One of the most exciting parts of owning an aquarium is to be able to decorate it the way you like. There are a number of ways to go about decorating your aquarium.
Some people use plastic castles and sunken ships, while others choose more natural options to enhance the aesthetics of their aquariums.
One of the most popular ways in which people add natural beauty to their aquariums is by adding driftwood to them. With that said, adding organic substances in your aquarium requires some preparation.
With a little planning and some adequate preparation, you can transform your aquarium into an aquascape of natural beauty.
In this article, we cover all that you need to know about driftwood and how long to boil driftwood for a fish tank.
Types of Driftwood for Aquarium
There are many different types of driftwood that are used for decorating an aquarium. The most commonly used are the following:
The most easily available and cost-effective option is standard driftwood. One can find this type of driftwood abundantly in North America in addition to other parts of the world.
It is basically the remains of the trunks or branches that are washed up or get carried by wind and water erosion. You can quite easily find it in various different shapes and sizes.
Standard driftwood floats on water. You can use two different methods to sink it in water: soaking the driftwood or screwing it to the aquarium with the help of a piece of slate.
You can sink small pieces of driftwood in water by soaking them in water for a few weeks but larger pieces require soaking from months to years. A quicker method is to screw the driftwood with a piece of slate to the bottom of the aquarium. Make sure to use stainless screws to prevent rusting. You can cover the slate with some natural decorations like rocks or gravel.
Another type of commonly available driftwood for aquariums is the African Root. This type of driftwood sinks by itself, therefore, you do not need to put in any extra effort to make it sink in water.
It is also quite different from standard driftwood in appearance. One side of African Root is knobby while the other side looks smooth and beautiful.
Malaysian Driftwood is another self-sinking type of driftwood. It looks similar to standard driftwood but has longer branches. It is dense, attractive, and very durable for aquariums.
It is the best choice if you are planning to mount some aquatic plants on the driftwood.
Many people confuse African Root and African Driftwood, however, they are two different types of driftwood. African Driftwood has an appearance that is similar to standard driftwood but it is self-sinking.
It is also darker than standard driftwood and has a convoluted shape. African Driftwood is usually hundreds of years old and it is comparatively more expensive than standard driftwood.
Preparation for Adding Driftwood in Your Aquarium
There is some important preparation that you need to do before placing driftwood in the aquarium. It can help you clean and sterilize the driftwood so that it does not introduce pests and pathogens to the environment of the aquarium.
You can draw a rough sketch of your aquarium to plan where you want to place the driftwood and how you want to arrange everything else inside the aquarium.
This step helps you to visualize and experiment with different designs without disturbing the aquatic life in the aquarium. It also prevents you from taking apart the whole aquarium and starting all over again because your idea didn’t work out well when applied.
The next step is to clean the driftwood properly for placement. You can use a clean brush to scrub the piece of driftwood until no dirt remains on it.
It is important not to use soap or chemical detergents because any remains from these cleaners can harm the pH of your aquarium. Using chemical cleaners can also affect the aquatic life inside the aquarium.
Some types of driftwood float or remain slightly buoyant in water until you saturate or cure them.
The process is fairly simple. All you have to do is soak the driftwood in a large water bath, ensuring that the piece of driftwood remains completely underwater. We recommend you to soak it for one to two weeks.
Soaking driftwood is important because doing so removes excess tannins. If the driftwood is not soaked beforehand, these excess tannins can otherwise darken or discolor the water of the aquarium.
While the discoloration of the water poses no harm to the aquatic life of the aquarium, it can lower the pH slightly over time. You will also have to keep a check on the driftwood while it is soaking to ensure that you do not need to change the water in the container.
If the water darkens, you should change the water in the container and gently rinse the piece of driftwood before soaking it in clean water again.
Use clean dechlorinated water for soaking. As you keep changing the water during this soaking period, you will notice that the water becomes less stained than the last time. At last, when you notice no discoloration for a few days, you do not need to soak the driftwood anymore.
Boiling Driftwood for the Aquarium
This step is especially important before the placement of the driftwood in the aquarium. Boiling driftwood in a large container also makes more tannins wash out into water making the curing process easier and a whole lot quicker.
Boiling also sterilizes the driftwood by getting rid of fungal spores, algae, and bacteria that pose risk to the aquatic environment of the aquarium. If you have a small piece of driftwood, 15-20 minutes would suffice.
However, you will have to boil larger pieces of driftwood for 1-2 hours to sterilize it properly.
Placement of the Driftwood
Once you have soaked and boiled the driftwood for an appropriate amount of time, you can place it inside the aquarium. Consider the visual layout of the aquarium to decide the final location of the driftwood.
The most suitable time for the placement is when you remove some water from the aquarium to change its water. Place the driftwood in the desired spot and refill the aquarium with water.
Benefits of Adding Driftwood to Aquariums
Some common benefits of adding driftwood to your aquarium are as follows:
People add driftwood to their aquariums to give a touch of natural beauty to the environment of the aquarium. It also helps you to provide the aquatic animals in your aquarium with an environment as much close to their natural habitat as possible.
Driftwood is present in almost all ponds, lakes, and rivers. Finding driftwood in an aquarium helps the fish to behave more naturally. They use it for hiding, breeding, and other natural activities.
Regulates the Ecosystem in the Aquarium
Driftwood does not only enhance the aesthetics of your aquarium but also helps in regulating the ecosystem in the aquarium. It is also very helpful in encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria.
These bacteria regulate the environment by breaking down the by-product of the fish into less harmful compounds, providing a healthy environment for the aquatic life to thrive.
Maintains the pH in the Aquarium
Keeping an adequate pH balance in the aquarium is a real challenge for most people.
The addition of driftwood helps to maintain a lower pH in your aquarium. Some types of fish need slightly acidic water conditions to survive and driftwood provides just the right kind of environment for such aquatic life to thrive by maintaining a suitable PH.
Improves the Health of Fish
Driftwood is also very beneficial in boosting the immune system of the fish in the aquarium. The submerged driftwood in the water of the aquarium allows natural tannins to seep out into the water.
The tannins make the aquatic environment slightly acidic which makes the environment suitable for most fish. It also hinders the growth of viruses and harmful bacteria inside the aquarium.
The tannins from the driftwood also provide more oxygen in the water column for the aquatic life of the aquarium.
Some Important Precautions
When purchasing the driftwood for your aquarium, make sure that it is suitable. The driftwood sold for reptiles also looks similar to the driftwood suitable for the aquarium but it can have some chemicals which are harmful to fish.
Moreover, even after soaking and boiling the driftwood properly, sometimes it might still release tannins causing discoloration of water. You can use a chemical filter media or activated carbon to filter the water of the aquarium from excess tannins.
Boiling driftwood before putting it in the aquarium can help you sterilize it to get rid of harmful bacteria. With some keen planning and preparation, you can create a beautiful natural-looking landscape for the aquatic life in your aquarium.
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