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Harvesting wood for your aquarium


Bullsnark
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Has anyone ever harvested wood from the wild for their aquariums? I found a fantastic piece that I plan on going back for later once I have my saw with me. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to prep this monstrosity. I know I’m going to take it to a car wash and pressure wash it, then it’s probably going to sit in a 55 gallon trashcan full of salt water with the lid attached for two months so that it stays underwater. After that, I will pressure wash it and soak it in freshwater water.  The first picture is the entire root  mass, but the second picture is closer to how I plan on trimming it. The third picture is a second tree that I plan on going back for later tonight. 
 340E86B8-15C6-4D79-9648-D7121B5D683D.jpeg.724b5c0ac869e1e1254987ba55679f59.jpeg04A6490C-2B3C-4F13-AB5D-A3666D5DC910.jpeg.019ed826dc80d06e426c1744da6a867f.jpeg9E453EBF-689B-4729-A91E-73E83D3D6C79.jpeg.d270b7ae735f471da8342c851f3a7f08.jpegDoes this sound reasonable, or does anyone else have recommendations?

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I gather beach wood in my local area. For sun bleached wood above the waterline I just wash it and put it in the tank. I’ve had good luck, but that type of wood is super buoyant so it needs to be heavily weighted. Other folks have vastly different protocols, so I might be doing this totally wrong! 
I’ve also collected some Madrona and I’m letting it season outside for a year before trying it in tank. 

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On 8/27/2021 at 6:34 PM, Patrick_G said:

I gather beach wood in my local area. For sun bleached wood above the waterline I just wash it and put it in the tank. I’ve had good luck, but that type of wood is super buoyant so it needs to be heavily weighted. Other folks have vastly different protocols, so I might be doing this totally wrong! 
I’ve also collected some Madrona and I’m letting it season outside for a year before trying it in tank. 

This is out of a local dirty river, so you have to be really careful. I had a cousin that lost everything in his 75 because he used a piece of wood full of parasites and it infected everything. 

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On 8/27/2021 at 6:34 PM, Streetwise said:

It looks deciduous and not coniferous, so that is good. If it is heavy enough to sink, you might not have to wait. I would not be worried about trying to sterilize.

No I’m definitely sterilizing anything in this area. Everything around here is dirty, and there’s fertilizer runoff as well as any amount of sewage runoff around here. At least minimal precautions have to be taken

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Actually let me rephrase:  I’m not going to be able to sterilize it, but I’m going to clean it to the best of my ability.  I am trying to get the most dangerous things off that will endanger the tank and fish. If this were a native tank, I would just toss it in and not worry since they live in the water anyway.

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On 8/27/2021 at 7:39 PM, Bullsnark said:

Actually let me rephrase:  I’m not going to be able to sterilize it, but I’m going to clean it to the best of my ability.  I am trying to get the most dangerous things off that will endanger the tank and fish. If this were a native tank, I would just toss it in and not worry since they live in the water anyway.

If you are really concerned I have in the past when concerned used my bathtub and filled it with pot after pot after pot of boiling water and left it sit until cool.

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I do all the time. I've taken it straight for the lake out back to my aquarium.  That's how I ended up with an insane amount of bladder snails. I've also taken some from the woods. I usually boil it if I get it from the woods. I wouldn't use any pine or it's cousins though. I've never had fish die using it from the lake out back, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. Besides the bladder snails it's given me a cool collection of microorganisms that I enjoy watching under a macro lense scope.

Edited by Johnny B. Goode
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On 8/27/2021 at 6:42 PM, Guppysnail said:

If you are really concerned I have in the past when concerned used my bathtub and filled it with pot after pot after pot of boiling water and left it sit until cool.

I will use hot water on the rocks and scrub them, but hot water won’t penetrate wood in any reasonable length of time. That’s why they use it for cooking utensils. 

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Can’t speak to disinfecting, but don’t count on it sinking. I have a piece of driftwood in my 55g tank that’s been underwater for a year and a half and it’s still buoyant. It’s getting less so—for instance, it no longer tries to punch me in the face when the suction cups come loose. I even drilled very small holes in it in several places, and it has a significant crack up one side. But it still needs the suction cups to hold it down.

Beautiful pieces though!

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These are just thrown together in a pile and weighed down by rocks, but they are the root system of some old bushes I dug up. I soaked them for a few months in water and then used a wire brush attached to a power drill to take off any soft wood and bark, then hosed it off and stick it in the tank. In the past with smaller pieces I have boiled the wood and it did help it to give off less tannins if you care about that.

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On 8/28/2021 at 4:00 PM, BlueLineAquaticsSC said:

These are just thrown together in a pile and weighed down by rocks, but they are the root system of some old bushes I dug up. I soaked them for a few months in water and then used a wire brush attached to a power drill to take off any soft wood and bark, then hosed it off and stick it in the tank. In the past with smaller pieces I have boiled the wood and it did help it to give off less tannins if you care about that.

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Yeah I am going out in the morning with a saw. These are both root systems, so that should help, and I can put a few holes through some of it for hiding spots to help reduce buoyancy as well. I hope to get decent pictures. I found some stellar rock today at a landscaping supply that I need to power wash and soak. 

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I was considering going out in the forest behind my house and collecting some driftwood. I was told that as long as the wood is not rotten, drying it in the sun is enough. Have never tried it before but I'm considering it more and more now. The area I would collect from is a forest behind some farm land. I would go deeper into the forest and not the areas close to the farm land. If I find a piece or two I will probably, scrub it, let it dry in the sun, leave it in a salt bath for about a week, wash it with a garden hose and put it into a freshwater bath until it sinks. 

I heard that you could also do a bleach bath. Never tried it before, but I was told that the wood might absorb the bleach and leek it into the tank. 

 

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I have some 120+ year old cypress knees, that have been underwater for 7-8 months and nothing just like day one. I have used soaking on some wood but that normally works best on dry wood weighted down. This piece was cooked on a bonfire for three days in a 55 gallon drum. It worked well. Some woods like cypress are hard to sink and most people don’t used it of cook it forever. Cooking for long periods of time will remove a lot of the tannins. If the wood comes from a swampy area and you just need sterilize I have cooked it in the oven but size is a problem in the oven. Cypress is not legal to harvest in Most states so if you get some it is probably 50 years dry and sink is the problem. Yours I would put in the oven or set in the sun for a few days turning and that should be good.  

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On 8/29/2021 at 12:33 PM, Jeff said:

I've always wondered this. What's the difference between wood like this, and driftwood at an LFS?

Driftwood for aquarium used to be actual bog wood or others that really were driftwood. Now they just clean any wood and call it driftwood most if not all have never been in water nowadays. So except for types no difference you just don’t go broke to obtain it and it requires you to clean it. 

Edited by Guppysnail
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Spider wood is made from the roots of Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel, and Azalea bushes. These shrubs are all related, and have a fantastic root system, if you live in the Appalachian Mountains, you know that the Mountain Laurel is not a nuisance plant, it just doesn't look as good as the Rhododendron so people don't care if you dig one up on their property. The NPS would have a problem with you digging one up on NPS property, so know where you are when you dig.

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