View Full Version : How to prepare driftwood

10-05-2009, 02:55 PM
Preparing driftwood for your tank is a simple procedure!
The hardest part is finding the peices you want in your tank.These treasures are usually sitting in plain site on river banks and lake shores everywhere.There is no shortage in Northern Ontario!:19:
I found some real nice peices near my favorite fishing hole over the summer,to prepare them for my tanks I did this.
First I walked the shore and found several dry,sunbleached and weathered peices of dead driftwood.Try to avoid anything that is soft or spongy,that is usually a sign of rotton soft wood like cedar or pine.What you are after is hardwood.Something that is rigid and not flaking apart as you handle it.
After selecting the right peice and getting it home the clean up begins.
I like to ust a steel brush and wood chisel to get the rough stuff the outside.there is always a layer of rotting wood on the surface.
I then use a 50grit sandpaper to finish getting through the top layer of dead wood.You will know when are getting to the good part when you see the lighter wood colors and the grain starts to appear.Thats when I switch to a finer sandpaper,usually about 120grit.When using the finer paper you will bring out the wood grain which will really pop once it gets wet.
When you are satisfied with your peice and you feel that everything you didn't want to look at has been removed give it a wash.
I place all my wood in a large plastic tub and turn on the hose.If you have the option of leaving it soak for a month or two you may get it water logged enough to stay down on its own.Some wood will be ready in weeks and some will take months and even years before it soaks in enough water to stay down on its own.Rocks work well too as ballast to hold it down on the bottom.
Here are some pics of the peices I found and what some looked like before I started to where they ended up in my tanks.

10-05-2009, 02:57 PM
Here is more!

10-05-2009, 02:59 PM
A few more! lol
Tank shots to follow.

10-05-2009, 03:06 PM
Here is a few tank shots!:22:

I didn't mention boiling or baking because I trust the water supply that this wood comes out of.
If you have any concerns about your water source than I do suggest finding a way to try and sterilize it.

10-05-2009, 03:10 PM
This is a nice article ! I'll take note of it just in case I find something in the nearby woods over here. thank you thumbs2:

10-05-2009, 03:12 PM
Looks great. Nice write up on the process.

10-05-2009, 03:24 PM
Great write up! Some excellent pieces of driftwood there! They look fantastic in your tanks and you fish look superb too! Jealous!!:hmm3grin2orange:

10-05-2009, 03:31 PM
Wish I could find nice wood like those!! They look awesome, as do your tanks! :18:

10-05-2009, 04:59 PM
hmmm i love how some of that looks..I think I need some drift wood in my tank lol. Maybe make a trip to Lake Mead out here and look for some of that dead stuff :)

10-05-2009, 07:13 PM
Thanks! I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out!
I'll post pics of a few other tanks once I get them set up a little different!.
I didn't mention tannins because the amount of tannis I get from this wood is hardly noticeable.Thats more the african woods.

10-05-2009, 07:15 PM
Nice writeup NG! thumbs2:

10-05-2009, 07:27 PM
first set of pics #3 and 4 should be immediatly boxed up and sent to me

10-05-2009, 10:59 PM
yah i love the one that is part of a root of a tree. favorite by far. If I can find one of those, I would definitely use it.

10-06-2009, 12:58 AM
first set of pics #3 and 4 should be immediatly boxed up and sent to me
Maybe after my plecos are done with it! lol
I like that one!lol Its almost 4ft long! :19:

10-06-2009, 01:18 AM
Maybe after my plecos are done with it! lol
I like that one!lol Its almost 4ft long! :19:

perfect fit for my 5' 100 gallon :hmm3grin2orange

10-06-2009, 01:42 AM
I had to lay it down in the tank.I really wanted to stand it up a bit more to get deer head effect from it.Thats why spent so much time on it! lol
The swirled grain pattern on it is wicked.:hmm3grin2orange:

10-06-2009, 01:59 AM
Great write up and VERY nice driftwood!

The pieces I just added soaked for right at 3 weeks before they finally sank. Still leeching a little, but man do they make a tank! thumbs2:

10-06-2009, 04:49 AM
Thanks Cristoff!:22:

3 weeks isn't long at all! You got lucky there.thumbs2:

10-06-2009, 05:18 AM
takes me 20 min to sink driftwood .... but then i screw it down on a piece of slate and bury it under the sand

10-06-2009, 01:46 PM
Thats easy to do with the smaller peices.The peice you like has a cavity inside the back of it.I have a decent sized rock jammed into it as ballast but it still needed some more weight on it to keep it in place.lol

Where I camp there is a large tree submerged in the water near the boat launch.I am tempted to wrap a chain around it and drag it out to cut into sections.I don't know if the root system is still there.I like finding peices that are already water logged!Its a lot of work just cut the bottom off!
I guess I'll just keep thinking about it.

10-07-2009, 04:31 AM
4x4's are our friends drag that puppy on shore and fire up the chain saw bud

10-07-2009, 05:07 AM
lol I have to check with the authorities first! I know if I just hook up,drag it out,and cut it up, a Conservation Officer will pull up behind me while I have a chainsaw ripping through it.Thats when i will discover that its illegal to cut up a dead tree. lol Illegal is more than just a sick bird up here!:hmm3grin2orange:

Wild Turkey
10-13-2009, 05:45 PM
Great writeup NGthumbs2: , I had someone ask me how to prepare wood for the tank yesterday, if i had seen this i would have just linked them :hmm3grin2orange: Bookmarked now though

10-13-2009, 05:46 PM
Thanks Turk!
Glad you find it useful!thumbs2:

10-13-2009, 07:07 PM
Wow that looks fantastic! Makes me think about talking the dog for a few hikes along the creeks in town. Is there any concern about pollution in the streams or are you OK if you remove the outer portion and get down to solid wood? The local creeks are stocked with trout and there are tons of crayfish and other wildlife so I don't think they are bad. But there are a lot of roads that criss cross them and run off is inevitable. I also noticed the mention of baking the wood, what about using some aquarium meds as a precaution?

10-14-2009, 02:57 AM
If the fish are still safe to consume the wood should be safe.
Baking the wood is a good idea and will kill everything in the wood.It will also take forever to get it waterlogged.
If you find a peice on shore then sanding it the way I did is easy.
If its wet and you do not want to dry it use a steel brush and a wood chisel to clean it up.A power washer will do a great job on it too!
Aquarium meds will not do anything for the wood but be difficult to wash out.

10-26-2009, 11:47 AM

In my place they sell the drift wood on the racks but I am concern that they never clean it and cause the water to become brown.

What should I do?


10-26-2009, 02:04 PM
The brown water is only tannins leaching from the wood.It is harmless to fish,but most of us do not appreciate it!lol
Water changes and adding carbon to your filter will help keep it clear.
Some woods leach out more than others.They do stop eventually.
You can soak it in a large plastic tub,change the water daily until it stays clear.
You can also boil it if it fits into a pot.Just change the water every time it gets dark.It will eventually stay clear and will not turn your tank water brown.

10-26-2009, 04:32 PM
I got all of my wood from up in the colorado mountains. Surprisingly dry/sunbleached aspen wood works great. soaked it for a few days to loosen up the softer parts, hit it with a wire brush, then used a peice of nylon "steel wool" to polish it up, then just siliconed it to some rocks. The tannins are still leaching a little, but not too bad.

Carbon works great for that.

10-26-2009, 07:47 PM
I got all of my wood from up in the colorado mountains. Surprisingly dry/sunbleached aspen wood works great. soaked it for a few days to loosen up the softer parts, hit it with a wire brush, then used a peice of nylon "steel wool" to polish it up, then just siliconed it to some rocks. The tannins are still leaching a little, but not too bad.

Carbon works great for that.
Pics would be nice!lolthumbs2:

10-26-2009, 08:17 PM
will post em when I get home tonight..photobucket is blocked at work so...

10-26-2009, 09:21 PM
That'll be good!
Looking forward to them!thumbs2:

10-26-2009, 10:21 PM
Thanks ng for that article, i have been wondering about everything you just talked about. My only concern is all the rivers and lakes around here are so dirty i would hate to put something hazerdous in my tank:22:

10-26-2009, 10:36 PM
If there are fish living in that water than it should be reasonably safe for use.
Just make sure you clean it up well first.
Who knows what kind of water all that store bought wood is coming from.

10-26-2009, 10:42 PM
That is one thing you REALLY have to be wary of, is polluted waters.

You could always check the fish consumption advisory for your area, while it wont cover everything it is probably a good start. If you can't eat the fish from the water, I wouldn't put anything from the water into my tank.

the more isolated it is, the lower the chances someone poured their motor oil out on it, or sprayed some insecticide.

Also if the body of water has ever caught on fire...stay away.

Been needing to get some pics up, hope I get to it tonight, picking up some free guppies after work, then will be heading home.

10-27-2009, 04:43 AM
Ok here is the pics from when it was being prepped, the silicon has since been trimmed back so you can only see it if you stoop down even with the bottom of the wood. Will try and get some pics tomorrow of how it looks in the water, but for now I am beat so this will have to do...





I did have an awesome 4' long Y shaped piece..but the dog got a hold of it and made it into 3 smaller peices...might get around to patching it together one of these days.

also I would have killed for a pressure washer for that last piece...thing took ages to scrub all the black goopy wood out of those holes.

10-27-2009, 01:28 PM
A dremel tool or a belt sander are two tools I would never do without!lol
Those are some great peices.
They will look awesome in a tank.

10-27-2009, 05:18 PM
Instead of starting a new thread I figured I'd post here.

I was curious how driftwood from the ocean would affect a freshwater tank? I don't have any rivers or lakes nearby (at least not nearby enough for me to access) but I do have the ocean a short walk away and if that wouldn't contaminate my tank I'd love to get some wood off it. It's just a 3g with a betta, if that helps any.

10-27-2009, 06:19 PM
It will raise the ph quite a bit.
You can try soaking it for a while in FW.Test it first and test it again after a few days.Also remember to test it beforeadding the wood.That will give you an estimate as to how much it will raise the tank ph.
The longer you soak it the better it will be.
A test will have to be done to be sure what will happen.

10-27-2009, 07:30 PM
Hot water would help speed up the process a bit as well. Boiling would be ideal IMO. Also make sure you take the same precautions as you would with freshwater drift wood.

11-01-2009, 09:43 AM

I have put into the water for about 1 week so should able to use right?


11-01-2009, 01:38 PM
If you cleaned all the loose debris off of it like bark or rot then it should be fine!
I hope you post a pic or two here when its in the tank! thumbs2:

11-01-2009, 02:21 PM
great post northerguy! im building an 80 gallon cube for my pleco and orangespotted sunfish. some of this driftwood would be great in this tank! glad you showed everyone how to do this

11-02-2009, 03:25 AM
What does tannins do to the water/tank/fish

11-02-2009, 03:28 AM
They will lower the PH of the water a bit, how much depends on the amount of buffer in the water. The tannins are actually tannic acid. Fish do not mind it at all. Many fish from South America come fromwater which is loaded with it. It will make the water a brownish color.

11-02-2009, 04:57 AM
:goodpost: :22:

11-02-2009, 05:54 AM

The colour of the water will always be brownish.

I heard that this is ok

Any comments?

11-02-2009, 01:17 PM
tannins are fine for your fish. especially SA fish.

Great pieces and writeup NG! thumbs2:

11-02-2009, 02:10 PM
Thanks Crispy!:22:

I agree that most fish love tannins.Its us people that don't usually appreciate it!lol
They do go away in time!thumbs2:

01-06-2011, 08:40 PM
I went out today and got some from the Niagara river and cleaned it up how long should I boil it for . And sorry for bringing up and old topic.:22: