DIY Driftwood


Okay, I've read a couple of threads concerning DIY driftwood and I just wanted to double check a few things;

Is there any species of tree that wouldn't be a good choice for DIY driftwood? I have a big dead tree in my front yard and, last week, two huge chunks of it snapped off in a wind storm. So I wanted to go out and break of some neat-looking branches and whatnot and use them for driftwood. The tree is either oak or maple, not sure, no leaves left on it to let me tell. Would this be okay?

What is the best way to clean it before putting it in the aquarium?

Do I have to be worried about any natural tannins or anything the wood might have?

Thanks for your answers!


Oak and maple are good choices. Stay away from soft woods. If you want to get the tannins out, just boil the piece of wood for an hour or so on the stove. That will also help it sink right away!

If the piece is too big to boil, bake it in the oven at 200*f for two hours. Either way make sure you get all the bark off. Good luck and have fun. I have made multiple pieces this way and even attached annubias to them.

If you have any other questions just fire away.

Here are a few pieces I've made from oak.


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Oak and maple are considered hard wood. They should be ok to use.
Avoid soft woods like pine.

Here's an old thread that might help:

Breaking off branches does not make drift wood.
That is just breaking off branches to put in your tank.
By definition drift wood is wood that has been or is floating in a body of water.

This link will help with your questions about getting it ready for the tank.

Personally, I wouldn't use any 'green' wood (branches that have been just cut off)
Find some older dead branches


+1 to Lucy. Of those pieces I made I found them in a stream near my house. One I had collected 10 years before I made it...


Well, the tree they came from looks like its been dead for a while, and it's a huge tree. I know it's not real driftwood, I have some nice pieces of the real deal, but I wanted more surfaces for moss and whatnot in my planted tank so I thought this was as good a method as any. And cheaper than going and buying driftwood, and with the flooding around here it ain't safe to go near any body of water. I dunno...when I go home for the weekend maybe I'll try to find a safe spot near the creek or something...


Missed the part where you said it was already off the tree.
If it's not green, it should be ok.


None of my wood is from anywhere near water. It is driftwood, as its going in my tank, which is a body of water *L* Considering that's how the wood you pull from bodies of water started out.

I have been known to break off branches that I like the look of, if the tree is dead, I make sure its debarked and pour boiling water over it then start soaking. If its green I store it in the garden and leave it be until it is fully dried, then treat it the same


None of my wood is from anywhere near water. It is driftwood, as its going in my tank, which is a body of water *L*



Haha. I found some real nice pieces that'll look awesome all covered in moss. The wind, rain, and hail have pounded off most of the bark for me to boot. ^^ Makes my job easy. Wash, scrub some mud off (the hunk of tree's been sitting in my road for the last week, through a ton of rain), and into the tank it goes.


I know there are a lot of threads about this, but I just wanted to make my own just for my own peace of mind. I live in central PA and we recently had a LOT of flooding so I plan to go out tomorrow and look for a couple small pieces of driftwood. I read of many people just washing it good with scrub brush, boiling it for a few hours, soaking it in declorinated water, and throwing it in the tank. Is it ok to do that? I really want to do it right, but as you can imagine, i'm quite eager to get it in the tank ;D


That's pretty much what I do.. just watch it, the driftwood will still need to cycle so beware of a mini-cycle.


It may be my paranoia but I'd be concerned about what was in the flood water.
Gas, sewage, pesticides ect.


that's what I was thinking too, Lucy. I am going to inspect it thoroughly before I do anything with it. I live out in the country so i'm not too worried about gas or sewage, and I don't think anyone around here uses pesticides. I also had another question, what kind of plants would I be able to attach to the driftwood, and how would I go about doing so?


Hey! You could attach some java moss. Actually, I have gotten a few pieces of driftwood there at the Susquehanna Dam crossing into Sunbury. I'm sure there are ALOT of pieces there becuse of the flooding.


Java fern, java moss, and anubias nana are the easiest plants to keep that you can attach to driftwood. You can use string, fishing line, rubber bands, or any number of things. I think there's a sticky for it in the plant section.


ok, thanks everyone. fbn, I think I might go down to the river next weekend when the water goes down a little and look for some. My yard is surrounded by a creek on three sides so my whole yard was solid water, so i'm pretty sure I will find a couple pieces there.


I bought a piece at my lfs about 2 weeks ago- I have no idea where they got it, so I treat it as though it has been contaminated.

I boiled it for 8 hours.

Might have been overkill, but I wanted it good and waterlogged, I wanted as many tannins as possible out and I wanted any possible pathogens or parasites good and dead.

So far, so good

I used fishing line on java fern and moss


If I don't boil it for that long, how bad will the tannins discolor my water? and how would I get rid of the brown water, just lots of water changes?


Well, after lots of searching and cleaning, this is what I came up with!


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Looks nice!!

If you do start to get tannins, activated carbon in your filter and water changes can get rid of it

Also, if you decide to attatch a plant to your driftwood, I find it easiest to tie the plant on the wood with brown or black sewing thread.

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