Aspen Wood - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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This is my first post in this forum. I currently have two planted 75’s. I am in Colorado, and have access to Aspen branches that I hope will make a really nice winter Aspen scene in my tank. I collected branches a month ago that I found on the mountain. The branches were on the forest floor, separate from the tree for some time and are flexible. I don’t know how long they have been that way. I boiled them for an hour, added Prime and trimmed them. Floating aside, (as I plan on weighting them down) will they be safe to add to the tank with stock? If they are too green, what it the worst that could happen? Is Aspen sap an issue? Been googling and found very little on this particular tree.
Thanks in advance for any advice!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 02:34 PM
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WOOD! My favorite subject.
I've got lots of experience with wood but not much with aspen as I've never lived around it very long. So I will have to stick to some general info for most all wood.
Green wood is wood that still has the sap or moisture left and how green or dry does change with different wood but they all have some things in common. Almost all are "safe" once we get out from the things that have really oily sap like pine, fir and such. Things that leave sticky sap on your hands when they are green, tend to be too much oil for good fish use. Aspen is not one of those, so I might think it not harmful to the fish health but it may have some other points that you might not like if it is green.
The most often reported problem is coloring the water and making it look like tea! Not harmful to fish but not what some like, so personal choice on that but I might throw in some thought on how green/dry it might be. The tannin which causes the color is often found in the bark and the layer just below, so when the bark is still on the wood, there is a pretty good chance it is not dry yet. When wood is still flexible, that also often means it is still green as the cellulose which makes up the bulk of wood becomes brittle as it gets dry. Another way to judge how green wood might be is cutting off an end to look at the color from outer portion to inner layers. If it is close to uniform color, it says dry but if there is a obvious difference in the outer and inner, it is quite likely that you are looking at where the wood dries from the outside.
I have heard no reports of aspen being a real hazard but do consider how the other items might change how you feel about this wood. There can be times when we want to use things because they are easy and convenient but then they turn out to be so much trouble we regret the whole idea. I tend to go with lots of things and change them out if they cause trouble but somebody who likes to set a tank perfectly and not change it, will often have a different view.
If you want a set and forget setup, I would recommend looking for wood without bark which is not flexible as a better shot. Bark tends to come loose over time and then float around the tank making a mess.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Rich for your reply! I love to experiment, so I think I will give them a try. There is so little information out there on Aspen wood in a planted tank, that your generous response is greatly appreciated by me and I am sure others who have considered Aspen but weren't sure if it is aquarium safe. I believe my wood is somewhat green, and part of the beauty of Aspen is the bark. Hopefully it won't be too soon before it starts to peel. I will post an update in a few weeks/months in case anyone is interested in how Aspen performed in a planted tank.
Thank again!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 09:54 PM
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Sounds like a good plan! Sometimes we do get too involved with trying to study when we really need to just try it a bit. As long as we know how to recover, we can wind up doing things that others may not try. Good luck and keep us posted.
My only real experience with aspen is due to the look of the bark! We brought some home to stack by the fireplace as it brought back good memories but that doesn't tell us much about how it acts in a tank!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Guess I will find out Still need some foreground plants, but here's the Aspen in the tank. Eventually, I may do a sloped Aspen Forest with moss, but I thought I would try it out first in one of my 75's to see how it holds up. I am working on my Discus tank too, and am anxiously awaiting dwarf hairgrass. That tank has juniper in it. I couldn't find much on the use of weathered juniper in a planted tank but so far (two months later) it's holding up well. I found it on a mesa and the wind had made for some beautiful bends and curves. My Discus love it.
Thanks again!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 01:39 AM
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If we are speaking the same, and that's not always reliable, I do know juniper! Where I live currently, one species of juniper is a super invasive species which groups often fight, while there is another species of the same family that is native but most people call them cedar! I'm guessing the two are almost the same as cedar when they are given a quick look and many will swear they can't be used in tanks as they do hold the sap for a long time. Cedar is famous for holding the sap and that makes it really popular for wood fences and decks, so I agree it does hold the sap and does have some potential for problems in the tank. But that is where we have to get further into the reasons for the potential trouble.
Cedar, juniper, and several of the woods called "softwoods" do hold their sap but not forever! So I suspect there are two things involved that have caused them to be "blackballed" by many. First point may be that the users don't always have hard alkaline water that has lots of GH/KH for buffering, so that leaves it very easy for anything they add to the tank to make drastic changes in the PH. Second is the users may not be into picking the really dry juniper or cedar. So if you stick a semi-green wood with lots of sap into a tank with little buffering, you do do get wild PH swings and it can be assumed to be the fault of the wood rather than the water and the user.
So what I see in the discus tank is really old, totally dry wood that likely has nearly no sap left and if there is a reasonable amount of KH in your water, you probably won't see any change in your PH!
I find very few things in the hobby that are certain so ,note how often I use probably and likely and all those words to hedge my bets?
Part of the fun to try it and see how it goes. We can always change it if it really does give major problems but I'm guessing the juniper you have will be fine. The aspen? Not sure how that may go, so get back with a report some day?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 09:12 PM
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You will have some major problems when that bark starts to age in your tank . I hope you like algae because it's going to add alot of dead plant "STUFF" along with underwater mold that's going to throw your water out of wack and no amount of water changes are going to help. I would take it out, FAST!

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