How to make your own driftwood

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Barry.M, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. Barry.M

    Barry.M

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    Hi
    Here is that article I wrote on the Wood:

    Basically any fruit tree wood can be used: Apple, Pear, Guava (extremely hard wood), granadilla vine, Grape vine etc. I’ve even used a dead rose bush... Just turned it upside down, cut the trunk and trimmed the roots. Try to avoid any aromatic wood, like pine or blue gum. Pine has a turpentine smell and blue gum has a minty smell.
    Regarding Grape vine, there are two types of grape wood. One type is a solid light colour, fairly soft and light, therefore it rots quickly. Then there is the other type that is two-toned, knobby, hard and very dense, which makes it fairly resistant to rotting.

    Preparing Driftwood.

    Things You’ll Need:
    • Scrub Brush
    • Non Iodized Salt
    • Baking Soda (optional)
    • Non-metallic tub or large bucket
    • Water

    • Step 1: Scrub down the entire piece of driftwood using a stiff scrubbing brush. Avoid the use of soaps or chemicals and use water only. Rinse the driftwood thoroughly.
    • Step 2: Scrub the driftwood one more time using non iodized salt. Rinse thoroughly.
    • Step 3: Soak the entire piece of driftwood in a large non-metallic tub or bucket filled with water. Leave the piece of driftwood submerged in the water for a minimum of one to two weeks. This process will allow for total saturation of the driftwood. If desired, you may add a complete 500 gram box of baking soda to the water. The baking soda will help to neutralize acid and help sterilize the driftwood.
    • Step 4: Allow excess tannins to be removed from the driftwood by leaving it to soak in the tub of water. These tannins will leach out of the driftwood. Tannins left in the wood may cause discolouration in aquarium water and can slightly lower the pH of that water.
    • Step 5: Check on the soaking driftwood regularly. If the water becomes dark or discoloured because of the release of tannins, empty and replace it with fresh water. Rinse the driftwood before placing it into the clean water.
    • Step 6: Continue to change the dark or discoloured water until it does not change colour for several days in a row. When this happens, the wood has been cured.
    • Step 7: Place the cured driftwood into your aquarium in the desired position.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Driftwood can also be boiled. The boiling process will allow for the tannins to leach out much more quickly. Boiling the driftwood will also sterilize it as well as kill any algae or fungal spores. The curing process through boiling requires only one to two hours of boiling time.
    Quote by Azurekoi:

    “ Uhm....just a word of warning on using pine, or Blue gum wood - both contain "turpanols" - not a good idea in our tanks...These trees produce these compounds so that nothing grows within the "Drip line" of their canopy - now imagine releasing these compounds of the limited space of our Aquariums...Hmmmnnn.

    Through the years I have used MANY natural wood pieces that you can find in our wonderful country... some worked, some not(and VERY badly on the not side...) - set up a small tank and test a piece to see how our fish reacts to its chemical release in our aquaria...better to lose a fishie or 2 - than wiping out our WHOLE display aquarium.....”

    Hope this helps... (Almost forgot... You can also use Sycamore or any other form of Maple, Oak and Beech.)

    The most important thing is to make sure any wood you use is dry.

    Regards Barry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2012
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  3. Gooner

    Gooner Gooner

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    Thanks for the post!
     
  4. Biggles

    Biggles

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    The vine that I got had been taken for sandblasting to a very nice finish.
     
  5. OP
    Barry.M

    Barry.M

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    A post I commented on prompted me to add an update to this article:

    Boiling driftwood has several benefits. Just like steeping a tea bag in hot water, boiling driftwood in a large pot encourages more tannins to leech out faster, thereby shortening the curing process. More importantly, boiling sterilizes the driftwood, killing algai or fungal spores that can take hold once introduced into the aquarium with the driftwood. Boiling the driftwood for 1-2 hours will sterilize the driftwood.

    Even after the boiling process, some driftwood may still release tannins and discolour the water. (This can continue for a couple of months. even years in some cases.) If this is the case, do more frequent/larger (percentage) water changes and use chemical filter media such as Purigen or activated carbon to clarify your water. (I prefer Purigen.)

    What are tannins? Tannins are a natural compound contained in the driftwood and they are released into your tank water as the driftwood soaks. Tannins will stain your tank water a light yellow colour or when concentrated - the colour of tea. The amount of staining depends on what type of driftwood and how much wood driftwood you are using. Boiling driftwood can be thought of as placing a bag of tea in a hot cup of water. The longer the tea is in the water and the hotter the water is, the more tannins that will be released.

    Soaking driftwood in a container will also help release the tannins before it is introduced into the aquarium. This process can take quite a bit of time. As I stated before, it can be weeks months or even years before most of the tannins are released.

    The discoloration caused by the tannins will not harm your plants or fish but it will lower the pH slightly over time. You can take advantage of this if you wish and utilize the tannins to achieve soft water conditions preferred by many tropical fish.

    The "tea-stained" effect caused by driftwood simulates Amazonian "Black Water" biotopes where many brightly coloured Tetras like Neons, Cardinals, Rummynoses, and Bleeding Hearts come from. If this is your preference, then only a short soak and scrub is necessary before adding driftwood to your aquarium.

    Note:

    Quite often after driftwood is added to an aquarium, a white almost transparent fuzz will grow on it. This fuzz can appear several weeks to several months after the driftwood is added to the aquarium. Popular thinking is this fuzz is either a fungus or a mould. Don't panic if this happens, it's completely harmless, unfortunately it's not pleasing to look at. Some people have had luck just brushing it off. Others have had luck by introducing algae eating fish, as they will actually eat it. Neither technique will guarantee preventing this fuzz from recurring. The important thing is to have faith, as it will eventually disappear.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
  6. Rainstorm

    Rainstorm

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    I find that boiling helps to sink it faster. Also if one gets fuzz, boil it again for another 2 to 3 hours. Guaranteed you'll never get the fuzz again. Happened to me and I decided to do it, out of sheer frustration as this piece of wood was a lot of "roots" around the base, making it difficult to clean it. And this was spiderwood.
     
  7. Super Sywurm

    Super Sywurm

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    I think I will be trying the boiling process in my black pot over a fire.
     
  8. MariaS

    MariaS Moderator

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    Boiling also helps to get rid of tanins faster
    I also usually add some salt which together with the boiling should get rid of any nasty hitchhikers
     
  9. Hendre

    Hendre Polypterus freak Comp Coordinator

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    I need to find something nice first :(

    Guys boil your mopani, mine is putting out tannins almost a year later
     
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  10. Ladysphinx

    Ladysphinx

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    I've had my mopani for almost 5 years now and it's now tannins free, when I got my fishtanks going again it still leeched a bitbof tannins but a year later it has stopped. Have some I wood in my big tank and after boiling and soaking for about 3 or 4 months no tannins any more. My Kirbs loves the big piece as it's got some holes and crevice.
     
  11. Hendre

    Hendre Polypterus freak Comp Coordinator

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    It's quite slow now but still a pain. My fish also love it
     
  12. Stephan Liebenberg

    Stephan Liebenberg

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    Anyone have experience with apricot branches? We had to trim one away from telephone lines a few months ago and there's some tempting pieces in the pile...
     
  13. Pezulu

    Pezulu

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    Try it, and let us know....

    I know guava works quite well, so any hard wood should be able to be used, as long as it doesn't contain anything detrimental to fish and wildlife.
     
  14. Stephan Liebenberg

    Stephan Liebenberg

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    I'll do, it still has to dry out for quite some time, I plan on stripping some bark, baking it and running it in a small 20l I have lying around. My mutt guppy fry will have to play Guinea pig...

    From what I gather if grass grows under the tree, it should wourk
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  15. Pezulu

    Pezulu

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    Not too sure about the grass growing part.
    I have seen Tambotie with grass growing under it, and that is not very good for fishes, or braaiing with.
     
  16. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    hmmm bird people tend to stay clear of trees form the Prunus species ...

    "do not use apricot, cherry, peach, prune, plum or nectarine, which all belong to the Prunus species. They contain cyanogenic glycosides which release cyanide if ingested. "
    see http://www.saferpets.co.uk/safebirdcages.html

    might be worth a bit more investigation. Esp since cyanide is used to kill fish / and capture them https://www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/cyanide-poisoning/overview-of-cyanide-poisoning

    Also the reason why one should be careful when giving your fish B12 ( well not the cheap stuff i.e if they do not state what constitutes B12 it is probably cyanocobalamin - but this might just be big pharma playing with us see https://www.justvitamins.co.uk/blog/cyanocobalamin-versus-methylcobalamin/ )

    - Where is my tinfoil hat ...

    Later Ferdie
     

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