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Does anyone if would Tamarack work? It grows in marshs in northern WI.
 

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I have a ton of Apple trees. They are old and have some pretty gnarly looking branches. Dose any one know if they can be used in the aquarium?
 

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add Rhododendron (and azalea) to the list!

The successful use of Rhododendron branches in planted aquariums has been reported by Jerry Smith, of Bloomingdale, NJ, in reply to a query by Mary Sweeney in the Aquatic-Plants Digest (APD). The bushes we commonly call "azaleas" are also members of the genus Rhododendron, so they're fine, too.

Here's a clip of the APD post:

Mary Sweeney posted on Jan 13, 2009 "Has anyone ever used rhododendron
branches in aquaria?"

I just found a member of my local plant club here in NJ that uses
Rhododendron in her tanks. I am waiting for further information from her
about how long she has had it in there, but I suspect it has been a while.
She says not to use softwoods like pine and fir or anything you can dent
with a fingernail. She really likes the look of Rhododendron in her tanks.

Jerry Smith
Bloomingdale, NJ

Thanks, Jerry!

This *is* exciting! As a follow-up to my question, I peeled a small branch
with a potato peeler and put it in a bowl with some snails and a sprig of
Java Moss.

Put it on the window sill.

The water turned a little green for a day.

Baby snails appeared.

The Java is creeping over to the branch---looks like they're going to "hook
up."<G>

I added in some fish eggs. They've hatched and the fry are doing well.

The branch isn't doing anything strange---yet.<G>

Yep, I think we're onto something here.

Local Jersey plant club?

Mary Sweeney
Monmouth Hills, NJ
P.S. Perhaps this thread ought to be a "sticky". Or, we could just leave folks to use the search feature of the forum.
 

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This is a good thread!
I might be able to offer a little insight about some of the woods you have listed. Keep in mind that most of the wood that I use is not totally submersed, but it is in very high humid environments.

You will want to stay away from soft woods, therefore grapewood/grapevine is not a good choice, they rot VERY quickly.

Cypress is ok to use, but in my experience it does not hold up well. All of the cypress if have found has been aged (AKA cypress driftwood) and is very buoyant.

I would stay away from cedar/pine this is where turpentine comes from.

Manzanita is good to use, it is a very hard wood. I also use the manzanita root burls.

Mopani/Swahala are very good to use.

Malaysian driftwood is very good to use, although I do not know what type of wood it actually is. We order in bulk and our distributor offers to different 'grades' of the Malaysian, they have the aquarium grade and a reptile grade. The reptile grade is not as heavy or dense as the aquarium grade and it will float. And as Dave mentioned, it will leach tannins.

Oak is a good choice.

Buttonwood is also good.

I have heard of people using Osage Orange aka Bodark.

I have been wanting to try Mesquite, just haven't found the 'right' piece.

Chola wood, did you mean Cholla? If so, Cholla is not really a 'wood', but the skeletal remains of cactus.

As for the other woods mentioned, I can't say one way or the other.

Cindy
 

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I am thinking about using old grape vine wood in my tank. The wood is old and was cut out of a vineyard about a year ago.
I plan to use rocks to hold it down.
 

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Restlesscrow is right. The stuff from Louisiana is Taxodium or baldcypress (spelled as one word). A lot of it has been recovered from the swamp bottoms where it has become waterlogged. True cypress is Cupressus, not a water-loving plant at all, as I recollect.
 

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Very good topic!

The petshops sell all kinds of wood suitable for aquarium and in my opinion to buy wood from a store is a waste of money. You can use so many different options for free. You can find an old, well-aged piece of wood in any park.

My vote definitely goes for oak.
 

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Opinions are like _______.

Grapevines aren't wood.
Some wood is termite resistant so it "must be bad."
But then the next suggestion is for a wood that's even more pest resistant.
Toss in some common and regional names, now you're cooking.
A whole bunch of conjecture doesn't help anyone. It may actually prevent people from experimenting and really learning something.



I pick up driftwood on the shores of a reservior. There are semi loads of it lining the shores from previous floods. What kind? No way to tell at this point. I figure if it is aged and has been submerged in moving water long enough, it is done leeching anything. It is free. Just screw a lead weight on it until it gets waterlogged again. I think age is good. The bark and cabmium rot easily but time takes care of both.
 

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I have been wanting to try Mesquite, just haven't found the 'right' piece.

Drive a few hours toward Abilene when you get a chance. When I lived in Stamford (about 40 miles north of Abilene) I found TONS of different shapes and sizes of good, weathered mesquite. It's in abundant supply around there and in the Hill Country.
 

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I have used some well aged catalpa (catawba to our southern friends) in a small pond and plan on using it in my next aquarium rescape. It is a very pretty, gnarly wood with a lot of charactor. When I say well aged, I mean well aged. These are small branches off of trees dozed out 25 years ago. It is pretty durable too.
 

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Considering that I've seen a lot of people use "driftwood," which is by definition random bits of wood that had aged and degraded in the water to the point that what is left is no longer rotting, wouldn't the operative word in this thread be "aged?" I think that any hardwood that has been left rotting in (moving) water long enough (1yr+) has leached any bad toxins out of it and can be used. I've seen cedar - yes actual cedar at a LFS in their display aquarium for several years which they pulled out of a pond which they drained and thought it looked cool. Cedar has known toxins in it and is a soft wood to boot! I wouldn't personally used a known toxic wood in an aquarium without personally making sure it had been soaking for at least a year or more though.
 

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what are people's opinions of maple or walnut? i dont for see anything unusual with them. but ive been wrong before.
Maple should be fine once it's "aged."

Walnut (specifically the American Black Walnut (Juglans ***** L.) and Butternut (Juglans cinerea L.) are definitely no goes! They contain an enzyme called juglone (5-hydroxy-alphanapthaquinone) which is toxic to many other species of trees, causes allergic reactions in humans, and has been proven fatal to horses. Juglone does break down fairly rapidly in water with exposure to light, however, most of the studies covered runoff in concern to irrigation of crops and livestock where the ppm would be infinitesimal. I would be very hesitant to place it in such a closed aquatic environment as an aquascape of less than a hundred gallons, especially if my plants and fish were of any value to me.

YMMV
 

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Grapevines aren't wood.
True, insofar as wood is defined as the substance under the bark of a tree. There are, however many "woody plants," a term used by horticulturists, of which I am one, by training, though not, for some years, by trade. The fiber under the bark of woody plants may well be useful in aquascaping in much the same way that true wood would be. :D

It may be that a bit of openmindedness, in terms of our operational definition of the word wood, may be useful to us in this thread.
 

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DRIFTWOOD has kind of become the catch all term for any wood used in an aquascape. when in reality the woods commonly used fall into one of three catagories seasoned wood, driftwood or boggwood. Seasoned wood: wood that has been cut or a deadfall that has cured in the elements. most manzanita wood used in aquariums falls into this catagory. allthough it is safe for plants and fish seaoned wood is the most risky for people to use that are looking to go out and find a cool piece for theyre new aquascape.curing out in the elements is the lest effective way to remove tannins & other toxins from wood. in some cases it even locks them in. so if this is the route you choose make sure you know what kind of wood your dealing with and soak it well before use.
Driftwood:wood that has been adrift on a body of water river, lake or ocean. these woods are usually low in tannins & other toxins depending on how long they where adrift. driftwood picked up along the coast though low in tannins has salt deposits that need to be removed before use, this can be time consuming and requires repeated soakings.
Boggwood:one of the most plant friendly but hardest to get given the fact that this is wood that has submerged for long periods. soft woods decompose rapidly when submerged but hardwoods can last hundreds of years. the bark & softer new growth decomposes leaving behind the heart wood.
boggwood is virtually tanin free because of the amount of time its been submerged. often times pieces will have native aquatic plants & mosses on them when found. when used in aquascapes plants seem to more readily attach to boggwood than many other types of wood. caution need be taken though when using boggwood gathered on your own, it needs to be cleaned well to make sure any waterborn hitchhikers are removed. pressure washing does the trick and also removes any soft wood that may be left.

well thats my 2cents worth , hope it may be of use
 
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