Aquarium Life: Adding Driftwood to the Aquarium

My powder blue gourami and a couple of mollies and guppies hanging out by the driftwood in my tank.

After adding a few plants to my aquarium in its early stages, I added one good-sized piece of natural driftwood, for several reasons.  One, I simply love the natural look of it.  Secondly, fish like to have items that they can swim around and hide in and behind, so I wanted to make the place interesting for them.  Also, driftwood naturally lowers the pH of water and it helps to reduce harmful ammonia in the aquarium.

Here are some steps to take before adding your driftwood to the aquarium:

Brush the Wood

When you find a piece of driftwood that you like, it is recommended that you clean it with water and a brush.  I like to use a small dish brush.  Don’t use soap or cleaners or anything that has soap residue on it, though.  Softly brush all of the areas of the wood so you don’t wind up with dirt and debris in your boiling pot or aquarium later on.

Soak the Wood

Sometimes driftwood is buoyant, and setting it in a bucket of water will let it soak up the water and allow any loose debris to wash off.  Depending on the type of wood you get, curing the driftwood could take anywhere from minutes to several weeks.  This also allows the wood to release any tannins that it may have otherwise released in the aquarium.

Keep in mind that some darker woods will release tannins for months and there’s just no getting around it. If you like the look of these darker woods, but still want your water to look crystal clear, then you can always add a purigen filter to your tank. Trust me, they work wonders!

Boil the Driftwood

After it has soaked for a while, boil the entire piece of wood for about an hour before adding it to your aquarium, especially if you have added fish to the tank.  This will sterilize the driftwood and ensure that any fungal spores or algae won’t be added to your aquarium with the driftwood.  Don’t try to sterilize or clean the driftwood with any soaps or other cleaning agents, because any residue of these will be harmful to the aquarium life.

After adding my plants, this was one of the first things I placed in my aquarium.  I think it’s a great natural addition for any aquarium, and now my fish love it!

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