Aquatic Plant Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like some feedback about using driftwood in a NPT. I have been reading some threads in this forum as I prepare to flood a DSM tank and have run into a theme where people are having problems that seem to stem from their driftwood, but I don't have a deep grasp of the issue. As I understand it, driftwood can be a source of tannins and DOC (and maybe other things?) that can wreck havoc on the balance of a tank, but I'm not sure if that is a reason to avoid wood altogether, if that applies to driftwood in some situations (i.e. if there's a lot of it in the tank, or certain types of wood), or if it's just something to consider after the fact if problems arise.

I have a 20 gallon tank with manzanita in it that isn't causing any issues, but there also isn't that much of it. It's very twiggy and is propped up on a rock so very little touches the substrate. But my new tank is only 4.6 gallons and I want to put a piece of manzanita in that is 9" long and about 3/4" in diameter and it will be laying entirely on the substrate. It's not objectively a lot of wood, but it's a small tank. I have soaked it in a bucket long enough so it is no longer discoloring the water and is past the white slime stage already and I intend to completely cover it with moss. Is this an unadvisable use of driftwood or will I probably be ok?

(Most aspects of this tank are typical for NPT (soil, no CO2, lots of plants, etc.) and already working for me in my established tank, so I won't detail them. I may run into problems later, but I've done my research, have some experience to draw from, and have a plan I feel good about except for this driftwood question.)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,436 Posts
Welcome to APC! As I understand it, the only "rules" for using wood are: Don't set it on top of the substrate, because that causes the substrate at that location to be anaerobic, and hydrogen sulfide to be generated, and that is a poison to the plants. If you set the wood on the bottom of the tank, and put the substrate around it, that works ok. Also, don't put wood in the tank until you have soaked it long enough for the leaching of tannins to be largely stopped, and any other leachable compounds in the wood are depleted. That can be accelerated if the water you soak it in is hot. Last, don't use rotted wood, or wood that is toxic in any way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Welcome to APC! As I understand it, the only "rules" for using wood are: Don't set it on top of the substrate, because that causes the substrate at that location to be anaerobic, and hydrogen sulfide to be generated, and that is a poison to the plants. If you set the wood on the bottom of the tank, and put the substrate around it, that works ok.
I'm about to set up a tank with driftwood and have been thinking about the same thing. What about setting it on rocks embedded in the substrate so that the driftwood is above the substrate but not compressing it at all? More like hovering over it.. supported by something inert that touches the bottom of the tank. I read somewhere that if you bury it in the substrate it may not be good because it would start decomposing...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,918 Posts
When I use wood in my Walstad tanks, I make sure that it is not in contact with soil or covering large areas of soil or cap. If it is a big piece of wood resting on the bottom, I put solid inert support under it, like flagstone or tile. The support is the same height as the rest of the substrate, with just a thin layer of the cap over it to conceal it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ah, ok. If it's just a matter of the soil going anaerobic then I'm not worried at all. I can minimize what is in contact with the cap and the wood isn't very heavy at all, even fully water logged - I think the impact on the dirt under layer should be minimal. I already have plant roots established in the soil that will help with aeration too. Thanks, y'all!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,436 Posts
A small piece of wood, like just a branch, with a half inch diameter "trunk", will probably do no harm, but a 2 inch diameter will stop the water flow through the substrate under it, and you will very likely have problems with it. I have had problems with even smaller diameter objects. (It can be a rock, a ceramic "castle", or a piece of wood.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
I have a fairly large piece of redwood in my 20 gallon tank. I boiled it, then soaked it, changing the water many times over about 3 weeks in a large tub, until the water was mostly clear.

Then, I used superglue to attach it to a rock. I used a piece of green kitchen scouring pad (make sure it's stainless steel) in-between the wood and rock and soaked the scrub pad with superglue (like the cigarette butt technique, if you've seen that on youtube). Makes it easy to attach weird shapes together.

I put a piece of marine grade plastic that covered the bottom of my tank before adding soil, put the rock with the wood on it on the bottom of the tank, and put the soil and gravel around it. I made it tall enough so the wood wouldn't sit on the substrate. I attached riccia at the bottom of the wood, but it keeps escaping and floating, so I've put a piece of willow moss there. Eventually, the plants will cover it, so you won't be able to notice the green scrubby pad.

The shrimp love the wood, as do the snails. My tank cycled in about 5 weeks total - would have been faster if I'd added fast-growing rooted plants sooner. But, there are no issues with the redwood coloring the water or causing problems. It actually made my apartment smell really good when I boiled it :)

I did the same thing with the large rock you see. It's actually sitting on other rocks, which are sitting on the bottom of the tank.

I'll add some photos. It's kind of hard to see, but if you look closely, you'll see the wood is sitting on a rock, and you'll see some orange shrimp loving the redwood. The little round shapes are baby ramshorn snails, who also love it.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Diana Walstad so much for sharing this method. I'm just amazed that I have a planted tank that's doing so well already. I have fish coming next week, and I'm so excited! Thanks to Diana and everyone here for all of your help getting things stable. Adding the valisneria was key. This is so fun!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A small piece of wood, like just a branch, with a half inch diameter "trunk", will probably do no harm, but a 2 inch diameter will stop the water flow through the substrate under it, and you will very likely have problems with it. I have had problems with even smaller diameter objects. (It can be a rock, a ceramic "castle", or a piece of wood.)
Yeah, this is more like a small branch. I have it placed now so that the only point of contact with the cap are some small side protrusions on each end. Again, it's not heavy - the waterlogged wood is barely denser than water, so it shouldn't be exerting much force on the soil below, especially compared to the weight of the cap. That said, certainly supporting it with a rock underneath or something as others have described would be safer, but I put my soil layer down weeks ago and did not want to disturb it. Oh well, it wouldn't be a new tank if I didn't immediately identify things I should have done differently!

I flooded the tank over the weekend and here's the set up:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
You've got the plan! Good description of one way to use driftwood safely in a small tank.

Pleasure to view such a pretty tank. Love the Red Tiger Lotus!
Thanks! It's a work in progress. Yeah, that red tiger lotus has really taken off. If I end up with water readings that aren't good after I add the fish (I plan to add a bunch), the big rock will have to go, which is fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Welp, I ended up removing the driftwood. Everything was going fine until a few days ago when everything in one area of the tank started melting. I removed the driftwood and can see that it got knocked around and came into contact with the soil around where the melt happened. The driftwood has a funky smell too, so it had to go. It's sitting in time out in a bare bottom quarantine tank.

Ah well. It's disappointing, but I knew it could happen. Luckily the main loss is aesthetic. I have more plants from my main tank and the one nerite seems fine. I'll do a big water change, replace the plants, and hopefully move on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I wanted to put some driftwood in the tank, but instead of using commercial driftwood, I made driftwood for the aquarium using some driftwood that I found in brackish water. The way to do it is very simple: first clean the driftwood you find. Then soak them in a barrel of water for 1-2 weeks to release excess tannins, which turn the water brown or slightly yellow. After removing the tannin, it is necessary to clean and boil the driftwood to remove the last remaining dirt. Finally, place the driftwood in the aquarium.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I wanted to put some driftwood in the tank, but instead of using commercial driftwood, I made driftwood for the aquarium using some driftwood that I found in brackish water. The way to do it is very simple: first clean the driftwood you find. Then soak them in a barrel of water for 1-2 weeks to release excess tannins, which turn the water brown or slightly yellow. After removing the tannin, it is necessary to clean and boil the driftwood to remove the last remaining dirt. Finally, place the driftwood in the aquarium.
Driftwood is an excellent addition to the ecosystem of your aquarium. If you do not have the budget, you can learn way to make driftwood for aquariums and still enhance the beauty of your fish tank without spending too much.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,918 Posts
Quoting the linked website does not address the concerns about using driftwood in Walstad tanks. Wood in contact with soil substrate can cause problems. I have used wood in Walstad tanks, but you need to isolate it from the soil and place it in a way that does create anaerobic conditions.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top