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I am sure boxwood (Buxus species) is safe.
Old, dried makes it even more sure that it is safe. The process of drying out (alternately wet and dry, actually) breaks down most things that could be toxic.
 

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I find totally dry wood of almost any type does not bother my tank. Boxwood being small tends to dry pretty quick but one way to get a better idea of what level of dry you have is to cut an end off the larger portion. Wood dries outer to inner layers, so looking for a pretty uniform color can be a good clue.
 

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My reasons for getting 100% dry are more to avoid work than anything else. One is that it eases my search for wood as I don't have to ask what kind it was when it had leaves, bark and all those things we normally use to ID trees. If I used wood that was not totally dry, there is always the prospect of finding something that holds the sap far, far ,longer. Pine, cedar, juniper sap which is very slow to and fir for instance, all have sap which dries very slowly. I suspect that is why cedar has the rep of being unusable in tanks. The sap is often closely associated with tannin which cause color in the tank. How much color and how much we each hate it is something that varies. But I like low effort tanks when it comes to maintenance and I also don't like stained, dark water. So for my uses and preference, I find it easier to get the dry stuff.

Tannin/sap can work to lower the PH of tanks. One might test and watch for this if one is in doubt about how the wood might fit.

If you use less than fully dry boxwood, I would go with the opinion from Diana that it is safe. There really are not a lot of toxic trees/plants around so that by itself is in your favor. The likely worst case might be that it colored the water for a time. That can be if ignored and left or it can be changed by larger, more frequent water changes. If ten percent wet, not likely but if 90% wet, much more chance but odds are good that it will not bother the fish. Fish often live in really dark stained water.
Everything is risk at some level but in this case, I feel it is pretty low level risk, other than I mention.
Use it and three weeks in, it is being bad, you can then throw it out. Not likely to be any sudden tank altering bad stuff. Just stuff I don't like to deal with in my tanks. But that fits as I like the really big old gnarly stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My reasons for getting 100% dry are more to avoid work than anything else. One is that it eases my search for wood as I don't have to ask what kind it was when it had leaves, bark and all those things we normally use to ID trees. If I used wood that was not totally dry, there is always the prospect of finding something that holds the sap far, far ,longer. Pine, cedar, juniper sap which is very slow to and fir for instance, all have sap which dries very slowly. I suspect that is why cedar has the rep of being unusable in tanks. The sap is often closely associated with tannin which cause color in the tank. How much color and how much we each hate it is something that varies. But I like low effort tanks when it comes to maintenance and I also don't like stained, dark water. So for my uses and preference, I find it easier to get the dry stuff.

Tannin/sap can work to lower the PH of tanks. One might test and watch for this if one is in doubt about how the wood might fit.

If you use less than fully dry boxwood, I would go with the opinion from Diana that it is safe. There really are not a lot of toxic trees/plants around so that by itself is in your favor. The likely worst case might be that it colored the water for a time. That can be if ignored and left or it can be changed by larger, more frequent water changes. If ten percent wet, not likely but if 90% wet, much more chance but odds are good that it will not bother the fish. Fish often live in really dark stained water.
Everything is risk at some level but in this case, I feel it is pretty low level risk, other than I mention.
Use it and three weeks in, it is being bad, you can then throw it out. Not likely to be any sudden tank altering bad stuff. Just stuff I don't like to deal with in my tanks. But that fits as I like the really big old gnarly stuff.

What a great response! Thank you!
 

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My reasons for getting 100% dry are more to avoid work than anything else. One is that it eases my search for wood as I don't have to ask what kind it was when it had leaves, bark and all those things we normally use to ID trees. If I used wood that was not totally dry, there is always the prospect of finding something that holds the sap far, far ,longer. Pine, cedar, juniper sap which is very slow to and fir for instance, all have sap which dries very slowly. I suspect that is why cedar has the rep of being unusable in tanks. The sap is often closely associated with tannin which cause color in the tank. How much color and how much we each hate it is something that varies. But I like low effort tanks when it comes to maintenance and I also don't like stained, dark water. So for my uses and preference, I find it easier to get the dry stuff.

Tannin/sap can work to lower the PH of tanks. One might test and watch for this if one is in doubt about how the wood might fit.

If you use less than fully dry boxwood, I would go with the opinion from Diana that it is safe. There really are not a lot of toxic trees/plants around so that by itself is in your favor. The likely worst case might be that it colored the water for a time. That can be if ignored and left or it can be changed by larger, more frequent water changes. If ten percent wet, not likely but if 90% wet, much more chance but odds are good that it will not bother the fish. Fish often live in really dark stained water.
Everything is risk at some level but in this case, I feel it is pretty low level risk, other than I mention.
Use it and three weeks in, it is being bad, you can then throw it out. Not likely to be any sudden tank altering bad stuff. Just stuff I don't like to deal with in my tanks. But that fits as I like the really big old gnarly stuff.

What a great response! Thank you!
FWIW cedar is fine - I have a large Red Cedar root in my tank, but I run Purigen to keep the tannins at bay. It's basically rot proof. Meant to quote Rich but doing this on my phone things are a bit wierd.
 

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I find a lot of cedar is good to use but it is like a lot of things we use. It takes a bit of knowledge and care to decide when and what to use.
There may be far more people using cedar than what we know about as we have so many "common names" for things that are not truly what they are called. Here in the Austin area there is a common allergy that gives people enough trouble that it is called "cedar fever" but when pinned down most find it is really juniper that is putting out the pollen.
Some things we use are so common and we've used them for so long that we almost forget WHY they work, we just know they do. That's the case with me and cedar/juniper. I've used so much of it for so long that I can forget there is a question about using it until somebody asks. There is actually a company that sells "driftwood" nationally that is mostly what I might call cedar. I would assume it is more than likely juniper, though as I really can't tell one from the other once long dead.
 

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Yeah our native Western Red Cedar that I use (and have also used the bark in Tarantula enclosures in the past with much success despite much internet parroting about it
not being safe) is not a true Cedar, (Cedris) but it shares the properties (aromatic oils) of the true genus (Thuja) that most will cite as making it unsafe in aquariums or Vivariums.
This (especially among the Tarantula keepers) based on much assumption and parroting rather than experimentation it seems.

Now all that said, I've never tried Yellow Cedar or similar.
Also I use roots that have been in the open air and are very well dried.
I wouldn't want to try a wet/fresh Cedar root - that tannin battle would be horrible. :)
 
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