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April 20, 2018
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News & Reviews Article
Title Preparing Driftwood for Your Freshwater Aquarium

Chris Deer

Last Updated



Preparing Driftwood for Your Freshwater Aquarium
Chris Deer
Nothing adds more natural beauty to a freshwater aquarium than a twisted piece of driftwood. Driftwood will soften water, offer nooks for fish to find shelter and gives your fish a truly natural environment. But driftwood will sometimes “bleed” tannins into the water that turns it an ice tea brown color if not prepared properly. Note that the tea color will not harm your fish but it will give the aquarium a less bright look.
Here are steps you should take for preparing it before adding it to your aquarium:

1. Rinse off the wood completely and remove any loose pieces of bark or branches.
2. Place the driftwood in a “fish safe” bucket (not the one you wash your car with) or other suitable safe container.
3. Fill the bucket with just straight tap water and cover the driftwood completely with water.
4. Add 3 or 4 teaspoons of baking soda to the water in the container. This raises the pH of the water in the container. The alkaline water draws out the tannins in the wood.
5. After a day or two, the water in the container will be dark brown. Drain out the water and repeat the steps above until the water remains clear.
6. Then soak the wood 1 or 2 additional days without any baking soda. Rinse the wood well one more time and then it should be safe to place in your aquarium!
Not all wood is safe for the aquarium. If you purchase wood from an aquarium store you will be assured it is an aquarium safe wood. But if you choose to collect wood yourself, ensure you do not collect pine or other woods loaded
with sap or phenols that will kill your fish.

If you have a plecostomus, it will absolutely love the addition of driftwood. They actually chew on the wood and it is believed it is a natural part of their diet (but not clear why or how).
There are also aquatic plants that will grow ON the driftwood. Plants like Java Moss, Java Fern and Anubias species can be loosely attached on the wood using thread or pull ties. After several weeks, the plants will have attached themselves and the thread or pull ties can be removed. The plant will grow all over the wood and can be trimmed to achieve the desired look!

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