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I have gotten this on pretty much all of my driftwood, from your description I'd guess it's some sort of bacterial colony, but it could be a fungus. In any case, I've never had a problem with it in my tanks beyond aesthetics. Once it gets cleaned up it stays away as well. If it's a shrimp tank, it will likely go away fairly soon because the shrimp will pick at it.

If there's nothing in there to eat it you might have to remove it yourself. Suck it up with a piece of air hose (a bit of rigid tubing jammed in the end is helpful for this, if you have it.) It will grow back, but if you repeat this a few times it should go away and stay away. You can do this even if it is a shrimp tank, of course...
 
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