Driftwood

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,695
736
113
Most of you know me for plants, I'm actually been a collector or driftwood since I was very young and became obsessed.

Today I wondered out back in Larkspur CA with my 3 year old nephew Josh. We found many suitable pieces all over the hillside.

Choosing Driftwood:

I have seen distinct 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. Fish have lots, perhaps too many hiding places with planted tanks as it is.

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.

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 settling 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(?). Ever seen a Zen "driftwood" garden? 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:)

I'll show the curing process and what to look for specifically with pics in the coming weeks/months.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Wood

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
139
0
16
Kerrville/Austin, Texas
Re: Driftwood

Over the years I've noticed a correlation between the presence of driftwood and the presence of BBA in my tanks. So I don't use driftwood, and I don't have BBA.

TW
 

Wö£fëñxXx

Prolific Poster
Jan 24, 2005
65
0
6
59
Re: Driftwood

BBA is usually associated with poor water conditions, I can't imagine a piece/s of wood causing BBA unless it was poluted.
 

Tom Wood

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
139
0
16
Kerrville/Austin, Texas
Re: Driftwood

I can't see how several pounds of dead organic material in a tank would -not- affect water quality. Anyway, there's something about it that always grows BBA for me.

TW
 

fosteder

Guru Class Expert
Feb 3, 2005
123
0
16
Rochester, NH
Re: Driftwood

I believe I have read this article on the web before. It's got some good suggestions in it. I'm looking forward to the stuff on selection and the curing process.
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,695
736
113
Re: Driftwood

BBA also does well on rocks.........
Gravel..........
Plastic...........

Wood is softer and easier to attach, so are slow growing, non growing plant leaves......

So in that sense, yes, wood is more suspectible.

Shrimp will pick off BBA and other forms of algae, a few they will leave, Cladophora unless they are hungry....

I really don't mind algae on some wood, as long as it stays there and looks decent.

Any algae on plants or that looks bad has to go.

I've had BBA on rocks, placed them outside for 3 months on the porch, returned them, the BBA stayed.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,695
736
113
Re: Driftwood

You all mean youins got more than one porch?
You must be a "city" feller.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Wood

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
139
0
16
Kerrville/Austin, Texas
Re: Driftwood

Tom Barr said:
Wood is softer and easier to attach, so are slow growing, non growing plant leaves......

So in that sense, yes, wood is more suspectible.

No, there's more to it than that. The driftwood is just the launching site for BBA to grow on everything in the tanks, including rocks and equipment. Remove the driftwood and the BBA fades away.

TW
 

chubasco

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
284
0
16
Re: Driftwood

Tom Wood said:
No, there's more to it than that. The driftwood is just the launching site for BBA to grow on everything in the tanks, including rocks and equipment. Remove the driftwood and the BBA fades away.

TW

Well, I find all this more than vaguely disheartening: I planned on slogging
around trapping some wild driftwood this spring (and probably saying "hello"
to a few cottonmouths!). Maybe the BBA can be sculpted in some decorative
fashion where it wouldn't look so bad.....maybe....NOT! :D

Bill Ruyle
 

Tom Wood

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
139
0
16
Kerrville/Austin, Texas
Re: Driftwood

bill ruyle said:
Well, I find all this more than vaguely disheartening: I planned on slogging
around trapping some wild driftwood this spring (and probably saying "hello"
to a few cottonmouths!). Maybe the BBA can be sculpted in some decorative
fashion where it wouldn't look so bad.....maybe....NOT! :D

Bill Ruyle

Well don't let me stop you! I'm just reporting -my- experience. Different tapwater conditions, lighting, feeding routines, etc., may lead to different experiences. But I like the way I manage those parameters as is, so getting rid of the driftwood is the path of least resistance to serenity. :p

TW
 

chubasco

Guru Class Expert
Jan 24, 2005
284
0
16
Re: Driftwood

Tom Wood said:
Well don't let me stop you! I'm just reporting -my- experience. Different tapwater conditions, lighting, feeding routines, etc., may lead to different experiences. But I like the way I manage those parameters as is, so getting rid of the driftwood is the path of least resistance to serenity. :p

TW

Well, TW, I'm glad regaining your serenity "was only a motion away." ;)

Yep, I'm still planning on getting some driftwood. I may be back here, cap
in hand, crying in my beer about how much BBA is in my tanks, but what the
hell :)

Bill
 

Greg Watson

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
5,023
3
38
United States
Re: Driftwood

bill ruyle said:
Well, I find all this more than vaguely disheartening: I planned on slogging
around trapping some wild driftwood this spring (and probably saying "hello"
to a few cottonmouths!). Maybe the BBA can be sculpted in some decorative
fashion where it wouldn't look so bad.....maybe....NOT! :D

Bill Ruyle

I think you will find that not all driftwood is created equal ... almost all wood will decay in an aquarium, and once that wood (hey its organic matter) starts to decay, I am sure it contributes to the process ...

I have a couple pieces of "driftwood" that are iron hard ... and never have a spot of algae on them ... and I have a couple pieces that are soft like a sponge and rotting away and always have algae on them ...

I'm sure there is a more scientific answer to that question ... but perhaps we can discuss it in more detail on Tom's PlantFest adventure this spring ...

Greg
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,695
736
113
Re: Driftwood

The BBA in nature is on rocks namely. Flowing waters.

It does seem to grow well on wood though.
Still, with good CO2 it does not last long.
Adding SAE's and Shrimps will polish any off.
Adding moss to the wood and other epipihytes will also polish it off over time.

I've felt like TW has about BBA, I've done the entire process in the past.
when I see any signs of iot, I add more CO2 and remove any that comes along.

If the wood is bare, use a wire brush and scrub.
They cost like 69 cents.

Also use severalm smaller pieces of wood that you can rearrange into different shapes and looks and can also remove for preening and picking.

Softer woods tend to get it easily vs harder woods. That is a generalization.
Tossing apiece of wood into a Royal pleco tank will mow it off in a night.
Other plecos can be vicious on wood and leave the plants alone.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Mermaid

Junior Poster
Apr 28, 2005
1
0
1
68
Chattanooga TN
Re: Driftwood

Mr. Barr,
Hello I am new here and I have a question. Since I am setting up a new tank I was wondering, did you post the information on curing Driftwood or did I miss reading it?

Looking forward to participating in this forum.

Thanks,
Paulette