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Prepping wood?


Jabberjaw
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Last year I had an apple tree fall and I cut off some of the branches and save them over the winter so they would dry and I could use them in my tank. I don't want to lose some of the little branches they're part of the reason why I want to use this in the first place. It is now dry so it is no longer green. What prep do I need to do to be able to use this in my tank other than just spray it off?

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There are many different perspectives on this. Personally, I'd probably try to break off as much bark as possible, and boil the entire thing -- at least in sections. Many aquarists set aside a full tub to soak wood in for months and months. Apple is an acceptable hardwood to use in an aquarium, so that's not a major concern. You'll find that unless it Is already water logged, it may want to float. Bio film often find new wood, and makes a fuzzy mess around it unless the wood is carefully cured before adding. You can buy slate, and screw the wood to the slate, then bury under your substrate. That is one way to shortcut the flotation problem. 

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I soaked a couple big pieces of wood from our yard in one of those large black bins from Costco, then I tried to get as much bark off as possible. I put it in my tank and put a large rock on them to keep them submerged. I definitely got a lot of the fuzzy stuff, but the ramshorn snails are very good at cleaning that off and my shrimp seem to like it. 

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On 4/8/2023 at 11:29 PM, Fish Folk said:

There are many different perspectives on this. Personally, I'd probably try to break off as much bark as possible, and boil the entire thing -- at least in sections. Many aquarists set aside a full tub to soak wood in for months and months. Apple is an acceptable hardwood to use in an aquarium, so that's not a major concern. You'll find that unless it Is already water logged, it may want to float. Bio film often find new wood, and makes a fuzzy mess around it unless the wood is carefully cured before adding. You can buy slate, and screw the wood to the slate, then bury under your substrate. That is one way to shortcut the flotation problem. 

I don't really want months and months in a tub. The only tubs I have are for breeding fish outside in the summer for summer tubbing. I had already planned on screwing it to tile and putting the tile under the gravel and sand so that wasn't really a concern. I think the plecos and flag fish will take care of most of the biofilm and bark I would think. So are those the biggest concerns then?

Edited by Jabberjaw
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On 4/9/2023 at 8:55 AM, Jabberjaw said:

So are those the biggest concerns then?

Well, if the plecos you are concerning yourself with are wood-eaters like Panaque types, then yes, they'd take care of the leftover bark... a bit. Don't expect them to be beavers, though. I'd still get yourself a good dremel-type tool with the sanding/grinding head and see how much you could remove when the wood has been soaked.

Two biggest concerns are tannin leach and biofilm. Tannin leach is why we're suggesting that you soak the wood. When I added a bunch of driftwood to my hardscape a year and a half ago, I soaked it for a full week with a weight on top. This was sandblasted mopani, not apple. So, barkless, well soaked... and it still gave me an accidental blackwater tank. Bucket water was changed regularly and I didn't add it to the tank until the bucket was clear for several days in a row. Still got tannins. Tannins can mess with your light penetration for plants, and they also slightly soften the water, lowering your PH. You'll need to prepare yourself for these conditions, they're largely unavoidable. All we're suggesting is mitigation, not prevention.

Biofilm is the other concern. There's a common underwater fungus that likes to infest newly sunk driftwood. While you'd think that aufwuchs eaters would find this stuff at least edible, YMMV. In my tank, my Otos ignored it, the Amano Shrimp wouldn't go near it, the nerite physically threw itself off of a piece of driftwood once it encountered some, and even the MTS colony wasn't making a dent. I had to scrub it off with a toothbrush every few weeks. I have ramshorns now, and they do seem to keep it managed in the few locations I've noticed it crop up. Again, YMMV, the tips above will help mitigate this some.

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Okay that's a good point. Also for a bit the only place I really have to soak it is my only bathtub. So I guess I'll soak it when I'm not using it and then put it back in once I'm done. It's going to be a pita but if it's only for a week or two that I guess that wouldn't be too bad. Hopefully it stops leeching quickly. I have to get the plants in there and out of the tank that they're currently in because I need to use that tank to move Cory fry into ASAP. Because of the amount of fry I have right now I am tight on space and also getting ready for summer tubbing so I don't have an additional available tub to use. At the moment the tank is pretty infested with rams horns. So I have plenty of those to eat some of the stuff that I don't want. Hopefully in the future though become more under control, I hope. Soooo into the tub it goes lol

Edited by Jabberjaw
Autocorrect sucks
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