One of the most amazing parts of having your aquascape is how it brings out the nurturer in you. As a hobby that requires a lot of dedication to what your plants and fish daily, you find yourself channeling your inner caretaker! Aquascape hobbyists often find themselves attached to their work of art and take special time to care for their aquascape.
Overview of Driftwood
As a beginner, you may have come across many names that you are required to familiarize yourself with on your way to becoming an aquascape; one of which is “driftwood”. This word is used in all articles about aquascaping and you wonder why.
Well, it is an important part of your aquascape aquarium and the most visible part too. The word is used to describe the category of wood that is used in aquascape because they are proven to be safe for; and compatible with other elements in aquascaping.
The word “driftwood” was probably coined to emphasize the ability of these kinds of wood to “drift” to the bottom of your tank, where it is needed, without harming the water, plants, or fish.
This suggests that not all types of wood are driftwood, so be extra careful when collecting or purchasing wood for your aquarium. We highly recommend that your driftwood be purchased from credible sellers.
To understand and appreciate the importance of using quality driftwood for your aquascape, concrete knowledge of the benefits thereof is imperative; and this forms the main aim of this article.
Before getting you the crux of the discourse, let us enumerate the factors that are more than likely to influence your choice of driftwood, as well as some examples of driftwood used in aquascaping.
Factors that influence the choice of Driftwood in Aquascaping
Availability: Geographical proximity and accessibility to a particular species of driftwood may limit you to that. However, you can order other types of driftwood from other places to be shipped to you for a fee. Remember to clarify the authenticity of your supplier!
Style: The layout of your aquascape may need a specific type of driftwood to be pulled off.
Budget: Some driftwood are more expensive than others; feel free to choose affordable driftwood that well suits you.
Preference: Experience gleaned from a period in the aquascaping hobby, makes you develop favorites. After working with a variety of driftwood, you lean toward one or two that you prefer. As long as they best suit your aquascape, it is okay to have favorites.
It can not be overemphasized that driftwood is a rather broad category with many names attached to it. The key to finding the perfect driftwood for your aquarium is a little research about the different kinds there are.
We have collected the most popular types of driftwood used for aquascaping and each species is explained in the next sub-heading.
Types of Driftwood in Aquascape
1. MOPANI DRIFTWOOD
This species of driftwood indigenous to South Africa, from the grasslands in the North. Also known as “gnarly driftwood”, the Mopani driftwood is typically dense and submerges in water readily. With colors ranging from light to reddish-brown, this species is highly versatile and incredibly ideal for your aquascape.
2. CHOLLA WOOD
Reputed for its tubiform shape, cholla wood is another prominent wood used in aquariums; especially those with shrimps in them. The cholla wood is what you may describe as the skeletal remains of the cholla cactus plant.
Cholla wood is very healthy for shrimps because they release healthy amounts of tannins and biofilm. The wood also serves as a great natural shelter for fish and will beautify your aquarium.
3. SPIDER WOOD
Also known as Azalea Roots; originating from the forests of North America and Asia, spider wood is famed to be the lightest and softest of all the wood used in aquascaping. Due to its’ branchiness, spider wood provides enough room for your plants to cling on to and grow, giving a tree-like detail to your aquascape.
Although very difficult to sink, with the right procedure, spider wood makes a healthy addition to your aquascape aquarium in that it does not harden water or pose a danger to fish.
4. BONSAI DRIFTWOOD
These are beautiful, handcrafted miniature trees made from natural wood. History has it that bonsai is an ancient Japanese art form of creating trees to replicate full-size trees and since the discovery that they add such charm to aquariums, aquascape hobbyists make use of this driftwood as it can be custom-made to suit individual taste.
Even though it is quite expensive to purchase, you can find bonsai driftwood in several aquascapes today and it is beautiful! If you want to broaden your creative horizons, you can take on the challenge of making your bonsai driftwood!
Other types of driftwood include planted driftwood, American driftwood, Malaysian driftwood, and coconut husks. Avoid using wood from cypress, lilac, cedar, walnut, spruce, ivy, pines or chestnut trees as they are all harmful to your aquarium.
Benefits of Driftwood in Aquascape Aquarium
Your freshwater aquascape aquarium is incomplete without driftwood. The functions of this hardscape double as the benefits and may be used interchangeably. Understanding the significance of driftwood and its benefits will spur you to make informed choices of driftwood that will keep your aquascape aquarium in its best condition.
This is perhaps the whole point of an aquascape setup; art in a box. Can you imagine how wonderful it is to create and maintain something so beautiful? Driftwood is one element that takes up significant space in your aquarium.
The arrangement of the driftwood is what forms the aesthetic base of your aquarium. This is why we recommend that you plan the arrangement of your aquascape before setup.
Aquascapes are known for their earthy, hyper-realistic ambiance, which can be achieved by using organic elements that will resonate positively with the inhabitants since they are also natural creatures. To help your plants and fish feel at home in your aquarium, go all out to make it happen. Driftwood also releases tannins into your aquarium, giving a nice, mild tint to the water.
After being subjected to the right treatment procedures of deep cleansing and sterilization, driftwood is very safe to be added to your aquascape aquarium. Before being submerged, driftwood is supposed to be dried out to kill inherent toxins.
While some driftwood typically lower PH and soften the water, others have almost no effect on the water. Consequently, the use of driftwood in your aquascape should not surge the chemicals and nutrients in your aquarium water.
Water chemistry and its effects on your aquascape can not be sidelined; a simple error can pollute your aquarium and pose a threat to the plants and fish. As a proactive measure, study your choice driftwood properly and purchase only fish that are compatible with the selected driftwood.
If yours is a planted aquarium, do the same. In addition to regulating your water, driftwood is beneficial in that it produces tannins, biofilm, and aids the growth of healthy bacteria.
Wonder why “healthy” and “bacteria” are in the same sentence?
Well, did you know that your aquarium needs a certain amount of bacteria per time?
That is why it is advised that even when cleaning out your aquarium, it is important not to rid it of all the bacteria
present. Your aquarium and its inhabitants are reliant on these bacteria to break down toxic fish waste, excess food, and decaying plants into nitrates. Tannins are produced by some species of driftwood like spider wood and are responsible for increasing the acidity of your water, which is beneficial to some species of fish.
They also color freshwater aquaria slightly. While this is not a welcome development to some aquascape hobbyists, others are hardly bothered by it and opine that it makes your aquascape look all the more natural. “Tea” water; as such discolored aquarium water is referred to, is considered a replication of the Amazonian lakes.
If you find the color change unappealing or problematic, the simple solution is more frequent water changes.
Food & Shelter
Interestingly, some species of driftwood are very edible for your fish; they eat just a little per time, such that it does not damage your wood. These driftwood species are rich in lignin and cellulose, which are great for the digestive system of your fish, as well as their immune systems.
Driftwood also serves as a shelter for your fish; natural hiding places roaming areas are characteristics of fish natural habitats; therefore, providing a lookalike of their former homes will make your fish more secure. Fish are very sensitive to their environment and you can easily tell they’d be happy in their new home
Is your aquascape strictly planted? Then you also need driftwood!
Live plants are just as sensitive to their habitats as fish and require the same attention While discussing the aesthetic importance of driftwood.
We indicated that it gives your aquascape a detailed, three-dimensional character, remember?
A vital benefit of driftwood to your plants is that it provides a frame-like structure on which they grow and spread.
When setting up your aquascape, attach your plants to the driftwood using a fishing line, over time, your plants begin to form roots around the wood and come to life! Ferns and mosses typically grow on stumps; you can replicate this in your aquascape by attaching these plants to your driftwood and your aquascape becomes plant heaven!
Driftwood usage in Aquascape Aquarium
- Do plan your driftwood arrangement well. If possible, do a rough sketch of your aquascape to give a clear view of what it will look like; to ensure your driftwood is not awkwardly placed or causing an obstruction to your fish. Also plan to place your driftwood in a position that will make it easier to alter if need be.
- Do embrace research and study as necessary to equip yourself with necessary information about your aquascape. If you are unsure about any driftwood, research on it thoroughly before adding it to your aquarium.
- Do purchase your driftwood from trusted sellers only. Don’t risk the safety of your aquarium by buying from unknown suppliers.
- Don’t use driftwood that is not compatible with your plants and fish.
- Don’t use untreated driftwood in your aquascape; no matter how credible your supplier is, ensure you clean and sterilize your driftwood before use. This gets rid of residual fungi and other harmful toxins; also ensure your driftwood is well dried out before submerging. Fresh driftwood is potentially unsafe for your aquarium and its inhabitants; this applies to all species of driftwood!
- Don’t is quick to alter the position of your driftwood at the slightest, this change can cause water chemical sings that will affect your plants and fish. That is why high recommend that you plan your aquascape layout well before setup.
Driftwood has all-around tremendous benefits in your aquarium, ditch that improvisation idea and get to research about the best suited and most affordable driftwood for your aquascape. Remember to follow the safety guidelines to ensure your driftwood and by extension—your aquarium is harm-free; it is a rewarding experience!