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Driftwood in Aquariums - What You Should Know

Driftwood in Aquariums - What You Should Know
A favorite aquascaping material, driftwood has been used by aquarists since the dawn of fish keeping to create beautiful and natural aquascapes within our aquariums. There are a wide variety of woods available, all with unique shapes, colors and textures, making it easy to find a type of driftwood to match your taste. Driftwood, despite being a wonderful decor option, does have a few properties you will want to consider before plunging a choice piece in your aquarium.

 

Tannins

Driftwood, like most plant material, contains tannins. So unless you are trying to achieve a blackwater biotope, you will probably want to mitigate as much of the tannins as you can. Pre-soaking driftwood in hot water for a few hours will help remove a lot of tannins before you put the wood into your aquarium. You can repeat the process several times until the wood has lost the majority of its tannins. If you still end up with some yellow coloration in your aquarium even after you've pre-soaked your wood, a small amount of carbon in your filter can remove the coloration.

 

Wood Floats

Until it becomes waterlogged, most driftwood will want to float, although some types of wood are denser than others and may naturally want to sink. When aquascaping with wood, it can be beneficial to mount the wood to a piece of slate, or other rock, to help keep it in place while it slowly absorbs water and naturally weighs itself down. Alternatively, pre-soaking the wood until it sinks is a great way to make sure the aquascape you worked hard to achieve does not float away as you fill the aquarium!

 

Breaking Down

Wood is organic and that means it will break down over time. How quickly it breaks down will depend on a number of factors, but on average, most driftwood will begin to show signs of deterioration as early as 2 years after being submerged and may need replacing after roughly 5 years. As the wood begins to deteriorate, the outside of the wood will start to feel soft and fall away in the form of fluffy, muddy debris. This debris can build up on the substrate of the aquarium and resemble piles of fish waste. It will often be sucked up by the filter and can clog mechanical media with a dark brown mud. If the rate of deterioration is making aquarium and filter maintenance difficult, it is likely time to replace the driftwood in the tank. This might seem unfortunate, but it gives you the opportunity to re-scape your aquarium and try something new, be it another driftwood showpiece, or something more permanent like dragon stone!

 

With these considerations in mind, working with driftwood to create beautiful aquascapes and biotopes can be a fun and rewarding process!

3 Easy Steps for Crystal Clear Water

3 Easy Steps for Crystal Clear Water

There is nothing quite like having crystal clear water in your aquarium, but achieving crystal clear water is not always easy. Particulates like dust and debris, tannins from driftwood and suspended algae can make your water look foggy, discolored and dirty overall. The good news is, there are 3 simple steps you can take to help remove any unwanteds from your water and achieve that stunning clarity all aquarists strive for!

STEP 1 - Activated Carbon

Activated Carbon is a chemical media that when added to your filter, or aquarium directly in a media bag, will absorb a wide range of chemicals including tannins, and other substances that can cause discoloration to your water. If your water happens to be a little smelly, activated carbon is going to help remove that as well.

 

STEP 2 - Fine Filtration

Poly pads, filter floss and felt pad media with a small micron rating placed inside your filter are some of the best options for removing small particulates like dust, mulm and even suspended algae from the water column. Most filters will have branded options for fine filtration, but best results may come from a specialized cut-to-fit micron pad with a rating of 100 microns or less. Keep in mind that this filter media should be used for maintenance only and not all the time since it will bog up quickly with dirt and debris. 24 to 48 hours is usually all it takes to get the job done.

 

STEP 3 - Water Clarifier (Flocculant)

The last step that will really boost the results of step 2 is the addition of a water clarifier. In essence, a water clarifier is a liquid additive that acts as a flocculant to bind all of the tiny particles in the aquarium into larger clumps, making it much easier for your fine filtration to pull out even the tiniest of particulates. This is where we most often see the water really clear up to the point where it looks like our fish are floating on air!

 

Following these 3 steps has a proven track record of excellent results and can be the secret weapon of any aquarium owner looking to achieve that highly sought after ultra-clear water.

5 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners

5 Easy Aquarium Plants for Beginners
Adding live plants to your aquarium is a fantastic way to create a natural looking tank that functions like a complete ecosystem by removing excess nutrients from the water. Planted tanks can also have a complexity to them that makes them a challenge for newer aquarium owners, but not all plants are difficult to provide for and this list will give you 5 great options if you are looking for easy-to-grow aquarium plants!

Java Moss

One of the easiest and simplest aquatic plants to keep is Java Moss. It grows under a multitude of light intensities, with or without CO2, with or without fertilization and can be attached to driftwood, rocks, plastic grid, or just about any other surface to create a carpeting effect. Java Moss, when grown bushy, can serve as a hiding place for baby fish and shrimp. It is also a great tool for helping to keep nitrate and phosphate low. How quickly it grows will depend on the conditions you provide.

Anubias

A unique plant that has rigid and robust foliage sprouting from a rhizome, Anubius is another plant that happily grows on driftwood, rocks, ornaments, or even rooted into plain pea gravel. Anubius is a notoriously slow growing plant but has the distinct advantage of being nearly bullet-proof in low light and low nutrient conditions, making it an excellent beginner plant. There are many varieties of Anubias ranging from the small ‘nana petite’ to the larger ‘barteri’ making it easy to find a good placement in your aquascape for an Anubias, whether it is low in the foreground, or tall in the background. Anubias is also a good option for aquariums with fish notorious for eating plants as the rigid leaves are much more difficult to damage.

 

Cryptocoryne

If you are looking for a plant with interesting leaf texture, more earthy tones and coloration, Cryptocorynes are a great option. They have quite a range in leaf size, shape and come in a wide variety of colors from light greens, dark greens and browns to bold reds. They do well in systems with medium light, with or without CO2, and minimal fertilization. Cryptocorynes can work well as midground and background plants in smaller aquascapes and as foreground and midground plants in larger aquascapes. A few notable species are wendtii, crispatula and undulata.

 

Java Fern

Much like Java Moss, Java Fern is an easy and robust plant to keep that grows in just about any aquarium setting. Being a true fern, it has prehistoric looking fronds with sori (little orange-brown dots) along the underside of each leaf. Java Fern is also a rhizome plant and is easily attached to driftwood, rocks or planted in just about any substrate. It can grow quite tall and busy making it an excellent midground and background plant. There are several species readily available including narrow-leaf and trident-leaf varieties if you are looking for something more elongated and wispy.

Jungle Vals

Last but not least on the list is Jungle Valisneria, also called ‘Vals’ for short. Jungle Vals grow long and tall with leaves that are straight and flat like grass. They grow easily in almost any aquarium setup with a moderate amount of light. They also uptake nutrients quickly because of their rapid growth and can do a good job of reducing nitrates and phosphates in the aquarium. They make a fantastic background plant and will lie across the surface of the water if they grow too tall. Trimming is easily done to keep the leaves shorter if desired. Overall they are an excellent choice for a first time aquatic plant owner!

Give these plants a try and transform the look of your aquarium while adding the benefits of an ecosystem for your fish!


Acknowledgements:
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