Aquarium Driftwood Problems And How To Solve

Adding some driftwood will enhance the aesthetic value of your aquarium. However, the wood can cause trouble and affect your pet’s living conditions if improperly handled.

So what are aquarium driftwood problems? How can you add it to your tank correctly? Let’s follow our lead to find the answers!

Aquarium Driftwood Problems

Putting something in your aquarium will change it in some good and bad ways. The two cases happen to driftwood. Here are two problems to expect:

Cloudy water

If you put the driftwood directly in your tank without pre-soaking it before, it will release tannic acid. This chemical can discolor the water, turning it brown.

The cloudy water surely ruins the attractiveness of your aquatic setup. The water quality will decrease significantly too.

You can solve this problem by changing the water regularly. Alternatively, use chemical filtration to clear the tank. Cardon will help in this case.

Lowered pH level

The tannins concentration in the driftwood could potentially reduce the pH in your aquarium if you don’t treat it to prevent tannins from leaching into the water.

This problem can be highly severe depending on the fish you raise. For example, they will suffer negatively because African cichlids can’t thrive in a low pH environment.

Some species that can tolerate this condition are plecos, tetras, discus, angelfish, or those from South America.

If your pets are prone to low pH water, find solutions to treat the driftwood properly before placing it in the tank.


The driftwood will affect the water quality

How To Add Driftwood In A Fish Tank Correctly?

Some planning and consideration are necessary to bring out the greatest aesthetic features of natural structures like driftwood.

The steps below can also help solve driftwood-related problems.


Do not put the driftwood straight into the tank without any planning. Here are a few things you should do before starting:

  • Sketch out a rough drawing of your tank and the area where you place the driftwood before adding it.
  • Think about how the aquarium looks if you place the driftwood vertically rather than horizontally.
  • Build a distinctive aquatic environment by trying various ideas on paper. You can visualize your aquascape by making a rough drawing without harming the tank’s inhabitants.

Clean driftwood

The driftwood needs cleaning before joining your tank. It would be best to scrub the wood with a clean brush to eliminate any debris and dirt.

We don’t recommend using chemical cleaners and soap because the residue of these products will harm your tank.

After cleaning the driftwood thoroughly, let it soak in water to saturate. Then, move to the next step.

driftwood in tank

Do not use chemical cleansers to clean the wood

Cure driftwood

While most driftwood remains immersed in the water, some bits can float for a while before becoming fully soaked.

Make sure to immerse all parts of driftwood by drowning it in a huge bucket of water for as long as you can. Often, you need one to two weeks for total saturation.

Also, soaking may leak out tannins, which can discolor the water. Your aquarium’s creatures won’t get harmed by the tannin-induced discoloration, but it will slowly decrease the pH.

Some fish owners take advantage of the decreased pH level to establish a soft water condition, which is beneficial for most tropical fish.

Check on the driftwood that is often soaking to see whether you need to change the water. It’s necessary to empty the entire tank as the water becomes darker, then carefully clean the driftwood.

Continue immersing the driftwood while adding dechlorinated and RO water to the bucket. Repeating this process will help the water to become less “tea-stained.”

driftwood in tank 2

The wood needs a long curing time

Boil driftwood

Try boiling the driftwood, and you will notice many benefits. If you boil it in a big stockpot, tannins will release quickly. Thanks to this method, you can shorten the curing step.

More significantly, boiling disinfects the driftwood, eliminating algal and fungal organisms that might establish themselves once the driftwood lands in the aquarium.

So, boil the wood for one to two hours before putting it into your land. This period allows for thorough sterilization.

The driftwood gets ready for installation then. To position it in the right spot, look at your early sketches. Then, set it where it should be.

This video will show you how to boil the wood correctly:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does driftwood last in an aquarium?

Several factors will affect how quickly the wood degrades. Most often start to deteriorate as soon as two years after submersion and may need replacement after about five years.

The exterior of the wood will start to look mushy and drift away as fluffy debris as it rots. This indicator will let you know when to replace it.

2. How do I know if my aquarium wood is safe?

The wood shouldn’t have any mold, rot, or fungus. To ensure that you put the safe wood in your tank, try boiling and curing it as we instructed earlier.

3. What is the benefit of having driftwood in your aquarium?

Despite some drawbacks, fish keepers choose to install the driftwood in their tank because:

  • Driftwood can be a nice change from the plastic aquarium decorations because of its smooth edges and organic texture.
  • Your fish will be happy in a natural environment created with the help of wood, which is excellent for anchoring plants and moss.
  • Driftwood releases some substances into the water. They can aid in preventing bacterial diseases in your tank.


Driftwood may discolor the water and decrease its pH level. However, with some treatment before installation, the wood works well as a natural decoration in your aquarium.

Adding wood to your fish tank has both pros and cons. It’s up to your personal preference to decide if this addition is necessary.

Thank you for reading!