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There are a lot of neat decoration options out there when you’re designing your aquariums look or even just looking around at new items when wanting a change. Pre-made sculptures of sand castles and skulls may be ideal for some, but many keepers of aquatic environments want their fish’s home to look as natural and organic as possible. There are a lot of wood-like options available both in-store and online, and many individuals love the look of grapewood.
Is it safe to use grapewood for aquariums, though?
Yes! Grapewood is one of the safest driftwoods to add to an aquarium. However, there’s a certain treatment and curing process you have to complete with it before you put it into the tank. Therefore, just because you get your hands on a piece and it seems pretty organic doesn’t mean you should just put it directly into your tank—you’ll still have to treat it first.
Driftwoods are always a cool-looking aquarium decoration. This is especially true for aquariums with fish needing some tannin to be happy in their environment. Grapewood is a near-perfect driftwood that’s beautiful, safe, and simple to add.
There are just a few things to do and keep in mind before adding grapewood to your tank.
Will Grapewood Be Okay in an Aquarium?
Even though grapewood is fine for an aquarium, you will still have to change the water in intervals when you first add it. This is because grapewood tends to shift water parameters in ways your fish may not like. Therefore, you have to change the water regularly along with an initial cleaning and curing.
Grapewood is prone to growing an unusual white mold during its first few weeks being submerged in a tank environment, but fish and the water parameters generally tend to do well as long as this substance is regularly cleaned off of the wood. Soon after, most aquarium keepers have noted that it ceases to grow back after a while. Additionally, if not cleaned and cured before being placed into the tank, grapewood tends to work similar to when one brews tea, causing the water to darken and need replacement—this can sometimes be problematic depending upon your particular setup.
What Are the Properties of Grapewood?
Grapewood is a small tree with vine-like branches and twigs. Often found in places like California, grapewood comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s famous for having a soft, smooth texture, and it breaks apart easily.
Grapewood is durable and light, making it great for a tank. However, it decomposes quickly and it’s very buoyant, so you may have some problems getting it to sink.
Grapewood has a very chic, knotted appearance complete with twisted and tapered spots. It also comes in a range of colors from light ivory to a deep, dark reddish-brown. These pieces frequently have a combination of these colors that swirl together in one multi-toned piece.
However, when you want to put grapewood in your tank, there are some things to note of before you include it. This is because grapewood, although gorgeous, will leach tannins into the water in greater amounts than other types of driftwood. This can color the tank to make it appear “dirty.”
Shifts in Water Parameters
While lighter grapewood won’t show tannin leeching, it will still shift the water parameters. Grapewood has the potential to lower the pH balance and water hardness in your aquarium environment. Although you may have some fish that love tannin-rich environments, others may find it asphyxiating; therefore, you’ll have to be meticulous about checking it.
How Do You Clean and Cure Grapewood?
When you get a piece of grapewood that you want to use as driftwood in your aquarium, you will have to first clean and then cure it. So, with a soft, clean, and unused brush, gently scrub the wood under warm tap water.
Ensure that you remove dust, debris, dirt, and any other particles from the piece of grapewood that you want to use. Don’t use soap or any other cleaning products—just use water and the brush. If you were to put any types of chemicals onto the grapewood, those would attach and absorb into the wood and then leech out into the tank when you add the piece to your setup. Having this happen would be devastating to your aquatic ecosystem.
After cleaning your grapewood properly, it is then time for the curing process: either soaking the grapewood in a bucket of hot water or boiling it. This will get rid of excess tannins and remove any debris that you couldn’t reach with the brush. You may want to combine both of the curing methods as well for ultimate effect.
When combining the two methods, spend a few hours boiling the driftwood, ensuring you dump and change the water once it becomes a dark brownish-black. When the color lightens, fill a bucket with hot water and soak the branch for a week or two. Again, change out the water when you notice it turning black.
Additionally, if the wood floats, put a rock on top of it so it sinks to the bottom. These wood pieces can also be “anchored” to a heavier piece on the bottom of your tank through a number of means. Weighing down your wood will remove air bubbles and prevent more oxygen from entering the wood.
The cleaning and curing processes will also likely help your wood to absorb more liquids and be less buoyant in these circumstances, making those two important steps even more essential.
Grapewood is an excellent choice of driftwood for use in a tank. It’s beautiful, looks unique, and can provide a tannin-rich environment for your fish. However, be sure that you don’t just add it into your aquatic environment when you find a piece. You’ll need to remember to clean and cure it before you put it into your aquarium.
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