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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWI0q3hWRYs&feature=em-share_video_user

I offered to help my buddy redo his tank. He wants to do something like this stump. Personally I like the stump scape but this one looks kind of cheap.
I PERSONALLY would use a real stump instead which should not be hard to find since we live right near large lakes swamps and even the shore.
My question is how to you know which wood is safe to use?

MY idea is to get a decent looking rooty branch that can pass as a stump. Cut it in half to press againt the rear of the tank. I Will hollow out the back and refill the cavity with pond spray foam. To me this eliminates a TON of weight yet fills the void so nothing can get back there and hide. We would then silicone it in place if needed.

We would of course boil the wood first but is there a test to see what is safe and what wont break completely down after 6 months?
We live in the Northeast. Unless a VERY generous person here has something they would be will to ship and wed paypal shipping money.
It will be goig in a 29 gallon tank.
Thanks
 

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Go for the dry stuff! Once the sap/moisture is gone, the remains are almost certain to be safe with some treatment and common thinking.
The point often missed is how to determine dry. Some feel a wood that has been dead for a few years is dry but then that depends on lots of factors so we need to check.
When looking, look for wood that has no bark as the bark is one of the first things to dry and fall off. Just inside the bark is also where much of the tannin is found so it is prudent to avoid that. Feel for lighter weight than expected as the moisture is the heavy part. Once you find one, cutting an end off will let you check further. Wood dries from outside to inside and as it does the color changes.

This is a piece of cedar that has been out for possibly 20-40 years and has dried totally so that it is safe to use.



When turned over and cut out, you can see the color is almost uniform. There will often be places like knots that have a different color but this is okay.



Got a place like this nearby?


To improve the odds, do some homework before starting !
Prevailing wind is often from the SW so go on GOOGLEMAPS, etc. and zoom in to look at the coves on the NE of the local lakes. Find a pile of wood near access road, etc. Take a small folding saw along. Nylon straps to make handles are good.

Get some fresh air and free wood? To remove doubt about any contaminants it may have picked up, do an overnight bleach water soak after reading about it and you will be good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Go for the dry stuff! Once the sap/moisture is gone, the remains are almost certain to be safe with some treatment and common thinking.
The point often missed is how to determine dry. Some feel a wood that has been dead for a few years is dry but then that depends on lots of factors so we need to check.
When looking, look for wood that has no bark as the bark is one of the first things to dry and fall off. Just inside the bark is also where much of the tannin is found so it is prudent to avoid that. Feel for lighter weight than expected as the moisture is the heavy part. Once you find one, cutting an end off will let you check further. Wood dries from outside to inside and as it does the color changes.

This is a piece of cedar that has been out for possibly 20-40 years and has dried totally so that it is safe to use.



When turned over and cut out, you can see the color is almost uniform. There will often be places like knots that have a different color but this is okay.



Got a place like this nearby?


To improve the odds, do some homework before starting !
Prevailing wind is often from the SW so go on GOOGLEMAPS, etc. and zoom in to look at the coves on the NE of the local lakes. Find a pile of wood near access road, etc. Take a small folding saw along. Nylon straps to make handles are good.

Get some fresh air and free wood? To remove doubt about any contaminants it may have picked up, do an overnight bleach water soak after reading about it and you will be good to go.
awesome advice, thanks!
 

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Beavers inhabit nearly all of North America. Go climb around on a dam for a while and I'm sure you'll find something. I've found a couple neat roots/small stumps that way. Disinfect, and try it in the tank. If it rots too fast, just go put it back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Beavers inhabit nearly all of North America. Go climb around on a dam for a while and I'm sure you'll find something. I've found a couple neat roots/small stumps that way. Disinfect, and try it in the tank. If it rots too fast, just go put it back.
I just wasnt sure if there was a way to tell what wood is best, would last the longest, would not become poisonous if to much was in a 30 gallon tank etc.

I planned on boiling the piece and then baking it for a couple hours to clean, disinfect and harden.

I think it will just be harder getting my buddy out of the house to look.

I bought a bag of black diamond grit I told him I would give the majority to since I only need enough to do my 5 gallon tall. So were thinking of doing a stump, trying to turn it into a sandfall, using the black substrate and going planted. Maybe Ill push him to go dirt under the sub.
 

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The wood is made up of millions of tiny little spaces where moisture is left when the tree dies. These tiny little spaces have to break down to release the moisture so if we get a wood that is not dry all the way through, we can be looking at a really long time before the color stops coming out. Firewood is often stored for several seasons before it will burn well. Some are willing to wait for that but I much prefer picking the wood that nature has already dried. Some woods are known to be unsafe for aquarium use because they do hold the moisture for much longer. Cedar is used for decks and fences for this quality. That makes it take lots longer to dry for our use but once it is dry the cellulose that remains is not a problem. Much of what we call cedar is actually juniper but I find and use a lot of it as it does dry to the gnarly weathered look that I like.
The problem with boiling water to clear the tannins is that it can take nearly forever for water to penetrate a piece if the wood is 4 inches or more thick. Four inches of wood makes pretty good insulation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The wood is made up of millions of tiny little spaces where moisture is left when the tree dies. These tiny little spaces have to break down to release the moisture so if we get a wood that is not dry all the way through, we can be looking at a really long time before the color stops coming out. Firewood is often stored for several seasons before it will burn well. Some are willing to wait for that but I much prefer picking the wood that nature has already dried. Some woods are known to be unsafe for aquarium use because they do hold the moisture for much longer. Cedar is used for decks and fences for this quality. That makes it take lots longer to dry for our use but once it is dry the cellulose that remains is not a problem. Much of what we call cedar is actually juniper but I find and use a lot of it as it does dry to the gnarly weathered look that I like.
The problem with boiling water to clear the tannins is that it can take nearly forever for water to penetrate a piece if the wood is 4 inches or more thick. Four inches of wood makes pretty good insulation.
good to know. Well hopefully hollowing out the back will help that. I was saying Id probably be hollowing it out (before boiling/baking) and filling it with pond foam before finally placing it in the tank.
 

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I had thought at one point about asking about the filling. Will filling it with foam not make it harder to stay down as the foam floats? I have a chainsaw handy and like to hollow big things out to make them lighter to lift but they also stay down better with less wood to float. In doing some big stumps, I found the fish also like the extra hiding and cover. I normally have a bristlenose or two and they really like the hiding space.
The piece of wood in the pictures was hollowed to make more space underneath when laid down in the tank. Rainbow cichlids were using it as a nestsite when I put a flat slate in under one side.
This is a hollow log that is in my daughter's tank. It is nice to find them hollow and not have to do the work but in this case it also was just the right size to make adding weight really handy. I just dropped a rock of the right size down one end!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had thought at one point about asking about the filling. Will filling it with foam not make it harder to stay down as the foam floats? I have a chainsaw handy and like to hollow big things out to make them lighter to lift but they also stay down better with less wood to float. In doing some big stumps, I found the fish also like the extra hiding and cover. I normally have a bristlenose or two and they really like the hiding space.
The piece of wood in the pictures was hollowed to make more space underneath when laid down in the tank. Rainbow cichlids were using it as a nestsite when I put a flat slate in under one side.
This is a hollow log that is in my daughter's tank. It is nice to find them hollow and not have to do the work but in this case it also was just the right size to make adding weight really handy. I just dropped a rock of the right size down one end!
I would think once its resaturated with water it will stay. I could also just put a rock in the foam. I just want to make sure its fully dry and free of any harmful parasites and bacteria. I figure by hollowing it out pre cooking it will make less area the heat has to penetrate and less tannins that remain int he wood.
 
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