How to Prepare Large Driftwood for Aquarium

If you’re looking to start a saltwater aquarium, then you must have the correct materials. The process of preparing large driftwood for an aquarium is not as simple as cutting off the bark and placing it in your tank. Driftwood should be soaked in water before being placed into your tank, which will help prevent any parasites or bacteria from contaminating your fish.

How to Prepare Large Driftwood for Aquarium

If you are unsure how to prepare large driftwood, this article will give you step-by-step instructions on what to do. If you would like any additional information, then please get in touch with your local aquarium retailer. This blog post will show you how to prepare large driftwood for aquariums.

Step to Follow on How to Prepare Large Driftwood for Aquarium

Step One: Cleaning

Cleaning large driftwood for aquariums can be a big task due to the crevices and hiding spots that allow unwanted bacteria and residues to settle inside. This step is often the most time-consuming but also could be substituted for a quicker method depending on how much cleaning you wish to do.

Clean the Driftwood

Use a small brush or old toothbrush to get at any hidden spots. If you do not wish to remove all the tannins, skip this step. If you are using huge driftwood pieces for aquariums, it is best to use a sieve or strainer if possible, as these pieces can be too big for cleaning with just your hands.

Step Two: Boiling

Boiling large driftwood pieces for aquariums can be a long task but will make the wood leach much fewer tannins and other chemicals causing your water to turn tea-colored. Instead, it is best to boil small pieces of wood around 5 inches or smaller in a bucket with holes drilled into the bottom.

If you are using substantial pieces of driftwood, it is best to use a small steel trashcan with holes drilled around the sides and bottom for water drainage. Smaller driftwoods can go inside these larger containers or buckets but will take less time than if you were to boil smaller pieces by themselves in 5-gallon buckets.

Step Three: Steeping

If you only want the tannins to leach out, this step can be skipped. Many people look for driftwood that has already released these chemicals and made it safer for aquarium use. However, if you wish to speed up the process of removing tannins from your pieces of driftwood, you need to steep them.

This step will also help to remove any remaining residues left inside the wood. To soak driftwood in freshwater, place small pieces inside a 5-gallon bucket with a few small holes drilled into the bottom for water drainage. If you wish to soak large pieces of driftwood, use something slightly more prominent and drill slightly larger holes to fit your wood inside.

Step Four: Draining

Draining driftwood can be done quite quickly. First, flip your bucket or trashcan right side up, and let the water drain out. Do this periodically until the water runs clear. You can speed along this process by shaking or stirring up any sediment left inside the driftwood so it will run off with the water more easily.


Then, flip your bucket or trashcan back over and let it sit in a location with no direct sunlight for a few days. This will help dry out the driftwood and remove any more detritus sunken to the bottom. These steps should help you in learning how to prepare large driftwood for aquarium.

Step Five: Rinse

Rinsing driftwood takes a bit more work. Some people will do the draining method described in step four without actually letting it dry. Then, you rinse off the wood with fresh water until there is no sediment leftover on the surface of your driftwood or inside any holes or cracks that are visible.

You can use a small garden hose with the strength of the water turned down to help push away any sediment that may still be hiding in holes, cracks, and crevices. Rinse off your driftwood once or twice to make sure you get rid of any leftover detritus or other byproducts from previous steps.

Step Six: Drying

Driftwood is highly porous and will decay if it is left with water inside any holes or crevices for too long. This means you must let the driftwood fully dry out before it can be used in an aquarium. If you purchased your driftwood with a thick coat of tannins, this process could take well over a month.

However, if your driftwood is already clean and you wish to speed along this process, you can find an area with no direct sunlight to let it air dry for about two weeks. Once the wood has dried out, it is safe to use in aquariums. You can also place your driftwood in a container with a few holes punched into the top and bottom to help speed up the air-drying process.

Step Seven: Applying Aquarium Safe Silicone

Before placing driftwood into an aquarium, it needs to be treated with aquarium-safe silicone. Aquatic turtles, frogs, reptiles, and invertebrates are extremely sensitive to the chemicals found in regular silicone sealants like what is used on countertops.

It’s best to use either a specialized aquatic-safe silicone or regular household silicone on the bottom of your driftwood first, then place it into your tank. This can help to prevent any leaching that may have happened during the soaking process.

Step Eight: Placing Driftwood into an Aquarium

Place your driftwood into your aquarium. Make sure it is stable and that you have used silicone to create a barrier between the wood and water in case any tannins find their way out of the wood. Most people prefer to place large pieces of driftwood on the floor of an aquarium so they can easily expand the decaying process over an extended period.

Smaller pieces of driftwood can be used as a centerpiece or for decoration in any number of other ways. The most important part is to have fun with your driftwood and enjoy what it brings to the life of your aquarium. This will help in how to prepare large driftwood for aquarium.

Step Nine: Maintain Driftwood

The more often you clean your driftwood, the better it will look. Some people choose to let their driftwood become a permanent fixture in an aquarium and simply wait for it to dissolve or fall apart over time. However, this process can take many years, and most aquarists prefer a neater appearance all around.

Maintain Driftwood

Driftwood that is regularly cleaned can be placed near the surface of your aquarium or anywhere else you would like, but it must be kept away from fish and invertebrates. Some people will use clips to help attach driftwood to rocks or other decorations, but there is always a risk that something may get caught on the driftwood and be pulled into the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Have to Boil Driftwood for Aquarium?

There are a few ways to get rid of the smell and look of driftwood.

  • Boiling It for 10 Minutes : This should eliminate any unwanted odors, and you can use the water to create a new substrate for your aquarium.
  • Drying It in an Oven at About 100 Degrees Fahrenheit : You should leave it there for 20-30 minutes until it is dry enough that you can’t smell anything from it anymore.
  • Using Baking Soda : If you want to keep the driftwood looking like wood, sprinkle some baking soda on top and let it sit overnight.

Does Boiling Wood Make It Sink?

Boiling wood does not make it sink. This is a common misconception, as boiling water will cause a wooden object to float in the water, which can easily be observed with a simple experiment.

Which Wood Is Best for Driftwood?

The best wood for driftwood is oak. It is easy to find and inexpensive. Other good woods are walnut, maple, birch, and beech. The best driftwood you can get will depend on the type of wood that you choose. Driftwood may also be made from various types of plastic or metals.

Why Is Driftwood So Light?

Driftwood is a term used to describe wood that has been moved by the wind, waves, or tides. A driftwood log can be any size but usually is about 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. The main reason for its lightweight is because of how it was formed in nature. Driftwood logs are composed mostly of air bubbles, making them lighter than other types of wood due to less density.

Can I Put Any Wood in My Aquarium?

Some Types of Wood Can Be Put in an Aquarium, But the Following List Is What Should Not Be Used :

  • Dark-colored woods such as oak, mahogany, teak, walnut, and ebony.
  • Wood that has been treated with chemicals or oils (unless it is an approved treatment).
  • Woven woods such as rope and string.


You can now keep large driftwood in your aquarium if you know how to prepare it so that it won’t decay. Driftwood is a natural home for many types of marine life, but the surface needs to be sealed with epoxy or another sealant before placing into water.

This will ensure that no mold begins growing on the wood’s surface and keeps any bacteria from leaching onto other organisms living inside the tank. The conclusion paragraph is informative and provides information on how to prepare large driftwood for aquariums.

You can also check it out: How to Weigh Down Driftwood in an Aquarium

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