Clean Driftwood for Aquarium Properly: The safe ways
Driftwood is excellent, done a lot of aquascapes using driftwood, as fabulous as it can be and as marvelous as it can look in a fish tank.
Driftwood can cause a fish keeper a lot of pain by introducing disease into a tank and just making your tank look well.
How to prepare driftwood properly for your aquarium and make it safe for an aquarium?
So you can enjoy the aesthetics and not have to worry about your fish getting sick or your tank looking horrible.
So when it comes to driftwood, there are many different types, many different sizes, and of course, the size and style you pick will be based on your preferences and setup.
How do we prepare small pieces of driftwood and larger amounts of driftwood?
Get an idea of what to do, no matter what size or type of driftwood you have.
Focus here on driftwood you buy from an aquarium store, not necessarily something you find just sitting out there on the ground somewhere, although the techniques we’re displaying here will also work if you find your driftwood.
Thinking about the types of fish that we have, finding driftwood in nature, and bringing it in, might be risky and potentially introducing disease.
It’s not worth the risk for us, but I also recognize that it can be a very cheap freeway to find driftwood for your aquarium.
So first thing, let’s take a look at the different sizes you might have. What do we do with smaller pieces of driftwood?
The best thing that we can do in all cases is going ahead and make sure there is no dust and dirt or cobwebs or anything else hanging from the driftwood, take a wire brush, and scrape it down a little bit.
Some driftwood will lend better than that than others.
If you have something like Malaysian driftwood and you start scrubbing it vigorously with a wire brush, you’re going to ruin the piece of driftwood.
We’re going to try to make sure that we wash off any just loose types of debris, small pieces of wood.
For a small piece of driftwood, the best thing you can do is boil it.
Highly recommend don’t just take a pan and start boiling your driftwood away the same pans and pots that you use for cooking your food.
Have a dedicated pot for this task, that way, and you won’t get in trouble if you have a significant other that uses those same pots for cooking food.
Get some water, boil it, throw it in the pot.
This process usually means repeating it a few times and leaving the driftwood in the boiling water for about 20 to 30 minutes.
You’re going to see when that happens. A couple of things are going to occur;
the water is going to get brown. What’s happening there is the tannins are leaching from the wood and into the water.
If you most likely want to add driftwood to your tank but don’t want the tank to turn brown, boil it.
The brown color is relatively healthy for your fish tank due to tannins from driftwood; that’s not a bad thing.
But if you don’t want them in your tank, boiling will help remove those tannins.
The other thing that it’s going to do is remove and destroy most of the microbes attached to your driftwood.
Bacteria, fungi, and algae, that kind of thing will be destroyed, not necessarily anything that produces spores.
Often, the spores will still survive that boiling process, but for the most part, disease-causing organisms will be destroyed through the boiling process.
You’ve done and solved three things by boiling driftwood:
- Released the tannin,s which will reduce the amount of brown water you get in your aquarium after adding the driftwood.
- It’s allowed us to destroy many potentially disease-causing microbes that might be attached to your driftwood.
- It helps allow the driftwood to sink when you add it to your aquarium.
When you first add it, almost all driftwood will float if you don’t cure it first, which means if you don’t boil it or soak it, it’s probably going to swim in your tank unless you weigh it down.
After you’ve boiled, give it a quick rinse, and at that point, I’m pretty much ready to go, and you could put the driftwood in the tank.
What happens as you get more prominent pieces of driftwood?
Maybe they don’t fit quite so nicely in the pot that you’re trying to boil?
As long as you can get about half of it in your pot, I would boil one half, 20 minutes, dump the water, flip it over, and boil the other half.
That’s what I would do with a larger wood, and the larger the pot you have, the larger the piece of driftwood you’re going to be able to boil.
If boiling is not an option, and if your piece is just too large, then get yourself something like maybe a 30-gallon tote.
If that will work, these things are cheap; they’re like 8 to 10 dollars at most home improvement stores.
Fill that up with hot water, put your piece of driftwood in there;
it’s going to serve the same purposes as boiling except for the anti-microbial reduction, so you’re going to release the tannins, although it’s going to take a lot longer.
So if you’re going to soak your wood in room temperature water, you may be soaking it for many days, maybe even a week or more.
That’s going to do two things;
- release the tannins and cure the wood
- allow it to sink once you add it to the fish tank.
you’ve got a couple of options if you cannot boil driftwood:
A significant aquarium driftwood problem is how we reduce the number of microbes on a larger piece of wood?
My preferred method uses hydrogen peroxide;
Most of us have a bottle of this stuff underneath our medicine cabinet.
If you don’t, it’s relatively cheap and readily accessible, and for that, you might want to have somewhere around a 3% to 5% solution in your tub or a five-gallon bucket or whatever you’re using.
If you use a bathtub to do this, know that it will stain your bathtub when those tannins leech out of the wood. Can you clean that stuff out?
If your bathtub is a little bit older and a little bit more porous, that might be a little harder to do.
It is okay to put a piece of driftwood in a bathtub.
But I prefer to use the totes, 30 gallon totes, to let that soak at least overnight in that solution.
Soak the driftwood in regular water.
I don’t dechlorinate the water for a very simple reason.
The chlorine in the water can also serve as an anti-microbial, so I make no effort to dechlorinate the water when I’m soaking the driftwood.
Once we’ve soaked that in hydrogen peroxide for about a day or two, I’ll go ahead, and I will soak it in just regular non-dechlorinated water, let the tannins release and cure this thing so that it sinks.
Some people may use a bleach solution somewhere around a 5% percent bleach solution.
I don’t do that, and I do not recommend it.
The reason why I don’t do that is driftwood is porous; it’s not like you’re cleaning rocks or something that’s not going to absorb chemicals.
If you use bleach, you will want to do the same process you want to; go ahead and soak it in the 5% bleach at least for a day.
Then get rid of the bleach solution using non-dechlorinated water and soak it in that for about a week or so, making sure that you change out that water and get rid of that bleach you don’t want.
With the hydrogen peroxide, the advantages of breaking down it break down into oxygen gas and water.
When bleach breaks down, or if it doesn’t break down, you can potentially have irritants for your fish, and that’s why I prefer hydrogen peroxide.
Is driftwood will lower the ph of the water in my aquarium?
Driftwood will lower the pH slightly over time minimum period of 2 to 3 weeks, and all of that depends on your water parameter.
A lot of wood will likely reduce the pH.
Please consider your aquarium’s beauty and aesthetic.
Check your aquarium ecosystem before you add more driftwood to lower your PH.
If there’s a white film all over the driftwood, is the white film going to be dangerous for the fish?
In my experience, it hasn’t been the fish generally won’t eat it. They leave it alone.
What’s going to happen over time is you’re going to get this white film that’s usually like a fungus or kind of like a bacterial coating.
If that happens, you can scrape that away with your hands or fingers and then suck it up with a gravel vac.
Usually, it goes away within the first week or so, never to come back again, so if you’re worried about that or see that happen, know that is a somewhat normal thing.