Does driftwood leaching affect appearance of fish and plants? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 3 Old 03-10-2012, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Does driftwood leaching affect appearance of fish and plants?

I bought a piece of driftwood with a plant in it on clearance at Petsmart. I removed the crappy plant but put the driftwood into my 29-gallon freshwater planted tank (it had come straight from the Petsmart tank and had been soaking there for a while, so I figured it would be okay in mine).

Recently, I noticed my diamond tetras looked different, discolored somehow. I decided to do a big water change, about 50%, and in doing so, I took out the driftwood and stored it in my son's guppy tank. I noticed the water I was removing had a yellow tint, but I didn't think much of it. For a week, things perked right back up. My tetras looked their shiny silvery selves. My water sprite was growing better and so was the wisteria. However, my Siamese Algae Eaters had taken to hiding in a resin log. I read up on them and discovered they needed bogwood, which I figured was driftwood, so I put the driftwood back in.

Within 24 hours, the water was yellowish again, my diamond tetras look weird, and even the plants darkened up. I Googled, learned driftwood can leach tannins and change water color, but I could not find anything on whether it affects fish color or plants.

I am going to do another water change right now, but I would like to know if it's the driftwood which is affecting the plants and fish. It seems logical, but I doubt my own brain nowadays.
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post #2 of 3 Old 03-10-2012, 12:31 PM
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I would suspect the driftwood, but if this is just tannins it is not dangerous or detrimental to fish or plants. It will discolour the water, giving it a yellowish to brownish tint, depending upon the wood species. Eventually, most wood releases the majority of tannins and beyond that it still occurs but most of us can't really see it. Some wood is worse for tannin discolouration than others; I have found Malaysian driftwood, the heavy very dark brown almost black wood, to be quick at releasing noticeable tannins.

It will not change the colouration of fish or plants, but obviously viewing the fish through tinted water will alter their colouration to our eyes.

The main thing is to keep in mind that this is just an appearance issue. While this is not appreciated by many of us (I don't like it either, in excess), for forest fish from soft water it is ideal, and they should be at their best in health, behaviours and activity.

Boiling wood for a period will usually cause a lot of the initial tannins to leech out, but as wood remains in water this will continue permanently, though much less than initially.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 3 Old 03-11-2012, 05:38 AM
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I may have had the same driftwood that Byron mentioned. It was not marked at the store and was sold by the pound. After I placed two pieces of it that were about 14 inches long in the tank, the tank turned into light colored tea.
So after reading recommendations on the forum, I boiled both pieces for 45 minutes and was surprised just how dark the boiled water got. So I decided based on that, I would let it dry out and boil it again for the next two days for the same amount of time.
After the third boil, the driftwood was placed back into the tank. Now I see no leaching of the tannins but as Byron mentioned; it will still leach, but in my case, its just not visable. My tank is a 75 gallon and I believe that helps too.
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driftwood , tannins

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