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Budget aquascaping with natural sticks


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I am trying to utilize nature and use rocks and sticks I find outside as much as I can. I have found pretty rocks and boiled them in my kitchen pots to kill of bacteria. But what do you do with branches and sticks when they cannot fit any kitchen utensils? I was thinking the oven but I am scared I'll end up with charcoal 😂

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Posted (edited)

If it fits in the oven spritz it with water bake at 250-300 for like 5-6 minutes. The water will steam and help prevent the piece from drying out. 
 

Otherwise super concentrated salt water is pretty good at killing most things. Use a moving tote or similar. Make sure to rinse it real good after!

 

Also my chemistry is starting to get rusty but you could use dilute bleach water then rinse and let it dry in the sun. Pretty sure the bleach reacts with UV, but oh my organic chemistry experience is starting to fade so don’t quote me on that

Edited by Biotope Biologist
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I'm fortunate to live near a Metro Park where I've collected dried dead oak branches, very small stumps, and leaves. I collect them during fall. I never had a issue. It also depends on the tree species the branches came from. 

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On 6/9/2024 at 9:24 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

If it fits in the oven spritz it with water bake at 250-300 for like 5-6 minutes. The water will steam and help prevent the piece from drying out. 

Fahrenheit or celcius? 

 

On 6/9/2024 at 9:24 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

Otherwise super concentrated salt water is pretty good at killing most things. Use a moving tote or similar. Make sure to rinse it real good after!

What's the ratio? 🙂

 

On 6/9/2024 at 9:24 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

Also my chemistry is starting to get rusty but you could use dilute bleach water then rinse and let it dry in the sun. Pretty sure the bleach reacts with UV, but oh my organic chemistry experience is starting to fade so don’t quote me on that

I see, I have no knowledge in chemistry so you're propably right haha. I think the first two options seems safer so I'll either kill the bacteria with salt or in the oven 

On 6/9/2024 at 9:45 PM, Tlindsey said:

I'm fortunate to live near a Metro Park where I've collected dried dead oak branches, very small stumps, and leaves. I collect them during fall. I never had a issue. It also depends on the tree species the branches came from. 

So you don't clean your brances? I am scared I'll introduce some disease, algae or bacteria by using contaminated hardscape.

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On 6/9/2024 at 8:56 PM, VanDogh said:

Fahrenheit or celcius? 

 

What's the ratio? 🙂

 

I see, I have no knowledge in chemistry so you're propably right haha. I think the first two options seems safer so I'll either kill the bacteria with salt or in the oven 

So you don't clean your brances? I am scared I'll introduce some disease, algae or bacteria by using contaminated hardscape.

I've boiled leaves once to help them sink.

It's pretty cold when I collect  so insect free. I do rinse off with hot tap sometimes to remove dirt. @VanDogh

Just keep doing things your way to keep your mind at ease. 😄

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When I collect wood to use, I first scratch it with my nail to make sure it's hardwood, if I can scratch it, I put it back.

I put it in a tub of normal water and give it a scrub to get off dirt and loose bits of derbrius.

Let it dry in the sun for a day. Then fill a tub with 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 3 parts water and let the wood soak for a few days in the tub in the sun.

Hydrogen peroxide is fairly cheap where I live and it breaks down in water after a day or so, especially in the light, so the wood has no residue that could harm creatures when I add it.

Edit:

I should note above is talking about 3% hydrogen peroxide (HP), which is what you typically buy at a chemist or supermarket. You can also get Food grad HP which is 35%, or industrial HP which is 50%. I'll explain how to use the higher strengths for people who aren't use to mixing things.

Wear gloves and glasses when handling anything over 3% HP and wash your skin off immediatly with water if any comes in contact with you.

Say we're making up 1L disinfecting solution, 1000ml would contain 250ml 3% HP and 750ml water.
3% HP is 97% water, so our 250ml above becomes 242.5ml of water, so in total for the 1L mixture, it ends up being 992.5ml water and 7.5ml pure HP.

For 35% HP you'd put in about 20ml of food grade HP, and 980ml of water, which will give you (20ml * 35%) 7ml pure HP.
For 50% HP you'd put 14ml, with 986ml water.

Edited by Sacah
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There's an old school method of sterilizing large items that Jim Crockett, the original gardener of PBS's old series "The Victory Garden" used. He'd take a large metal container (often a large metal trash can) and fill it with the soil or item he wanted to sterilize and then put it atop a lit barbecue to let the heat kill off any pathogens in the item. If you can find a metal container that holds water and that's big enough to hold the branches you want to boil and you've got a sturdy barbecue grill or don't mind building a fire under/around the container, you can boil pretty much anything in that manner. Is it necessary? Probably not. But it is doable.  

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On 6/9/2024 at 8:56 PM, VanDogh said:

So you don't clean your brances? I am scared I'll introduce some disease, algae or bacteria by using contaminated hardscape.

I collect and use wood from my local forest. There's 2 types of problems to consider: toxins and pathogens.

By collecting from a natural environment that is 100% free from pesticide/road salt/etc (as much as anything can be free of those things), you avoid the toxins issue. 

In terms of pathogens, I acknowledge this isn't 100% but it's close: Many (probably most) fish pathogens out there are specific to certain types of organisms. In the absence of the right host and the right environment and the right conditions, any disease that could affect your fish is HIGHLY unlikely to be found in a terrestrial environment, or really in any environment that doesn't have fish. Diseases/pathogens don't sit there in the world waiting endlessly to jump at an unsuspecting host (ok, some can, but let's stay with what's realistic and actually likely). So I would absolutely (and have in the past) take a piece of found wood from a terrestrial habitat, and once you confirm it's suitable (not a conifer, not rotting), soak it so it sinks, and put it into the tank with the fish. Or don't soak it but do weight it down. No treatment or sterilization required. 

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On 6/9/2024 at 12:24 PM, Biotope Biologist said:

Also my chemistry is starting to get rusty but you could use dilute bleach water then rinse and let it dry in the sun.

Couldn't you also use dechlorinator to get rid of the bleach?

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On 6/10/2024 at 9:41 AM, Schuyler said:

Couldn't you also use dechlorinator to get rid of the bleach?

You could also just gas it off over time, with more surface agitation gassing it off quicker, but dechlorinator is the safer and quicker route.

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On 6/9/2024 at 5:56 PM, VanDogh said:

Fahrenheit or celcius? 

 

What's the ratio? 🙂

 

I see, I have no knowledge in chemistry so you're propably right haha. I think the first two options seems safer so I'll either kill the bacteria with salt or in the oven 

So you don't clean your brances? I am scared I'll introduce some disease, algae or bacteria by using contaminated hardscape.

Fahrenheit. Celsius at that temp may cause the wood to catch fire.

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On 6/9/2024 at 5:56 PM, VanDogh said:

Fahrenheit or celcius? 

 

What's the ratio? 🙂

 

Fahrenheit! Or 121-148 C

 

Salt ratio is: 40g to 1 pint ish not an exact science just trying to create a brine that will disrupt the osmotic pressure in the cells. Usually resulting in cell death

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@Biotope Biologist's oven suggestion is probably the easiest, and fastest, with or without steam.

Most of the bugaboos we worry about in our food begin dying at 140/60.  Most everything else dies around 300/149.  The wood won't be in the oven long enough to worry about ignition.

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