Adding real wood to a tank

Discussion in 'Driftwood' started by Jayha68, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Jayha68

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Hi all,

    My tank has finally stabilized to be safe to add a fish, so I have! I updated my tank info and added a Golden nugget Pleco, very pretty fish that from reading is slow to mature/grow and max will typically reach is about 6-8 inches. Onto my dilemma, everything I've read on them states that they like real wood in the tank, I purchased a piece of Australian hardwood from my LFS. I have immersed it in my tanks water (did a 25% WC today) so my questions are:

    1. How long should I keep it immersed for, 12 hours enough or wait 24?
    2. How much of a ph drop should I expect from adding it to my tank, it's small-ish and from reading expecting a drop of .1-.3 from what I've read, does this sound right?
  2. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    I love Golden Nugget plecos! I'd love to have one myself.

    I actually just cured a piece of driftwood myself, so I can offer some advice. I'm not familiar with Australian hardwood, but Mopani and Malaysian driftwoods both have high levels of tannins (which is the same substance that makes red wine red). Just like wine, it tints the wood, and if you just put it in your tank, it will turn your tank water brown. Some people like this look, and I've heard many people say their fish love it, as well. If you do not want brown water, then you'll need to soak it for a good long while.

    Even if you do want brown water (it has a proper name, which I'm blanking on at the moment) curing it is still a good idea, in case there are any critters (microbes; since you bought it I highly doubt there are any sizeable creatures hiding in it) lurking in the crevices. Depending on the size, there are a couple ways you can do this. Firstly you should give it a good scrub to get any dirt or loose bark off. Mine was small enough that I put it in a pot and boiled it for a few hours, changing the water every hour because it turned quite brown. I also soaked it overnight and boiled it again in the morning. If it's too big to boil, you can put it in a bathtub (thoroughly cleaned first of course, you don't want to transfer any soap to your aquarium) and repeatedly pour boiling water over it. If this sounds like a pain, you can put it in the oven at 150F for an hour or two (if it's too hot, there's the danger of it catching fire, so don't crank the heat up to 500F or anything). You can also just soak it (changing the water when it gets brown) if you don't want to or can't boil it, but it takes a lot longer (I've read that people have soaked theirs for weeks and still had tannins leached into their tanks.)

    Besides boiling to remove any possible critters, the purpose of soaking the wood is to remove tannins and make the wood waterlogged so it sinks. If your wood is already dense enough that it sinks, and you do not mind the brown water, then you can go ahead and put it in your tank.

    I put mine in last Saturday after a water change, and as of now (with boiling and soaking overnight) my water is not noticeably any browner. The pH used to be 8.2 and is now 8.0; the tannins are acidic so the pH will decrease, but not too fast to stress your fish. (My pH is pretty high anyway, so this is a plus for me.) It will also depend on the size of your tank relative to the size of the wood; my tank is 55 gallons and the wood is smaller than a football, so any changes will be small and gradual.

    Hope this helps! :)
  3. angelfish220

    angelfish220Well Known MemberMember

    Everything kinezumi89 said!

    I recently cured a piece to large to boil on the stove top that I put in a roaster full of water and put it in my oven. I like this method better than baking because 1 not catching on fire cause its submerged and 2 because baking it 'dry' will (obviously) dry it out and it will be much harder to anchor in your tank and take much longer to become waterlogged...

  4. JessiNoel21Well Known MemberMember

    I cured mine by pouring boiled water over it and letting it sit for 24 hours then baked it for 3 hours on lower than put it in my tank and it was fine :)
  5. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    :animal0068:I have moved your thread from Freshwater Beginners to Driftwood section of the forum.


  6. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Sorry for posting it in the wrong section!!

    Thanks for all the great advice, I did some reading before soaking it and didn't realize about the boiling but will do that when I get home. I've had it soaking in
    water from the tank in a 5gal bucket from a water change. The wood sinks naturally (very dense it seems) and it's not discoloring the water at all (it came shrink wrapped in plastic so maybe it was cleaned from the pet store!). I will boil it tonight before I do the water change and let it cool down during the water change, so excited!
  7. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    The woods in and looks amazing! Now with any luck my Pleco will come out of hiding for a nibble or two! Thanks all for the advice on boiling, never would have occurred to me.
  8. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    It took my pleco a few days. She's very active, so she wasn't hiding, but she didn't seem to realize she could eat the wood. I'm not sure if it softened up after soaking for awhile, or it's an acquired taste, but don't be surprised if she doesn't seem too interested right away. :)
  9. OP

    Jayha68Valued MemberMember

    Mine (he or she not sure!) went into hiding as soon as he hit the tank and have caught glimpses of him only. Going to try some blanched zucchini if I don't see him today when I get home from work. Jut blanch, let sit overnight and remove or leave it for a few days?
  10. kinezumi89

    kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Oops! Sorry I missed this. In case you haven't done it yet, I boiled mine until it sank (scoop it out and put it in roughly tank-temperature water, as it may float or sink differently depending on the temperature). I probably boil mine too much, in the end. I toss in a section each of zucchini and cucumber (my pleco loves both), and usually by morning they're about half gone, and gone by the end of the day or the next morning. I usually don't leave them in too long as they can turn kinda gross.
  11. Butterfly

    ButterflyModeratorModerator Member

    The tannins that leech from wood is what lowers your pH. If you are doing weekly partial water changes I have found it really doesn't lower it much at all. I have wood in all of my tanks and all of my fish love it.

    You know we need pictures now that you have it in the tank :)
  12. pirahnah3

    pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    I'm just starting to get the collection I have dispersed into the tanks and love the way it looks in there, really gives it a much more natural feel.

    Don't feel bad if the pleco doesn't jump on it right away, I'm on about day 4 with my BN with the wood in the tank and he still hasn't shown much interest in it yet. I do agree thou that it may be too hard for a while for them.

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