Driftwood help please?
I was looking into getting a piece of driftwood to stick in my 10 gallon that I could stick some java fern on (the java fern would come from a LFS) but while looking around for appropriate driftwood to go in my tank, none of the pieces in the store were all that great looking, and they want ridiculous prices for them! 40 bucks for a roughly 12 inch long piece of driftwood?!
Now I live very close to the ocean (literally, I walk a block down to the end of my street, and I'm there) and we get driftwood that washes up on our sand fairly often.
What is the difference between driftwood that can be bought in an LFS compared to the stuff I could just go pick up off the beach for free? Is there a difference?
Is there any reason I shouldn't go find some driftwood of my own from the beach?
If I get driftwood from the beach, what methods/precautions should I take to make sure the wood is safe for tank use? Should I boil it? Bake it? Is there something I should put on it? I mean, what do the LFS do to make their driftwood 'ready for aquarium use' that a piece of driftwood I pluck off the beach doesn't already have?
The problem with using any wood you find is that you don't know what it might contain (pesticides, fuel, bacteria, parasites...) and once in the tank these toxic substances can leech out slowly and over time cause fish diseases and death. Aside from this, you need to know the type of wood to be aware of sap or resin that can be poisonous. Some wood can disintegrate quite rapidly in warm water, and while this might not harm the fish directly the change in the water (pH, softness) could.
While boiling the wood might be expected to remove the bacteria and parasites, it might not remove other toxins that are impregnated in the wood. Wood from the ocean will obviously contain salt which should not be added to freshwater tanks except as medication.
It's true that the wood in the store can also contain toxins; I once had a large piece (can't remember the type of wood) purchased from a reputable aquarium store that turned out to be the culprit in killing several valuable fish. Aside from that incident, I have always used mangrove root and never had a problem, nor have I heard of others having problems with it. You need to know what you're buying, but in my opinion you are safer going with what is available in a reputable store; chances are this wood has been properly treated. Depends on how much your fish are worth to you.
Thank you for the information (I saw your other post earlier in another topic about your incident while scanning for info about this).
But what is "properly treated?"
If any piece of wood can contain toxic chemicals, then it's just as likely any piece I get from a store could also contain chemicals (actually, considering one of the LFS had their driftwood selection laying on their floor which I know they clean regularly with bleach and other cleaning solutions, I guess I can mark them off the list). What is it that a store does to make their wood "properly treated?" Is there anything they do that I can't just as easily do at home? Do they have some special secret method to 'purifying' the wood? Or is just slapping a price tag sticker on it magically making it safe for aquariums?
Likewise, does that mean if I found a piece of mangrove driftwood on the beach, would that be the preferred driftwood to use in a tank? We have plenty of mangroves around this part of the coastline, so I imagine that a fair bit of the driftwood may well already be from those trees anyhow, but I intend upon researching various common commercially sold driftwoods and mangrove roots to make sure I can identify different species.
Just choose pieces that you feel best about. There really is no 100% guarantee, but buying from a store that keeps theirs in tanks or storage bins will give you the best chance. My advice is no matter what wood you get, rinse it thoroughly, let it air dry, then bake it at 350 degrees for 30-45 mintues depending on the thickness of the wood. The reason you bake instead of boil is heat the wood to a higher temperature to kill anything that may be able to survive boiling temps.
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