Where to Get Driftwood & Make it Safe for Aquarium

Driftwood for Fish Tank

Ever since I bagged my aquaculture diploma, the most interesting counselling I ever gave were always on driftwood. I notice a lot of you like it, you want it in your aquarium, makes it look like a real sea.

After I taught a client how it’s done and he did it one day, he joyfully confessed ‘I feel like a God!’, ‘oh really,’ I was amused, wondering why.

Then he told me, ‘it looks so beautiful like it’s an exciting real sea, just see, I have created a sea too!’ I smiled because that was true, adding driftwood gives you the sense of having a real sea.

The first thing I tell everyone who asks me where and how driftwood can be found and safely used in an aquarium is that there’s no magic, learning anything is possible.

You know, some people think getting a driftwood and preparing it for aquarium is done only by experts. Wait a second, aren’t you among those people?

Anyways, I’m glad to tell you that if only experts can do it, then I’m gonna make you one, right here, right now. Ready? I already have answers to the basket of questions you wanna dish out, so just get a glass of coffee and follow me attentively.

I hear people talk about it a lot, but what is driftwood?

Well driftwood is any hardwood, that dropped off its like branches found floating or carried about the shores by the waves of water. They can be found in dense areas too. Planks like droppings from boats aren’t examples.

We’re discussing hardwoods that still appear the natural way they were before dropping off trees into water. Those kind of tree branches and rocks form underwater forest too, so having them makes it seem like “you created a sea”.

Can I really put wood in an aquarium?

Absolutely! But hey, don’t try putting a softwood (redwood, pines, cedar and so forth) in your aquarium if you still need those amazing fishes. Interestingly, you can’t use any driftwood too, there’s spec too! Why? I will tell you! Softwood can be easily weakened, broken and shattered in the aquarium.

So you may end up with pieces of sticks littering your aquarium rather than an ideal wood, is that your plan? I hope I guess right.  There’s specs too! Did you say ‘Aww’? forget it, I already promised to make you an expert, so trust me, you will know everything! Don’t forget, driftwoods are the best you can use and certain driftwoods are recommended.

What driftwood is best for aquarium?

From what I told you, so many hardwoods can be considered driftwoods, but they don’t all fit in your aquarium nicely. Some are too weak, too hard or simply unsuitable.

You need a nice chop that could sink into water, settle comfortably and even hold golden, and orange aquatic plants that makes the whole ‘sea’ colorful. These driftwoods are mostly common in Africa and Malaysia, I attached a list for you to run through below.

Where can I get driftwood then?

Many of you already assume you can only get the perfect driftwood at a sea or river, or perhaps in the market. Sure, you can! But I hope you won’t feel frustrated when you get to a beach and find a hundred other people picking the same stuff you came to find.

It gets more disappointing to meet people who have been in the business of picking driftwood in the area much earlier, they know where to find the them, so they pick the best and make sure other people are left with bits and bonus, that’s if they are left with something.

You can also get to a market or just order online, buy some, the problem is just; how perfect? How many varieties are available for you to choose from?

Some driftwoods are treated just for reptiles, some just for fishes and some for both, except in the case it is purely explained, there’s always a risk of mixing them all and just picking a reptile’s driftwood, that’s death for your fishes!

Despite the risks, you can actually try your luck, you really may be lucky to get them, you also won’t want to pass through the rigor of finding a perfect driftwood for anything less than 75 gallons of aquarium size, except if you probably needed to whirl a morning with something, it’s perfect for that.

But you know what my top recommendation would be? Try the most exciting and surest ways, find them! All you need is a piece of gloves and shoes. You can also become a great marketer of driftwoods by finding them. The most creative way is to make it right under your roof? Trust me, I’ll show you how!

Where to Get Driftwood

How can I treat driftwood in an aquarium?

Well, I am so sorry to tell you, once your driftwood is implanted in the aquarium, it’s a good bye. You can’t help it no more. Don’t even hope to make it more appealing, or modify its size. It’s much better to cure it all once before you even insert it into the aquarium.

If it wasn’t okay when you inserted it in the aquarium, do you know it starts to infect the water that instant it enters? If it has a balanced toxic level that blends with the water originally, why treat it really?

But if perhaps you stuck it in the water before you got to know it’s problematic, remove it immediately and use it no more, if possible, lightly treat that water to keep your beauties safe in the pond.

If you manage to treat it like a new driftwood you just found in a river, it gets treated, but by the end of your treatments, it becomes too weak to stay in the aquarium most times, breaks and breaks your plan for a dazzling aquarium.

And, how do you sanitize driftwood?

Just before you dip it into your aquarium, treating driftwood is a necessary exercise even if you bought them friends. But don’t worry, it’s really fun.

There are just a couple of assignments to do, and you can challenge your friends or even families to see who does it faster and better. It isn’t difficult, and it don’t cost much really.

Okay, the total number of tasks to do on treatment actually depends on the source of your driftwood. Did you buy it? Well there isn’t much to do there.

Did you pick it? you’ve got a greater bunch of tasks. Making it yourself? There Boss, breathe in, breathe out, you’ve got a mountain of challenge to climb.

But trust me, you’re most probably making the best driftwood there is. Remember, you can make it in large scales for any friend who adores my aquarium to buy.

Can I preserve driftwood, How?

Well yes, you can! You may not need as many driftwood as you got, or you may get them before you got your aquarium. You may even get enough to sell or reserve for friends.

Does that mean you will have to throw them away? Course not, you can preserve them for as long as a month before use, sanitized of course.

They should even last longer, just that the longer they stay, the weaker they get. There are just a couple of assignments and you can preserve them for as long as I recommended.

Why should I even use driftwood? Just below!

Okay! Now, I am gonna name the best kinds of driftwood that would befit your aquarium. Not just that, I will tell you what exactly you could use to sanitize your driftwoods so that where you got them won’t ever matter, they are just gonna be perfect.

I am also gonna list all tips that can help you maintain a good and usable driftwood before use. You will find how you can make money too!

The best driftwoods for aquarium

As I mentioned, you must never consider softwood when planning a driftwood. Woods from pine, redwood and cedar are softwood.

Many hardwoods can be considered, but I love those that have branches, they can hold some other aquatic plants and form the ideal underwater forest in ‘your sea’. Below is a list of the top 5 in vogue. Trust me, the sight of your pool will bring automatic smiles to your face every time:


Cholla Wood

You remember there are snakes in the sea? The golden yellowed color of this driftwood and its architectural design makes you feel like you’ve got a snake in your aquarium. It has different branches that can hold any bit of plant flower.

Just think of it, you have a snake, you have fishes, you have the forest, and you’ve got rocks, what’s more, you really made your sea! I gotta tell you, it lasts, but not as much as most other driftwoods. I really recommend you order this, it’s not easy to come by, so you’d better not go finding it.


Beefwood is ideal for especially tall tanks, well over 140 gallons of water. It is long, thick and it spreads so well with tactical designs that it is enough to make your forest. It can hold aquatic plants too, but not as much as Cholla wood would.

Colophospermus Morpane (Morpani)

don’t get pissed off by the name, the botanical name is kinda complicated really, but the beauty is complicated too! It is ideal for short aquarium; you can use Malaysian drift wood instead if you’ve got a very large water.

Sometimes you’d think it’s a horse, it’s a dog, it’s a ship, it’s a anything, just because of its curved shape and branches. such an amazing beauty, you will enjoy watching your fishes play hide and seek here, trust me.


finally, the talk of the town! Strongest, craftiest and costliest! it’s got nice branches that could help you build that huge forest you’ve always liked. It’s always recommended you don’t use a freshly fallen one, because it could be so acidic you can’t wipe it all out during driftwood cure. So, you’d better find an old one, it’s always strong. You can actually find this on a pleasure walk.


it’s another perfect driftwood for you. I advise you don’t pick interest if you really have or prefer a small aquarium. This driftwood can tempt you to change your mind! Artists, Engineers have often confessed how seeing the structure of this driftwood has tempted them to create the unimaginable in their field.

There! The best five there is! There are some others you can use too, especially if the high demand for these five makes it difficult to obtain in your area. You may check out; savannah root, Malaysian driftwood, African Driftwood, Crepe Myrtle, Ribbon wood, Rhododendron (which I barely recommend) and a few others.

Where can you get these beauties??

With the high rate at which aquatic fans are demanding for these products, I guess you’re beginning to wonder if you really could ever get them.

Why not! If you leave in a dense area, you have an especial advantage, you only need to take an early walk to river sides the vegetation on lakes and ocean beaches.

I prefer early walks, not just to beat others to it, but because the driftwoods tend to be wet at that time and you can easily decide the stronger or better when dipped in water. Many are also washed up onto the beach so you would find varieties.

You may visit friends, cousins and families if you figure they’ve got damp environments too.

But if you don’t stay on the dense part of the world, then I recommend you collect from a possible forest, remember don’t encroach on other people’s territory.

There are always fallen trees. There are always dense or moisturized fallen debris littering the ground.  Look out for trees such as the maple, oak and balsa, among others.

You can collect and compare them, as long as they are not soft woods. Remember, you shouldn’t ever collect Manzanita raw, and don’t pick any type of Rhododendron, especially Azuela!

It could be a bit risky to trek a forest, especially since you will have to bend about. You may find crazy animals around, some would run and some would fight, so you’d better prepare for half hunt and go with a friend, and a camera.

With your glove and socks, you can hit the swamp and salt waters too. There’s always a chance of finding something fantastic there. You may have to dig some sands you reckon could contain perfect driftwoods.

If you are really going to search, then get really prepared to hit it, because you could only search if there isn’t enough in your environment. Once you find a bunch of perfect drift, that’s it, you are in the market!

If you have only a small aquarium, say less than 70 gallons. I honestly don’t suggest you go about finding driftwood. Wonder why? It may be difficult to find one if your environment is not dense, and you may find larger ones that are simply unsuitable for your aquarium.

You may end up having no driftwood. You could save yourself some heartache by simply ordering one from an online firm, except if you are considering commercialization. But if your area is dense enough, why not?

If you have a large aquarium however, you can search for driftwoods even if you have to comb a forest, beach, lake or swamp.

If you can’t do the combing, then purchase from an aquatic market or an online firm. You are limited to a few varieties, but it’s sure better than nothing. Actually, you can request for a particular variety you’ve made your favorite. Just that online driftwood transaction is no friend of any pocket!

So there you see, you can get any variety you desire, even to a point of massive sales or you order for your choice!

Why should I even use Driftwood?

  1. Before we even consider the aesthetics advantages, do you know that using driftwoods can actually help you maintain a low pH which helps many fishes survive.
  2. Driftwood makes your fishes feel at home!
  3. Your fishes can feed on driftwood sometimes you know!
  4. Now, adding driftwoods like Cholla and Madrona woods can help you build one of the prettiest, artificial aquariums ever existing.
  5. Since driftwoods releases Tannins into the aquarium naturally once immersed in it. You are killing virus, and bacterial in your pond by merely adding driftwoods!

So are you really sure you don’t want to use driftwood in your aquarium? I hope I guess right.

Now, how can you sanitize your driftwoods?

You need to remember that your driftwood is not just for beautification, it has health implication on your fishes. That is exactly why you need to give special attention to your driftwoods. Like I told you, either you bought it or you got it, you need to absolutely ensure your driftwood poses no harm to the fishes’ lives.

How to Sanitize Driftwood

The same methods can be applied to cure a driftwood found and got. If you bought it from a store, then it’s quite possible that it was collected at a tree and it has never been submerged in water.

Since you can’t be sure, it is always advisable you assume it has never been in water and treat them equally. How? Don’t start its journey in water with your aquarium.

Dip it in a white vinegar for about two hours first, that rids of old bacteria and virus, some use bleach, but the dangerous effect of misuse is a reason I never recommend it.

Remove it, then boil it for about two hours. That helps you remove algae and other hitchhikers (that is unwanted items, snails and all that got stuck in your driftwood) that may well escape your cleaning with vinegar, so you need not worry about your driftwood containing excess salt or fungi.

Boiling your water also has a lot of effects on the level of tannin in the water. Tannins naturally help to keep the tank’s pH acidic, and they are released into water once the driftwood is immersed in the water. Having excesses can turn the color of the aquarium water to deep brown

Almost every driftwood has excess Tannin, so it is always advised to shed off (leach) the excess tannins before placing them in the tank. find a container that can hold the driftwood and a heavy item (I recommend a stone since its chemical contents don’t kill fishes, you can also fill a light gallon of water, perhaps 10 liters and place in on the driftwood).

Soak the driftwood in the container under the heavy item (don’t hold it down with glues and substances harmful to the fishes) and add water.

Then change the water every three days for about 6 weeks. Why that long? All driftwoods need not be cleaned that long, but you may be using a driftwood that would require that long. Since it doesn’t harm, you can just clean them all that long, till they are good.

Every time you change the water, get a brush and peel off the bark and dirt on the driftwood, do not use any soap or chemicals to cleanse it.

They surely would be perfect by the end of six weeks. Remove them and let them fully dry.

There, perfect driftwoods!

How can I preserve my driftwoods?

  1. Soak in cold water for about one hour.
  2. Use only 5% of beach solution to sterilize it in the water.
  3. Dry off the driftwood after one hour, spray it with concentrated insecticide and spread out in the sun for 3 to 15 days, depending on when you are sure the it’s dried.
  4. Trim off the unsmooth areas.
  5. If you plan to coat it with a color, then get a cloth, dip it in a wood conditioner and apply it on the driftwood before applying the paint with a paintbrush 20 minutes after.
  6. Then apply a semi-gloss or high gloss finish. You could use a furniture wax too,
  7. And having taken my assignment, you have preserved them for long as you need them!

Hello novice, now you know the driftwoods you can use, why you should use them, how to preserve them, how to sanitize them and where you can get them, what’s more, you’ve joined the experts. Congratulations! Was this helpful?

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

Recent Posts