Aquarium Driftwood

Driftwood Aquarium

Driftwood is often used to enhance an aquarium’s environment.

Here is some advice on how to introduce driftwood to your aquarium:

Before you decide to add any driftwood to your aquarium, you should put in some preparation and thought to bring out the driftwood’s best aesthetic qualities. Natural driftwood structures can make up a large portion of your aquarium, therefore any adjustments need to be thought through as they can cause significant stress to the environment, and if not done well, may entail you having to take the aquarium apart and starting from scratch again. Be sure to get it right the first time and you will end up with a beautifully aquascaped aquarium with the minimal of effort and disturbance.


Rather than simply placing the driftwood in your aquarium, first draw a rough sketch of where you want to place the driftwood piece. Think about how your aquarium will look with the driftwood positioned vertically, then again with the driftwood positioned horizontally.

Sketch different designs on paper to create your unique aquatic landscape. That way you can experiment and visualise how it will look without disturbing your aquarium inhabitants in the process.

Place the driftwood on the floor in the position you prefer and make sure that it is stable and not likely to fall over.

Cleaning Driftwood

Once you have made your mind up as to where you are going to position your driftwood, you need to clean it. Although your driftwood may have spent many years floating around the great oceans of this planet, it may well have been on dry land for a long time too. Use a clean brush to scrub the driftwood thoroughly removing any dirt, bugs or debris. Do not use any cleaning material as any residue will more than likely poison your aquarium.

Curing Driftwood

Most driftwood will remain submerged underwater on its own. But some driftwood will retain a certain amount of buoyancy and therefore will require “curing” before siting. To do this you will need to soak the cleaned driftwood for up to two weeks until it is saturated, waterlogged and “cured.” To do this you can use a large bucket or a bath ensuring that the driftwood is entirely submerged.

The soaking will also allow any excess tannins that can darken and discolour the water in your aquarium, to filter out. Whilst the change in water colour caused by the tannins won’t harm the life in your aquarium, it will slightly lower the pH over a period of time.

Regularly check your soaking driftwood to see if the water requires changing. As the water becomes darker, empty it out and rinse the driftwood before re-filling with clean de-chlorinated or RO water. Repeat this process until you no longer see any significant change of colour for several days in a row, the driftwood is now ready for your aquarium.

Boiling Driftwood

Boiling driftwood has several benefits. Just like steeping a tea bag in hot water, boiling driftwood in a large stockpot encourages more tannins to leech out faster, thereby shortening the curing process. More importantly, boiling sterilizes the driftwood, killing algal or fungal spores that can take hold once introduced into the aquarium with the driftwood. Boiling the driftwood for 1-2 hours will sterilize the driftwood.

Once the driftwood has been properly prepared, it is ready for placement. Refer to the sketches you made early to place the driftwood in the ideal location. The most convenient moment to arrange your aquatic landscape is after you have removed some water during a water change. Simply place the driftwood into your aquarium and refill. With a bit of patience and some planning, you can create a beautiful aquatic landscape the first time with minimal stress to you and your aquarium inhabitants.

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