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The Best Driftwood for Aquariums in 2021

best driftwood for aquariums

Using driftwood in aquariums has always been popular among aquarists. The reason is that the best driftwood for aquariums comes with many different benefits – among which are decorating your tank and providing plenty of hiding places that, ironically, make the fish want to stay in the open more.

Another of the many driftwood aquarium benefits is that it helps the aquarium’s water chemistry. Just like the substrate and sump tank (to a certain degree), good aquarium driftwood branches allow the growth of nitrifying bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms to grow and thrive.

In this article, you will learn how to shop for the ideal driftwood that you can use in your aquarium. Aside from saving a lot of money, you can also spare yourself from having to deal with the loss of countless numbers of fish. If this sounds good to you, then you must continue reading.

Best Driftwood for Aquariums Reviews

1. PINVNBY Natural Aquarium Driftwood

pinvnby natural aquarium driftwood

I was a bit apprehensive when I first ordered driftwood online, but this product proved all my apprehensions wrong. I received three beautiful pieces of driftwood. All of them had nice colors and featured twisted and knotted limbs. They looked even better after I treated them and positioned them in the middle of my tank.

Although each piece of driftwood is unique, the sellers handpicked every piece that goes on sale to ensure that each one is aesthetically pleasing. You will not be getting driftwood that will make you question your tastes and aesthetic sensibilities. I loved the ones that I received, so I am pretty sure that you will fall in love with them, too.

The driftwood pieces I received have a lot of gnarly protrusions, making the entire thing look like a miniature dead tree. The numerous protrusions look like small twisted branches that are ideal hiding spaces for fish. I stuck a bit of moss on the “branches” to make it look like submerged bonsai and it looked great.

Yes, the driftwood made my aquarium look better, but that is only secondary to the actual reason why I got them. I got tired of losing fish because they died due to the stress of the other fishes chasing them. These driftwood pieces with all their gnarly protrusions provided a lot of hiding places for the smaller fish.

The problem with this product, which is true with all driftwood, is that you have to prepare it before placing it in your aquarium, and it could take more than a week. This means that driftwood is not for those who do not have a lot of patience. If you forego this step, then you risk the lives of your fish.

Pros
  • Made of real solid wood
  • Hand-selected pieces in every package
  • The driftwood pieces are beautifully non-uniform.
  • Provides ample hiding spaces for small fishes and fry
  • More affordable than retail driftwood
Cons
  • Takes a bit of preparation before use

If you are thinking to yourself that your aquarium needs something to make it look complete, then you should try putting a piece of driftwood or two in it. Driftwood is the perfect centerpiece for any aquarium. You are giving an organic touch to the tank while also offering aid in balancing the water chemistry.

2. SubstrateSource Cholla Wood Driftwood

substratesource cholla wood driftwood

The thing that I liked the most about cholla driftwood is that it comes with beautiful patterns and shapes. They look like hollow wooden tubes that have holes carved on the sides. If you want to give your aquarium a different yet still intriguing look, this is what you need.

Aside from giving your aquarium an organic feel, cholla driftwood makes excellent anchor points for aquatic plants. I tied a few of my favorite plants on a couple of cholla driftwood and they easily took root. I discovered that these worked better than just sticking the plants into the substrate.

I got three pieces of cholla driftwood and all of them are approximately 4 inches long, and it may seem too small for a 50-gallon tank, which it is, but it is the perfect size for a small tank. Anything between 5- to 20-gallons would work perfectly for these pieces of driftwood.

Even though it is not technically wood, cholla has a rough and porous texture that attracts the growth of nitrifying bacteria and biofilm. In addition, certain fishes and shrimps use cholla as sources of food. I have a tank full of cherry shrimp, and they swarm all over the cholla driftwood.

If you will be placing a piece of dried cholla wood inside an aquarium, make sure that the holes are big enough for your fish. I made the mistake of not checking and lost a couple of fish because they got stuck inside the small holes of the cholla driftwood.

Pros
  • Naturally comes with beautiful patterns
  • Makes an excellent base for aquatic plants
  • The sizes are perfect for small aquariums
  • Perfect for shrimp and other small invertebrates
  • Attracts and encourages the growth of natural biofilm
Cons
  • Not an ideal hiding place for fish

Cholla wood has an intriguing look to it, but it is not ideal for tanks with small swarming fish as they can get stuck in the holes. However, if you are keeping cherry shrimps and the like, these are the ideal habitats for them.

3. Aquatic Arts Sinkable Aquarium Driftwood

aquatic arts sinkable aquarium driftwood

The nice thing about this product is that I got more than what other sellers provided. This package came with four, five-inch-long chunks of cholla driftwood and they are significantly larger than the other ones that I purchased before. Having more driftwood and larger pieces at that means that more decorating options would open up.

If you will be using the cholla driftwood for other purposes aside from aquarium decoration, you do not need to worry about initial preparation. The cholla driftwood pieces are already treated and had all their thorns removed. You can use this product straight out of the box.

Speaking of other uses, I bought another package of this stuff because I liked the way they looked and I thought that they would make great planters for my air plants, and they did. I also used a couple to make table centerpieces. I used the others as accents for my succulent dishes.

I do advise that you constantly monitor your aquarium’s water condition often as the driftwood may cause the pH level to drop too much, thereby increasing the nitrate amount. This does not happen all the time. It only happened in one of my tanks but it is still better to be on the safe side.

Pros
  • The package contains four large pieces of cholla driftwood
  • Already prepared and usable out of the box (but not for aquariums yet)
  • Has multiple other uses
  • Helps lower pH levels gradually
  • Allows the growth of essential bacteria and biofilm
Cons
  • Can lower the pH level of the water too much

Although this product, and all driftwood freshwater aquarium options in general, can lower the pH level of the water in the aquarium, you can compensate for it by using additives anyway. For me, adding one more minor task to my aquarium maintenance list is worth it for the added benefits provided by this product.

4. WDEFUN Natural Coral Driftwood

wdefun natural coral driftwood

The seller says that you will be getting two pieces of driftwood that are between 9-14 inches long, and they are not kidding around. I got one piece that is just a bit over 14 inches long and another one that is more than a foot long. I have a 55-gallon tank and the two are just the right size for it.

This driftwood for fish tanks is hand-picked so you can be sure that what you will get will be beautiful and beneficial to your fish. The ones I got were nice and gnarly, with a lot of twists and bends that served as hiding spots for my fish. Because they felt safe inside the aquarium, the fish stayed out in the open more often than before.

Because of all the twists and crevices, the driftwood has a lot of surface area despite its size. This encouraged the growth of biofilm and nitrifying bacteria on the driftwood. The driftwood made the aquarium environment a whole lot healthier, which made my fish happier and more active.

I also like the natural deep-red colors of the driftwood. They contrasted well against the rest of the aquarium, making it the focal point of the setup. I do advise you to let the driftwood soak in a bucket of water for a week or two to remove the tannins in them. Don’t worry as the driftwood will retain its vibrant red color.

Now, I would like to mention that you will be taking a bit of a gamble. You may get two large driftwood pieces or one that is big and the other one smaller than expected. If you are unlucky, and the person responsible for filling your order is having a bad day, then you might get two pieces that are smaller than what you have wanted.

Pros
  • Comes in large pieces
  • Has a deep red coloration that contrasts well in an aquarium
  • Comes with several nooks and crannies for fish to hide in
  • The large surface area encourages the growth of bacteria
  • Ideal for use in terrariums and home décor
Cons
  • Kind of a gamble when it comes to size

Despite the odd chance of you getting small driftwood pieces, you will be getting quite beautiful specimens that will look great in any aquarium. I was fortunate enough to get two good-sized pieces of driftwood, so I was quite pleased with my purchase.

5. Hamiledyi Branches Decoration Driftwood

hamiledyi branches decoration driftwood

The thing I liked the most about this seller is that you will be getting five pieces of natural driftwood for aquariums per order. I was lucky to get pieces that were mostly above 7 inches long, so I had no issue on that front.

I was also planning on joining the driftwood together to form one large driftwood for the aquarium, so even if I did get small driftwood, it would have been fine as well.

As mentioned, the reason I liked this product is that you will be getting five pieces of driftwood, which is a good thing if you are into the hobby of aquascaping. I joined the pieces together to form a sort of underwater bonsai, with moss for leaves, and the pieces looked perfect with each other.

Aside from aquarium uses, I also had a couple of crafty ideas for these driftwoods. There were a couple of pieces that were particularly lovely and slender, so I stabilized them using resin and turned them into pens and knife handles. The grain pattern in every one of them was quite beautiful as well.

Once properly prepared and all the tannins leached out, these driftwoods will drastically improve the health of your aquarium. I had mine for a month or so and the amount of ammonia and nitrates are always in the low levels.

As mentioned earlier, you will get five driftwood pieces that were randomly picked out, so you might get five pieces that are the perfect size and look for your purposes. On the other hand, there is also a chance that you will be getting five pieces that are not as nice-looking as you wanted them to be.

Pros
  • Provides five pieces of driftwood
  • Ideal shapes and sizes for aquascaping
  • Has other uses and applications
  • Promotes good aquarium health
  • Every piece looks beautiful
Cons
  • Varying sizes and quality

Do take note that you will be taking a bit of a risk by ordering driftwood online, mainly because you are not able to choose the ones you will buy. With that said, with this seller, you can return your items and have them replaced, so you do not have to worry too much about not getting the kind of driftwood you wanted.

6. Tfwadmx Natural Driftwood

tfwadmx natural driftwood

The nice thing about the small driftwood for an aquarium that this seller provides is that they are quite beautiful and come with a lot of bends and curves, which my fish loved. There are lots of knots and bends in the branches, providing more hiding places for the smaller fish, so they will not coop themselves up in one corner.

The driftwood this seller supplies is also sturdy enough for use in a terrarium containing larger reptiles like iguanas or small ball pythons. They are already pre-treated so there are no harmful toxins or chemicals in them, making them perfectly safe for your pets.

Aside from decorating aquariums and terrariums, you can use these driftwoods in other applications, especially the ones that have a lot of character. For instance, I took one of the driftwoods I received and used it as a centerpiece for a succulent dish that I was working on, and it looked great.

Aside from providing aesthetic appeal to your spider driftwood aquarium, the driftwood also helped improve the water chemistry in my aquarium. Thanks to it having a lot of curves, bends, nooks, and crannies, there are lots of surfaces where nitrifying bacteria can grow and multiply. It helped keep the ammonia and nitrates down.

It does not happen all the time but there have been quite a few reviews that mold easily grows on the driftwood. I decided to boil the driftwood for a couple of hours several times, soak it in some water with hydrogen peroxide for a couple of days, and finally a one-week soak to get rid of tannins.

Pros
  • The driftwood comes with lots of bends and cavities
  • Sturdy enough for reptiles in terrariums
  • Ideal for use on other applications
  • Improves water chemistry when prepared properly
  • Comes in a variety of reddish-brown tones
Cons
  • Needs to be boiled and soaked much longer than others

Although these driftwoods needed more in terms of preparation, they do provide a lot more benefits aside from just aesthetics. If you want your fish to always be healthy and happy, which is what you want, of course, then you should check this product out.

7. My Pet Patrol Natural Untreated Organic Driftwood

my pet patrol natural untreated organic driftwood

This might just be the biggest cholla driftwood I have bought online. I have bought cholla driftwood from other sellers before and they were not as big as the teddy bear cholla. These are the perfect size for aquariums with small fish like bettas, mollies, tetras, and the like.

Aside from providing shelter and hiding spaces for the fish, they also add aesthetic appeal to any tank. The cholla driftwood looks like an artist meticulously carved patterns in a hollow piece of wood. If you are thinking of setting up a new aquarium, consider using this as your centerpiece.

Because of the innumerable holes in the driftwood, the cholla is also the ideal environment for cultivating beneficial bacteria and biofilm. The bacteria will help in naturally controlling the amount of ammonia and nitrates in the water while the biofilm serves as food for small crustaceans and certain types of fish.

Aside from tannins that are relatively harmless, you do not need to worry about toxic chemicals leaching out of the driftwood and poisoning your aquarium. Just like most other types of driftwood for aquariums, these teddy bear cholla driftwood are untreated and sun-bleached, so no harmful chemicals may contaminate your aquarium.

Speaking of tannins, this teddy bear cholla driftwood has a lot. I went through quite a lot of tasks before it became safe for use in my aquarium and it still seemed that lots of tannins were leaching out of the wood. It came to the point that the ends have started to fray.

Pros
  • Large diameter driftwood
  • Boasts of a beautiful lace-like pattern on the outside
  • Ideal for improving and maintaining healthy water chemistry
  • Untreated and does not contain any chemicals
  • Has a lot of other uses besides aquariums
Cons
  • Contains a significantly higher number of tannins compared to other driftwood

Although this driftwood does need a bit more preparation, it would be a worthy compromise considering that you will be getting a great-looking addition to your aquarium that also serves quite a lot of purposes.

8. DoubleWood Decaying Trunk Driftwood

doublewood decaying trunk driftwood

This somewhat looks like real driftwood but it also kind of feels like real driftwood, though it is not. This product is just a facsimile made of resin, but it does look like the real thing. It does the same things too. However, unlike real driftwood, you do not need to soak this in a bucket for a week.

Don’t worry about this product being made of resin. It is safe for your fish and other aquarium denizens. This aquarium ornament uses food-grade resin and it will not leach chemicals or other toxins into the aquarium water.

You will also be getting two pieces – one is larger than the other. The larger one is just the right size for smaller cichlids and the other one is good for bettas, tetras, and the like. The larger one is also the perfect size for some of the larger 40- to 50-gallon tanks

This product also comes painted using non-toxic pigments, giving it a somewhat realistic look. You can probably tell that it is fake when you inspect it thoroughly, but when it has been in your tank for a couple of months, it will look natural.

However, what I did not like about this product is the shoddy quality control that it went through. The pieces that I got have sharp mold lines that would easily slice fish open. I also noticed some jagged edges. I had to sand down the dangerous bits before I placed the ornament in my tank, which, fortunately, did not take long.

Pros
  • No need to soak in water beforehand
  • Made of non-toxic, food-grade resin
  • Perfect size for small and medium-sized fish
  • Strikingly natural-looking color
  • The set comes with two pieces of driftwood
Cons
  • There are jagged edges and sharp mold lines

Although you do not need to soak this product in water, it is also unnecessary to do a bit of work to sand off the sharp mold lines and jagged edges. This product might not be real driftwood, but if you have a tight budget and you still want to make your aquarium look good, this would be a good choice. Just keep an eye on it.

9. Majoywoo Natural Driftwood

majoywoo natural driftwood

You will be getting genuine and all-natural driftwood. These pieces of wood are not treated in any way, so it will be up to you to make them safe to use in your aquarium. However, once they are ready, they will add a lot of natural beauty and charm to your aquarium.

Aside from decorating your aquarium, these driftwood pieces are useful for other purposes. If you have a reptile or tarantula terrarium, you can place driftwood in it to give your pet something to crawl on. A favorite of mine is to use driftwood as a focal point when I make succulent arrangements.

You will notice that your fish will be staying longer in the middle of the tank after you place a piece of driftwood or two in your aquarium. I noticed this a couple of days after I placed driftwood in my aquarium. Because they know that they can easily hide from the other fish who are bothering them, they can confidently stay out in the open.

The nice thing about buying driftwood is that you cannot guess what colors you are getting. I ordered two packages, which meant I received four pieces of driftwood, and they looked great. Two had deep brownish-red shades while one was off-white with a bit of brown. The other one was almost jet black.

With that said, you will be taking a gamble when you buy driftwood online, mainly because you are not the one picking out the pieces. You might get lucky and get two pieces that exceed a foot in length but you may also get a pair of twigs.

Pros
  • All-natural driftwood
  • Has a lot of bends and spaces where fish can hide
  • Has various other uses aside from aquarium décor
  • Help keep your fish happy
  • Comes in vibrant colors
Cons
  • You will be taking a gamble when it comes to the size

Although it is uncertain what kind of driftwood you will be getting, you can be sure that you are receiving the real deal. On the other hand, if you are creative, you can make do with the pieces of driftwood that you receive. The most important thing to remember, though, is that you should prepare them properly before using them.

10. Beautgreen Natural Driftwood

beautgreen natural driftwood

Unlike other sellers, this one provides nice-sized driftwood pieces. The ones I got were all more than 6-inches long. All of them were also the perfect sizes for my aquarium. In addition, the driftwoods I got were quite bulky, not twig-like, which made them great for my cichlid tank.

Although you do not get to choose the driftwood you buy, you will be getting quite a lot of different colors. The ones I got were quite nice. There were a couple of browns, some were reddish-brown while others were off-white. They added a lot of color and character to my tank, and I will surely be adding more.

Another neat thing about this product is that you are getting six pieces. For a 20- to a 25-gallon aquarium, they are more than enough. Those six pieces provided enough shelter and hiding spaces for my fish, which paradoxically made them want to hang out in the open more.

Another use I found for these pieces of driftwood is that they serve as a base for my live plants. I threaded a couple of plants through the holes in the driftwood, and they have happily taken root and are thriving until today.

I did not have any problem with the product personally but that is because I already know that I needed to prepare the driftwood beforehand. However, if this is the first time you will be using driftwood, the included instructions will not help. They may even mislead you into making serious mistakes.

Pros
  • Nice-sized pieces with lots of character
  • Excellent colors that contrast well against most aquariums
  • Provides lots of spaces where the fish can hide
  • Useful for holding live plants
  • Great customer service
Cons
  • The instructions are somewhat incorrect

You may need to forgive the seller for the wrong or incomplete instructions as this driftwood came from China. Do your research to find out how to properly prepare driftwood for use in your aquarium, so you can spare yourself from the heartbreak of having fish die on you.

What to Look For When Buying a Driftwood for Aquariums

aquarium driftwood branches

Before you purchase the first driftwood for your aquarium, you should consider the following so that you will be getting the best value for your money.

Size and Shape

Although you do not get to choose the size and shape of the driftwood that you will be getting, you will have an idea of what you can buy based on the customer reviews. Most customer reviews come with pictures and videos of the products they purchased. You may also be getting similar driftwood.

Customer Response

Speaking of customer reviews, does the seller have mostly positive reviews, or are they mostly from complaining customers? If you do not want to share the same fate as other people, you need to learn from their mistakes. If you find that a product has a lot of negative reviews, you should probably avoid it and vice-versa.

Real Driftwood or Faux Wood?

Real driftwood for aquariums will take a long time to prepare. Most of the time, it will take more than a month before all the tannins leach out of the wood.

If you do not want to wait that long, you can choose to use faux driftwood. These products are made of resin and will be ready to use straight out of the box.

Price

Here’s the deal, driftwood will be a bit on the expensive side. Prepare to pay around $50 for a couple of pieces when you buy them online. Now, if you want to choose driftwood, the best place to buy driftwood is your local aquarium supply store, but prepare to pay a higher price.

Frequently Asked Questions

drift wood for fish tanks

How to Make Driftwood Safe for an Aquarium?

True driftwood will contain a lot of tannins and they are dangerous for aquariums because they tint the water and lower the pH level too much. To make the driftwood safe for your aquarium, you will need to boil it for an hour a couple of times then soak it in a bucket of water.

Continue soaking the driftwood and change the water when it gets too dirty. When the water remains clear and the driftwood sinks to the bottom, it is safe to use in your aquarium.

Why is Aquarium Driftwood so Expensive?

Some specimens, like manzanita driftwood, often sell for over a hundred dollars apiece. Driftwood is not just dried-out wood. It is also wood subjected to numerous cycles of drying and soaking over a long period, sometimes years.

If you live close to a river, you can walk along the bank and probably pick up a couple. On the other hand, you might not find beautiful Malaysian driftwood in your local stream.

Conclusion

The best driftwood for aquariums is not just a decorative piece. It also plays a part in maintaining the good health of your tank and the fish that live in it. This is why you should seriously consider getting a piece or two of driftwood.

Since driftwood can be quite expensive, you need to know how to choose the right ones for your aquarium. Now that you have reached the end of this article, it is safe to say that you already know all the things that will help you make the right choice.

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