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RE: Large Driftwood

<< Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 07:55:15 +0800
<From: Alfred Heng <alheng at pacific_net.sg>
<Subject: large drift wood

<Hi all

<How would I ensure that the large piece of wood I want to put into my tank 
<is not carrying any "BUGS"?  I can't boil this one as it is over 3 feet 
<long.  Is there a chemical you use?  If so will I have a problem washing 
<< the chemical out before introducing it into the tank?

So much of the "Driftwood" sold these days has never seen surf. Much of it
gets its "look" from being sandblasted by desert wind. These will almost
certainly leach discolouring tannins in the tank water w/o hours of
boiling. They also almost always need to be weighted.  Others are hauled in
from freshwater rivers/lakes. I wouldn't put these in freshwater tank w/o
bug decontamination. I agree with Tom Barr's assessment as to what to do
with wood you are unsure off. 

I collect REAL seaside driftwood from which "drift"-wood gets its name.
Healthy seaside trees killed and uprooted by a sudden rise in surf. The
Australian pine wood is very dense (sinks w/o help) and seems to resist
rot.  The surf slaps some about for so long all their bark is ground away
and tannins are thoroughly leached out. Some pieces get a barnacle or two.
Most that remain emersed grow seaweed. Rest assured salt-water "bugs"
mould, bac etc. die in contact with freshwater. 

If I were you, I would collect my driftwood personally from the nearest
surf/estuary but be careful which surf you comb. Some surf is mostly
industrial and while its waves will leach out discolourng tannins they
allow the trees to absorb industrial contaminants. Diagnose your surf
before lifting that stump; how do the biologists in your area rate the
health of indigenous brackish water vegetation? Do thick globs of oil coat
the surface at times? What kind of industrial waste release did this or
that nearby factory get cited for recently? These are factors that can
affect the safety of your driftwood. South Florida is lucky in that w/o
clean beaches our economy tanks. Hawaii is in a similar situation. Yet even
here there are relative areas of safety. If I am on the mainland Florida I
checkout the mangroves. If I am in the Keys I check water clarity and
vegetation (if I can see 10ft down, I collect).

I once found a HUGE stump from a 10" diameter tree trunk that I had to saw
into chunks to use. Its internal components were shielded from the surf's
leaching action and it bled for days. That's why I only collect the smaller
stumps (trunk diameter 1.5"-4") which have a much higher surface area to
volume ratio and require little more preparation than slapping off the sand
and scrapping off the seaweed.

"A-stumpin' in Ft.Lauderdale"
See my Driftwood stumps at