Choosing what driftwood to place in your aquarium isn’t just a case of deciding what will looks nice. The driftwood that you choose can change the water inside it and potentially alter the pH. The pH will then affect the water hardness and even the health of your fish.
Adding driftwood to your aquarium can have great benefits for fish. It can boost their immune system and also soften the water. If the water in your aquarium is too hard, this can be unhealthy. Adding driftwood is a great and natural way to reduce the hardness of the water.
The driftwood will also leak tannins into the aquarium which will make the water slightly acidic. But don’t worry, that’s acidic in a good way. These acids will keep bad bacteria away and keep your fish happy and healthy.
So, what kind of driftwood should you be adding to your aquarium? Sure, you can just wander down to your local beach and pick something up, but you can’t be sure that it will be suitable for your fish. Different fish require different water qualities and you need to make sure that you are creating a healthy habitat.
To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of the best aquarium driftwood that you can find online, to save you traipsing across beaches picking up pieces of dirty old branches.
Want to get that rustic effect into your aquarium straight away and don’t have time to browse through a list? No problem, here’s our top pick for the best driftwood for an aquarium.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Our top pick for the best driftwood for aquariums is this Cholla Wood due to its interesting shape and utility for all kinds of creatures.
This Cholla wood almost looks like natural sponge and will look very original in any aquarium. This driftwood would be a great way of incorporating the natural benefits of driftwood into your aquarium, while also making the aquarium itself look good.
It’s a great addition for any aquarium-dwelling creature, but especially for shrimp and hermit crabs. The various holes and small crawl spaces will give your aquarium creatures a feeling that they have truly stumbled upon something in the ocean.
The small holes are also great as you can tie things, such as moss, to them. Adding things like moss to your aquarium is a great idea as it produces oxygen, helps keep bacteria at bay, and absorb pollutants.
As this pack of driftwood includes 5 pieces, the price for so many is (at the time of writing) very affordable. You’re getting very good value for money as you’re not only getting several pieces for a low price, but you’re getting really interesting and different looking wood.
These pieces are, however, smaller than the average pieces of driftwood available. If you’re looking for one large statement piece, then these may be a bit too small. That said, they aren’t tiny and having several inside one tank would be a great look.
- Good value for money
- Original style
- Can be used by a variety of aquarium-dwelling animals
This driftwood is a great choice if you’re looking for something natural to add to your aquarium. The vast majority of aquarium decorations are plastic and tacky. There’s enough plastic interfering with wild fish populations, so it’s best to keep the plastic in your own aquarium to a minimum.
Real wood is not only better for the environment, but it also looks a lot nicer. As this is real driftwood, each piece is unique. This means that your aquarium will be completely different from any other.
This driftwood comes almost as a variety pack. There is an assortment available that will not only make your aquarium look interesting and different but will also be good for your fish. Although the most stereotypical image of keeping a fish as a pet is a goldfish bowl, this is of course not a proper home for your fish.
Fish need mental stimulation and also need different spaces and areas to live in. In the wild, your fish would come across so many different environments and spaces which you should try and replicate. Having an assortment of driftwood pieces will give your fish a more diverse habitat to live in.
- Assorted branches
- Real wood to branches are unique
This driftwood is a great choice as it is sturdy and durable yet still lightweight. As the wood will gradually rot over time (read on or scroll down to the FAQs section for some more info on this), you will want something that won’t disintegrate too quickly.
As well as reacting to water, the driftwood can also potentially react to any food or water softeners you add. So choosing a solid, durable wood is a good idea. It will keep your aquarium clean and also means that you won’t have to buy a replacement for a good few years.
- Unique style
- Boiling and cleaning required
This is a really great piece of driftwood as it isn’t awkwardly shaped and will fit inside most tanks. When buying real driftwood for your aquarium, it’s important to make sure that you double-check the sizing. Real driftwood will obviously come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so you can’t always know exactly what you will get. But most will give you an idea of how big the wood is.
This piece of driftwood is very different from other kinds as it is a very dark, Malaysian driftwood. This piece of driftwood has not been soaked, so may need to rest in some water beforehand to make sure that it sinks.
The price (at the time of writing) is a little expensive for just one piece. However, it is a very large piece of driftwood and is of good quality, so will likely be worth the cost. Driftwood should last quite a few years. So if you pay more now for good quality driftwood that will last, you won’t find yourself paying again and again for cheap driftwood that will easily rot and disintegrate.
- Unique style
- Shape will fit in most aquariums
If one of the things stopping you from getting real driftwood for your aquarium is that it might leak into the water, then this is a great option. This driftwood has been sandblasted so only the bare wood remains. Any bark carrying any bacteria has been completely removed.
As mentioned above and in our Buyers’ Guide and FAQs section, the tannins that leak from driftwood into the water aren’t bad for fish. In fact, they can actually be good for them and can keep the water at a preferably softness.
That said, there will be different kinds of bacteria on the wood, so it’s worth being cleaned beforehand.
- Available in multiple sizes and bundles
- Features ornamental root
- May require boiling and cleaning
Best Driftwood for Aquarium Buying Guide
Choosing pieces of wood may not seem like it would be the most difficult task, but you want to get this right. The water your fish live in needs to be perfect. Fish are supposed to be the easiest pets to look after, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need attention.
Here’s our guide to making sure you find the right driftwood for your aquarium and, most importantly, for your fish.
Obviously, you need driftwood that will be able to fit inside your aquarium, but that’s not the only thing to consider. Some driftwood can be really large and jagged, so it’s also important to consider if the piece will get in the way of the fish.
Remember, you’re decorating your fish’s home and habitat, so it needs to be able to live well in there. The best thing to do is to research your fish and find out exactly what kind of habitat they would naturally live in.
Similarly to size, the shape is also important. As driftwood is a natural resource, it may come with branches sticking out at random angles. This means that it may not fit perfectly inside your aquarium. So, make sure that not only is it not too long, but it isn’t too wide or too pointy.
It’s a good idea to have an assortment of driftwood in your aquarium. Fish use driftwood for hiding and for breeding. Fish need a space to hide in to feel safe and secure. Driftwood can also be used as a space for your fish to keep their eggs. If you have multiple fish that are breeding with each other, they will need somewhere to lay their eggs. The driftwood will also be able to protect the eggs from other fish.
Type of Wood
Unsurprisingly, there are lots of different types of wood available that can be used for aquarium driftwood. Some are better than others but don’t worry, you don’t have to find a specific kind of wood for your fish. Driftwood does have some health benefits, but they are mostly for decoration.
But that isn’t just decoration for you to enjoy when you look at your aquarium. Your fish will also enjoy having natural features, such as driftwood, in their habitat. Do some research into your fish and find out exactly what kind of driftwood is natural to them.
Most driftwood is intended for fish aquariums but, of course, many different kinds of creatures can live in aquariums. Some can even live alongside fish, as they would in the wild. Do some research and try to find the kind of driftwood that will benefit your fish (and other pets) best. The type of wood, its shape and style, and its tannins will all have an impact.
Remember, if your fish were out in the wild, they would be encountering much more than a few pieces of bleached wood.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will driftwood rot in an aquarium?
A little, but it isn’t noticeable. Driftwood has already been knocked about, bleached, and corroded by the sea, so aquarium water isn’t going to have a huge impact. However, it is wood, so it will naturally rot over time. But this will be a very slow and long process and you won’t notice it for several years.
Don’t worry about the wood rotting and making the water unhealthy. The wood will rot at such a slow pace that anything that comes off will be removed when you change the water (which you should be doing regularly, FYI). Anything that does come off won’t be an issue either.
Do you have to clean driftwood?
This depends on where you got the driftwood. If you took it off the beach then yes, absolutely clean it. Either scrub it or boil it. This will make sure you get rid of any bacteria that may be hanging on to the wood. Driftwood is good for your fish, but that doesn’t mean all the dirt and grime that it picks up is good.
Soaking the driftwood in water will also help it to sink to the bottom of the aquarium. You don’t want the driftwood to be floating about in the water.
Can I take driftwood off the beach?
You can, but it’s difficult to know if it will work well in your aquarium. You may have to saw it down to size or scrub and boil it for a long time to make sure that it doesn’t have anything on it.
Do I have to seal driftwood before it goes into an aquarium?
This is entirely your choice. Sealing driftwood can delay the rot so it will keep for longer. If you choose to seal it, make sure that you do it after you have cleaned it. But remember, whatever you place in your aquarium can, over time, leak into the water. So make sure to use a seal that won’t be toxic to your fish.