Home aquarium owners often go to great lengths to spruce up the appearance of their tanks.
They will add plants and wood to give their fish habitat a more natural look. These additions can also aid their fish’s survival if they rely on algae as a food source.
Driftwood tends to float, so tank owners will need to tie their aquarium wood to plants and rocks to keep it from rising to the surface. Over time, the wood will become waterlogged enough to stay on the bottom of the tank by itself.
This solution sounds simple enough.
However, you should keep reading to learn more about the right ways to tie down driftwood in your aquarium. Let’s start by looking at why people put wood in their aquariums in the first place.
Why do people put wood in their aquariums?
Some fish owners are fine keeping their fish in tanks that are devoid of rocks, vegetation, and wood. Fish don’t need these items in their habitat to survive, but they may find their tanks more comfortable if they’re present.
Wood in particular is important for certain species of fish. This natural material provides smaller fish species with a place to hide or retreat when they want to take a break.
Some species also use aquarium wood for laying eggs or spawning.
This wood also provides surface area for algae growth. Algae can be a great food source for certain fish varieties, so including wood in your aquarium could add a secondary food source to your tank.
This could be useful if your fish is a bottom-feeding herbivore like Bristlenose Catfish.
What types of wood are best for aquariums?
You can buy wood for your aquarium from pet stores.
However, you might also be able to use driftwood from the beach after preparing it for aquarium use.
Some types of wood that are commercially available for aquariums include:
This wood type used to be popular in fish aquariums, but is harder to find in the present day.
Bogwood is a term given to wood that is exposed to bog-like conditions for an extended period of time. It is found at the bottom of lakes and rivers, and in swamps.
This wood has been preserved in an oxygen-free environment and is less likely to rot in your fish tank compared to fresh wood.
Driftwood is the most popular type of wood used in modern fish tanks. This type of wood is broken off from trees by wind and waves and remains adrift for a long period of time.
This wood eventually washes ashore after having been smoothed out by waves. You can buy driftwood at pet stores or scavenge the seashore for large pieces.
If you’re planning to get driftwood from the wild you will need to treat it first.
Also read: Can Any Wood Be Used In An Aquarium?
How to prepare wild driftwood for your aquarium?
Wild driftwood should first be scrubbed using a brush and water. This process should remove any dirt or debris that is present on the wood’s surface.
It’s important to avoid using soap or chemical cleaners during this stage as any cleaning substances left in the wood could leach into your fish tank.
Driftwood spends a fair amount of its life underwater when it is out at sea. However, many driftwood pieces remain buoyant until they are fully saturated with water.
If you place this wood into your fish tank, it will rise to the surface. This makes it difficult to place wild driftwood in fish tanks until it is fully saturated.
Some people prefer to tie down this wood in their aquariums and wait for it to absorb enough water to remain in place.
Other people prefer to treat the wood before placing it in their tanks. You can cure the driftwood by placing it in a bucket of water and keeping it submerged for 1 or 2 weeks.
You may need to place some rocks or bricks on top of the wood to keep it submerged during this period.
After you replace the water in your bucket enough times, your driftwood will stop leaching tannins. You should then boil the driftwood for 1 – 2 hours to sterilize it. Once this is complete, your driftwood is ready to place in your tank.
How to tie down wood in an aquarium?
If you are purchasing treated driftwood from a pet store, it probably won’t leach out as many tannins as wild driftwood.
This wood can be placed in your aquarium directly, but it may still be buoyant.
You will need to find a way to fasten the wood in place so that it can absorb tank water and become saturated.
Some ways to tie down wood include:
Tying it down with a fishing line
You can keep your driftwood at the bottom of your tank by tying it to rocks or plants using a fishing line made from monofilament. This material is strong, durable, and does not leach any chemicals out when it is submerged for extended periods of time. In addition to this, monofilament appears invisible when it is underwater.
People admiring your fish tank closely will find it hard to spot the fishing line used to secure your driftwood to the bottom of the tank.
Underwater plants such as Java Fern typically anchor themselves to the bottom of fish tanks firmly. These plants may be strong enough to keep your driftwood from rising to the surface when tied correctly.
You should use a fishing line for this purpose as long your driftwood isn’t too large.
If your driftwood is large and poorly saturated, it may detach your plants from their roots and drag them up to the surface with it. To prevent this from occurring, you could tie your driftwood to some rocks as well.
This process can be tricky as your driftwood will have a natural inclination to rise to the surface while you are attempting to secure it in place. You may need the help of a second person to hold the driftwood in place while you tie plants and rocks to it.
Once you’re able to secure your driftwood in place, it will need to stay in place for around two weeks before it is submerged. However, this period may be longer or shorter for different types of driftwood.
During this period it’s important to monitor your tank and ensure that the driftwood isn’t leaking excessive amounts of tannins into the water.
This wood should also be secured firmly so that fish can’t dislodge it from its position. Once you’re certain your driftwood will stay in place, you can cut and remove the fishing line holding it in place
If your wood can’t be held in place with a fishing line, you could try gluing it down.
Gluing your wood in place
Gluing your wood down should be used as a last resort for aquarium owners. This method may make it more difficult to clean your tank in the future.
You should use non-toxic super glue for this purpose. Many pet stores sell aquarium safe glues such as silicon sealant for this purpose. These glues create a permanent watertight seal that won’t crack or shrink over time.
You will need to remove your fish and drain all water from your tank before attempting to glue your driftwood down.
You can’t glue your driftwood to the aquarium soil substrate, so you will need to clear a small area so that the floor of your tank is exposed. Make sure this area is completely dry and free from dirt before applying a layer of glue to your tank.
Quickly place your driftwood onto the glued surface and try to get as much of the wood’s surface in contact with the tank floor as possible.
This sealant will skin within 10 minutes, and should fully cure within 24 hours. However, owners should wait at least 72 hours before adding water and fish back to their tank.
You will have only one chance to complete this, so it’s important to ensure your wood is positioned how you want it before the glue sets.
How to maintain aquarium wood?
Aquarium wood doesn’t require maintenance once it has been placed in your tank.
Algae should start growing on your wood over time and give it a more natural look in its new tank setting.
You may be able to curb excessive algae growth by adding a bottom-feeding fish such as a Bristlenose Catfish or Siamese Algae Eaters to your tank.
Driftwood is a great looking addition for any home aquarium. This driftwood may be buoyant when you first purchase it, so it will need to be secured in place in your tank.
You can do this by tying your wood to rocks and plants in your tank using a fishing line.
After two weeks your driftwood should be saturated with enough water to stay in place. If you’re having trouble securing your driftwood in place, you can glue it down instead.
Driftwood should be glued to the bottom of your tank using a non-toxic aquarium glue such as silicon. After 3 days you can add your water and fish back to your tank.
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