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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
BCA,
Just wondering about the safety of driftwood from Harrison Lake. I was there this week and collected some really nice pieces and have them soaking in water right now to water log them....not sure wht type of wood they are, I am sure some of it may be cedar but these pieces have been drifting in the lake for a long time so I am thinking that any harmful oils or tannins or whatever have already leeched out of the wood.
thoughts?
 

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The wood should be safe after a good wash and either a boiling water bath or flame sterilizing to kill anything you might worry about being left on the surface.
To "flame sterilize" just pass a flame from a propane torch over the surface momentarily to kill anything on it .. You only need momentary exposure to the flame, it doesn't need to leave char marks on the surface. The flame instantly sterilizes the surface of anything it is passed over.
 

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Once sterilized by boiling, bleach or as mentioned above (though I'm not sure of that method because bacteria/parasites might have homes in deep cracks). You should be OK. Softer wood might lower your pH, and you'll find it will continue to rot in your tank. You likely will get tannins leaching also. Assuming it is cedar, remove it every 3-6 month and scrub it with a wire brush to get the soft outer wood off. Monitor your water quality.
 

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If the wood is cedar, you might want to reconsider using it.

A couple years back I collected a beautiful piece of cedar to use as a centre piece. But then I thought I better check up on it first. I had trouble finding consensus on whether cedar was aquarium safe or not, but with all the concerns out there, decided to give up, put it in my garden and get a manzanita stump for my aquarium.

The concerns around cedar are due to the same properties that make it the perfect choice for building fences and decks. The natural oils in the wood preserve it and repel insects. And because these oils are toxic to rodents you can't use cedar with rodents, since chewing it makes them sick. So I wouldn't want to use it with any invertebrates or wood-rasping plecos either.

A few people out there do make claims that the cedar oils are a good thing in the aquarium because they kill some parasites. But the vast majority advise against using cedar. Some examples:

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquariums/wood-found-around-yard-ok-aquarium-22486/

http://www.fishlore.com/fishforum/driftwood/19648-cedar-driftwood.html

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/new-planted-aquariums/612-kinds-driftwood-not-use-2.html

Cedar is also very buoyant, and thus would be hard to get to sink. I tried soaking my piece for a couple months with no luck (although this did allow me lots of time to research whether it was safe).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Pacific, thanks for the information...Well as I said in previous posts, I cant tell if they are cedar or not...I can only guess. Given they are wet they do not smell like cedar as they really dont have any smell at all. I guess I could drill into them and see what it smells like. I look at it this way, there are thousands of cedar trees at the bottoms of freshwater lakes all over Canada and yet those lakes sustain fish life quite well (although I am sure some would argue that point). yes I know there is a difference in the shear volume of water versus numbers of trees, but given the fact that fish fry like to hide in and around submerged trees they would be the ones most susceptable to problems...Like I said, i will wait and see what happens.
 
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