Can I make my own driftwood for my fish tank?

Driftwood is a showpiece that’s placed in an aquarium for the fish to play with it and add to its beauty.

Driftwoods come in different designs, materials, colors, sizes, and can be very specific to your requirement. They are easily available in pet stores for people to purchase.

Since they are a bit more expensive than they should be, people often ask, can we make our driftwood at home?

Yes, it can be made at home. Making driftwood for your aquarium is easy and using a DIY project, you can easily make one for your tank.

If you keep reading you shall get past all of your confusions you have related to the driftwood.

Necessary information about the Driftwood

Driftwood is a piece of wood that can come from any tree trunk, any dead tree, from the seashore, or any other place. There are various kinds of woods, but not all of them can be placed as driftwood in the aquarium. Certain requirements are needed to be met and then the driftwood may sit in the aquarium.

These basic actions would be cleaning, sterilizing, painting, curing, and many other things have to be considered before placing it. The driftwood is going to be placed in the habitat of the fish, so it cannot harm them in any possible way. This is the core reason for taking all the necessary precautions.

Getting the Driftwood ready


Get a piece of paper and draw your aquarium on it. Make sure to write down the sizes as it will be helpful. Draw different designs or types of driftwoods that you would like to have in your aquarium. Decide whether it will be placed horizontally or vertically in context to the size of the aquarium.

This will help you locate the size of the driftwood required and what kind of design do you need. Try to look for multiple designs and picture how the aquarium would look with the driftwood in it.

The art of making your aquarium look pretty is quite interesting. It requires a lot of concentration and dedication to the work. Looking between different designs, colors, and making a good decision on everything could be a handful task.

Processes for the Driftwood 

Cleaning the Driftwood

After you have decided where to place your driftwood, it’s time to clean it. But it can’t just be rinsed with water and some detergent. It needs to be scrubbed properly without including any detergent or other chemical as the remains might be there and they can poison the aquarium water for the fish.

It just needs to be hand scrubbed thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris that might be present there. After cleaning the driftwood, it would be soaked to cure, which is the next process.

Curing the Driftwood

The driftwood might contain many harmful substances. It needs to be cured before added to the aquarium. There are many impurities present in the driftwood. All of these impurities are removed by soaking it in the water for a long time of around 1 – 2 weeks, make sure the whole piece of wood is inside the water.

This way the tannin in the woods is released. This method requires water change after every while so you can know when all the tannin is removed.

Apart from removing the tannin, curing also includes the wood to soak up water so it can sink in the water and stay down except floating on the surface of the aquarium.

This process is long since the wood has to be completely soaked so this can’t be done after putting it in the aquarium but before that putting it into the bucket filled with water. After changing the water for a couple of days when you notice the color of the water has not changed and is the same, that’s when it is ready to be placed in the aquarium.

Boiling the Driftwood

Boiling the driftwood in water is beneficial for the process as it fastens it. Hot water works as a catalyst to speed up the process. Boiling the driftwood kills all the unnecessary germs and bacteria that couldn’t be killed through the other processes and this also speeds up the curing process.

It also helps in killing the unwanted algae or fungus that could be present in the spores of the driftwood. Boiling the driftwood for a few hours helps a lot in sterilizing the driftwood.

Placement of the Driftwood

Now the driftwood is ready to be placed in the aquarium. It has undergone all the processes to be ready for the aquarium. The best time to do this would be right after cleaning the aquarium while filling the water place the driftwood in the position you decided on the sketch you made earlier.

Have patience and let the driftwood sit in, fill up the whole tank and nourish your vision with the beautiful artwork you have done. Yet there are multiple things to be taken care of while doing this so:

  • While purchasing the driftwood, make sure that it is compatible with the aquarium. It shouldn’t contain any impurities or toxic substances for the fish. It should differentiate from the driftwoods for reptiles.
  • Even if appealing, the roots or trunks found on the outside yard or streets are not safe for the aquarium. These pieces are not well dried or cured properly.
  • Whenever large pieces of driftwoods are used, they might lack behind in the curing process and won’t settle down at the bottom of the tank. They can be tied using monofilament and fitted there.
  • Other plants such as Java Moss and Java Fern could be attached to the driftwood using the monofilament and it can be removed once the plant has grown into the driftwood. This creates an aged look in the aquarium which increases the beauty in the driftwood.
  • Sometimes the curing and soaking processes aren’t enough for the driftwood. They still leach the tannin in the aquarium turning the tank water toxic for the fish. This could be prevented by installing a filtration device in the aquarium to keep the tannin away.

Choosing your Driftwood

As said before there are various types of woods available but not all of them can be put into the aquarium. They have to undergo a certain process to pass for the aquarium. These processes could take longer than usual and since the fish is present now, the driftwood is required now.

So basically, look for a piece of wood which would take less time for all the process, which would be beautiful to see from the outside, and it should give fish the freedom to live instead of taking up their space.

These driftwoods should be able to sink into the water as it can’t float in between the aquarium, they have to be a little specific in nature. Should be able to sink in, not contain any unusual tannin, or turn the water black.

Tannins are the substances present in the wood that would come out in the water with time and it could be hazardous to the health of the fish.

The top 5 best driftwoods for you to use:

1. GEOsystem Fluval Mopani Driftwood

This is rated as the first aquarium woods to be used as driftwood. These are extremely beautiful and great absorbents. Once placed in the aquarium, the speed of how quickly it soaks in the water is extra-ordinary. These woods are really pretty on both sides. They can be turned around and kept to give another beautiful look and increasing beauty. 

Apart from all these major pros of these woods, they should still be boiled to sterilize before placing them in the aquarium. These can also turn the water brownish but it is said that this won’t harm the fish.

2. EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood

If looked after properly, this could be the perfect pick for your aquarium. This is made of best quality wood and is sinkable as well. It gives the aquarium a really pretty look as it is a beautiful ornament.

It comes in different shapes and sizes to give a perfect look to the aquarium. It also qualifies to be a good place for the marine animals to hide and play around the driftwood. The only flaw in this driftwood is that it is created by combining multiple pieces of wood together and some of the pieces might float in water.

3. Long Natural Cholla Wood for Aquarium

This can be found in the list of safe woods for the aquarium. These are friendly for all the aquariums around the world. These can also be used for the tanks of crabs or shrimps. Moss could also be tied with it so it looks pretty. It is, in fact, surprising that being a natural wood, it does not contain any impurities that could harm the animals. This wood is mostly tidied and continuously sourced and it is available in the herbicides free zones. 

Just as the basic requirements, boiling the driftwood is necessary and this would also speed up the soaking process. The drawback in this wood is that it’s light in weight and can be tough to settle in the tank.

4. Marina Décor

This driftwood has the beauty that captures the heart and once you see it, it could be hard to take your eyes off it. It’s got a pretty design and the fish like to play and swim across it. It appears to be larger in size as seen in the pictures. The problems that owners face with this driftwood are that it is prone to fungus and comes in a bad smell.

5. SunGrow Natural Cholla Wood

This driftwood is one of a kind in its nature. It is safe for the aquarium and gives the aquarium a beautiful look. The fish love to play in it, they can have their favourite hiding spot in it. This wood can also be used as a chew toy in times. It requires a maximum of two days to be completely soaked and be prepared for the aquarium.


The driftwood can be made for the aquarium at home. It requires certain procedures to go through before being placed in the aquarium. It’s necessary to pick the perfect wood for the aquarium that would not only increase the beauty but also be safe for the environment in the tank. Before placing it make sure all the processes are nicely done so it won’t harm the fish.


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