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Old 09-18-2013, 10:44 PM   #1
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Wild Caught Driftwood

Ok so if you "catch" a nice piece of driftwood in a lake how do you know if it is aqarium safe? It looks like a pine branch but it is sinking so I know it has been in the water awhile. One of my LFS said they pull driftwood out of the lake all the time with no issues (in fact I bought a piece they supposedly drug up from the bottom of the lake) however I do not know how trust worthy he is.
Also the other issue. The lake is mildly contaminated. We are not supposed to eat more than a certain number of fish a week (although this past year they may have lifted this ban) due to mercury.
I dont want to risk my fish but I also dont want to miss out on this nice piece of driftwood unless it is absolutely necessary.
Thanks and God bless!
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:13 PM   #2
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Be very careful using found wood. I did that and I believe it was the reason my dwarf puffer died. I baked the wood and soaked it for weeks but after it went in the tank it got a nasty smell and some type of fungus on it. Then my puffer got a fungus infection. Do not know for sure if that was the cause but I am not taking any more changes. I ordered a box of grapewood sticks for $22 shipped on Blooms and Branches. Got some great pieces, most are decent size and interesting pieces.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:49 PM   #3
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Be very careful using found wood. I did that and I believe it was the reason my dwarf puffer died. I baked the wood and soaked it for weeks but after it went in the tank it got a nasty smell and some type of fungus on it. Then my puffer got a fungus infection. Do not know for sure if that was the cause but I am not taking any more changes. I ordered a box of grapewood sticks for $22 shipped on Blooms and Branches. Got some great pieces, most are decent size and interesting pieces.
Hmmmmm..... My African Leaf fish are hard to find........ grrr.... this is a pain! It cost to much to buy driftwood!
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:57 PM   #4
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I went out and got a big pile of drift wood from the local river last spring and haven't had any issues with it and plan on doing it again after the next melt. That driftwood continues to be the single best addition I've ever put in my tank.

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Be very careful using found wood. I did that and I believe it was the reason my dwarf puffer died. I baked the wood and soaked it for weeks but after it went in the tank it got a nasty smell and some type of fungus on it. Then my puffer got a fungus infection. Do not know for sure if that was the cause but I am not taking any more changes. I ordered a box of grapewood sticks for $22 shipped on Blooms and Branches. Got some great pieces, most are decent size and interesting pieces.
That type of fungusy looking growth is very very common for new drift wood. Mopani is particularly susceptible to it. It is also harmless to anything in the tank and goes away on its own.

I had it appear on my mopani for a while and it just went away after a month or so. It looked almost exactly like this.



I see people often comment about not using driftwood that they found saying that it's potentially hazardous to the tank. But I feel the need to point out that pretty much all driftwood, even that stuff found at the chain LFS was found in a body of water somewhere.

As long as the wood is well weathered then it should be fine. I would however hesitate to use any type of pine because of the copious amounts of sap.

As for the minute mercury concentration, I wouldn't find it particularly worrisome. The slow leaching of a teeny tiny amount of mercury that potentially collected in the wood is completely negligible. With fish it is more of an issue because it will travel up the food chain and accumulate in greater quantities as fish eat prey species that are contaminated with minute amounts of mercury.
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Old 09-19-2013, 12:36 AM   #5
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I think boiling it would kill off anything on the wood.
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Old 09-19-2013, 12:51 AM   #6
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First of all you need to use wood that isn't sappy. Evergreens, maples, etc could leak sap into your wood and this could be deadly.
After that you want to find hard woods so they don't rot and break apart in your tank. Most pieces that you found sunk in your lake should be safe but there's always a risk.

Preparing it can be done a few ways. Microwaving works, or baking at 350 for about 30 minutes then resoaking it will kill anything on/in it. If it's two big to do these, I'd recommend using a trashing can, out your wood in and pour boiling water over it. Boiling also helps take out some tannins. (I personally like the tannins so I don't do much to avoid them, but everyone has a preference) last step scrub the wood down with a stiff bristle brush or steel wool, rinse and sink in your tank.
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Old 09-19-2013, 10:35 AM   #7
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Thanks all! I guess since it is pine it isnt safe theen? Ihas been in there along time so I thought it wouod be ok.
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Old 09-19-2013, 09:24 PM   #8
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I am not against found wood in a tank. Bought driftwood is so expensive. I have several pieces of water birch in my other tanks that came from my property. The piece I had problems with was one I could not identify its' tree type. All the bark was gone and it was so weathered I could not tell what the tree was. I suspect it was black locust though. The moldy stuff was black and stinky. It may not have been the problem but I am not taking any chances. My water birch got the clear and whitish slime on it too. It went away after awhile. Just be careful what type of wood you use. Pine is a no no. Stick with birch, poplar, oak, or other hard type wood.
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Old 09-19-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
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I am not against found wood in a tank. Bought driftwood is so expensive. I have several pieces of water birch in my other tanks that came from my property. The piece I had problems with was one I could not identify its' tree type. All the bark was gone and it was so weathered I could not tell what the tree was. I suspect it was black locust though. The moldy stuff was black and stinky. It may not have been the problem but I am not taking any chances. My water birch got the clear and whitish slime on it too. It went away after awhile. Just be careful what type of wood you use. Pine is a no no. Stick with birch, poplar, oak, or other hard type wood.
I asked my dad to check it out. He said he didnt think it was pine but he wasnt 100% sure. Should I just stick it in and watch carefully?
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Old 09-19-2013, 10:49 PM   #10
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I think it will be okay especially since it had been submerged for a while.
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Old 09-19-2013, 10:51 PM   #11
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I think it will be okay especially since it had been submerged for a while.
Lets assume it is not ok for a sec. Will I have any signs that all is not right before the fish apocalyps?
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Old 09-19-2013, 10:56 PM   #12
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Ummm not really
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:16 PM   #13
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Ummm not really
That is really unfortunate....
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:55 PM   #14
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Lets assume it is not ok for a sec. Will I have any signs that all is not right before the fish apocalyps?
Well the big issue with pine is the sap in it. While it's not inherently dangerous to fish it could still contain enough sap to cause issues. If theres enough left in the driftwood, given time it will turn your tank into a gooey mess. If it's well weathered I would say give it a try and pull it out if you can see large amounts of sap coming from it. It should take quite a while before it poses an issue to fish. Either that or let it sit in a bucket of water for a week or two and see what happens.

Cedar is the big one you have to look out for because it contains some toxic compounds in it (bug repellent)
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Old 09-20-2013, 12:01 AM   #15
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Well the big issue with pine is the sap in it. While it's not inherently dangerous to fish it could still contain enough sap to cause issues. If theres enough left in the driftwood, given time it will turn your tank into a gooey mess. If it's well weathered I would say give it a try and pull it out if you can see large amounts of sap coming from it. It should take quite a while before it poses an issue to fish. Either that or let it sit in a bucket of water for a week or two and see what happens.

Cedar is the big one you have to look out for because it contains some toxic compounds in it (bug repellent)
Ok thanks! Now I am worried because I sprayed bug spray near it though.... I didnt think I would get close enough but when you see the giant wasp come near you.... I dont think I hit it but Im paranoid lol
So it is probably safe but if in the water I see sap seeping out then pull it?
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:13 AM   #16
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If bug spray was anywhere near it I would say no. It's better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:51 AM   #17
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If bug spray was anywhere near it I would say no. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Thats what I was thinking. Well thanks everybody. I may try to find some more sometime. If I do find more what steps would you take to prep wood found in a lake?
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:12 AM   #18
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Boiling the piece should take care of it, if its too big, soak outside in a tub with salt for water softeners thats 99%+ pure for @ least a month.
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:14 AM   #19
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Boiling the piece should take care of it, if its too big, soak outside in a tub with salt for water softeners thats 99%+ pure for @ least a month. p
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:42 AM   #20
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Boiling the piece should take care of it, if its too big, soak outside in a tub with salt for water softeners thats 99%+ pure for @ least a month. p
Wow....maybe Ill just save up... lol
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