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Mopani Wood, Soaking before putting in tank
I Bought some Mopani wood today and it says to soak a few days before putting into my aquarium so that the tannins release. To anyone who has done this, on average how many days did you leave it soaking for? I already emptied the bucket its soaking in once today because it turned the water completly dark brown within 3 hours.
I soaked mine for a week emptying it every day, then I put it in the tank and it still discolored the water but in my opinion it wasn't bad at all, gave it kind of a neat look after that. A month later I think it still discolors the water a little but I don't mind. Also the first week or two I was still doing daily water changes because I was still cycling.
I think I've seen where other people say boiling it for a couple of hours should release most of the tannins. I'd just as rather do it the natural way though. :)
I've never soaked driftwood as I quite like the tannin look. It depends on the size of the piece, though; larger pieces can take a really long time to stop leeching tannins.
Hmm see i would of put it in but i dont want my ph to change so much and kill my fish...
The extent to which the pH will (may) change depends upon the size of the piece of wood and the water hardness (carbonate hardness mainly). Generally speaking, the drop in pH is not major, usually around .2 to .4 if that, but again the size of the wood makes a difference.
Personally I would boil the wood if it is small enough to fit into a pot. This wood, as others have noted, can be heavy with tannins. But even more of a concern is the bacteria that sometimes occurs when first put into the aquarium. I have had trouble with this, and know of others who lost fish. Only once have I used this particular wood, recently, with this issue; I would always boil it or soak it well in water other than the aquarium. It also tends to "float" until water logged, so these precautions also solve that problem.
If i boil it how long do you recommend me leaving it in the boiling water, and after i boil it should i leave it soaking in a bucket again?
If it is too big to boil, you can use scalding water from the bathtub tap.
Also, I'm pretty sure that carbon removes some of the tanins that seep into your tank, (as do water changes, of course), so if it's really dark at first, you can leave/add carbon to your filter and it will help lighten the water over time.
Again, the tanins don't do much harm, and the lore of our hobby seems to be that they might even serve beneficial purposes that we don't (yet?) know, so I think the choice is purely aesthetic. Just keep soaking (and the hotter the water, the faster it leeches) until you're ok with the color that's left coming out.
I've been soaking my large piece for about three weeks with bi weekly water changes. The tannins are entirely bad for your fish, but it does much up the water. If it hasn't been pre-soaked prior to sale then you'll just have to soak it until the water is clear. Or, soak it until the water is clear enough that it won't bother you.
I may not be correctly understanding what TexasTanker posted, but I have never read that tannins from wood will harm the fish. Most aquarists see this as troublesome only because of the brownish-yellowish tint the water takes on. But forest fish frequently live in blackwater streams and these are the colour of very strong tea only due to tannins from decaying vegetation and wood.
It may be that your thought about harm is from the bacteria issue I mentioned previously. I will explain it a bit more now. I placed a rather small piece of mopani wood in my 90g, after I had rinsed it off (it was dry), expecting some tannins but prepared to live with that. A day later this white "fungus" growth appeared all over the wood, and the aquarium water turned not brown but whitish, similar to a bacterial bloom. That was bad enough, but I noticed that all of the corys in this tank began having problems; they became lethargic, respirating very fast--a sure sign of water problems. I pulled out the wood, did a 75% water change two days in a row, and saved the fish, although it took a couple of weeks before the water was again as clear as it had been the day before the wood went in.
I just happened to be in a local fish store that weekend, and overheard a customer asking the staff about much the same reaction from a piece of mopani wood, only he had his corys die because he did not take action soon enough.
The point here is that the bacteria in the wood leeches out when it is first placed under water, so with this wood I would suggest always soaking it well (or boiling) before placing it in an aquarium with fish.
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