can use African driftwood, Malaysian driftwood, or savanna root as a safe wood. They are popular as it is self sinking wood, and it doesn’t require anything to keep it sink to the tank water.

There are some unsafe driftwood

  • Cedar
  • Cypress
  • Grape Vine
  • Horse chestnut
  • Lilac
  • Ivy
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Walnut
  • Yew

 

How to Clean and Prepare Driftwood for an Aquarium ​

When collecting driftwood from the outside, it is important to remove the very top layer of any loose bark, sharp points, and scrape off any other potentially harmful things. 

This can be done with a scraper, knife, or dremel depending on what you have handy. You want to avoid having any sharp edges because fish can poke their sensitive eyes on them.

After scrubbing and rinsing your driftwood, you should soak the driftwood in a bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution to kill off any harmful bacteria or pathogens.

 After soaking, power-rinse your driftwood and move onto the boiling step of the process. Boil the driftwood in extremely hot water for several hours, and then leave the driftwood outside to dry for several days.

Driftwood inevitably leases tannins into the water, and some choose to soak their driftwood for several weeks to expel as many contaminants as possible before submerging. 

Aquarium Driftwood Problems ​

Some immediate problems that should be addressed when dealing with driftwood include but are not limited to 

1. Yellow or brown aquarium water

Brown or yellow water, especially directly after introducing driftwood to your tank, could be a sign of something larger such as tannins being leaking into the water. 

Any discoloration in aquarium water is cause for concern, and it is wise to investigate the source. “Bacterial blooms”, which are usually harmless and cloud the water, do not cause the water to turn yellow or brown. 

If you suspect your aquarium driftwood is causing tannins to leak into the water, remove the driftwood right away. 

2. Lower water pH

Certain types of fish and animals that can be kept inside aquariums require a higher water pH in order to survive.

 Aquarium driftwood lowers the pH of water and is something to be considered, because it may not be suitable for your aquarium creatures. 

3. Unpleasant odors

Driftwood is often bulbous and takes up a large part of the aquarium tank floor, which can lead to a buildup of organic compounds that include uneaten food and decaying plant and food matter. 

Aquarium driftwood can hide dirt underneath its surfaces, and this can be fixed with a quick water change in which the driftwood is taken out, the tank floor is suctioned, and then the driftwood is wiped off before submerging again. 

Why is My Aquarium Driftwood Floating and How to Stop ​

Aquarium driftwood can be very buoyant and tends to float to the surface of the water. 

Your fish might enjoy this if they are territorial in the top areas of the tank as it adds more important coverage, but it may not be all that appealing to you as the aquarium owner. 

This is a common problem in driftwood, and it has several solutions:

1. Tie your driftwood to large aquarium rocks or stones

This can be done with anything that is aquarium safe, even a zip-tie would do as long as you make sure to cut away all sharp edges. 

2. Glue it down

Some aquarists are confident with their aquarium set up and do not plan to change it, and use aquarium sealant to glue their driftwood to its position in the tank.

3. Waterlog your driftwood

If your driftwood is dry and floating when you submerge it, you can soak it for a few days so that it absorbs water, becomes less buoyant, and will stop floating.

Ultimately, aquarium driftwood can enhance the overall aesthetic of your tank while providing your fish with a natural environment in which they can thrive. 

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