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Choosing wood

2977 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  davemonkey
I have seen distict differences in people looking for driftwood that have fish only tanks vs planted tanks.
Sometimes the fish only people become plant people and still have preferences for the same type of wood.

Many fish only folks want hiding spots, not too much so they can still see their fish. These pieces tend to be full of holes, often blocky pieces of wood.
While this might be suitable without plants, when plants are added, often these holes are covered up.
The large footprint also takes away from valuable planting and lighting space.

This can be good if you want an open foreground and want the background plants to lean over the wood, wood does not need light and does not mind being shaded.
Blocky pieces are suitable there. They are also sometimes suitable when attaching plants to wood or using much like stones/rocks and creating terraces.
Plant folks often use branchy wood. These smaller 1cm-8cm dia pieces add character without blocking the light. It add a verticle element to the tank. They can be "mossed" or "liverworted" or "ferned" or "Anubiased" easily and it tends to be much easier to tie to these smaller branchy pieces than blocky holey wood.

The thing I have tried to explain to folks over the years about using wood, is that taking several branches will allow you to make a nice root pinwheel effect without having to search for a single perfect piedce for the tank you have. That can take forever and nothing ever is quite right. Using several pieces of the same type of wood can creat any number of combinations with smaller branches, I trend to call this "modular wood". I can add 5 or 7 or 15 branches eminating out from a single point buried in the dense plant stands.

This gives the illusion of a single perfectly matched pinwheel root stump.

I can switch them around, change their angles individually, change their number, easy to remove and transfer to another tank or to pull out for cleaning(try this with a huge single piece sometime!).

This flexibility allows the aquairst infinitely more options for aquascaping at a greatly reduced cost and search effort also.

Blocky pieces tend to look better with less plants eg hairgrass fields.
This allows the viewer to appreciate the wood's character and makes a nice contrast with a simple field of grass or Gloss etc.

The other type of wood is somewhat similar the rock styles. Using Cypress knees, you can make a forest or a mountain range effect that also leaves a small foot print and does not detract form the lighting.

Adding Xmas moss to these knees will allow you to create those Chinese style paintings with the pine trees clinging to a cliff.

Flat broad thin pieces of wood are very useful for backdrops espeically if they have holes. Other flat thin pieces are good for terracing.

These are much more desirable than blocky pieces, they take up less planting space.

Different woods have far different grain and color. Try to consider that when looking at a design. Cooler darker woods are great for bright blue colored fish or accent bright plantings. Even ugkly parts of wood can be covered with plants. Some options certainly exist with amount and placement of plants on each piece of wood. Even a 2x4 looks good with lots of Riccia on it. Moss will yield a cooler effect(and less work).
Even a tank with nothing but some nice rocks, sand and mossy branches coming out from a centeral area like a stump can look very nice.

Remember when chosing rocks, wood etc, your tank's space is at a premium! Make sure you get the look you want without settle for less with your wood.
Think about other ways than just on the quest searching for that "perfect piece", you can create the perfect piece with a little thought and broaden your style and outlook with aquascaping.

In the past before plants got me in a big way, I really enjoyed making large arches of holely wood, hollowed logs from one end to the other stack on top of eachother but the bottom of the substrate left open.

Wood aquascaping has not been approached like the Rock aquascaping with the same intent and artistic flair(?). We often talk of placement of rocks and their use, I do not see so much effort considered with wood often times. I believe that driftwood deserves this respect.
It was a plant after all:)

Tom Barr
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Great post! I have been trying to do exactly that, using a few different pieces to achieve the look of one large piece. Hopefully it will look good when I am finished.

Thanks for posting this information, Tom!

I was surprised to read that you think wood has not been given as much attention/artistic flair as rocks. I believe that in the U.S., aquascapers are generally using driftwood much more frequently than rocks.

Real nice post Tom, great closing line!
The positioning and placement of driftwood is often not considered as much or to the same degree as folks working with rocks.
Zen style driftwood garden? Ever seen one?

There are many rock gardens, are there driftwood gardens?
Trees can be trained over many years but the dead wood itself is not the same and not approached as an art form to the same degree.

Perhaps you'll see a piece of driftwood in someone's yard or on a seafood resturant's front, but generally that's about it.

Florist sometimes use manazanita wood and other plants in interesting ways.

Tom Barr
Actually there is only one simple reason why I use wood over rock. Its weight! Without even considering any other aspects, I have woods in all my tanks except one. That particular tank was just my trying out of the Japanese rock arrangement. In a sense, I think woods are more practical than rocks. If chosen wisely, many can even be used to create similar compositions often done with rocks. Woods can come in any shapes, as have been mentioned before; bulky, thin, long, short, name it. It would be interesting to see if someone had used woods to arrange them to look like rock formations often seen in Amano's tanks(one with rocks appearing to slant diagonally, for instance) That's a nice starter.

When using multiple small branches to create a pinwheel stump effect, what are the recommended ways to secure the branches?
Nylon fishing thread (if the pieces are small enough) or wire. Or, sit them in the substrate such that they will not move.
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