How to Make Driftwood Safe for Aquarium

As any aquarium enthusiast knows, driftwood is a popular decorative addition to any tank. Not only does it look great, but it also provides a natural habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures. However, many people are unaware of the potential dangers of adding driftwood to an aquarium.

While it is possible to make driftwood safe for your aquarium, you can ensure that the wood won’t be toxic by sterilizing it and other processes like leaching or scrubbing. Washing will also clean any mold off of these pieces before adding them into an already established collection – but don’t forget about basic quarantine.

In this post, we’ll discuss making driftwood safe for aquariums. Read on to learn more and have fun adding driftwood to your tanks.

The Best Ways to Make a Driftwood Safe for Aquarium

Driftwood is like the lifeblood of an aquarium. It provides your fish with shade and shelter, which they would otherwise lack in many environments that don’t have such things as driftwood around to give them somewhere safe.

The key thing you need before starting this process, though? Compatibility between what kind of material will work best for how big (or small) your tank might be – so make sure first-hand by testing out some pieces before committing completely on any one type.

Driftwood is sold at pet stores, but not all of it will work for aquariums. Make sure to purchase driftwoods that are labeled as such because some types can harm your fish if they’re not hardwood species and take a long time to break down. Softwoods contribute fewer toxins or chemicals than their counterparts, so long-term poisoned water isn’t an issue.

The best way to make driftwood safe for your tank is by using a few simple techniques. They include:


Whether collected from a beach or store-bought, driftwood needs to be sterilized before it can join your aquarium. This process removes any toxins and bacteria that may exist in the wood and spores that are often considered harmful for fish tanks due to their potential disease-causing abilities.

The easiest way to clean your driftwood is by boiling it for at least an hour. If you don’t have this luxury, submerge the larger pieces of wood in a 5% bleach solution and leave 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Let yourself be sure that any remnants of the bleach have dissipated by rinsing very well and letting sit in clean water for at least one day.


Cleaning and sterilizing driftwood is a great way to add extra dimensionality to your aquarium. Keep in mind: the tannins from this natural material will most likely leach into the water creating “black” looks that may not be wanted for all fish varieties.

Blackwater is yellowish or brown, and it’s typical in many rivers of the Amazon. To achieve a crystal clear aquarium, you must leach any driftwood before adding them. This will help maintain the appearance of your fish and keep their environment looking its best.

The leaching process for driftwood will vary depending on the type of wood and size, but it’s a pretty easy task. Submerge your pieces in water daily until they’re free from tannins that have been released due to being submerged underwater for longer periods.

Boiling the driftwood in hot water will also leech out any impurities. You’ll have to change out your container every hour, but once it’s done processing, you can enjoy clear water without worrying about stains or bacteria.

Related article: How to prepare lava rocks for aquariums

Scrub Your Driftwood

Coarse bristles are used to scrub and brush the surface of the driftwood. Make sure you work over every inch, paying close attention to any joints or nooks that it may have to remove visible debris such as dirt bark rock- this includes both exterior surfaces, so don’t be shy with your cleaning.


To give your project the best chance of success, be sure to rub down any rough or sharp edges on wood with sandpaper. The finer grade (light) will leave a smoother finish than coarser ones; however, it is also less intensive, which means you can go over larger areas at once without having enough material for really close-fitting joints if that’s what suits how things were done.

Basic Quarantine

To get rid of pesky bugs, place the wood into a sealed plastic bag and leave it at room temperature for several days. Check back the driftwood to see if there are any indications that dead insects were present – this will help prevent future infestations.

It’s natural to want to eliminate any bugs that might be bothering you, but pesticides are toxic and will kill your fish. So don’t use them on the wood either. You can leave it in a bag for three days before boiling it if the bugs are still present. Boiling will help you clear all the remaining bugs in your driftwood.

Wash The Driftwood

This is a great way to get rid of any dirt or small particles stuck in between your wood planks. Hold the water under a steady stream until it looks like running clear, then inspect for missed spots and rub them away with another layer if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have to Boil Driftwood for Aquarium?

The boiling process not only sterilizes the driftwood by getting rid of fungal spores, algae, and bacteria that pose a risk to your aquarium’s aquatic environment but also cleans it. 15-20 minutes is okay if you have a small piece, but a larger one might take one hour or more.

What Kind of Wood Is Safe for Aquariums?

The most commonly used type of aquarium wood anywhere in the world is bogwood. It’s been preserved by anaerobic conditions that have lasted hundreds or thousands of years, and it can grow anywhere there are bogs.


If you want to make your driftwood safe for aquarium, you can take a few steps. First, sterilize it and leach it with water from the tank but don’t use saltwater. Next, scrub off any remaining dirt or particles using an old toothbrush.

Then wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water before finally putting all of the pieces through basic quarantine – this is just waiting at least two weeks before adding them to your tank. This will ensure they’re free of ich, anchor worm, tetraspores, hair algae, and other pests that could harm your fish.


About Me

My name is Jason Matthews and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Leave a Comment