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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Bogwood questions

My neighbor recently gave me a decent looking piece of bog wood (at least that's what I think it is) that she had acquired from someone else. She was given 2 pieces, one that she is using in her fish tank now and the other has been sitting on her back porch for I'm not sure how long. My first question is can it be possible to identify what type of wood it is by looking at it? If so can someone please tell me what the wood is and if it is a safe wood to use in my aquarium? I do not know its origin and I am not positive if it is the same wood that is in my neighbor's tank. (please see attached images)

My other question is regarding the pre-treatment of the wood (depending upon whether or not it is safe). The underside is tinged green which leads me to believe there is some algae on it. I have soaked plastic and other non-porous objects in a dilute bleach solution followed by water with ample amounts of de-chlorinator before drying them in the sun in the past. I am a little wary of doing this with wood as am not sure how much of the bleach solution will be retained within the wood. The wood is too large to boil, and I do plan on soaking it but before this I would like to kill whatever algae and bacteria/fungi that may be on it. I read on these forums that some people have successfully put the wood in the dishwasher to kill anything living on it. I have also noticed some people are against the dishwasher method because of the possibility of detergent residues being absorbed by the wood. I also read somewhere that some people strongly appose to boiling because such extreme temps will actually destroy the cellular structure of the wood. If I run the dishwasher for a cycle before washing the wood, will this be sufficient for removing any soap residues? Also can someone please further explain the potential damage the heat can do to the wood, and if it is something to be concerned about? Also, I would like to know if I were to soak the wood in a dilute bleach solution and wash it in the dishwasher afterward before soaking it in dechlorinated water, would this be sufficient for removing any bleach residue that may have been absorbed, or is it advisable to steer clear from the bleach altogether?


And finally, I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions to go about trimming a piece of wood like this? Has anyone been successful at trimming it without ruining the way it looks? Did you use a saw? Dis you need to sand down the edges? I want to remove some of the sharp projections and possibly remove some of the back end of it so that it doesn't take up so much room in my tank.


Thanks in advance for any advice that is given to me!

Jessica
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 06:20 PM
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It looks like Malaysian driftwood but is shaped more like Mopani...not sure, but it is a very interesting piece of wood.

I would use a light bleach on the algae or peroxide, then soak it in a bathtub over night with some dechlorinator. Heating the wood in boiling water/dishwasher, would open the pores and release more tannins, but if it has been in a tank already or you want softer water, I would just do the bleach scrub.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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I do want to release as much of the tannins as possible as I do not desire to have brown tinted water. I have no idea about its history so I do not know if it has been in a tank before or if it was just found on the ground somewhere. Are both of these woods that you mentioned safe to put in a tank? Is pine the only dangerous one, and how can be sure this is not what it is? Also, have you ever heard of boiling water causing more damage than good to the wood?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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I soaked it in boiling water and noticed that the outside of it was rather soft, like a film of some sort. I scraped it with my fingernail and a lot of stuff came off. I took a brush and started scrubbing and the layer of "stuff" seems to keep coming. I proceeded to scrape a part of it with the end of my brush and what comes off is a reddish mud like substance. I don't think this is dirt because when it was dry, the wood was not really dirty. Im not sure if this had anything to do with tannins, but this "stuff" turned the water so dark I can't see in it. Does anyone know what this outer film on my wood is?

I also want to add that the wood underneath this layer is noticeably lighter and is actually a reddish color when wet. When dry, the scraped part is very very light almost the color of balsa wood. This is leading me to believe it is pine, and therefore, I'm not wanting to put it in my tank as I have heard that pine is bad? Can anyone give me some insight on this please?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 09:14 PM
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I have not had any experience with this type of wood. However, when I was setting up my 75gal tank I found a large piece of hardwood by the edge of a lake in OH. It was not a conifer, but a hardwood. I scrubbed it down, soaked it in the tub and once it would sink in the water, I put it in my tank and used it. No bleach/soap/detergents of any kind. This has been about 7 years ago, and now it looks great. However, I too have noticed that the surface of the wood is soft. It has quite a bit of algae on it at the moment, but nothing that the algae eaters can't handle.

If it were me, I'd just scrub your piece of wood down well and use it. You may consider a few plecostomus to do the final de-algaeing before planting the tank--keep it as a fish-only tank at first until the wood has "settled in". However, I'd just go ahead and use it. My $0.02.

BTW, that's a beautifully stunning piece of wood!
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 09:21 PM
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Nice find there, I would be leery about cutting it down unless it will not fit in your tank as is. Albino Bristlenosed Plecos will love you forever if you put a piece of timber in like that one, especially if it has a few softer areas they will nibble on it forever and grow like there is no tomorrow. At least mine did.

Keep us informed on how it looks in the tank.

Steve/Wooster
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post

If it were me, I'd just scrub your piece of wood down well and use it. You may consider a few plecostomus to do the final de-algaeing before planting the tank--keep it as a fish-only tank at first until the wood has "settled in". However, I'd just go ahead and use it. My $0.02.

BTW, that's a beautifully stunning piece of wood!
Thanks! I'm just still wary of using it for fear that it may be pine. Can anyone tell me what it is exactly that is so bad about pine?

Also, I do not think that the reddish brown outer layer of the wood that can be scraped off is algae. It appears to be an actual part of the wood and when I scrape it its almost like I'm stripping it because what is underneath is the color of pine furniture. Also, I would love to have a pleco but I'm afraid this is not possible as the inhabitant of my tank is a rather large turtle who would be elated to be given such a wonderful meal, lol. The only fish that seem to live longer than a week are the really tiny ones and that is only because she is waiting on them to plump up before she makes them supper as well. I learned my lesson long ago not to put any fish in there that cost over 15 cents.

How much do you suggest I scrub? The wood is now 2-toned in some parts because of the removal of this layer I told you about. It would take me weeks to remove the layer from the entire piece of wood. Do you have any idea what it is exactly that I'm removing? Is is like bark or what? I did notice when it was dry that if you scratched it it made light colored scratch marks.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Wooster View Post
Nice find there, I would be leery about cutting it down unless it will not fit in your tank as is. Albino Bristlenosed Plecos will love you forever if you put a piece of timber in like that one, especially if it has a few softer areas they will nibble on it forever and grow like there is no tomorrow. At least mine did.

Keep us informed on how it looks in the tank.

Steve/Wooster
I was considering cutting it because of how big it is. But yes, I too am weary of cutting it.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-14-2009, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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I should probably add that the wood was so heavy it sank immediately. Is there a possibility that it is not Bog wood at all? Could it be a piece of root wood that someone just found somewhere? I am still boiling water and pouring it over it (its taking a while because it is so big). and the water is brown but I'm not so sure its the tannins as much as it is the stuff that is on the wood.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not positive how to describe the stuff that I am scraping off of this wood. I am probably ruining the wood by doing so, but at the same time I do not want to put it in my tank if this stuff is going to come off in the water. This stuff is like a "skin" that is completely covering the wood. I've attached some additional photos in hopes that someone is familiar with what it is. In the first photo, you can see the big difference in color from the scraped part from the non scraped part. In the second photo you can see how the underneath is covered in the dark "skin" and would be impossible to scrape out. And in the third photo, you can see just how red the wood is when it is wet. Hopefully this will help in identifying what this wood is and what it is I am removing from it?
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2009, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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so I asked my dad (who used to be a forest ranger) and he says that the layer of "stuff" that I have been scraping off is actually organic matter produced as a natural result of the decaying process (gross). Putting in hot water was probably not such a good idea in this situation since it probably boosts this decay...oh well.

he also said he does not think it is pine, as the roots of pine don't look like this and it is very soft and it would be decaying much more rapidly.

I wonder how I could get all this decay off? there's no way I can scrape through all these crevices
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