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Adding Driftwood to Your Aquarium

Adding natural structures to your aquarium can greatly enhance the aesthetics of your aquarium and further replicate a naturally occurring environment.

Driftwood is a great addition in creating this effect. When planning an aquarium setup, adding to, or rearranging your existing layout, you should plan carefully. If objects are thrown in haphazardly, the new surroundings may cause significant stress to the fish. Doing it right the first time will prevent potential problems and will result in a perfect aquascape with minimal effort and disturbance.

Planning is essential, so before placing the driftwood in your aquarium, draw a rough sketch of your aquarium and designate locations for your newly acquired accessories. Be creative. For instance, consider how your aquarium will look with the driftwood positioned vertically as opposed to the conventional horizontal position. Explore different designs on paper to create a unique aquatic landscape. Research will help greatly; design your layout based on pictures of actual natural environments. Drawing a rough sketch allows you to experiment and visualize your aquascape without disturbing your aquarium inhabitants in the process.

After you determine where you want to place the driftwood, it needs to be properly cleaned before placement. This process is very simple. Use a clean brush to scrub the driftwood thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Do NOT use soap or any chemical cleansers; any residue will poison your aquarium. The cleaned driftwood will then need to be soaked.

Although most driftwood will remain completely submerged, some pieces will remain slightly buoyant until they are fully saturated. To avoid floaters, soak the driftwood in a large bucket as long as possible, making sure the entire piece is completely underwater. A minimum period of 1 to 2 weeks is recommended to allow total maturation.

Soaking also allows excess tannins, which can darken or discolor the water, to be removed. The discoloration caused by the tannins will not harm your aquarium inhabitants, but it will lower the pH slightly over time. It is important to monitor the soaking driftwood regularly to see if the water needs to be changed. If the water darkens, empty the bucket completely, rinse off the wood and replace the water; as this process is repeated the water will become less dark each time. When it appears that the discoloration has stopped completely, it is then safe to place the wood into aquarium.

Boiling driftwood also has several benefits. It serves the same process as the soaking/curing method, but is less time consuming. More importantly, boiling sterilizes the driftwood, killing algal or fungal spores that can take hold once introduced into the aquarium. Boiling the driftwood for 1 to 2 hours will effectively sterilize it. Once the driftwood is properly prepared, refer to the original sketches you made and place the pieces in their desired locations. The best time to add the new accessories to the aquarium would most likely be during a water change.

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