Real Vs. Artificial Driftwood (or Just Rocks)

AleNanoTank

I am just starting with my Fluval Edge 6, and have some plants in there already (with probably one to be added). Do folks have any opinions on... giving up on the driftwood, and go for something artificial? I am after a natural look. I am just wondering whether the natural driftwood in any way helps (some of) the plants. Right now, I have a piece of natural driftwood, to which I have attached my Anubias Nana. I took from nature (I know you're not supposed to do that, and maybe now I am paying the price for that); I boiled it some zillion times. It released some tannins in the water the first time I placed in the tank, something I noticed during a water change (the water was a bit yellow). At subsequent water changes, the water was clear. I just did a major water change, and got some yellow water again. Indeed, clearly, the tank is clearer, less yellowish now that it has new water in it. I guess I have three options:

A) Leave this piece of driftwood in there, in hopes that the tannins release will stop at some point. After all, I do have time, as I am still cycling the tank (fishlessly).

B) Buy a professionally treated piece of driftwood, from the LFS or on line. Yet, I've heard that those, too, may release tannins in the water.

C) Give up on driftwood, and go for some other natural decor, e.g., another rock. I do want to build hiding places for the fish. I was also hoping the space under the driftwood (it forms a small arch) could be enjoyed by the shrimp I'm planning to add. Yet, the driftwood might just come with additional complication - the tannins - which I really don't need right now.

I am attaching a picture, just taken (hence, the water is NOT yellow, though it might be a bit cloudy because of the water change and all the commotion that came with )
20171013_134055_resized_1.jpg
Any thoughts anyone?

Thanks!
 

Fashooga

I have driftwood in my tank and it releases a little of the tannins. I don't mind it as it's not super yellow or orange like other tanks. Have you treated the wood and boiled it to get all the tannins out? If you don't like the tannins take the wood out and put a fake one in there or nothing at all. The fish won't care, it's all for your visual appeal.
 

IndigoTJo

I boiled mine and then soaked it for a month changing the water every 4 or 5 days. I honestly believe the more natural, the better. There are some fw fish and inverts that need the driftwood in their diet. Plecos need it for sure. There are some small 3 to 4 inch species that would do well in your tank.
 

AleNanoTank

Fashooga, IndigoTJo:

Thanks for your input!

Fashooga, currently, as fish/animal stock, I'm thinking of the following:

- 6 male Endlers
- a bit later, 3-4 Red Cherry Shrimp
- at a later time, when the tank is well established, two Otocinclus Catfish.

Aren't the Oto's smaller than any Pleco's? Or is it simply that the small Pleco's are difficult to find? I know I can find the Oto's locally.

Incidentally, though I like the Oto's a lot, I wish I could put just one (but I know they like company) as I had dreamed of adding one or two small community fish, or perhaps a second small school of very small fish. Yet, the danger of being overstocked with a six-gallon tank is just too high. So, for now at least, I have the above list in mind.

(I was fortunate enough to find the endlers locally, from another hobbyist, who is just waiting for my tank to be ready )

Fashooga, sorry, to your question: yes, I have boiled the driftwood many times. I did not, however, leave it in water for weeks as you did.

Is the aquarium-grade driftwood, the one that can be purchased at store, also at risk of releasing tannins, you think? It sounds like you, too, took a piece of driftwood you had found, right?
 

Natalya

I boiled mine and then soaked it for a month changing the water every 4 or 5 days. I honestly believe the more natural, the better. There are some fw fish and inverts that need the driftwood in their diet. Plecos need it for sure. There are some small 3 to 4 inch species that would do well in your tank.
I wonder though do plecos really eat the wood or just graze on the biofilm? Do you know?
 

Aureus

I definitely would not recommend getting a pleco for such a small tank. Most species of plecos get 4+ inches and they all have large bioloads.
 

Galathiel

I had a piece of driftwood that I boiled and soaked .. and used in a tank for a few years. It always released quite a lot of tannins even then. I've decided to use something artificial next time, even though I plan to have some live plants. Since I'm definitely low tech, I'll probably add some silk/artificial plants to achieve the look I'm going for ... erm .. as soon as I figure that out.
 

Fashooga

Fashooga, sorry, to your question: yes, I have boiled the driftwood many times. I did not, however, leave it in water for weeks as you did.

Is the aquarium-grade driftwood, the one that can be purchased at store, also at risk of releasing tannins, you think? It sounds like you, too, took a piece of driftwood you had found, right?

I bought my driftwood from a LFS, 9.2 lbs of wood...I boiled mine in a large pot for a few hours, don't tell the wife, and I also let it soak for a few weeks as well. As I indicated I do get a small amount of tint but it's really not noticeable.

I would give it a few weeks and see how it looks. You might end up enjoying it. And with water changes the tannisn will eventually reduce.
 

AleNanoTank

HA! I haven't shared specifics with my wife either! LOL
 

Demeter

Driftwood will always release some tannin even if you boil/soak it. IMO the tannin is quite beneficial as it can slightly lower pH and it has healing properties. Bettas, corydoras, shrimp and other "black water" loving fish adore natural driftwood. It is very useful for critters like plecos, snails, shrimp and I suspect otos as they will eat some of the wood and it helps their digestion (mmm fiber).

The only down side to real DW is it will very slowly decay and little bits of material will sit on the substrate from the DW. In all honestly, it makes the tank look that much more natural.

Now the thing I'm concerned about is what type of wood you picked up. The DW at pet stores is usually quite dense and heavy and will usually sink right away (mopani, Malaysian etc) . This wood decays at a slower rate than the lighter types that often float for a few days before sinking.
 

AleNanoTank

Demeter, Good question. Unfortunately, I have no idea which wood I picked up. It's relatively dense; yet, certainly, it had a tendency to float, while I boiled it and, indeed, for some time after. Now, it does not float; yet, it's still quite unstable (probably because of its shape, and the plant, and-- wonder--because its being not super-dense, though it is somewhat dense). Certainly, it will rot overtime, though to an extent, I kind of like its being so natural.

I definitely would not recommend getting a pleco for such a small tank. Most species of plecos get 4+ inches and they all have large bioloads.
If there are any truly small species of Pleco, I suspect they will be hard to find locally. Hence, perhaps my choice of adding two Oto's is not bad after all?
 

Aureus

If there are any truly small species of Pleco, I suspect they will be hard to find locally. Hence, perhaps my choice of adding two Oto's is not bad after all?
I don't know anything about otos, so I really don't know if is a good or bad idea.
 

PastaAlGul

If there are any truly small species of Pleco, I suspect they will be hard to find locally. Hence, perhaps my choice of adding two Oto's is not bad after all?
I don't know of any pleco species that would work in a nano tank like yours. I would also recommend against keeping only two Otos, since they like company. You could try a pair of Hara JerdonI (Asian Stone Catfish), since they're very small and don't necessarily need to be kept in groups.
 

OnTheFly

I wonder though do plecos really eat the wood or just graze on the biofilm? Do you know?
My Clown Pleco eats ridiculous amounts of driftwood. I've never seen him eat anything else. It completely depends on the species of Pleco.
 

AleNanoTank

I don't know of any pleco species that would work in a nano tank like yours. I would also recommend against keeping only two Otos, since they like company. You could try a pair of Hara JerdonI (Asian Stone Catfish), since they're very small and don't necessarily need to be kept in groups.
PastaAlGul, I would be happy to switch to the Asian Stone Catfish (I never heard of them before, but they seem great). However, from a quick check on-line, they seem to prefer a pretty low temperature range. I do have a heater, and I was thinking of having a small school of male endlers and a few red chilly shrimp. Would it work if I were to keep the temperature down so as to accommodate the ASC?
 

tokiodreamy

I have Malaysian drift wood in two of my tanks. I like the look 10x better than the artificial wood I have in 1 of my other tanks.

I boiled my wood for forever and it still releases tannins. That's what they do. It's more natural and can be extremely beneficial for the fish.

If you don't like the color, You can easily solve this by adding fresh carbon to your tank's filter every 4 weeks. This will help absorb the color.
 

Racing1113

I wouldn't do the Asian stone catfish. Their max temp is the endlers minimum temp of 75. One would be too hot, the other too cold. I also wouldn't do oto's either though. They really do like groups, and also like more room than a 6 gallon. Plus it seems like it would be hard to keep enough algae for them in that small of a tank.
 

AleNanoTank

Racing1113, My other fish in the tank are going to be six male Endlers. Bioload-wise, it seems I might go up to four Oto's. Would a group of four be a large enough community? And, if so, would supplementing with vegetables enough, given the lack of algae?

By the way, what happens to Oto's that are, say, just part of a pair? Do they stress and, then, are prone to sickness?

This article on Oto's is pretty interesting (and depressing):



I guess I won't add Oto's
 

Racing1113

The problem with having oto's in a small tank is that when having the numbers large enough, that makes it even harder to have enough algae in the tank, when there's already minimal space to grow algae. I know of a few people who can get their oto's to eat algae wafers and/or veggies - I know of at least 10x that many who cannot. Personally, I've had mine for 10 months. I have had algae wafers and veggies in my tank at least 90% of that time. Once, they've eaten a slice of zucchini, and it's because they were starving. They're wild caught so it's hard for them to realize that commercialized food is food, and hard for them to like it. I had to resort to wrapping a grow light around my tank. And this is with just a few in a 29 gallon. It was stressful for about a month when I didn't know if they would make it, and I had to take my snails out of the tank so the snails wouldn't eat the algae. I just can't recommend keeping oto's in small tanks.
 

AleNanoTank

I totally hear you, Racing 113. It will NOT be Oto's. I will start with the Endlers, then the Red Cherry Shrimp. If algae becomes a problem, maybe I will add a Nerite Snail, though I am not crazy about them.

Too bad for the Oto's - they really are very interesting fish!
 

BluMan1914

Looking at your driftwood, I'm curious to know if the very dark areas is bark, or just the color of the driftwood. If it's bark, I wouldn't suggest that you use it.
 

DuaneV

Personally, I hate fake stuff in my tanks so I don't use artificial anything. On top of that, I LOVE the dark color the tannins add to the tank. I think it looks far more natural and better looking than crystal clear water.

As far as a pleco actually eating driftwood. MOST DEFINITELY! For some plecos, like our Clown, driftwood is THE staple of their diet. Mine eat MopanI like its going out of style.
 

Racing1113

I totally hear you, Racing 113. It will NOT be Oto's. I will start with the Endlers, then the Red Cherry Shrimp. If algae becomes a problem, maybe I will add a Nerite Snail, though I am not crazy about them.

Too bad for the Oto's - they really are very interesting fish!

The good news is that cherry shrimp also love algae lol so you shouldn't have any problems with it being a problem! How many are you planning on getting?
 

AleNanoTank

I have Malaysian drift wood in two of my tanks. I like the look 10x better than the artificial wood I have in 1 of my other tanks.

I boiled my wood for forever and it still releases tannins. That's what they do. It's more natural and can be extremely beneficial for the fish.

If you don't like the color, You can easily solve this by adding fresh carbon to your tank's filter every 4 weeks. This will help absorb the color.
Excellent point on the carbon filter! I currently have one, but I could replace it with a new one.

The good news is that cherry shrimp also love algae lol so you shouldn't have any problems with it being a problem! How many are you planning on getting?
On the Red Cherry Shrimp, I had not quite decided on the number: maybe four? That would leave some room for them to breed perhaps? What would you do, considering that there will be the six endlers and possibly a snail? (By the way, I want to be conservative with the endlers; otherwise, it turns out, I could get more - 7 or 8 for example - as I found a local hobbyist who will sell them to me at $1/each.)

Looking at your driftwood, I'm curious to know if the very dark areas is bark, or just the color of the driftwood. If it's bark, I wouldn't suggest that you use it.
HI BluMan Actually, the dark areas are NOT bark. However, it turns out, if I were to try to brush them those areas, they will go away. Truth be told, with some aggressive work I could get out whichever part of that piece of driftwood, which might prove it is NOT that dense after all
 

Racing1113

On the Red Cherry Shrimp, I had not quite decided on the number: maybe four? That would leave some room for them to breed perhaps? What would you do, considering that there will be the six endlers and possibly a snail? (By the way, I want to be conservative with the endlers; otherwise, it turns out, I could get more - 7 or 8 for example - as I found a local hobbyist who will sell them to me at $1/each.)

I would lean more towards 8-10. It's pretty common to lose a few when you add them to the tank, and it will give you a better chance of getting a good ratio of males to females. They'll still have plenty of room to breed, if that's what you're wanting. That's a great price on the endlers!
 

AleNanoTank

I would lean more towards 8-10. It's pretty common to lose a few when you add them to the tank, and it will give you a better chance of getting a good ratio of males to females. They'll still have plenty of room to breed, if that's what you're wanting. That's a great price on the endlers!
I was thinking of first adding the endlers, and then, after some time, the shrimp. Is that the right thing to do, you think?
 

Racing1113

I was thinking of first adding the endlers, and then, after some time, the shrimp. Is that the right thing to do, you think?
Yep that would be perfect. Shrimp do best in an established tank anyway since they like biofilm and algae, although with your plants and driftwood they'd be fine either way.
 

AleNanoTank

Yep that would be perfect. Shrimp do best in an established tank anyway since they like biofilm and algae, although with your plants and driftwood they'd be fine either way.
My local PETCO carries the Red Cherry Shrimp (I can't remember the price). Would you do for those, or buy them on-line or from hobbyists?
 

Racing1113

My local PETCO carries the Red Cherry Shrimp (I can't remember the price). Would you do for those, or buy them on-line or from hobbyists?

If you can find them from a local hobbyist, I would do that. The ones I have now are from someone local, got them for $1.50 each and I haven't had a single death. I did try to get some from Petco (I think they were $3.99-4.99) a few months ago and they all died - most of them died in the bag on the way home. They all looked super healthy in the tank, but I suppose it could have just been bad luck. Once you hit 50 posts, you can post in the buy, sell, trade, free section under misc. topics and there's at least two members there currently selling shrimp, and they also sell for cheaper than buying online.
 

tokiodreamy

The good news is that cherry shrimp also love algae lol so you shouldn't have any problems with it being a problem! How many are you planning on getting?
Just remember they do not eat most kinds of algae. I actually have an algae problem in my RCS tank. I also supplement their diet with shrimp pellets with a protein in them and use BacterAE to help grow biofilm for the shrimplets.

I bought mine from aquaticarts. They didn't die after being added to the tank. Any DOAs they shipped more free of charge.
 

goldface

Stop supplementing their feeding and even cherry shrimp will eat hair algae.
 

tokiodreamy

Stop supplementing their feeding and even cherry shrimp will eat hair algae.
The algae is pretty caked on. Takes a lot of elbow grease to scrub it off. Once I scrub off the top layer the shrimp will eat it.
 

Racing1113

Just remember they do not eat most kinds of algae. I actually have an algae problem in my RCS tank. I also supplement their diet with shrimp pellets with a protein in them and use BacterAE to help grow biofilm for the shrimplets.

I bought mine from aquaticarts. They didn't die after being added to the tank. Any DOAs they shipped more free of charge.

I guess I got lucky, my tank was filled with algae before I added them and they had it clean in less than a week. Now I might see some algae every once in a while if I've been feeding them a lot but they keep it pretty spotless.
 

Eric14123456789

What are the pros and cons of real and fake driftwood for a 10 gallon planted tank?
 

nikm128

I'm pretty sure fake driftwood is just a decoration, while real driftwood is a functional decoration. Real driftwood lowers PH
 

Laxin10

Pros: appearance, food for plecos and other bottom feeders

Cons: price (depends on where you live), tannins released, you will have to replace it every couple of years
 

nikm128

Pros: appearance, food for plecos and other bottom feeders

Cons: price (depends on where you live), tannins released, you will have to replace it every couple of years
Just wanted to add that this quoted message is for real driftwood
 

Laxin10

Just wanted to add that this quoted message is for real driftwood
Yep, forgot to label it. Whoops
 

Annie59

Pros: appearance, food for plecos and other bottom feeders

Cons: price (depends on where you live), tannins released, you will have to replace it every couple of years
Why would you have to replace it? I don't. I have some that are very old. Unless you want the brownish water there is no need to replace.
 

DarkOne

Why would you have to replace it? I don't. I have some that are very old. Unless you want the brownish water there is no need to replace.
It depends on the type of driftwood. Softer driftwood like Malaysian will break down quicker but it still takes years. Harder wood like MopanI would take longer but not as good for plecos. The pH drop is negligible unless it's a HUGE piece of wood. Tannins can be minimized by boiling the wood or soaking it in really hot water for a few days but you'll still have some tannins for weeks to months, maybe even years.
 

Annie59

I agree .Even softer wood takes years. No need to replace it every year.
 

Drav

I use wood I found for driftwood, be sure what type of wood it is before you use it, some woods are a bad idea. In my opinion the pros for real wood is it looks better than fake wood, the tannins can tint the water, some people like it, some dont. Its also beneficial to some fish like plecos who eat small portions of the wood. It will change the ph as well. the cons of wood is it is expensive. If you find it on your own, it takes a lot of work to get it safe for an aquarium. Also you need to waterlog wood which takes a few weeks and possibly longer. Fake wood is cheaper and requires less work, but often doesn't look as good in my opinion and it doesn't have some of the benefits of wood like the tannins.
 

Jellibeen

I prefer real driftwood, but I had a piece of fake driftwood that my bamboo shrimp adored. A pro to it was the shape. It was like half cave, half root system. It would be hard to find a piece of real driftwood that had that such good hidey holes. I actually hated the way that fake driftwood looked. Hated it! I kept it in the tank until my bamboo shrimp passed, and then it was out of there.
 

nikm128

I agree .Even softer wood takes years. No need to replace it every year.
It should be replaced every few years depending on what you want though. I think that’s what Laxin10 was getting at
 

goldface

Real driftwood lowers PH
Not necessarily. I have very soft water with mopanI wood, but still the ph wasn't affected. When I first got back into the hobby I did a lot of experiments to see what's true and what's simply heresay. My methods and experiences are nonscientific and anecdotal, but I think it's best for every fishkeeper to test for themselves as every tank is different.
 

Eric14123456789

Is it obvious when the driftwood is fake?
 

Nikki2577

Some can look real but not many that I have seen for a 10g. Just my opinion
 

nikm128

90% of fake driftwood will be extremely obviously fake.
 

Eric14123456789

Some can look real but not many that I have seen for a 10g. Just my opinion
90% of fake driftwood will be extremely obviously fake.
will java ferns and other plants bind easily to fake wood?
 

nikm128

I don’t think plants really care what they bind to as long as they can bind well
 

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