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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,

I found a stump washed up on the banks of a river and want to know if I can use it. It kind of looks like summad to me but it might be something else. I cut the roots down to size as it was very large. Even now it dosent fit in a pot or oven so I've been running it through the dishwasher with out soap and I've hit it with a few heated dry cycles too.

Most of the wood is very hard but there is a few soft spots that I've been working on drilling out and scraping with a wire brush. Interestingly some of the limbs are slightly hollow and I've noticed a purple patina develop in a few spots after a couple heated dry cycles. It also smells a bit fishy but it's a super cool piece so I hope I can use it


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Beautiful piece of wood but the softness and smell would make it a no go for me. That purple sheen is something else that I wouldn't feel right putting in a tank. That's just my 2 cents, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I was able to drill out all the soft spots and after cutting it down some more to get it to fit in my tank I was able to get it to fit in my oven. I've got it baking at 200 right now and plan to let it go for while which will hopefully take care of the smell. The purple is truly a mystery to me, it's just on the very surface of a few isolated spots and only developed after it was in the dishwasher.

I agree that it the wood is iffy. I'm going to reevaluate it after it bakes and soaks for a while.

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I would use a bit of caution with your find from the river. From the pictures it appears the wood has not dried out completley. It may take a very long time to completely dry out in your oven. Your oven will kill most of the bacteria in /on the wood that has collected on it since its time in the river. However, the particular piece of wood you have may contain sap or other compounds from that specific species of tree or shrub which could pose a problem for the inhabitants of your tank.

I would identify the species 100% and make sure it will not leech anything toxic into your tank if it is still "green."
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone! I'll see if I can find out what kind of wood it is. Does anyone have any tips on doing so? Without leaves there's not much to go off of.

I had originally thought it was summac. Not sure why, it just gives me an overwhelming reminds me of summac. However, the wood isn't really yellow which summac wood ussualy is.

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Thanks everyone! I'll see if I can find out what kind of wood it is. Does anyone have any tips on doing so? Without leaves there's not much to go off of.

I had originally thought it was summac. Not sure why, it just gives me an overwhelming reminds me of summac. However, the wood isn't really yellow which summac wood ussualy is.

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Most arborists can tell just by looking at the bark. I would bet, that if you compared the wood you have various vegetation along where it was found, you could get a leaf sample and a good look at the bark to better ID it. From that point you may be able to seek assistance from a local nursery that specializes in native species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think overcooked my wood... I got a bit to aggressive with the heat and charred the tip of one of the branches (just that one spot, the other black areas are shadows). No big deal though, ill just sand it off and it will actually help soften the edges from where I cut it down.

The wood spent all day Sunday and Saturday in the oven and it seems to be absolutely bone dry now. As in i have to handle it like a China doll so that the limbs don't snap off.. All of the wood is now rock hard and the fishy smell vanished leaving only a mild and pleasant aroma of warm wood. I did bag up some bark sample that I had brushed off and plan to reach out to some local arborists that I found online.


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Heard back from one of the arborists I reached out too. His guess was willow but he said with out a foliage sample it's hard to know for sure.

His thoughts on the purple was that it was a fungal stain which he said is fairly common in deadwood.

If it is willow from what I found it shouldn't pose any risk, it just might not last long underwater.

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Update, not sure if it's actually willow. I was out mountian biking last night in an area near when I found the stump and quite litterly bumped into some trees with very similar looking bark and growth pattern. I grabbed some pics of the leaves and sent them to the arborist but have not heard back.

I'm going to start soaking the stump in the spare 20 gal and see what effect it has on the water.


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Heard back from the arborist and he thinks it's an Eleagnus species. I can't find much about weather they would be safe or not to use. Depending on species it has edible berries.

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24 hours under simulated tank conditions. Water is pale cloudy yellow and the water smells like wood. Wood is still very hard and continues to float like a cork.

Doing this simulation is making me realize how easy it would be start up this second 20 long since I would only need a stand and lights. Trying to banish the thought as I need to get the other tank running first


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I did a quick search of eleagnus and we have an invasive version of it in my neck of the woods... Stuff floats downstream well but from what I've seen it doesn't seem to sink, just washes up on the banks or gets stuck in tangles. Fingers crossed it sinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Depending on species, it's likely invasive here as well. I got bored and did some googling a few species were used as median dividers for highways. Birds then ate berries and spread the seeds. Sounds like a couple of species are also kept as hedges or garden plants. On to updates

The wood is still soaking and still floating. However, it is definitely less buoyant like it might be getting close to sinking. The water did get pretty cloudy like a bacterial bloom at one point but after a water change it cleared up. Have to say its kind of comical to be heating, filtering, and doing water changes on a tank full of wood The water is now clear with a faint tannic tinge. I can feel a thin slippery film on the wood but it's not visible to the eye and doesn't seem to be getting any worse. The water still has a bit of the musky smell of the wood, but much less than when I started soaking it. The wood doesn't seem to have softened much if any and is still very hard.

Since my build is nearing completion I need to make a decision soon. On one hand, I love this wood, a branchy stump was exactly what I wanted for this tank. On the other hand, I've invested enough time and money into this build that I don't want to jeopardize it. That being said, driftwood is super expensive, I've already obliterated my budget, and I would think it wouldn't be too hard to switch the wood out if problems do arise. Decisions decisions...
 

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Sounds like it's acting like normal driftwood. It's not effecting anything in the pond at my camp, I've seen catfish in the tangles it creates, but that's the type that's crept in here, I'm not 100% sure what it's called but it's got "silver" in the common name. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Drained the tank the wood was soaking in today since it will be the replacement for the cracked tank. The main stump is still kinda barely floating and the limbs I cut off appear like they are a bit closer to sinking. Once the water was out I have to say the seemingly natural musky smell of this wood very noticeable. The wood has now been banished to soak in a plastic tub on my patio till I'm ready for it. I suspect it still won't fully sink by the time the new tank is ready so I'll probably try to attach it to some rock since I'm planning on piling some around the base anyways. I think I remember people using super glue and cotton (maybe it was cigarette filters? can't remember) for similar things so might give that a shot.
 
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