Wood for tanks?

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Wood for tanks?

Post by Sara1210 »

Hi everyone,

This has probably been asked loads before but can I use wood from the forest in my tank or is there a reason we buy it from the shops?
Obviously I'd soak it first but just wondering if its the same kind of wood or if it will just fall apart?
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by sidguppy »

the reason why we do not use forest wood is that bogwood has been 'preserved' by acids for millenia.

it''s fairly to say that true bogwood is wood on it's way to become a fossil.

as a result, it merely falls apart (or gets eaten by pleco's) but it doesn't pollute the tank

fresh wood however rots

and rotting fouls the water badly, making it unhealthy for fish

now some fresh woods rot very very slowly; these are the ones we call 'hard woods" for that reason.
they are also very hard and difficult to use, you'd need more muscle- or toolpower.
these are to a certain degree useable for tanks.
common and useful hardwoods include beech, oak and fruit trees (cherry, apple, pear).

a few other hardwoods are tropical; like mangrove (available in the shops) and mopani (a very hard wood)


apart from those, most 'fresh forest' woods are best avoided!
anything from the connifer family is unusable: pine, larks, sequoia, xmas tree etc. all these contain turpentine or similar chemicals, which are bad for fish.

walnut and trees from the almond family (including apricot and peach!) are quite toxic and a piece of wood from these will kill all the fish in a short time

soft woods like willow, birch and the like are harmless, but they rot fast and pollute the tank.

rotting process uses a LOT of oxygen (the bacteria needed for rotting gobble it up), it also creates a LOT of nutriets on which massive algae blooms can grow.
we don't want that in our tanks

that's why we go to the shop or to the nearest peat-bog to get our wood
;)
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by Jools »

Bogwood from fish stores is safe, a little expensive and some colour the water. However it has often never been anywhere near a bog, Mopani wood for example.

However, I use collected wood for most of my tanks. I avoid conifers as the wood is very hard to waterlog and apparently has nastier resins or something that I don't really have facts on but have just avoided. Best woods I find are beech, apple, hawthorn and privet hedge. I tend to use wood that I find in rivers, but I also have used wood freshly cut from the garden.

Fresh wood will tend to grow fungus and make the water smell bad (but not stagnant - it's a different, riper smell). This can cloud the water, however, water params remain OK and the fish love it, things like Crossocheilus, Panaque and many barbs, Garra, livebearers (Swordtails in my case) all pick away at the gunk from fresh wood. Eventually it sinks (usually I tie it down or wedge it in).

All unidentified collected wood is "tested" in an outside waterbutt that has a lot of insect life and my test pilot goldfish.

I will post below a picture of a tank will "all collected" wood.

Cheers,

Jools
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Wood for tanks?

Post by Jools »

Mystus tank.


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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by MatsP »

I've been using birch branches (twice, whilst walking to my house, I've found fairly large branches of birch laying on the roadside after it's been cut from a tree).

I also have apple, cherry, oak and willow in my tanks.

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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by Shane »

Tank below is all oak branches from my backyard. They were soaked in an empty tank for three months before I added them. There is a little chance of rot as the tank's population is mostly loricariids and they are eating the wood much faster than it could rot.
I do agree with Sid's advice to buy wood, however, if you are unfamiliar with telling apart trees.

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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
I'm happy to use any non-toxic wood, and bog-wood certainly rots least, but any wood, even green wood, is at least 90% dead and not very polluting, it can't be, it doesn't have enough of the sugars and proteins that feed rapid bacterial growth, or algal blooms.

It is only the cambial layer, the layer of cells between bark and wood, that is alive in a tree, all the other tissues are made of structural carbohydrates, lignins etc. and these are basically dead, inert and insoluble. In fact wood can only conduct water once it is lignified "The crosslinking of polysaccharides by lignin is an obstacle for water absorption to the cell wall. Thus, lignin makes it possible for the plant's vascular tissue to conduct water efficiently.".

A growing tree is like a "living sarcophagus", a thin green shroud of living, dividing cambium surrounded on out-side and in-side by dead bark and dead wood.

Some non-directly woody BOD bits
I use the reduction of BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) concept for tank water management, rather than saying something is "good" or "bad", you look at each item in terms of what nutrients it contains, how readily available they are, and how much effect it will have on BOD. A slice of sweet potato, or a prawn, will have much more potential to pollute than a much, much larger piece of wood, this is because they have readily available, soluble sugars and protein, that the wood doesn't, and therefore a higher BOD.

If you understand the processes that effect aeration and dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium, it allows you to make educated guesses about what is likely to cause problems and why.

Where woody debris (of any type) can be a problem is where it ends up in a canister filter, slows flow speed and reduces dissolved oxygen. "How to keep eaten wood from polluting your tank?" <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... hilit=+BOD> and "higher temps/oxygenation levels" <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... hilit=+BOD>

There are some more dissolved oxygen bits here "L200 Death, Any ideas to cause?": <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =5&t=33940>

cheers Darrel
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by Jools »

dw1305 wrote:Hi all,
I'm happy to use any non-toxic wood, and bog-wood certainly rots least, but any wood, even green wood, is at least 90% dead and not very polluting, it can't be, it doesn't have enough of the sugars and proteins that feed rapid bacterial growth, or algal blooms.

It is only the cambial layer, the layer of cells between bark and wood, that is alive in a tree, all the other tissues are made of structural carbohydrates, lignins etc. and these are basically dead, inert and insoluble. In fact wood can only conduct water once it is lignified "The crosslinking of polysaccharides by lignin is an obstacle for water absorption to the cell wall. Thus, lignin makes it possible for the plant's vascular tissue to conduct water efficiently.".

A growing tree is like a "living sarcophagus", a thin green shroud of living, dividing cambium surrounded on out-side and in-side by dead bark and dead wood.

Some non-directly woody BOD bits
I use the reduction of BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) concept for tank water management, rather than saying something is "good" or "bad", you look at each item in terms of what nutrients it contains, how readily available they are, and how much effect it will have on BOD. A slice of sweet potato, or a prawn, will have much more potential to pollute than a much, much larger piece of wood, this is because they have readily available, soluble sugars and protein, that the wood doesn't, and therefore a higher BOD.

If you understand the processes that effect aeration and dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium, it allows you to make educated guesses about what is likely to cause problems and why.

Where woody debris (of any type) can be a problem is where it ends up in a canister filter, slows flow speed and reduces dissolved oxygen. "How to keep eaten wood from polluting your tank?" <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... hilit=+BOD> and "higher temps/oxygenation levels" <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... hilit=+BOD>

There are some more dissolved oxygen bits here "L200 Death, Any ideas to cause?": <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =5&t=33940>

cheers Darrel
Post of the week. :-) It explains something I've been able to "gut explain" in terms of just knowing what I can put into a tank without disaster or otherwise. BOD is a new concept to me but I already understand it clearly from experience.

Jools
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
The only real problem with using BOD, is that we can't actually measure it outside of the lab., and even then people tend to use 5 day BOD (and a biotic index for streams etc), rather than the complete BOD measurement.

Oxidation-reduction Potential (ORP) or Reduction-Oxidation Potential (REDOX) <http://theaquariumwiki.com/Redox> was used a bit by the Reef keepers, and tries to quantify some of the same sort of reactions, but has fallen out of favour. Partially this was because there isn't a single value you want or can maintain, but rather a balance between the oxidation and reduction reactions. It is just too chemical and complicated, but if you use:
rather than saying something is "good" or "bad", you look at each item in terms of what nutrients it contains, how readily available they are, and how much effect it will have on BOD. A slice of sweet potato, or a prawn, will have much more potential to pollute than a much, much larger piece of wood, this is because they have readily available, soluble sugars and protein, that the wood doesn't, and therefore a higher BOD.
it all becomes much more handleable.

After that I'm not really a fish keeper as such, I think about the dimensions of the tank and water parameters, find some fish that might breed naturally (if they are happy) and let them get on with it. I don't tend to worry too much about any measurements, although I do occasionally measure conductivity, but I just try and ensure that dissolved oxygen levels remain high at all times, and that I don't get anywhere near the theoretical stocking limit for a tank.

As I always have plants, because of their beneficial effects on water quality, I then use the "duckweed index" <http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... 1&start=20> as a quick visual estimation of water quality and nitrate level.

cheers Darrel
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by comusgoogle »

MatsP wrote:I've been using birch branches (twice, whilst walking to my house, I've found fairly large branches of birch laying on the roadside after it's been cut from a tree).

I also have apple, cherry, oak and willow in my tanks. Mats
hmm that's great...keep share this around the web dude. :-BD
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by bekateen »

Here's a useful primer on aquarium wood (written in 2015): INJAF: Guide to aquarium wood
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by matt davidson »

Hi all,

Does anyone know if wood from Forsythia is fish safe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forsythia)? More of a shrub than a tree, but I've got some lovely pieces I pruned from a massive one outside my house last year.

Cheers
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by dw1305 »

Hi all,
matt davidson wrote: Does anyone know if wood from Forsythia is fish safe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forsythia)? More of a shrub than a tree, but I've got some lovely pieces I pruned from a massive one outside my house last year.
I think it should be all right. You can feed it to Tortoises, and the plant family it belongs to (Oleaceae) are mainly non-toxic.

It is one of those funny shrubs like Elder (Sambucus nigra) or Buddleja (B. davidii) where the shoots are soft and pithy, but the old basal wood becomes very hard and dense.

cheers Darrel
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by TwoTankAmin »

I took a quick look at that INJAF link and was surprised to find cypress on the wood to avoid list. I find this odd since I have had cypress in tanks for as much as 14 years for some of it. I had it in a tank that had well over 400 zebra fry come out of over the years. I have it in tanks with spawning angels, bn, other plecos, corys and assorted other fish.

This is from where all of the above cypress in my tanks was purchased http://www.amazonmoosey.com/ One of my tank pics is on that site.

The only downside to this wood is it naturally floats until well water logged and it will slowly disappear over time.
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by matt davidson »

Great news, thanks very much Darrel!
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by Aquaticus »

Some of my favorite "driftwood" pieces are old cedar stumps from the woods near me (probably eastern red cedar here in southern Wisconsin). They are very rot resistant, although they do turn the water orange for a while. I find stuff that is old and mostly decayed, and then pressure wash any softer pieces off before putting it in a tank. I did try an ash log once really stunk up the water. I also use fallen oak branches quite a bit.
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by bekateen »

Aquaticus wrote:Some of my favorite "driftwood" pieces are old cedar stumps from the woods near me (probably eastern red cedar here in southern Wisconsin).
That's interesting, because if there's any "rule of thumb" as to what we should always avoid, I've been taught that it's "avoid conifers," which would include all the cedars. The logic was that the same plant compounds which made the wood rot-resistant also made the wood toxic to fish. But I suppose that almost any wood (but still not ALL), if old enough and weathered enough, might be fish-safe.

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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by TwoTankAmin »

Well when it comes to cypress, like many other tress, there are multiple types. Look into the "Bald Cypress: Known for its height and protruding roots, the bald Cypress is a deciduous tree which grows best in swampy areas with very moist soil. The trees are commonly found in coastal regions and can live for centuries."
from http://www.2020site.org/trees/cypress.html

If this tree were toxic to aquatic life then there are no fw fish in Louisiana. Have a look at the pictures here https://www.google.com/search?q=bald+cy ... :louisiana

Then there is the ever popular aquarium wood decor- cypress knees.

What makes the Bald Cypress different from other cypress varieties is the Bald is a deciduous tree. Perhaps this difference is what prevents this tree from being toxic in tanks?
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by Aquaticus »

bekateen wrote: That's interesting, because if there's any "rule of thumb" as to what we should always avoid, I've been taught that it's "avoid conifers," which would include all the cedars.
That seems to be repeated a lot, but I haven't heard of someone who has personally killed their fish with wood. Someone should do an official experiment! :)
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Re: Wood for tanks?

Post by bekateen »

I can imagine the resins causing problems. But well weathered wood, without bark, ought to be safe. I've got a piece of wood in one tank, which I found on the beach of Northwest Washington state. It floats - it has been since last August. And the plecos love to swim up to it, hang underneath, and chew on it (it's really crumbly and rotten). I think it's a conifer, but I don't know.
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