Driftwood and Ebay: A Cautionary Tale - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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Driftwood and Ebay: A Cautionary Tale

Well, I'm an idiot. At least by posting my mistake perhaps I can prevent someone else from making the same one.

I bought some driftwood that I thought looked fantastic on Ebay. As the driftwood was listed under pet supplies, and had "aquarium" in the title, I assumed the 'driftwood' (the quotes should give you a clue where this is going) would be aquarium safe.

I was wrong.

I just received the wood today, opened it up... and... hmm... whats that smell? Smells just like...

Wood chips...

In other words, Cedar.

Just be careful and make SURE when you're looking at driftwood online that it is going to be safe to actually put in your tank. I'm only out $8.00 plus shipping, I'll chalk it up to a lesson learned, but if you're as dumb I was here, it could potentially be one expensive mistake.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:54 AM
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Meh, in my opinion, it was not entirely YOUR mistake. The description clearly states "aquarium/terrarium." Also, there is NO mention of the type of wood, so you were left with the sellers description alone.

Most terrariums house reptiles. Reptiles, too, are not usually able to use cedar due to the oils/vapors harming their respiratory system.

I would message the seller and ask to return the wood, but offer to cover shipping.

If you paid with Paypal then you can always reverse the charge on the basis of "incorrect description" as that wood is not suitable for the use he listed in his description.

Just my thoughts.


Edit: maybe as "driftwood" all of the toxins would have been "washed" out so there may be no harm in using it for a reptile habitat, but still, I wouldn't feel alright using it for my own.

Another edit: I just noticed the shipping was $7.50, so you would stand to gain very little if you return it... Nevermind what I said.

Last edited by DevinWolfe; 08-04-2009 at 06:03 AM. Reason: more typos?
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevinWolfe View Post
Meh, in my opinion, it was not entirely YOUR mistake. The description clearly states "aquarium/terrarium." Also, there is NO mention of the type of wood made, so you were left with the sellers description alone.

Most terrariums house reptiles. Reptiles, too, are not usually able to use cedar due to the oils/vapors harming their respiratory system.

I would message the seller and ask to return the wood, but offer to cover shipping.

If you paid with Paypal then you can always reverse the charge on the basis of "incorrect description" as that would is not suitable for the use in his description.

Just my thoughts.


Edit: maybe as "driftwood" all of the toxins would have been "washed" out so there may be no harm in using it for a reptile habitat, but still, I wouldn't feel alright using it for my own.

don't be so hard on yourself.
p.s., I'm not calling you stupid, I've just always wanted to use that smiley

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 06:04 AM
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Wow, that sucks. I'm sorry for your loss, SvenBoogie. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 12:31 PM
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Cedar isn't aquarium safe? I'm pretty sure my fish say otherwise. Do a little research.


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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 12:49 PM
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Cedar isn't supposed to be safe for fish and reptiles because of the aromatic oils. Maybe if you use a piece that is well weathered enough, the oils wouldn't be a problem, but in that case I would think there shouldn't be a cedar smell to it. I certainly wouldn't risk it.

Even if you can't return it, or returning it would not be cost effective, I would contact the seller and let them know that they are not selling an aquarium/terrarium safe product. I would also leave something in their feedback about it to warn other potential buyers of the risk. It's quite possible that someone with less knowledge would buy the wood, not know any better, and end up killing their fish with it.
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 01:32 PM
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Written by Tom Barr:

"Cedar and redwood are good, so is oak.
Bald Cypress, southern cedar is very nice.
Most hardwoods work, desert woods are particularly good, mopani is a little tree from southern Africa that's basically a desert plant.

Air wood, green trees, rot, that's the bad stuff.
In general, the denser and older hard wood, the better.

I've collected wood going on 25 years and have not had any issues, I think many are just playing it safe in their advice, but common sense will get you a long long way here.

Do weekly water changes and you will also reduce any potential issue."


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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 02:50 PM
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I looked at another listing from this seller. He stated that one was cedar root. In your listing it just talks of a shipping discount on multiple item purchases. Probably not an intentional omission but just an oversight when writing the listing. I've made far worse mistakes in mine.

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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 04:30 PM
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This is ceder, so is every piece in Tampa's Public aquarium, and the nicest stuff at Tom's Driftwood in Waldo FL.



so this one:



Had it for about 2 years without any issues.
Cedar seems pretty okay to me.
Plenty of sensitive fish etc...........

Does anyone have any REAL evidence that it's not okay?
Lots of fear mongering.......but seemingly no evidence.
And with trying it myself for years, I've not found any practical experience or evidence myself.

This suggest it's a function of fear more and more, not fact.

Cedar will keep the moths out of the aquarium


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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 04:31 PM
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Its been known for a long time that cedar is to be avoided in aquariums, along with any pitch pines. I would not want cedar oils in my aquarium, even if it doesn't appear to affect my fish. There is too many unknowns in the aquarium already, things you can't see.

There is a guy on aquabid that sells cedar driftwood for the aquarium very openly and he insists it is aquarium safe.

There are non aquarium, non bias links on the net that talk about the toxicity of cedar and its affect on insects, animals and water.

Robert Paul Hudson

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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:20 PM
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there is lake in NJ that is ceder water from all the trees. murky brown color. even smells like ceder. but my point is there are tons of healthy fish in that lake so i dont see any logical reason why ceder would affect your aquarium fish atless you dont keep up on your WC and let the coctail become to potent. btw ceder water sucks, im alergic to it, makes me break out
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:33 PM
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[QUOTE=plantbrain;886868
Cedar will keep the moths out of the aquarium
Tom Barr[/QUOTE]
that's it!!!!
it is cedar in all my tannks
those damn moths keep eating my plants

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by eyebeatbadgers View Post
Cedar isn't aquarium safe? I'm pretty sure my fish say otherwise. Do a little research.
+1. I've got cedar driftwood too. It's a PITA to get to sink at first though. Took a month in a tub weighed down with rocks on my porch.
Over a year, healthy fish, no issues.

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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 05:53 PM
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I have cedar, I have fish, they are big and fat, the clubs have been to my open houses, seen the tanks, the fish and the wood.

If they are toxic, where is the real evidence?
You do not know and have no personal experience either.
Why should folks listen to that?

I mean....... really???


So do a google search:
http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl...sh&btnG=Search

They suggest that the leachates are moderately toxic, but this is fresh live wood, not old well leached wood. I could say this for most any fresh live wood. So the age and soaking of the wood makes a large difference, water changes, use of activated carbon etc.

This adds a lot more to the discussion and applied issues aquarist have....
Common sense.

Will ADA As leach ammonia 1 years from now?
Same type of thing here, is it fresh, do you do water changes, do plants take it up, do bacteria break it down, does it matter to fish?

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...35486f143fb7af


As with ANY toxicant, dose makes the poison.

This means concentration X exposure.
If the concentration is extremely low, and is diluted frequently, there's a lot of other bacteria, pH is not reduced, the wood itself is well soaks and aged prior to use, not fresh wood etc.........you use carbon etc..........

This really becomes a non issue.

If you plan on going out and chopping fresh cedar, adding lots to an aquarium, don't do water changes or use carbon......well yea, but that can be said for most all wood............

Common sense.

How you apply the info and process it is far more important than the info itself.

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 10:23 PM
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While I would certainly agree with "properly aged and prepared" cedar being suitable, this was an eBay purchase and the buyer would have no real assurance that the driftwood purchased has been aged or if it has only been dead a short time.

I have no evidence that cedar will harm, fish, no. But, what I have learned in keeping reptiles is that cedar oils from *shavings* can and WILL kill smaller reptiles. A few that come to mind are hatchling bearded dragons and juvenile snakes. Some small mammals are also very succeptable to respiratoy infections and liver failure from the vapors from cedar shavings. One article in particular that sticks out in my mind is this one.

http://www.ratfanclub.org/litters.html

She references her sources which also confirm that there are certainly toxins in cedar. While most "bedding" is made of freshly shaven cedar it would be the most potent source of toxins. However, their presence in shavings does confirm that they ARE in the wood. Wether or not they may be strong enough to be harmful to fish is not something I could even guess at.


The thing that keeps setting off a flag in my mind is that the OP said that it actually SMELLED like cedar, which tells me that the vapors are strong enough to emit an odor. If they are strong enough to emit an odor, how can one not wonder if this wood can actually be safely considered "dead wood?"


No inention of saying anyone is wrong or mistaken, just pointing out that there is, in fact, proof of these toxins all over the place. While they are not related to aqauriums or this hobby in general the evidence could still be very valid.

Keep in mind that this was an eBay purchase and one would have no idea of knowing how this seller even came to own this piece of wood. For all we know was uprooted less than a month ago and sat in the pond in the background of the very picture it was sold under. If that or anything similar is the case then it may still very well contain lethal concentrations toxins.


Note: I am not saying you guys don't know what youre doing, as I am very new to fish keeping as a hobby, but I have learned the (very) hard way that cedar bedding will destroy the respiratory system of a baby corn snake.
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