Driftwater / Stones / Cool hatchery
So I recently made a post about my new 90 gallon tank. Everythings been up and running, I got my fluval 405 as well as two Penguin BW 350's on it. Been cycling with some feeder fish, despite what I read *after purchasing them* that fishless cycling is better. But it's been going well for me and the tank.. Really all that I need to work on the tank for right now is aquascaping, but I wanted to set up and scape the driftwood first. I don't want to buy from a store as they are expensive and not very natural looking. Now I need to know what guidelines to go by when collecting driftwood. I've been told before that the driftwood I find has to be in the water when I find it.. is this true? There are a few state parks I can go to close by to me as well as several shorelines (I live in miami, fl area).. today, while volunteering at my sister's fish hatchery (the rosenthiel UM campus) I took a leisurely walk on the shore by the hatchery and found a very large uprooted tree on the sand, several pieces on it look like they would make for great driftwood but it was dry as a bone. I'm going back to the hatchery tomorrow and if you guys think it's a good idea i'd like to cut some pieces on it and perhaps prepare them as driftwood for my 90 gallon in process. I've only ever bought driftwood which is why i'm pretty clueless as what to keep in mind when collecting it. I never tested if the wood is hard or soft and im assuming it'll take some time to water log it.. and all that is fine, as I have the time and patience, but what I need to know is if it will be SAFE, especially considering it coming from an ocean's shore line. I also found some cinder blocks and other rocks washed up or dumped on the sand/shore that was covered in algae (or some grassy looking algae plant that just stuck all over and covered the blocks and rocks), and the cinder block looked like it would make great caves for my pleco's, again, I would like to know how safe it is to collect and use these for my tanks, if at all. On a side note.. the hatchery my sister is interning at is AWESOME (she's studying aquaculture). They have HUGE cobia, Mahi Mahi, Goggle eyes and florida pompano, and tuna, though they killed all their tuna recently in a move, only one remains and he wasnt doing to well. It was fun I got to siphon their tanks, prepare their feed, feed em, test water parameters etc. They also grow coral, some plants, plankton, etc. I'm thinking of taking my camera tomorrow and taking some pictures if anyone is interested. It was indeed a great experience. Sorry to go off topic just thought i'd share but what I'm really here for is my Stone/Driftwood situation. Also I'd like to start a video journal for this tank and would like to share it with everyone, I will be doing this soon as I begin the aquascaping. Thanks in advance for any advice.
I can't much speak to the driftwood question, but I just had to say your sisters internship sound amazing! I'm a recent grad with a degree in Fisheries Science, and I'm most interested in aquaponics (basically the same thing we do with our planted tanks but growing commercial species). That must be a great place to have succeeded in growing tuna in aquaculture.
Collecting wood from outdoors is always a risk because you don't know what may have contacted it in the way of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, etc. Boiling the wood will not necessarily remove these. Bacteria, pathogens and parasites are another issue than boiling should handle, but if the wood is thick and something is deep inside, perhaps not. Salt from seawater is another issue.
Wood in stores is perhaps expensive--depending upon one's view of paying to avoid all these risks--but the wood should be safe. I like the Malaysian driftwood, sometimes called ironwood, that is very dark brown. It is very natural looking, being...natural.:-) It is also heavy so it sinks immediately without endless soaking or having to hold it down somehow. Boiling will cause the worst of the tannins to leech out faster, though these are not harmful to fish or plants. I have a lot of this wood in my tanks, you can see it in the photos (click Aquatriums below my name on the left).
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