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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. I live in upstate New York, and by that I mean near the Adirondak Mts not one hour north of NYC! I was looking into putting driftwood into the aquarium I have had set up and stable for five months. I have a lot of live plants in there and also a good deal of fish. I was wondering what kind of woods I could collect from the wild woods all around me and cure to place into the tank. I know an ideal wood would be dense and not decay, but i was wondering if anyone knew (other than mopani which is only found in pet stores or online.. lol) what types of wood could I use. Also how would I go about curing a piece of drift wood, waterlogged, green, or dry?

1,282 Posts
1. Manzanita
2. Colophospermum mopane (AKA mopani, mopane drift wood)
3. Chola (cholla) wood
4. Rose wood roots
5. Malaysian drift wood
6. Ribbon wood
7. Cypress
8. Oak
9. Mesquite
10. Cedar - some are iffy on this one.
11. Grapevines - reported to rot quickly
12. Ironwood
13. Beefwood
14. Australian Pine
15. Azalea
16. Rhododendron
17. Madrona
18. Crepe Myrtle
19. Western Hemlock Roots
20. Contorted/Corkscrew Willow
21. Osage Orange / Bodark
22. Buttonwood
23. Baldcypress / Taxodium

22,557 Posts
I don't have the botannical knowledge to comment on the many woods listed previously, but I certainly would not use coniferous (evergreen) wood like pine, cedar, hemlock, spruce (I know, this last isn't there, just another one that occurs to me). These have resins and saps that can kill fish. Cedar also is a soft wood that therefore decomposes/rots quickly under water; it is fine in a natural creek, but not in an enclosed aquarium.

Using wood from the wild is always a risk; you can't know what toxins it may have come into contact with, like pesticides, fertilizers, oils, chemicals... and these can leech out over time and kill everything in the tank.

Suitable wood (oak is one, it is a hardwood) is of itself safe (remember the above-mentioned unknowns with any wood) but needs to be completely dried, then soaked or some bake it. This kills pathogens, parasites, etc., or should. Then you need to waterlog it, because it will not sink dry.

Wood purchased from a reputable and reliable fish store is certainly less risky, if expensive.


Edit: Just spotted an earlier thread on this topic, related anyway, you might want to follow it:

1 Posts
Green Hemlock for aquarium cover

Hey folks...

I was setting up a new aquarium this winter, and the only handy branches for cover were green hemlock, which the goats had removed the needles from. I checked out an old post on this forum, and I wasn't convinced the concerns I read about using it were substantive... so I went for it, partially as a not-entirely-scientific experiment.

I set up the 40 gal aquarium with two branches diagonally installed, filled it and let it sit for most of a week, flushed it and refilled. I added 2 dozen golden shiners, a small filter system, and a sand bed above it that I pump some water through daily. After a few weeks, they had some sort of waxy spots on their backs, and seemed to be struggling to get enough oxygen. There seemed to be a slight oily residue on the surface.

In the last couple days I lost about half of them. I increased aeration, flushed water, and removed one of the two branches, and they seem to be improving. While nitrate/nitrite load, disease, or other factors could have caused the die-off, my tentative conclusion is that using green hemlock is not a good idea, at least not without much more leaching time and flushing. Probably it would be an even bigger issue with more sensitive varieties of fish.
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