One of the most popular types of décor for aquariums is wood. There are a number of different types sold commercially and it is possible to prepare one’s own wood for aquarium use. The most likely ones to be found in shops are bogwood, driftwood, mopani root and “red moor root”. There are also a few other types which are only starting to become available now or are not so popular too.
Bogwood and driftwood are usually solid pieces of grey to brown colour, they are usually parts of the trunk or thick branches. Mopani is more of a thick, gnarled root, a light sandy colour on one side and a rich brown on the other. “Moor root” is used to describe any wood which is composed of weaving, curly branches, usually attached to a gnarled base. Moor root often comes in colours ranging from orange to red. I have also used dead English oak branches with success, and dead heather branches and roots, but the heather tended to disintegrate quite quickly.
There are a few benefits to using wood, the biggest one being the release of tannins, which help lower pH. Soft woods, such as bogwood, are also required if plecos are kept, because plecos will feed on them. Wood can also be used to grow certain plants, such as Anubias, Microsorum pteropus and various aquatic mosses, which can be a big advantage when keeping species which like to dig.
The advantages of wood are also the disadvantages, some people do not like the tannin coloured water and the lower pH is not suitable for certain fish. Wood can also start growing fungus, this is often the case if the wood has been boiled in a bid to remove tannins: it is considerably more productive to just soak the wood in a bucket, changing the water regularly. Once fungus has appeared, it can easily be removed with a syphon or by gently scrubbing the wood under the tap.
I prepare wood by brushing off any dirt under a running tap, then adding it to the aquarium, where it should quickly become water logged, although sometimes, the wood can take a few days to a few weeks to sink.