Best Driftwood For Aquariums
Driftwood in an Aquarium can look stunning and offer lot of options for designing your aquarium. They can make some really amazing aquascapes, especially heavily planted ones. We need to be careful in our driftwood selection process though.
Today's post discusses the best driftwood for aquariums. Much like the best aquarium rocks post earlier, driftwood is not as simple as picking it out of of your local pond or aquarium. Driftwood if not selected or prepped properly can have disastrous results in your aquarium.
This is why this post is going to focus on commercial selections for driftwood. I'm not going to be talking about DIY options as they can be risky and something only someone with experience should handle. I'm going to discuss the types of driftwood available then go over several recommended options. In the post, there will be affiliate links where I may get a commission should you choose to make a purchase at no charge to you. With that disclosure provided, let's go ahead and get started.
What Is Aquarium Driftwood?
Aquarium driftwood is wood that has been washed over through a beach, river, or a lake. This driftwood provides shelter and food for inverts and fish in freshwater aquariums. They also provide cover and a source of food for birds that live near the waters. Most driftwood are the remains of trees. Driftwood has also been discussed in Norse mythology. In the mythology, the first humans were formed out of two pieces of driftwood made of ash and elm by the god Odin.
Aquarium Driftwood and Tannins
Before I go over the types of aquarium driftwood, let's talk about what Tannins are a natural compound contained in driftwood. They are released into your aquarium as the driftwood soaks. When tannins are released into your aquarium, the compound will discolor your water. At low levels, it will look like a light yellow color and at high concentrations, it will look like the color of tea (as showed by the fishlore forum member GreeksGills) . While tannins will not harm your fish, it is not very pleasing to the eye.
There are ways to mitigate tannins in your aquarium. The first is to boil your driftwood before it goes into your aquarium. You can also add carbon media to remove the discoloration. I will go more into Driftwood prepping later in this post.
Types of Aquarium Driftwood
Before we look at a list of driftwood we can buy, let's talk about the types of aquarium driftwood available in our hobby. They all have different looks and characteristics.
Bonsai Driftwood is a designer driftwood that is handcrafted by artisans to create unique works of art. These wood pieces resemble a bonsai tree. They are amazing piece alone in an aquarium and are eye catching with live plants growing on them. The favorite type of plant to grow on this driftwood are mosses. They are sharp and not ideal for Fancy Goldfish or Betta Fish. They are pricey and each piece is unique. They contain a moderate amount of tannins and will lower pH.
Cholla driftwood is one of the cheapest and readily available driftwood you can find. It is native to the Southwest United States. It is actually the dried remains of a Cholla Cactus. It is one of the go to driftwoods for Freshwater Shrimp Tanks. The reason why is because the Cholla surface is ideal for harvesting biofilm. It has a moderate tannin count and takes some time to get waterlogged.
Manzanita Driftwood is becoming a highly desired aquarium driftwood for aquascapers. It is wood that comes from shrubs native to Oregon, Texas, California and New Mexico. It has many advantages over other types of driftwood. It has a low tannin count and looks amazing. It has a branch like structure, which creates unique looking scapes. It waterlogs the fastest among all other driftwood available. It is one of the few driftwoods you can buy that is pH neutral. No pH change is a big game changer for those who want driftwood but may have fish that are not compatible with lower pHs. It is very resistant to decomposition. This makes this driftwood very long lasting and strong.
It really is in my mind the driftwood of choice. What's the catch? Well, it's difficult to find. The best sources are going to be smaller sellers online.
Mopani is a unique looking wood comprised of 2 tone color combinations. It will lower your pH and has a high tannin count. It is becoming a more popular driftwood for aquariums as larger aquarium brands are starting to sell in in stores. It is a readily available driftwood. They are imported from the plains of Namibia by local tribesmen.
Spiderwood is well known for its varied branched appearance. It is found in Mongolia and looks like a spider (hence the name). It matures into a beautiful Mahogany color in the aquarium. This wood has a low tannin count and is quick to get water logged. Since this is an imported wood, it is usually on the cheaper end compared to others.
Tiger wood derived it's name by its shape. It looks like the strips of a tiger or the claws of one. It is pale in appearance and has a branched look that is thicker than most branch type driftwood. They generally are only available as larger show pieces. This type of driftwood is ideal for attaching ferns and mosses. It has a light amount of tannins and will get waterlogged quickly.
The Best Driftwood For Aquariums
Now that I have gone over what driftwood is and the types available for sale, let's talk about the best ones to buy. Below our my recommended picks.
1. Aquatic Arts Tiger Wood - Amazing Showpiece Driftwood
We start off our list by these amazing show pieces by Aquatic Arts. Aquatic arts offers tiger wood in large sizes regarding from 12-16" to 14-18" sizes. This driftwood has thick branches with great shapes that will look great in longer and larger aquariums. Because of tiger wood's low tannin count and ease to water log, it is easy to prep for aquarium usage.
Because it's only available in larger sizes, those with smaller tanks will need to look at another driftwood piece. It is a moderately priced driftwood.
- Amazing show pieces
- Unique branch structures
- Easy to prep
- Only available in large sizes
2. Bonsai Driftwood - Create An Underwater Japanese Garden Today!
These Bonsai Driftwood pieces offered for size are amazing looking in your aquarium. They have the added benefit of lowing your pH and softening your water, making them ideal for the vast majority of planted tank setups.
Bonsai trees cans be different to aquascape. They require a high amount of touch not only to get the moss down correctly, but also to keep them well groomed. If you are up for the challenge and want something stunning, this could be the wood piece for you!
- Amazing looking
- Lowers pH and softens water
- Takes skill to aquascape properly
3. Fluval Mopani Wood - Driftwood from a Trusted Brand
The Fluval name brand enters our list with their Mopani Wood product. This is the same Mopani Wood you saw me explain earlier, but backed by the Fluval name. The result is you get high quality specimens that are well picked by Fluval. You also get a competitive price due to Fluval's scale of operations. They offer both small and large sizes so you can find the right size for your aquarium in their selection.
The only thing I do not like is the Mopani wood itself. Mopani is notorious for its tannin leeching. Fluval puts in their product description that it "adds a slight tint water, creating a more natural looking water conditions." Honestly, that is just covering the for the tannins here. Take your time to prep this wood and have your carbon ready if you want to use this driftwood. They are great looking pieces if you can handle the tannin leeching.
- Fluval Name
- Well picked specimens
- Great price
- Tannin leeching from Mopani
4. Galapagos Spider Wood - Spider Wood at a Jaw Dropping Price!
If you are looking for spider wood, I would highly recommend Galapagos Spider Wood. These pieces are large, measuring at 12 - 24" inches. They are offered at super low prices. It's really hard to find something of similar quality at the price these are sold for.
The only con I can see with these pieces is that they vary a lot. I would have preferred Galapagos giving a range of say 12 - 16 inches or 12- 18 inches then have a bigger size offering for those who want bigger. It can be a bit of a chance to talk, but the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. They are definitely worth a look!
- Exotic looking pieces
- Great Price
- Sizable pieces
- Highly varied pieces
5. Koyal Wholesale California Driftwood - Old School Bogwood
Koyal Wholesale's driftwood pieces are known in the wedding industry due to the hit wedding TV show My Fair Wedding. However, these pieces are also great for aquariums. This product from Koyal reminds me a lot of the old bogwood pieces that used to be offered at fish stores. There is also a Grapewood Branch variant that is offer that looks more like the the other driftwood pieces on this list.
Given the popularity and supply of the product, they are offered at a competitive price. They are sold at 12" pieces, which should be fine for most aquariums. The major complaint with these have been the wood takes a long time to water log and there have been shipping mishaps.
- Old school bogwood look
- Shipping issues
- Takes long to water log
6. Hamiledyi Driftwood - Budget Driftwood
If you are looking for budget driftwood these pieces from Hamiledyi are what you are looking for. They are ideal for smaller tanks and the pieces have good variation. The price is very reasonable and wood is lightweight.
Hamiledyi does not state the origin of this driftwood. From what we know from the review this is a high tannin count wood. It is likely this wood is a variation of Malaysian Driftwood, which is a common wood found at local fish store. Given it's budget price, it's not a finished wood as well. Expect to sand down edges to make it smooth to the touch.
- Small Sizes
- Good variation
- Mixed Driftwood - you do not know the type or source
- High tannin count
- Raw wood
7. Manzanita Direct WYSIWYG Wood - Showpieces for Award Winning Aquascapes
Are you looking for top quality aquarium driftwood pieces? If so, Manzanita Direct is where you want to go. This is a WYSIWYG vendor with large and impressive show pieces for sale. They deal with Manzanita, which we learned earlier is the driftwood of choice. Manzanita has low tannins, won't alter pH, and easy to install.
The other thing I love is this is the only vendor on our list that offers truck style driftwood. If you know anything about nature aquascape, truck style driftwood offers amazing forest like backdrops.
Above is an example of the trunk style driftwood Manzanita direct offers. All the pieces they offer are giant pieces. Make sure you take your measurements on your aquarium before purchasing.
This is the some best quality driftwood you can buy online. It has a high price tag as a result and expect slower shipping times due to their size.
- Only vendor that offers trunk style pieces
- Gigantic pieces
- Slower shipping
8. Manzanita Driftwood - Budget Friendly Manzanita
If Manzanita direct is too expensive for your budget, consider this lower priced alternative. These are valued priced pieces that offer all the advantages of Manzanita. They are sold in 12-16" pieces, which should be plenty large for most aquariums.
Like many Manzanita sellers, availability is limited. I would suggest jumping on a purchase if pieces are in stock.
- Manzanita Driftwood
- Large Pieces
9. NiloG Cholla Wood - The Driftwood for Freshwater Shrimp Tanks
If you are looking for wood for a shrimp tank, this is the product to buy. This Cholla Wood by NiloG is a great buy. It is cheap and your shrimp will love you for it as they feed off it all day.
Cholla is not for every fish tank. It decays fast and needs an inhabitant that will happily eat it while it decomposes. This is why they are ideal for shrimp tanks as they will scavenge off the remains.
- Great for shrimp tanks
The Best Driftwood For Aquariums (Our Expert's Choice)
There are so many quality driftwood to pick here it's really hard to pick a winner. Let's separate these into separate categories as there is a piece for everyone's needs here.
- Best value driftwood - Galapagos Spider Wood
- Cheapest driftwood - Hamiledyi Driftwood
- Best quality driftwood - Manzanita Direct
How To Prep Driftwood for Aquarium Usage
So now that you know what the best driftwood is to buy, let's talk about getting them into your aquarium. There are two things we want to do to prep our driftwood for aquarium usage:
- Removing Tannins
- Waterlogging the wood
There are two options two achieve both. One would be soaking the driftwood. This takes a long time, usually 2-4 weeks. While this may work for very large show pieces, it's not a fun method for the those of us excited to scape our tanks. Boiling would be our next option and the preferred way of prepping our aquarium driftwood.
The video below by Long Island Fish Guy illustrates the process. When boiling, you want to boil until you the water in the boil pot is clear. You will also want to utilize carbon media to mitigate any residual leeching of tannins afterwords.
If you have a large piece of driftwood, you can boil it in sections boil. Put what you can fit in your pot as you go. If the wood is very large, you may have to consider the soaking method
One thing to note is Tannins do have benefits in an aquarium. It just doesn't make your aquarium look pleasing to the eye for most. My preference is to purchase driftwood with low tannin count like Manzanita or Spiderwood. This helps with ease of prep and keeps your aquarium clear of that tea color.
How To Attach Live Plants to Driftwood
Attaching live plants to your driftwood really makes your aquascape come alive. There are two type of live plants that are ideal for attaching to driftwood.
- Column feeding live plants
For moss, you can use super glue to attach the base of the moss to your driftwood. Below is a great video by Roma Aquatics that shows how to do this. What I love about attaching plants on wood is you can do this outside of your aquarium and take your time with it.
The next video by Fishaholic shows how to attach a column feeding live plant to driftwood. This example is Java Fern. You can do this with any other column feeding live plant. Both methods I'm showing here are done with super glue. I prefer this method over fishing line or tiebacks since glue is invisible and easier to work with in my experience.
Closing Thoughts on Best Driftwood For Aquariums
Driftwood adds a lot of beauty to your aquarium. I hope through this post I was able to help you make an informed decision on what the driftwood you want to purchase for your aquarium. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you for reading and see you next time!
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Also in The AquariumStoreDepot.com blog
Sometimes, the best part of owning an aquarium isn’t buying it or getting any fancy equipment. As is the case with a home, the best part of owning an aquarium is putting personal touches on it to make something unique. Those aquarium decorations for your fish tank can be very satisfying to set up.
Picking out the decor for your aquarium fish tank can be a tough process, simply because there are so many aquarium products to sort through when searching. Rocks, aquarium lights, plants, and other structures; there is a wide variety of things you can choose for your aquarium. You can model your aquarium after your own house or do something completely unexpected and off the wall.
Are you wanting to keep a fish tank, but don't want to deal with the hassle of cleaning it? Do you want a low-maintenance fish tank? Perhaps you want to try out aquaponics and grow vegetables with your fish tank? If any 3 questions peak your interest, than purchasing the best self cleaning fish tank for you is the answer.
That's what this post is all about today. Finding a self cleaning fish tank that is easy to use and maintain.