Can I use tree roots ? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2017, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Can I use tree roots ?

So we all know that woods such as "spider" or "mopani" are safe for your aquarium BUT can be expensive.

My question is...is it safe to use a root from a local tree ?

Personally I don't see any issue but with the wealth of knowledge & experience I thought I would ask.

BTW I did find a very cool and "branchy" root that would be great for my tank
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2017, 04:16 AM
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What kind of wood? Id say only hardwoods and you need to treat it for the tank which just googling can achieve. Just know that theres allot that can go 'wrong' if the wood isnt right, off the top of my head if it isnt wholly dried it can start to rot in the tank. Just do the research to make sure its a safe wood for aquariums, low sap, and condition it properly.

Bump: Also be weary of where it came from, pesticides and what not can be in them.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2017, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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I found this tree root waaaaaay out in the bush when I was turkey hunting this spring.
I don't know what tree or shrub it is from but here in BC we mainly have soft woods.

I will post a picture of it tomorrow.
Thanks for the reply.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2017, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone else have any thoughts ?
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 01:45 AM
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You'd really have to post a photo to get any hard advice on this, I think. But you can go through a general checklist:

Is the wood 100% dry? (dry it out.)
Does the wood still have bark on it? (get the bark off.)
Does it have any fungus or bugs in it? (scrub and sterilize it.)
When you leave it in water for a few days, does it get excessive slime/biofilm on it? (soak it for a while, clean off slime, if it keeps coming back it's probably no good)
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 01:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hygropunk View Post
You'd really have to post a photo to get any hard advice on this, I think. But you can go through a general checklist:

Is the wood 100% dry? (dry it out.)
Does the wood still have bark on it? (get the bark off.)
Does it have any fungus or bugs in it? (scrub and sterilize it.)
When you leave it in water for a few days, does it get excessive slime/biofilm on it? (soak it for a while, clean off slime, if it keeps coming back it's probably no good)
The slime depends on the type though cuz most normal driftwoods will get a film on it thats like white and that is perfectly normal and sometimes even desired.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 03:07 AM
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That's true. Spider wood, ghostwood, and manzanita often have that white slime on them. BUT, it eventually does go away. I'm saying if it DOESN'T go away after a few weeks, it's not worth using.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 01:39 PM
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Following. Interested in finding something like this myself.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 02:55 PM
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My 2 cents... If you know what type of root it is and can verify it does NOT have toxic, poison or harmful properties then it should be ok but understand there is always a risk with unidentified roots. The steps I would follow to prepare it are as follows:

1. Clean any loose debris from the wood with a stiff brush.

2. Boil the wood for a few hrs. adding water as needed.

3. After boiling transfer the wood to a 5 gal pail of cold water to cool it and using a stiff brush scrub every nook and cranny getting any soft or loosely attached pieces off.

4. Place on a baking sheet and put it in the over at about 200F 2-3 hours (since this is roots it won't need as long as bigger pieces of wood) PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE OVEN AND WOOD!!!!! NEVER LEAVE UNATTENDED!!!!

5. Remove and place in 5gal pail of clean water. Allow to soak until it sinks.

6. Place in the aquarium.

Others may have a better method

Dan
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 03:30 PM
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All driftwood is safe for the aquarium because if it is truly seasoned it has no sap left. If it is a soft wood it just won't hold up long underwater. If it is dry but not driftwood then I would only use known wood. I use dry cedar frequently and soak it, scrape off the sapwood once its soft, and retain the heartwood.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-09-2017, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbadjon View Post
All driftwood is safe for the aquarium because if it is truly seasoned it has no sap left. If it is a soft wood it just won't hold up long underwater. If it is dry but not driftwood then I would only use known wood. I use dry cedar frequently and soak it, scrape off the sapwood once its soft, and retain the heartwood.

I would agree with the driftwood as its already gone through the soaking process forever a day leeching all the possible toxins, poisons sap etc. out into the water and usually thoroughly dried in the sun. But collecting roots I would consider to be different when from land although they do get saturated by rain and exposed to elements often times they are not quite as processed as driftwood. I would rather error on the side of caution. But again everyone has their process and if it works that's all that matters.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 09:29 PM
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Even the term "driftwood" is open to different definitions so what works for one may be different for another. One big point is the water we put it in as well as the wood. A wood put in water with little buffering is far more prone to changing things than the same wood in water with lots of buffering so the answer will vary.
But some basics that seem to work for most cases are simple enough. In my view, wood is made of three things, the wet stuff like sap, tannin, moisture or whatever we call it, the hard cellulose that makes up much of the rest and then there is always the question of what foreign items may be on/in the wood. Roots are more likely to have dirt than other wood might but then dirt is not really much concern in a planted tank!
Since it is nearly impossible to ID most truly dry driftwood, I go this way.
Dry wood avoids most of the question of the moisture, tannins, etc., so I go for only the truly dry stuff. The hard stuff is rarely/never a problem but the wet stuff can drive you crazy for months.
I wash it off and do a bleach soak to clear all the other questions about what might be picked up by the wood while it has been out wandering around.
For hard wood/softwood, I don't care as long as it is totally dry and hard enough to touch to make it seem it will last long enough for my use. Obviously a wood like bamboo will go to mush quicker than something like oak. But if it feels good, I use it.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-11-2017, 09:43 PM
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I used nothing but local tree roots. I only broke off roots that were able to easily snap dry. I didn't use any kind of treatment. I just soaked the roots until it is water logged. Do anyone know of any articles about tree sap actually affecting water parameters or killing fish? I've always heard of this but never read up on a legitimate article. In my opinion, roots carry little defense mechanisms because most tree releases their poisonous defense into their leaves or above the trunk.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 09:39 PM
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The wood in my tank was laying on the side of the river. Ive bought tons of wood over the years as finding unique locally isn't always easy.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-15-2017, 01:52 PM
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I've used oak tree roots in my tank with no issues. They were completely dried out.
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