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Leaving bark on manzanita...?

4567 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  PlantedRich
I purchased two red manzanita branches back in April from Blooms & Branches, and they still had a leaf or two on them. They remain opened in the box in the crawl space because of this. I really would like to use them in my new tank, but do not feel like peeling all of the bark/boiling/baking/whatever else is necessary. I personally like it when fungus/mold grows on wood as it looks more natural, so long as this would be the only issue. I'm wondering if sap could still be a problem nearly 6 months later, and does the bark really need to come off?

Thank you.
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If you put a piece of wood in the tank, and it contains liquids, for example, sap, those liquids might be harmful to the fish. So, it is a good idea to use seasoned wood only. That is wood that is dry. Bark generally will not stay attached to wood if the wood is dry, completely seasoned. If it does, the layer between the wood and the bark can contain residual sap, partly rotted plant material, and insects or their larva. That stuff could be harmful to the fish too. So, in my opinion, you need to let that manzanita wood sit in a dry place for several months until it is completely dry. Then remove the remaining bark before you use it. High pressure water can remove bark pretty easily, as well as washing the wood very well, so that could be done first to speed up the seasoning of the wood.

However, in nature wood falls into waterways, even when green, and I don't recall ever reading about a fish die off resulting from that. How cautious do you want to be?
Would it be possible to bake the wood for long period of time to make it bone dry?
Would it be possible to bake the wood for long period of time to make it bone dry?
You can, but that still won't help with any sap the wood may have in there. You'll want to remove the bark, clean it, then bake it. Keep in mind that most bacteria don't live in heat over 120F, so try to keep the temp as low as possible but above that 120-140 range to not just dry it out but also kill off bacteria.
This is a frequent problem when folks start working on wood without understanding the way nature does things. We tend to think very short term when speaking of time. Time to nature is not measured in months but often in years and decades.
So we may think a branch that has been dead for a few months is dry, while nature make take several years to do the job.
We can go with the new stuff that has bark and do all the work we need to get it to the usable stage or we can look more closely before choosing the wood. I much prefer to use the wood without hours of work as I find using the same amount of time to search for better wood is far more enjoyable that the drudgery of trying to figure out how to dry the wood, remove the bark and then deal with the remaining tannins.
At this point, I would be looking for better wood as it will take less time than dealing with this one.
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