Is this driftwood safe? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Is this driftwood safe?




Found these two pieces recently and was wondering if they would be safe to put in an aquarium. Are there ways to tell/test what kind of wood it is?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 03:37 PM
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No test that I know of but then it really doesn't matter very much, either. There are some woods which have sap and that can cause trouble of various types. Sap is what causes color problems so it is good to get dry wood. There are a few limited type/species of wood which have toxic sap. Cedar is semi-famous as one to avoid but when the sap is gone, I often use it.
So I would say there is a very good chance that the wood itself is safe due to the obvious age and lack of sap left in it. A few like hickory, pecan, or walnut may still color the water, though. Of all the trees, your odds are really good but then it is always prudent to take some care as we don't know what may have happened to the wood while it has been out in nature. Things like oil and pesticides are all over the place now so I take some care to clear those and any bugs fungus, etc. I just like to start with a clean plate to avoid any nasty surprises to figure out?
One good way is to do a bleach soak. When I have an empty tank, I use it as a handy container and just do the whole things, tank, wood and all.
A container to hold the water and a 1/2 to full cup of plain, unscented, uncolored bleach and soak overnight or 8-10 hours to give it plenty of time to soak into all the tiny cracks and crannies or until I get back around to it. I try to do it outside to avoid the chlorine gas smell in the house.
Soaking too long never hurts while too little may not do a bug that has borrowed really deep.
Watch not to splash the bleach on your clothes as it does react with all organics and that includes clothing!
There is zero chance that the chlorine soaks in to stay there as it does react with wood until one or the other is gone. No magic that soaks in and only reacts with selected organics!
Expect the wood to turn white, due to the reaction but not to worry as the color comes back in pretty short order when we start using the wood. That white color is why mama used it on our diapers before we switched to paper.
Rinse the wood to dilute any leftover chlorine and then let the rest blow away as it returns to gas form as soon as it can. Close the bottle tight or it goes bad!
When all the smell is gone, the wood is sterile and good to use. There may not be anything on the wood but then I still like my dishes washed and steril before I use them and feel much the same about my tank stuff.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Gotcha. Any idea of the type of wood?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 05:06 PM
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I can't help but I'd just like to say those are *awesome* (if they are safe!)

It's tough to stomach some of the prices of the "driftwood" you see in stores...one place had a really great piece of Fluval wood for just over 10 bucks but nothing as large as those.

I'm in FL and our rivers and swamps aren't really the best for tramping along looking for driftwood (way too many snakes, bugs and large alligators)! I also wouldn't be sure if it was safe. I wish I owned a big ranch in arizona with a lot of manzanita on it
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-02-2018, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gersh View Post
Gotcha. Any idea of the type of wood?
The question of wood type is hard to say as when trees are living we look at things like leaves, bark, seeds, size, shape and location to get close. But those are all gone so we have very few clues left. Sometimes we can get closer by knowing the part of the country as some are more common in different places.
But for wild guesses? The first, I might guess is a hardwood of some type but can't get closer. Maybe a small tree with the remains of the trunk up to the right and roots to the left???
The second says juniper/ cedar type if you live in an area where those are common. Kind of the twisted gnarly, helterskelter way they grow.
But that is a dime's worth of guess and may be over rated at that price!
If you really want to check, cutting a piece off the "cedar" may show a small amount of pink color and the sawdust may smell a small amount. But I would not bother as I would call them safe.
Big point for use is that they are now dried to a hard form and totally dry inside. Not meaning dry as "not wet" but the opposite of "green" or fresh cut wood. If they were heavy for the size, they would have more moisture but I'm betting they are both pretty light for the size.

Last edited by PlantedRich; 04-02-2018 at 05:34 PM. Reason: added
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 01:56 AM
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I don't like it. Nothing but trouble. It's a dead organtic rottening in your water. I
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 03:15 AM
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Every time I used drift wood it's been trouble. From shrimp tanks and beyond. I keep clean tanks. Low tech ,high tech, ect..This is nothing more then rottening organtics. I love the look of it, but been doing this just long enough to know it's not worth it. If I want that look in a tank. I'll buy the fake and cover it with moss. I promise no one is the wiser.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-03-2018, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryce View Post
Every time I used drift wood it's been trouble. From shrimp tanks and beyond. I keep clean tanks. Low tech ,high tech, ect..This is nothing more then rottening organtics. I love the look of it, but been doing this just long enough to know it's not worth it. If I want that look in a tank. I'll buy the fake and cover it with moss. I promise no one is the wiser.

@Bryce, now we know your secret!


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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-04-2018, 03:06 PM
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Does the wood have pine/ evergreen type smell to it? The oils in pine and similar trees tends to linger in the wood for a long time and youd most likely be able to smell it still if it were that. I picked up several pieces of driftwood last year which most I had a pretty good idea what they were but a couple pieces were questionable. When I boiled them to sterilize however, it became very obvious that the two pieces I was unsure of were pine as the hot water made that scent so much more noticeable.
Also Id avoid anything that feels relatively soft as itll break down way too fast inside an aquarium.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-05-2018, 11:50 PM
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What negatives effects result from keeping wood (that is, safe wood that's been boiled/bleached, soaked, etc.) in an aquarium? I don't think wood breaks down fast enough to be of any significant source of "rot" in the tank or am I wrong?
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-05-2018, 11:55 PM
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i would asume it would be fine to use as long as you soak it in bleach then do a dechorinator on it it may still leach some color in tank but should be fine over time i just buy grape wood and it is on a base of slate but large pieces are pricey so it is all up to how much you want to spend good luck


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-06-2018, 01:22 AM
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Don't soak it in bleech!! Your can let it sit in a tub of water and change the water as the tanninis leech out. The water will turn brown. Repeat process as many times as needed. Lots of bad advice. Welcome to the interweb. As I said earlier, It just gives me problems every I have used it. It is a rottening organitic. I don't use it anymore.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-06-2018, 07:29 PM
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You can give it a quick soak in plain bleachy water. Just make sure you rinse well. Bleach has a fairly short half life and it will rinse away. Then just soak in plain water, changing it a few times. If you are uncertain you removed all the bleach then a little stuff made to dechlor tap water.

The denser the wood is when growing the longer it will last in tanks. Pine will rot fairly quick. Oak lasts a long time. Some of those big knotted pieces you see in petsmart can last for many years. I think they call it mopani. I've got a couple large, flattish pieces loaded with knots and knurls that are 15 yrs old and have been in the tanks nearly continuously. I've also got a smaller curly piece that I had in my tanks on and off since the late 1970's. I never can find a place for it because it's so oddly shaped so it goes in and out but I hang on to it because it's unique.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-06-2018, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryce View Post
Don't soak it in bleech!! Your can let it sit in a tub of water and change the water as the tanninis leech out. The water will turn brown. Repeat process as many times as needed. Lots of bad advice. Welcome to the interweb. As I said earlier, It just gives me problems every I have used it. It is a rottening organitic. I don't use it anymore.
This may lead to some question about the advise being passed out? You seem to have used it a few times and had trouble, so decided the whole idea is bad! Perhaps the problem is not the wood but how you use it as many, many, experienced people have been using wood in tanks for decades.
If we all threw out the things that we have found to give us trouble when we are new, there would be very few people recommending plants in the tank! Even fish are a lot of trouble but most of us do try to learn how to deal with them, not simply reject them as too much trouble!
You ARE correct in part of your post, though. There is a lot of bad advise on the internet and much of it is passed on by people who lack the experience to know what is right and what is not.
So when asking about wood, the question becomes, which advise to consider trying. Those who use wood or those who don't because it gives them trouble?
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Last edited by PlantedRich; 04-06-2018 at 10:44 PM. Reason: typos
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-06-2018, 11:33 PM
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That's beautiful driftwood. I'd clean it and use it in a heartbeat. I've used manzanita, oak root, oak, mopani and a few small unknowns. I've had wood in every one of my planted tanks and I throw big chunks in my fish pond to water log them. Never had an issue.
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