DIY Driftwood: Aquarium safe woods??
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Old 12-03-2007, 03:10 PM   #1
jbolinger
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DIY Driftwood: Aquarium safe woods??


Are there any types of North American woods that should not be used in an aquarium?

I have soft Maple and several types of Oak (mainly pin oak) readily available. Maybe even some Elm. All I have to do is go in the back yard and pick up what fell down in the last storm . Or make a trip to the Brother in Laws farm if I want something more 'exotic'.

I'm at the point with my new aquarium that I have to decide if I want some new wood, or just use the pieces from the old tank (which my XXL pleco has chewed down to almost nothing!).

Jim
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:40 PM   #2
ralph50
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I can't answer the American wood question but...

I found some wood in a lake near my house. I have no clue what tree it came form so I figured since it was submerged and had enough density to sink it would be alright.

I stunk up the house so much after boling it that I had to throw it out.
It was also oozing brown/green stuff out of one end.

Bottom line is that wood that has not completely dried will leach things into your tank that you don't want there.

I went to the LFS spent $50 and got me some really nice driftwood that still leached tanins into my water.

I don't even know if Oak or Maple is dense enough to sink???
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:59 PM   #3
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even if it is dry when you get it (natural or pet store kind) it willleach tannins.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:08 PM   #4
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You don't want to use softwoods as it will decompose in the tank and make a big mess. Elm isn't any good as it will leach out other stuff besides tannins.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:37 PM   #5
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I've done some searching in the past on this subject. If you do a search on the forum you should come up with some good threads.

Basically denser woods are usually preferred because they tend to sink and decompose slower. However, most any wood will do. I believe that there are some woods people say to stay away from for poison reasons but just think about nature; fish don't get to pick what kind of wood falls into their stream/lake.

Go get some wood from a stream or lake thats what i did.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbman7 View Post
Go get some wood from a stream or lake thats what i did.
Me too - I have some LFS wood and a "found" piece. A local lake was drawn down a couple of feet for weed control. Walking along the now-exposed edge I found a partially-buired just-right sized piece. Lots of washing and a bleach dip to kill any possible attached insects (followed by more soaking/dechlor) and I have a great piece. #1 rule - keep it wet! If you let it dry out it won't sink again for a LONG time.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:24 PM   #7
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Manzanita is always a popular choice in planted tanks and www.manzanita.com is always highly recommended around here. I believe they sell both small and large aquarium packages.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph50 View Post
I stunk up the house so much after boling it that I had to throw it out. It was also oozing brown/green stuff out of one end.
This may have been some type of pine.

IIRC that is how they used to make turpentine, by boiling pine. Certainly not something you want in your tank.

Jim
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:54 PM   #9
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Manzanita is always a popular choice...
Yes, but I don't think I have a Manzanita tree in the yard

Jim
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:47 AM   #10
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The problem with most wood is the Resins, Saps are toxic. Wood needs to be aged, a good rule of thumb is about one year. So all the sap, and resin has completly dried out. Then I steam the wood in a very large Wok, moving the larger pieces along their length, lid on, giving 15 minutes of steam to each section, then flip it over, and go again.
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Old 07-01-2012, 03:02 PM   #11
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I do lots of wood as it is easy to find and sells very well. Over the years I have tried many things to sort out what works for me. For the local wood, tannins and sinking are somewhat related. If the wood is heavy enough to sink, it will have tannins in any wood I find. Whether tannins are sap or just come together when sap is present makes no difference in my choice of wood. When there is sap still in the wood, it may be heavy enough to sink but almost sure to have tannin questions. Wood that has been dead less than a year will not burn well let alone be free of tannins so I never go for new storm damaged wood. The trick is in finding wood that has been dead long enough to dry totally but not rot or be eaten by bugs and fungus. Even cedar is safe if totally dry but it takes some care depending on how well your water buffers PH. Low buffered water may see a PH crash. I consider wood that has been dead ten years as about the right aging.
My best bet for finding good wood that is totally dead and dry is along lakes where water rises and falls. When the wood is underwater, it soaks and removes some tannins. This also stops the normal bugs and things that work on exposed wood. Then when the wood is up out of the water, it dries and kills the water things that rot and eat wood. After it does this for 10-20 years, the wood may break off and float to shore. This often leaves a very hard solid piece that has all tannins removed and is ready to use. But it will often be light weight and need rocks or weight added.
Cut the wood open and look for uniform color all the way through. The more uniform the color, the less chance of tannin problems.
This is a piece of cedar which was totally dry.
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Old 07-03-2012, 06:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbolinger View Post
Yes, but I don't think I have a Manzanita tree in the yard

Jim
I do.. and a year later I am still waiting for the stuff to dry out enough to use.. oye.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:15 AM   #13
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at school i am surround by a lot of oak trees (im in western new york so MANY trees. what i did was pick some and strip the bark off of them. then i boiled them for a while to remove parasites. then placed in aquarium and it was great. be sure to pick up wood that is already fallen off. wood from the tree still has sap.
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