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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How can I tell if a piece of driftwood is suitable for my tank? I found a big chunk of wood partly submerged in water. It has every imaginable creepy crawler on/in it: ant nest, spiders, pill bugs, leeches, snails.

Right now I am drying it out on the fire escape of my apartment. I need to find a big enough bucket so that I can soak it in bleach.

Most of the wood is pretty dense, but I am concerned that some parts are rotted and will fall apart in my tank.
 

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Whatever you do, don't soak it in bleach. Just like driftwood can leech tannins into your water for months and months, so will a piece of wood soaked in bleach. The difference is one will kill your fish and the other will make your water look terrible.

I would also warn you about tannins from wood like that. I got a piece like that that was good sized. I soaked it completely for about 6 months and thought it was good to go, and it still leeches horribly into my tank. Even with WC's it turned it darker than iced tea. I just took it out and threw it back where I found it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I thought that Prime would remove the chlorine.

Maybe I'll just soak it in regular water for a year and see what happens. It's a nice piece, and large pieces of driftwood are prohibitively expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't really cook so I don't have any big pots. Maybe I can borrow one from Mom. (not if she knows what I am using it for)
 

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Ignore the folks who have never used bleach. They often are victims of an old wive's tale! Actually old wives know better because they use bleach all the time.

For the main question, if it has lots of bugs it most likely will not work well. Rather than driftwood, it is just old wood which is rotting and beginning to decay. Very hard to get it to stop dropping things in the tank as it continues to rot. You will want to look for wood that has been weathered for a long time. Water and banging around while drifting takes the loose stuff out of wood. That is why true driftwood is nice. It is also possible to find wood that has been out in the weather a long time but not down on the ground and staying wet so that bugs and rot are working on it. If it is on the ground, it isn't likely to be good wood. Look for really hard, totally dry wood to use. Far less trouble. Once you find it, a bleach water soak overnight will kill any bad stuff as well as remove oils or pesticides which boiling does not. Once soaked, rinse it and let it dry outside for a day or so until the bleach smell is gone. The chlorine gasses off into the air. The guys who use bleach have been doing it for a very long time and it works.

When they tell you bleach will soak in but not dry out, does that really make sense?
These were NOT boiled! They were bleached.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The parts that were submerged seem pretty dense. The exposed parts had the ants and spiders and are more brittle and rotten.

I'm thinking of buying a small plastic trash can and soaking it in water for the summer. If it continues to rot, I'll dump it at the end of the summer. If not, I'll bleach it and give it a try.
 

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For me it would depend on how you run your tank. If it is a show piece and you don't want it looking bad, your plan is best. If it is more of a working tank that gets disrupted all the time, I would use the wood there. Once bleached and safe, it won't be a big thing if it doesn't work out. The possible tannins coloring the water will not harm fish. Depends on how you feel about tea! Sometimes it is only a matter of doing some water changes to delute the color to what a level you can stand. Carbon in filters seems to help as well but time is the big item.
 

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I agree with Pfunmo. Go ahead and use bleach. I use it all the time. I soak nets and siphons in it, I have soaked wood and rocks and a very diluted solution is OK for most plants if you want to kill snails etc. Yes, a dechlor will remove it, but it is good practise to let whatever you use to dry out.
 

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That's the funny thing about bleach discussions. The folks who use it find it handy all the time and use it lots. The folks who have never used it are scared to death of it due to the stories that go around. Since we normally deal with it in the water anyway, it is just a matter of the concentration. When I got back into the fish hobby after a long absence, I was shocked to learn I would have to use chemicals to get chloramine out of my water. I had always just let chlorine dissipate overnight in my reserve water supply and had never used chemicals to remove it. I think what has happened is the people who know just get tired of trying to correct the story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't care too much about the color due to the tannins. I just don't want the wood falling apart in my tank.
 

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I did some work on several of my items and it was fine for a time but not with bristlenose plecos. I don't know if they carry a knife or what but they seem to get wood off someway and it gets scattered around. Too many small pieces to pick out by hand but too large to go in through the strainer on my siphon. BAH!
 

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Hey folks,

I was wondering if the wood that I see washed up on the beach would work? At the marina here there is some dift wood that is all white. I wonder if that stuff would be ok as well.

What do you guys think?
 

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Washed up on the beach at the ocean? That would sound like true driftwood. If it is turned white that says it is old enough to be truly dry. True driftwood to me is one that has drifted around long enough to have most all the soft parts knocked off. That is good. The hard parts that are left is what you want. If it has turned white, it likely has spent some time on the beach somewhere and been exposed to the sun. That is good as it hardens the wood and removes the tannins. Bouncing around in water, especially salt water will keep most bugs and rot out of the wood. The salt may have some small effect on your fresh water tank but nothing to worry about. Some people use a certain amount of salt anyway for freshwater. One item to be aware of is that wood can pick up oil from drifting in the wrong water. That is when soaking in bleach water is a must. The bleach will react with the oil and remove it as well as make any fungus, mold, or other bad stuff safe to put in the tank. Just soak it overnight, rinse it off and set it out in the sun to totally dry before you use it.
 

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It is not in the ocean. It is coming from lake erie. I will see if I cant get out there this weekend and pick up a few pieces and take some pictures.
 

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Good chance it might be good to use. The big lakes let things wash back and forth and wind up on land now and then so that they are truly "driftwood". Much of the wood I use is not true driftwood but standing wood that is submerged often and then comes out when the lake gets low. Same results with the alternated dunking and then sun drying.
 

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Here are some pieces of drift at our local marina. It soaked in bleach ove night and I am drying it out now. Let me know what you think.



 

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Hard to tell much from pictures but my guess would be that the first large piece may have some soft places. Can you dig into it with fingers? Soft wood will come apart sooner and depending on that it may be a mess to keep it picked off the sand/gravel. That kind of depends on how much you are willing to ignore or pick out. The lower picture looks godd from here. I have a bunch of smaller stuff tied to rocks so they will stay down as well as make them easy to stay in the positions I want.




It takes a really long time for wood to dry totally and then when we find it, the dry stuff also wants to float for longer than I care to wait. That is where the rocks come in handy. You can sometimes just lay rock on top but then part of the wood is hidden. I like it upright so it shows more.
 

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I cant really dig or peal anything with my fingers. I did scrap what I could off that looked lose so I guess it is a waiting game now. I am going to pull some of my rock work out and add the wood. I was planning on using some of the rocks as anchors also.
 

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Sounds good. Like I said, you can't tell too much without getting hands on with some things. I never had any trouble with wood until I got a bristlenose pleco and suddenly started getting bits of wood scattered around.
 
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