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Aquarium driftwood from pet stores is dang expensive, much so, when you have multiple fish tanks. So, exactly how easy is it to cut this cost, you know, like make your own driftwood for next to zero cost.
Well, I can tell you this much, if you are sick of sitting in the office or at home, a quick stroll out and about your local wild can quite easily be worth your while.
It can be the beginning of your journey to driftwood freedom and the end to countless trips to your local fish store in the name of bonsai, manzanita, cholla, and what have you.
But first, what is driftwood really?
According to the ever so reliable interwebs, driftwood is any wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea, lake or river by the action of wind, tides or waves.
However, in the aquarium hobby, driftwood can be any found wood safe for use in fish tanks, including but not limited to wood found on beaches and shores. Usually, the pieces ought to have weathered from mother nature’s activities.
Thus, speaking realistically, any wood that is safe wood for aquarium use is driftwood, and there is plenty of those in the wild and local shores.
So, long story short, YES, you can make your own aquarium driftwood and its borderline child’s play, if you are willing to venture out and get your otherwise clean hands dirty.
Of course, you will need some level of fish keeping experience, particularly when determining what is safe for fish and what’s not.
Do you want to know how to make aquarium driftwood?
Let me tell you how!
Please read on!
How to Make Aquarium Driftwood in 5-Easy Steps
A disclaimer if I may.
Rest the title be misleading, please note that the 5-easy steps herein can take you up to four (4) weeks to go through each one of them. Meaning, this process is easy only to the extent that you do not need any special skills to implement, but not how long it will take.
Step #1 — Find Your Driftwood (Found Wood Pieces)
The first thing you want to do is go out and find a piece of wood that would look good in your aquarium and is safe enough for your fish.
Usually, most aquarists go to shores of their local lakes and rivers, which is perfectly ok, but from my experience, you are more likely to have better luck in the general wild.
This is so because there is simply not enough current on lakes and rivers as in oceans and sea, meaning driftwood rarely washes up ashore.
That said, in terms of the wood to look for, stick to dry hardwood pieces that are not rotting and without the bark.
Any other type of wood, case in point, soft, rotting and fresh pieces will bring a lot of issues in your tank, which includes messing your water parameters.
It’s also quite tempting to throw giant pieces of wood in your tank, but you will have better luck with smaller pieces, mostly because they rarely rot and are less likely to harbor fungus and harmful detritus.
Ideally, bulk up the smaller and cleaner pieces of wood in your tank to make them look more than what they are instead of using a large piece that will wreck your water.
Step #2 — Clean Your Driftwood
The first thing you want to do once you bring found wood home is to give it a good wash.
Wash it outside with a hose to get all the debris off, then take the wood to the tub and give it a good wash with hot water.
At this point, make sure any solid dirt and grime on the piece of wood is removed, especially in the crevices and between the joints.
Step #3 — Pre Soak Your Driftwood
When you take a piece of wood that you found from the natural environment and stick it into your fish aquarium, it will introduce foreign debris into your tank and change your water parameters, which could be deadly to fish.
For that reason, be sure to cure your driftwood before placing it in your water, and one way to do this is to pre-soak it.
Just fill a bucket of with dechlorinated water and submerge your piece of found wood for a couple of weeks. This will let tannins to be released alongside dirt and any parasites involved.
Because aquarium salt in lesser amounts is not exactly harmful to tropical fish, you can add some in the water, which will further help get rid of impurities and living things from the wood.
Just remember that the key is a small amount of salt as too much will mess with your water once you introduce the driftwood in the tank.
Plus make sure that the water covers the piece of wood wholly. You can use heavy stones to hold the wood underwater in case the piece does not sink on its own.
One last thing to know is that with the water pulling out impurities from the driftwood, it will turn brown for days, thus keep changing it for up to two (2) weeks or until the water stays clear.
Step #4 — Sterilize Your Wood by Baking It
To finish sterilizing your found driftwood, bake it in a gas or electric oven at between 200 and 300 degrees.
That said, the smell of wood can be quite pungent and might be left lingering in your house for hours, so consider baking the piece outside the house.
As much, baking your driftwood outside poses a lesser fire hazard than inside.
As an alternative to baking aquarium driftwood, some aquarists prefer to boil it, which might be the better option if you have a pot that’s large enough for the piece of would you have.
Boiling it would also help release more tannins than baking and might be more economical in the long run. Moreover, if you choose to bake your driftwood, please note that you will need to soak it again to make it sink in the fish tank.
Step #5 — Measure The Wood Comparing it to Your Tank Size
One thing you don’t want is a large piece of driftwood that won’t fit in your fish tank or takes valuable swimming space from your fish.
Therefore, ration your aquarium keeping everything you need in it in mind including plants, decorations, filters, heaters, substrate, and air pump, without forgetting your fish.
If possible, make a sketch of how you envision the aquarium to look after you’ve added the driftwood to make your decisions easier.
In case the piece you have is too big, all you need to do is remove a chunk of the wood starting with your least favorite part of the wood. The end goal is to make sure that by the time you are adding it to your tank, it sits perfectly, without too much struggle.
At the same time, please know this is another instance where using smaller pieces of wood bulked-up together is better than using one large piece that you’ll struggle to fit in your tank.