How to prepare drift wood

Finding interesting pieces of driftwood can help create a stunning under water aqua scape. The first thing you will need to do is find some interesting wood.  Drift wood can be picked up from a local pet store or scavenged from local oceans or streams. If you are driftwood hunting in nature be sure your wood is a hardwood as softwoods such as pine will decompose far to quickly in the aquarium and create a hazardous environment for your fish.

Preparing the driftwood.
1. Using a pressure washer or a scrub brush remove all dirt and bark from your wood.
2. If possible boil your driftwood in a large pot, bathtub or bucket.  this will help release tannons and kill any potential hitchhiking creatures.
3. If your driftwood is floating, you may have to let it site for a few days up to a month until it finally decides to sink..  In my experience most peices have sunk within 3-4 days of soaking.


Large garbage or recycling cans make excellent soaking containers,  just be sure to give it a good rinse first!


I soaked my wood for about 5 days.  Each day I would dump out and fill the bin with fresh water to help release the tannins (tea color in the water).

The tannins will not hurt the fish (in fact it may even be beneficial to most fish)  Removing tannins is mainly an ascetic choice and is personal preference.  Tannins generally fully leach out after about 3 months.


Once your driftwood is fully water logged its time to place it in your tank and decide on a lay out!
Be sure to rotate it and try every possible angle until you get it just right.  You can also stack multiple possible small pieces togeaterh to create interesting larger pieces.



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  • I have a small 10 gal tank in my office for fun, I LOVE the idea of drift wood. Bought one at the store, cleaned it and placed it in the tank. the water kept turning red. I took it out and scrubbed it again and tried to let it soak for almost a month. The water was so bad I almost had to take the tank home because of complaints. I have replaced the wood with more rocks… but I noticed my fish really liked the log and hiding spaces.
    The log is almost half the length of the tank (10gal), should I try the soak option? Or is this just too large of a log for such a small tank?

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