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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am finding these trees all over and they have some cool branches on them, could I use these? Also what type of trees are these?



 

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Crepe Myrtle is safe in the aquarium, I have had these branches in there for many years, many species of fish, including Loricariads that eat them.

I got them when they had been pruned off for a few months, lying in a horse pasture. I IDed it by the distinctive bark.

I soaked the branches in water, no chlorine or anything else until they sank, and changed the water every few days. (No choice- the container leaked). There were almost no tannins even from the start.

I got these branches at least 5 years ago, more like 6-8 years?
Ultimately these (like all wood) will rot in the tank. All the little pieces are gone (1" and smaller diameter). I still have some of the larger pieces (2-3" diameter)This happens so slowly that I find these very good choices to use in the tank. I would sure use them again. I am eyeballing my own Crepe Myrtle... asking myself, "If I pruned it right there..."
 

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Is there a list somewhere that tells what wood is ok for a tank and what isn't? I shake my head at the generic term "driftwood" when I see it applied to branches that have never been near water - lol, but I often see very cool branches in the woods. I assume the cutting have to be dead & dry & not breaking down (pithy, soft, or crumbling)?

PS, I'm pretty impressed you knew they were crape myrtle. I can only recognize it when it's blooming - lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hmmm. I know to stay away from pine, Cyprus and cedar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So if I were to use some branches, how would I go about preparing them? Never used actual branches found locally, and I am tired of waiting and purchasing manzanita branches online (Just too much for shipping).
 

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Where are you finding them? Unless they are on your property, it is illegal in many places to remove anything from the wild/forest. That includes animals, rocks, plants, decaying wood, ect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ha! You know, just around. And I am in Raleigh, NC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Where are you finding them? Unless they are on your property, it is illegal in many places to remove anything from the wild/forest. That includes animals, rocks, plants, decaying wood, ect.
Shoot! I take rocks all the time. Uh oh....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That is simply what I have been told. I could have very well been told wrong. Never used it before, but I have never used anything found locally before, other than rocks.
 

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I have heard the same thing too about all softwoods - true or not I don't know. Cedar has some of the coolest looks, too. I have a cedar piece I used in a 55 (long since taken down). In a year, it never stopped producing the white slimy bacterial bloom for more than a few weeks at a time. Also, much to my surprise, after 4 months some leftover deep residue started to work it's way out. I assume a resin? It looked just like resin, following the cracks that formed along the cedar's growth pattern. The piece was bone dry for well over a year before I used it too - so who knows? Maybe what happened was typical & normal, perhaps I had a fluke piece...but I am leery of pine & cedar now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Now I just need to find out how to prepare it. I will be using it more for hanging branches, as if it was dipping down into the water. Not totally submersed.
 

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Is there a list somewhere that tells what wood is ok for a tank and what isn't? I shake my head at the generic term "driftwood" when I see it applied to branches that have never been near water - lol, but I often see very cool branches in the woods. I assume the cutting have to be dead & dry & not breaking down (pithy, soft, or crumbling)?

PS, I'm pretty impressed you knew they were crape myrtle. I can only recognize it when it's blooming - lol
I think I saw a list like this being put together on another forum, but it had no real standards, and as such, I wouldn't quite trust it. It was pretty much: "hey, I knew a guy who put fresh oleander in his tank", and then they would add oleander on the list, and claim it was safe...

I think in general most wood will be safe as long as it's fairly well aged so that little to no sap/resin remains. If it's dead wood that has been weathering for years, or driftwood that's been soaking for a while, then it's probably good. I'd soak it a bit anyways.

I think the main reason they warn people away from softwood is that it may decay quicker. I don't worry about it too much, everything will decay eventually, and I think an aquarium that changes as it grows is more interesting.

If there are any rivers/streams that you happen to wander across, it may be worth checking them, especially if there are areas where a logjam forms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think I saw a list like this being put together on another forum, but it had no real standards, and as such, I wouldn't quite trust it. It was pretty much: "hey, I knew a guy who put fresh oleander in his tank", and then they would add oleander on the list, and claim it was safe...

I think in general most wood will be safe as long as it's fairly well aged so that little to no sap/resin remains. If it's dead wood that has been weathering for years, or driftwood that's been soaking for a while, then it's probably good. I'd soak it a bit anyways.

I think the main reason they warn people away from softwood is that it may decay quicker. I don't worry about it too much, everything will decay eventually, and I think an aquarium that changes as it grows is more interesting.

If there are any rivers/streams that you happen to wander across, it may be worth checking them, especially if there are areas where a logjam forms.
Logjam? I am assuming where a bunch of wood pile up? And how do I know what is safe then?
 

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If the wood is completely dried out inside and you cannot tell what species of wood it is unless you sample and check under a microscope then the wood is likely safe.

If the wood was live before it went in the water it could be sappy inside even if the bark is gone. If the wood was dead before it went in the water the sap is likely gone and it is safe.

Driftwoodhunter, that wood clearly wasn't completely dry. Did it kill any of your critters? Sounds like it was more a nuisance than anything else.

My bunny was seriously irritated that an inedible plant lived in HER back yard and did eat oleander - the completely dead leaves apparently haven't any poisonous sap left. Take that you poisonous plant! The leaves were dropped by the plant naturally and she wouldn't touch just any part of the oleander.
 

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Is there really an unsafe peice of wood if its dry and looks like driftwood? I have picked up 100s of pieces of unknown wood from the river and have never came across a piece I suspected was hurting my tank at all. Even pines. I suspect people just call them unsafe because they break down faster.
 

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Many plants have chemicals in them that may be unsafe in the aquarium.
When branches fall off the trees, or are cut and lie around, alternately wet and dry (sun, rain, snow...) this breaks down most of those chemicals.
Plants that I have used and are safe with fish:
Albizzia jullibrissin (Umbrella Tree, Mimosa)- Root came off a job site, sat in my driveway for a year (wet/dry/wet/dry...) It is falling apart, but I have had it in the tank for 3-4 years? Fish include Bicher, Clown Loach, Common Pleco, Bristlenose Pleco, others.
Lagerstroemia indica (Crape Myrtle)- Found a lot of branches in a horse pasture. I have no idea how long there were there. (Wet/dry...) I soaked them until they sank. Most of my tanks got some. Many different fish including some Loricariads that are wood eating specialists. Good wood, hard, and holds up a long time.
Quecus douglassii (Blue Oak)- Mostly bark. This came pretty fresh off a live tree. When I first put it in a tank (no fish) it turned the water deep wine red. Could not see through the water at all. Took a month of water changes for it to finish producing that much tannins. I have that in many tanks. I soaked it in my pond or a garbage can after starting it in that one tank. Loricariads love it and shaved some pieces down until they fell apart.
Quercus lobata (Valley Oak)- I have used the leaves, fallen from the tree, no treatment, on the floor of a tank. The fish were fine with it, but I found they fell apart too fast, and poofs of disintegrating leaves swirled around in the water whenever I disturbed it.
Arctostaphyllos probably A. glauca (Manzanita)- Collected by others, but ID is positive. Hard, durable, sinks easily.

I have seen tanks with reliably identified Swamp Cypress (collected in FLorida) and some species of Cedar, but the word 'Cedar' is used for too many species for me to be sure. It had been collected in California. At least 4 different species are called 'Cedar'.

Soft woods: Not just conifers, but soft like willow or poplar: Fall apart pretty fast.

Conifers: Many have chemicals that might be toxic if used fresh, but aging destroys these, so if you are OK with short life, conifers might be worth checking out. Swamp Cypress is longer lasting.

Fruit (Apple, Cherry, Apricot, Almond, Plum and related) Have some chemicals that may be toxic when fresh, but probably break down OK. I would be sure these were really well aged before adding them to a tank.

Woods that I know are toxic to mammals (mostly horses) Red Maple (Acer rubra), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacccia), Oleander (Nerium), Yew (Taxus spp), probably more.

Driftwood: Implies that it has been off the tree for a while, and has spent some time in water, even if it is not now in water. Usually this much time has broken down whatever was in the tree that might have been toxic. If it is driftwood that has been in the ocean then you would need to leach out the salt, but that is really easy. Salt is water soluble, and trace amounts that end up in the tank are not toxic. Driftwood could pick up other toxin such as petroleum products or pesticide. There would be harder to get rid off. Select wood away from the road, away from houses.

Bogwood is any branch or stump that has been under water in a bog for years. There are not a lot of minerals in a bog, and very low oxygen, very low pH. Decay organisms work slowly, if at all. What minerals are there may get picked up by the wood over many years. Usually it is heavy enough to sink even dry.

Fresh prunings of most plants would be suspect. I know Manzanita ages quickly, and is pretty dry even when it is growing, so is ready for the tank quickly. Garden plants are more likely to have been sprayed with something toxic, so select carefully, wash well and age it before trying it in the tank.
 
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