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How to Prepare Driftwood For Your Aquarium or Terrarium

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Written by mlynch43   

Anyone who has ever seen a really nice aquascaped aquarium knows what a piece driftwood adds to the seen. Finding that perfect piece of driftwood in the local shops can be  difficult if not impossible. If you happen to be lucky enough to find one you can expect to pay a high price for it. With a reasonable effort and a sense of adventure you can set out to collect your own driftwood and possibly make some extra cash selling your extra pieces to other aquarist. Below is a process for preparing the driftwood for placement in your aquarium or terrarium.

1)   The first step is to be familiar with whet types of wood are suitable for your aquarium. You can narrow your search down to hardwoods like oak, maple, ash, elm or hickory. Do not use pine or any other type of softwoods because they will quickly rot and the sap in them will foul your tank. If the wood is dry and your not shore what type it is you can press your finger nail into it. If you make a mark on the wood it’s a softwood.

2)    If possible start your search in a wooded area where there is a clean clear stream or other body of fresh water. Try to avoid ponds because the water is not refreshed often enough. If your lucky and find a submerged piece that you like, your half way there. Carefully retrieve the driftwood and place it a container of water. You do not want it to dry out since this will create a lot off additional work for you later if that happens.

3)     Once home scrub the driftwood with a brush to remove and dirt that may have settled on the wood. Next soak the piece in a solution of one cup bleach to five gallons of water for 3 or 4 days. After it is done soaking, empty and refill the bucket with fresh water for the rinse. Allow it to soak in the fresh water for 4 or 5 days preferably changing the water at least every other day. If you notice a light tea color to the water don’t be alarmed, this is normal. Its just the tannic acids leaching out from the wood. This can actually be beneficial if you keep south American species in your tanks because it mimics their normal water conditions.

4)     To get the driftwood to stay submerged you will have to either soak it till its water logged or attach a suitable weight to it. Soaking it could take several months depending on the size. This is why its important if the piece of wood was retrieved from a body of water, that you do not allow it to dry out. Secondly it may hasten the woods deterioration if dry out and then it is resubmerged. If its necessary to attached a weight, use a piece of slate and silicone the driftwood to it. Use either an aquarium safe or food grade silicone for this. If the piece is very large you may need to attach it with lag bolts. If so use only stainless steel. Another option is to use a stronge monofilament fishing line.

5)    For added safety you may want to submerge the driftwood in a tank or container and filter for 24 hours with a high grade carbon or preferably “Chemi Pure” before placing it in your tank.

Tips: Never use regular silicone sealant in aquariums. Use aquarium or food service grade only.
Do not use any harsh soaps or chemicals for cleaning the driftwood. Bleach and a brush will suffice.
To sell your excess you can advertise on Craig list or the local newspapers. Many offer free classifieds for small items.

Avoid using pieces that come from stagnant ponds or areas where trash is dumped since these may contain harmful chemicals or parasites

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