DIY drift wood.

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by David Kusner, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. David Kusner

    David Kusner

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    Since I never bothered with things like plants and decorations in the past, due to monster fish not really having any respect for either, now that I have many more tanks and can now play and experiment, I was thinking the other day about doing DIY bits of small drift wood.

    This time of the year their are many pavement vendors selling fire wood, so their is no shortage of wood, however, I dont think all wood is equal or even safe when it comes to water and fish?

    What do you guys think?

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  3. SalmonAfrica

    SalmonAfrica Batfish

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    There are many articles both on this forum and around the web on wood prep for aquariums, but long story short, yes, not all wood is created equal.

    It can be a little tricky identifying what type of wood is which once it is dried out and chopped to size, unless it has a characteristic look and feel (like the commonly traded Mopani wood you see in aquarium stores). So the stuff on the side of the road might be safe... it also might not be. Besides the phytochemicals that may be associated with certain species - and not all of them are necessarily bad chemicals! - there is risk of other contaminants. Pesticides, herbicides, biological decay...

    Don't lose hope though. I'm just asking that you exercise caution. Be very thorough with your cleaning, soaking, scrubbing, and if possible, testing the water that it soaks in. Things like major swings in pH or odd smells can be indicators that something is going on with the wood. Ammonia spikes can indicate that the wood hasn't dried through, or still has parts that are rotting, or that something is/was living inside of it and has died.

    My preference for "non shop" woods were those I could find in more "natural" settings. Especially driftwood on the beach (back in Durban), where long soaks in sea water and exposure to harsh coastal sun made sure that the wood was well weathered through. I still soaked, scrubbed, and abused the wood well before use, but I felt a bit safer than when I've tried pieces from elsewhere.
     
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    David Kusner

    David Kusner

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    Makes perfectly good sense. I never considered drift wood from the beach, combination of sea water and sun as you say is a good way to get rid of a lot of the nasty that could come with it.

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  5. pierreschoonraad

    pierreschoonraad

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    I have been working in the fireplace and braai industry for the past 18 years and noticed a few things about the roadside/filling station wood. 1st thing is that the wood is cut into pieces, of roughly 30cm, which takes away the natural look except if you plan to build a beaver house.
    2nd thing is that you will see condensation forming on the inside of the bag, when you put it in the sun. This is caused because the wood isn't completely dry. Suppliers need to cash in on the winter and can't always wait for the wood to dry properly. Naturelly wood dries at about 1cm per year.
    3rd thing is that they normally mark it as "hard wood" which can mean anything so you have no idea what is in the bag.

    Where I'm currentluy working we sell 18kg bags of Mopani wood, from Namibian Hardwoods in the Cape Town area at about R120, way cheaper than your lfs. Yes the pieces are also cut to lenght but you get proper pieces of dry Mopani wood. In some bags there are some very nice pieces.

    Personally I would suggest getting big pieces of wood, for free, of the beach or at garden centres. These pieces would have been harvested, due to lack of a better word, from natural areas, but may still containe polutants. So to be safe, with all wood including the lfs wood, soak, soak, soak before putting it in your aquarium.


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