How to make driftwood for aquarium getting things done the easy wayFish keepers like to add or make driftwood for aquarium setups for many reasons. Driftwood is aesthetically pleasing, can help with water conditioning, and acts as an additional food source for fish.

But is buying driftwood from stores necessary?

Not really, and that’s what this article is about. Stay with us as we share the lowdown on DIY driftwood and more!

How To Make Driftwood for Aquarium?

If you’re used to undertakings that yield immediate results, you want to reconsider taking on the ‘DIY driftwood for aquarium’ project. Making driftwood is straightforward, but it’s also long-drawn and requires a fair bit of patience.

However, the good news is that once you understand the concept of making driftwood by yourself, you can create larger pieces to accommodate all tank sizes and save quite a lot of money.

Let’s get down to our thorough step-by-step tutorial about making driftwood for aquarium(s).

– Step 1

An aquarium’s ecosystem takes time to develop and mature, but it’s also incredibly sensitive and shouldn’t be tested by introducing too many new objects.

This fact is critical to keep in mind when creating driftwood for a fish tank because poorly treated driftwood can create more concerns than you would want to deal with.

With that disclaimer in mind, here’s a list of materials you’ll need for this venture: a wood piece, an adequately-sized bucket, brush, de-chlorinated water, a pot or pan large enough to accommodate the wood piece.

– Step 2

If you’re planning to add driftwood to your tank, you’ve likely thought about where the decoration will go in your tank. If you haven’t taken your fish tank layout into account, now’s the time to do so. There’s no point in following all the steps that come after this one if you haven’t measured and ensured the wood you’ve selected won’t compliment your aquarium.

The first factor you should think about is size. Think of the capacity of your aquarium, along with its length and breadth and the area in between. Besides that, consider placement. How do you want to arrange the wood piece in your tank, and what decorations or plants do you need to keep in mind.

The easiest way to avoid sizing and placement concerns when DIY-ing driftwood is by noting down the measurements of the aquarium and the wood piece.

Next, grab a paper and draw out a rough sketch of how you imagine your fish tank to look once the driftwood is ready. This may sound like extra work, but it can help aquarists discover the ideal setting for the wood piece without having to move any plants or decorations.

Remember, the sketch gives you an idea of what your tank may look like once the driftwood is ready. It need not be a great work of art, and you don’t have to spend too much time creating one.

In fact, it’s best to create at least two or three sketches, each depicting a different layout to help you visualize your end goal. Once you’ve chosen a particular format, it’s time to move on to the next step of the process.

– Step 3

Step three of the ‘make your own driftwood for aquarium and tanks project’ revolved around how to go about picking the perfect wood piece as driftwood.

If your choice of wood is unwise, you can face problems like rotting, depleting water conditions, etc. Hence, any random piece of wood (be it on the beach or anywhere else) isn’t something you can directly add to a fish tank because it could contain all sorts of chemicals or microbes.

When selecting wood for driftwood, always choose hardwood over softwood. Softwoods, for their benefits, contain resin and sap that’s more susceptible to rotting and can also leach into the fish tank water. The latter concern can be dangerous for the health of your tank’s inhabitants.

If you’re not sure whether the wood piece you have is hardwood or softwood, here’s a handy trick. Try digging your fingernail into the wood’s surface, and if you can’t push your nail into the wood, it’s a piece of hardwood.

– Step 4

Note some pieces of hardwood are better than others. Wood types can differ in features. For example, African driftwood can stay stationary in one place without being weighed down. Manzanita wood has a pretty low tannins range and can withstand wear and tear better.

However, if you cannot find unique wood types in your local stores, don’t stress. Stick to whatever kind of hardwood is available in your area, but do some basic research about the wood type before committing.

If you’re planning to visit nature’s store for your driftwood piece, it’s best to keep the following factors. Smaller wood pieces have a lesser chance of containing nasties like fungus or parasites living within them.

If the wood piece catching your fancy is from the seaside, it’s best to pay special attention to the steps after this one (about curing and other details).

That’s because curing will help prepare the piece to find a permanent home in your freshwater tank without issues like introducing sodium chloride in your fish tank.

– Step 5

No matter where you locate your perfect piece of hardwood, chances are it will be pretty dirty. Apart from being exposed to the elements, wood in the wild also faces problems like mud, pests, and other concerns. So, the first order of business is to give the hardwood piece a thorough cleaning.

Start by focusing on the bigger problems and work your way down. For example, if the wood contains large pieces of debris stuck to its surface or embedded inside, make removing it your priority.

Additionally, it’s best to wash, scrub, and rinse the wood to wash away the dirt and grime. Employ your garden hose to give the wood a good wash down, and grab a firm-bristled brush to scour the wood surface.

Don’t stress out if you discover any hard-to-reach nooks and crannies; instead, use the garden hose to create water pressure to flush out the impurities. At this point, don’t be tempted to give into adding household cleaning agents to mix for a cleaner effect. Cleaning agents contain harmful chemicals that can harm your fish if they find their way to the aquarium.

Keep tools like chisels, wood files, or sanding blocks handy to rid the wood piece of any sharp edges. This is an essential preparatory step because blunt edges can injure unsuspecting fish. Once that’s done, work slow and steady to remove the wood’s bark. This process may take time and effort, but it will help you create a smoother piece of wood and eliminate any hidden spots of pests.

– Step 6

Step six involves curing the driftwood. Unlike DIY fake driftwood for aquarium setups, curing wood is an essential part of the process to control the tannins from being released into the water.

Start by soaking the driftwood in dechlorinated water, ensuring it’s entirely submerged. Soaking the wood in this way helps waterlog it and will keep the wood from floating up to the surface when placed in the aquarium.

It’s best to keep the driftwood submerged for four weeks, but if you’re unable to wait that long, then soaking should last at least one week. Remember, the longer you allow the wood to soak in water, the better your chances are of ensuring the driftwood stays on the substrate floor in the aquarium.

Besides that, waterlogging the driftwood is an excellent way to release the majority of the tannins in the water instead of the water column of the fish tank. Tannins released in the aquarium can decrease the pH level of the water and cause it to darken, which is something you want to avoid.

Be sure to  while it soaks. It’s also a good idea to check on the water and see if its color chancheck on your driftwood dailyges. Once the water has changed color, drain it out, and fill the container with fresh water to allow the driftwood to keep soaking.

Repeat water changes as necessary throughout the one to four-week period. You’ll notice the water will be lighter with each change throughout the soaking. Once the water remains clear for three to four days in a row, the curing is over, and it’s safe to move on to the next stage.

– Step 7

After the curing stage is complete, it’s time to boil the driftwood. Boiling the wood helps the remaining tannins release faster, which aids the curing process.

Another reason why boiling wood is crucial is to ensure sterilization. This step will help eliminate any lingering microbes and algal or fungal spores inside the driftwood to make it completely safe to place inside your aquarium.

Just like an infected can endanger the health of all the other inhabitants of your aquarium, the presence of fungi or any other type of bacteria in driftwood can have the same and needs to be avoided.

Place the driftwood in an adequately-sized pot and fill it with water until the wood’s completely submerged. Boil the wood for about 60 to 120 minutes to thoroughly disinfect and sterilize it.

To be entirely on the safe side, you can replace the water once the 120 minutes are up and repeat the process. At times, the piece of driftwood you’ve selected can be a little too big for the pots you have at home. If that’s the case, it’s best to buy one large enough to accommodate the driftwood.

If you’re not willing to buy a new pot, the only other choice you have is to choose a new piece of wood and start the process all over again. This is why it’s crucial to get the size of wood right (according to the fish tank size and other equipment) right in the beginning.

– Step 8

Once you’ve boiled the driftwood, it’s time to prepare for setting it up inside your aquarium. This is where the sketches you made initially will come in real handy. Go through all the illustrations you’ve done and pick out the one you like the best.

You should note that if you’re not too sure about how the actual placement will look once it’s done, that’s okay. As long as there’s enough space on the aquarium floor to accommodate the driftwood, you’ll be able to try out a few variations until you find one that you like best.

Now, let’s talk about when you should add in the driftwood. The best time to place the driftwood in your fish tank is whenever you’re conducting a water change. Since most aquarists will perform a 25 percent water change every week, you’ll have plenty of chances.

Place the driftwood inside your fish tank gently, according to your layout, and check to see if it’s buoyant. If you notice the log floating, don’t panic. Just find something to weigh or tie the wood down to keep it in place. Over time, the water absorbed by the wood will cause it to turn heavy and lay flat against the substrate without tying it down with anything.

How to make driftwood for aquariumAfter placing the driftwood inside the aquarium, be sure to monitor the water conditions closely for the upcoming weeks. If you note the water turning darker or the pH levels taking a sudden dip, the driftwood may still be releasing tannins. If the conditions don’t improve within a day or two, remove the driftwood and repeat the curing and boiling process.


Making driftwood for your aquarium won’t be too challenging now that you have our handy guide by your side. Before we go, however, here’s a quick rundown of all the important points in the article:

  • Aquarists have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting driftwood. You can pick pieces based on wood type or the way it looks.
  • Hardwood makes the best driftwood pieces because they’re less susceptible to rotting and won’t leach resin or sap into the aquarium water.
  • Once you’ve selected your driftwood, it’s important to wash and scrub the piece to get rid of dirt and grime. It’s also best to remove the bark to eliminate any lingering parasites.
  • Curing (soaking the driftwood) in de-chlorinated water helps waterlog it and release tannins.
  • Boiling the driftwood is essential to curing and sterilizing the wood to make it ready for placement in the fish tank.

Now that our readers have all the information they need about DIY-ing driftwood for their aquariums, we hope they’ll gather all the materials they need right away to embark on this aquascaping adventure.

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