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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone ever tried to make their own driftwood? I was thinking about trying and experiment...got some pretty nice woods behind my house and was thinking about cutting some roots and branches from an oak tree or a birch tree...and then trying different methods to see if I can emulate natural driftwood

the method that I think would work the best would be taking the roots, shaving/scraping/peeling off the top layer, cleaning them and then drying them in an oven before soaking them in a solution (havent thought about which type of solution yet) for a week and the seeing the end results...

I mean...what makes the driftwood sold in stores so special?
 

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the price tag.

A lot of people collect their own driftwood, all you do is remove the top layers of bark by either soaking and scrubbing, or power-washing it away. Then it can be baked to remove possible pests, or soaked till it sinks. And you basically have driftwood.
 

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Driftwood is called driftwood because it has usually already been floating in water or submerged in water in a river or lake. If you were to do "make" your own, you would be better off checking out a creek, river, or lake to find submerged or at least floating pieces that have been in the water for a while. Then submerge them in water in a 5 gallon bucket or something to make sure they are waterlogged and release extra tannins so they don't leak into your tank. You could also boil them for extra safety to kill anything that would be living in them.

You may also want to google driftwood to find out the best wood for this.
 

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No, "driftwood" has just become the hobby term for any wood used in an aquascape. the most common type of "driftwood" used is probably manzanita, which is harvested dead and then cleaned and sometimes soaked. It's not usually pulled from the water at all. In fact, using previously waterlogged could be harmful as it could contain pests and possible toxins from the previous environment.
 

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In nature drift wood is wood that drifts ashore. In this hobby, driftwood is any kind of wood that we can use, which is correct, but Jarod said "usually", so really there's nothing to argue over.

I have used oak branches, with the bark peeled off, from trees in my back yard before, but it just doesn't look as good as manzy, or other types of wood.
 

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Ideally the wood you use is "cured", meaning it has no sap left in it, and the wood is hard and probably turned gray. Using green wood, with sap still in it, might cause problems if that particular sap is somewhat toxic to fish or plants (actually not very likely.)
 

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Yeah and sometimes the easiest way to find wood already cured is finding it floating in a beaver damn or washed ashore or something. I really wish I could find a cured tree stump to add to my scape. I'd probably want to try to hollow it out a little so there would be a cave inside for shrimp. Anyone ever do their own stump? Probably a lot of work.
 

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I make my own- try to find pieces without any bark on them.

Clean all the excess dirt and debris off the wood with a hose, and then boil the wood for about an hour a side (for long pieces that wont fit in your pot) after the water starts boiling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
kinda strange...I started experimenting around with different trees...and eventually settled on some hickory tree branches

I took some branches...stripped the bark off with a knife...baked them in the oven on 235 (water boils at 212) for an hr and they came out bone dry...

I boiled the hell outta them for 30 mins

drained the tea colored water...and repeated the process 3 times...

the water was no longer brown from the tanins

I put them in my tank...and now they appear to be growing some strange white film over them

anyone have any idea what that might be?
 

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I grabbed the stump that's in my tank from a reservoir down the road, scrubbed the heck out of it, and ran it through the dishwasher. It has been in there for a while now with no adverse effects that I can see, but it did grow some white crud on the bottom of one of the branches which I assume was some type of bacteria. The shrimp and otto loved eating it, but it cleared up on its own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have some snails that eat it...

but I wouldnt be surprised if its a bacterial thing...and as long as it goes away...then excellent!

next time I do this...therell be a nice chlorine bath somewhere in the process
 

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Honestly, that's a cool idea. I have two spare 55g food grade storage drums in my garage that are empty. So maybe it's time to do a wood collecting trip. Just need to find a good place, that isn't protected, and go collecting. Might have to venture out to my relatives this weekend.

I actually just resoaked a small stump from a few years ago. Placed it in a drainable cooler and left it on the porch. It sort of........froze. :) But it sinks like a rock! If you guys have drainable coolers I'd use that. Just pull the plug, refill, repeat!
 

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kinda strange...I started experimenting around with different trees...and eventually settled on some hickory tree branches

I took some branches...stripped the bark off with a knife...baked them in the oven on 235 (water boils at 212) for an hr and they came out bone dry...

I boiled the hell outta them for 30 mins

drained the tea colored water...and repeated the process 3 times...

the water was no longer brown from the tanins

I put them in my tank...and now they appear to be growing some strange white film over them

anyone have any idea what that might be?
Nothing to worry about!
Great to know I can do this!
 

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I pulled this Grape vine root (far right) from my back property. I powerwashed it and baked it but I never boiled it. In hindsight I should have spent more time scrubbing off the bark because it still sheds a strip every now and them. I have a couple of Gold Nugget Plecos that are helping to remove the leftover bark.
 

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I'm lucky, I work next to the Mississippi River. I grabbed a few nice pieces, boiled them in my turkey fryer for two hours. And then soaked them in tubs of conditioned water for 3 weeks. I put one piece in last weekend when I setup my 29, I still had tannins. With the help of a diatom filter it's cleared up now.
 

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I mean...what makes the driftwood sold in stores so special?
I also wondered why an unfinished 10in branch from a tree cost upwards of $30 until a recent adventure I took:
Suddenly, I realized that the driftwood in pet stores looked strinkingly similar to dead mangrove roots and branches. I ventured to the coast in search of an estuarine ecosystem that contained mangroves. I came upon a state park, and upon reaching the entrance I was greeted by park authorities. I had to pay for entrance! I told the ranger of my quest. He promptly informed me that no natural objects could be removed from the park, and that doing so was illegal. "RATS!", I thought. So I parked outside of the entrance down the street, and across the bridge. Walking nimbly next to a guard rail, to the left of which was a 20ft drop and water, and on top of a 12in median, to the right of which was oncoming traffic, I made my way over the bridge, and into the confines of the park. Success! Dead mangrove branches littered the area! I grabbed 2 or 3 of the most appealing pieces...a fiddler crab...and made my way back across the Bridge of Certain Misfortune.


Mangrove wood is not as dense as the store bought wood I have, it took weeks of soaking and floating to sink, and I don't recommend it...But maybe driftwood dealers go to great extents to obtain their wonderful wood.
 

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I pulled this Grape vine root (far right) from my back property. I powerwashed it and baked it but I never boiled it. In hindsight I should have spent more time scrubbing off the bark because it still sheds a strip every now and them. I have a couple of Gold Nugget Plecos that are helping to remove the leftover bark.
Guy, I totally love your aquarium. So much so that I am going to use it as an inspiration for my 5g rescape. I know! How ridiculous is THAT? Since joining this forum, I've constantly been learning and looking for inspiration to start over. :icon_idea
 
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