I wanted to have some driftwood in my tank that looked like little trees, but was having a hard time finding any at my LFS. I also didn't want to spend a ton of money on each piece, as these kinds usually go for a lot.
So I went with Grape Vine. Now, the LFS said it was a bad idea, and I found mixed reviews online. Grapevine is a soft wood and, according to the LFS "will grow white fungus in an aquarium that can kill your fish." However, after some research I feel comfortable experimenting.
Negatives that I have read:
1) It is very hard to sink.
2) It rots and will not last long in an aquarium.
3) It grows a white fungus that can kill your fish and cloud the water.
What I think about the negatives:
1) soak it until it sinks and/or glue it to something heavy.
2) Cholla Wood also rots, but shrimps eat it. Hopefully the shrimps will eat this.
3) I read somewhere that the fungus that can grow on the wood is a phase that it goes through. This is because it is a soft wood, it is not driftwood, and it has not been previously treated. Essentially, you are sticking a dying branch into your tank, which also releases a ton of tannis. Thus, the wood must be brought through its different phases in a different tank. Preferably one that is uninhabited.
I am going to use this thread as a journal, updating this main post when a new step has been completed.
I bought this branch for $30. I am going to cut off the nubs and make them look like little trees. Later I am going to glue them to ceramic tile so they stand the way I want. I will also moss to the branches.
Here are the little trees:
I later cut the long branch into three equal pieces and drilled a series of 1/4'' holes 1/2'' apart from each other 1/4 of the way through the branch. Each hole has two tiny holes, drilled one on each side (thought this would add ventilation). I plan on using these to plant Java Ferns in.
The wood was then boiled for 6 hours (this ended up sinking it), and will be soaked in a bucket for two weeks before being glued to the tile.
Once this is complete, I am going to put it in an established tank that has only snails in it. While this is coincidental, maybe they will eat whatever grows on the wood.
One week into soaking the driftwood I noticed something interesting. I read that a way to prevent the fungus from ever occurring is scrub the wood with a hard brush periodically. In doing this I found that the grape vine is covered in bark!! Prior to soaking the wood was uniform in color and texture, and no bark could be discerned. After a week of soaking there was a clear distinction between the very thin bark and the wood itself. Maybe it is the rotting of this bark that causes all of the problems?
I scrapped most of it off with needle-nose pliers. I wanted to use something dull and strong, as not to damage the wood. They worked perfectly, and the pointy tip allowed me to get into the hard to reach places.
The pliers also were able to reach into the odd black cracks that have always been visible on the wood. I thought that these black marks in the cracks were burn marks from when it was treated for a reptile tank. They are not! They are a odd fungus or bark that is innate to the wood. It scratched out easily with the pliers after a week of soaking.
I also have noticed that some of the tiny branches are hollow and are beginning to rot, while the rest of the wood is still strong and solid. I clipped off these little branches, rotting or not, thinking that any piece that rots will eventually rot out and in to the solid wood.
So, I soaked these in another tank for a few weeks and nothing occurred. The snails loved it, but I never got any fungus.
Later I took this tank down and had they wood sitting in a dry bucket for a month.
As a test, I took one of the pieces meant for Java Fern and tied 4 babies to it. (notice I used plant weights to hold the wood down).
It has been two weeks and the ferns havent grown at all. Nor have they died... I tried pushing the baby ferns deeper into the hole to see if they will take root. Only time will tell, but any suggestions would be great.
After taking the above picture I decided to finally add the little trees in, even though I don't have any moss to tie to them.
I used CVS brand Super Glue to glue ceramic tile to the bottom of the grape vine segments so that it would stand the way I wanted it and also not float away.
This is what it looks like in the tank. The shrimp and snails swarmed it the second it was put in the tank.
One day I'll get some moss to tie to the branches...