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Old 19th May 2009   #1
Socrates
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Question Wood that is safe in water

Hey what type of wood is safe to use in water, meaning what wood is safe to sit constantly in water and won't leach out any harmful chemicals or dyes etc.? The types of wood I have been looking at is Grape wood, drift wood and cork bark. Any suggestion would be helpful!



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Old 19th May 2009   #2
Johnny O. Farnen
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Exclamation Re: Wood that is safe in water

Excellent question! We have discussed wood in the past, however, I had completely forgotten about grape wood. I will post the most complete list I can and then link to your thread when the time arises!


So, here we go:

DO NOT USE IN ANY SET UP:
Cedar (Toxic)
Pine (irritant)
Cypress(Toxic/irritant)
Or any other Conifer
Sumac (Toxic)
Raspberry, Blackberry (Wood is toxic)
Yew (Berries safe for Gin, rest of it is Toxic)
Eucalyptus (Some types are safe, however this can be hard to be sure of)
Apple (Some types leach toxins, also rots quickly, affects PH in wet set ups)
Ficus, dead (Toxic)
Any type of pressure or chemically treated treated lumber (Ultra Super Mega TOXIC wet or dry)
Anything that has a milky sap when live (Just to be safe, as most of these are toxic too)
Anything that has brightly colored (other than green) leaves when live (just to be safe)


DO NOT USE IN WET SET UPS:

(This is any set up where it will get wet or be submerged)
Grape wood (Most types can leach chemicals that are toxic to many fish and amphibians)
Unsterilized Driftwood (Parasite/disease vector, may also be toxic)
Cactus Wood (Not toxic, but is a haven for mold and bacteria, hard to clean)
Oak (ultra high tannic acid leachate, throws pH all out of whack)
Black Cherry (Leaches Toxic chemicals when wet)
Willow, dead (Leaches the active ingredient in aspirin)


SAFE FOR WET/DRY/SUBMERGED SET UPS:

Maple, all types
Ash
Aspen
Cork Bark (non processed)
Coconut Husk and Shells
Bamboo, live
Bamboo, non treated
Date Palm wood
Live willow (likes it wet, but not submerged)
Live Ficus (use with caution, sap is irritant to many species)
Boiled Driftwood
Mobani Wood
Cactus wood (for dry set ups only)


How to treat/sterilize/prepare dead wood:

Boil it.
Boil it for hours upon hours upon hours.

Then soak it changing the water every day until the water stays totally clear.

For wood you found and properly identified yourself, boil it a minimum of 6 hours. Yes, you will have to add more water throughout. It is a long stinky process.

For purchased wood, properly identified, boil it for at least two hours if it has not been sealed with urethane or epoxy.


Important Note: if you use real wood in you aquatic set ups, you MUST invest in a good liquid reagent based pH and Hardness test. Real dead wood in water will lower the pH over time and lower the water hardness over time.
Good tank maintenance is an absolute.

Important Note 2 : When in doubt, leave it out!

Important Note 3: Natural wood will get algae and even plants growing on it over time. If you are not a fan of algae, use fake wood, it is easier to clean.


Personal preference:
Get a big fire going in my back yard fire pit, throw on the gigantic aluminum pot I got at the thrift shop for 5 bucks, fill it with water, and the drink beer while boiling the wood till it darn near sinks. This takes a full weekend, not including trips to the loo and getting replacement brewskis.
(Do not use a nonstick coated pot in a fire)

For my axolotls, I use only fake wood. They like their water pretty hard and I can be a lazy guy at times.


Hopefully, some of the pros can add to this. Also hopefully some of the international members can add their two cents worth in, as I am sure they have different kinds of wood there also.



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Old 19th May 2009   #3
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Wow dude thanks! This may be a dumb question but what do you mean by you use "fake wood"?



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Old 19th May 2009   #4
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Don't tell anyone, but I am soooo lazy, I buy the molded plastic and resin cast "wood" for my axolotl tanks. I stuff any of the too-small-for-axolotl voids with epoxy to keep the funk from building up inside them. They are so much easier to keep the algae and gunk off of compared to real wood.

Once a month they get removed from the tank and scrubbed with warm tapwater and my wife's toothbrush...but do not tell her that either...



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Old 20th May 2009   #5
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

very good information......Thanks



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Old 20th May 2009   #6
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Haha sounds like a good idea to me. Do you by any chance know anything about the company GEOsystem http://www.geosystemaquarium.com/geoeng/index.php? They say they have drift wood that is made from inert material that one leech toxins etc. Just want to know if you've had any experience with this company. Thanks again for the suggestions.



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Old 20th May 2009   #7
Johnny O. Farnen
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

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Originally Posted by Socrates View Post
Haha sounds like a good idea to me. Do you by any chance know anything about the company GEOsystem http://www.geosystemaquarium.com/geoeng/index.php? They say they have drift wood that is made from inert material that one leech toxins etc. Just want to know if you've had any experience with this company. Thanks again for the suggestions.
While I have not used that particular brand, I am familiar with the resin cast wood dust logs. They really are pretty good. They do result in a pH shift if water is not changed regularly, however it is pretty good stuff overall.

The also have the mopani wood (which is always labeled "mobani" here in Nebraska for some odd reason) which is good stuff, once soaked clean of the tea color tannins.



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Old 20th May 2009   #8
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Many thanks to Mr. Farmen for such valuable information. I am going to print it, frame it and keep it in my salamander/newt room. Seriously!



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Old 21st May 2009   #9
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Exclamation Re: Wood that is safe in water

While I normally do not "bump" a thread, I would really like to see this one stay alive for a while so we can get some more input on this one. In my experience, this question is the most common in the vivaria/aquaria hobby.

I personally am interested to see what our Euros, Ozzies and Kiwis can add to this, as I am only familiar with North and South American available wood.



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Old 21st May 2009   #10
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Another question for you Johnny. If I used dried out bamboo does it have to be boiled? And I'm guessing live bamboo is alright to be in water, judging by the fact it grows it water/wet environments.



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Old 21st May 2009   #11
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Not necessary to do so, if you decide to do so however, make sure to take a drill or long sharp wire and punch a small hole through each of the sections of a shaft, as they are air tight and could feasibly explode when boiled.

An advantage of boiling bamboo is that once it is soaked through and hot, you can bend, clamp and /or tie it into interesting shapes, and once dry it will hold that form.



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Old 21st May 2009   #12
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Wow that's pretty sweet. I did not know that. Thanks again Johnny!



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Old 3rd June 2009   #13
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

So I have small pieces of some sort of drift wood that were sold in the petstore with java fern growing on them.......these peices of wood are very small maybe a whole of 6inches long and 2-3 inches wide or smaller. Do I need to be checking the tanks that have one or two of these in them to make sure that the ph level is not being effected?



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Old 4th June 2009   #14
Johnny O. Farnen
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Always a good idea to do so Audrey, even though it sounds to me like the wood has been submerged for quite a while. pH is always a good idea to test regularly, especially when wood and live plants are present in the tank.



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Old 10th June 2009   #15
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Having had all kinds of woods/roots, both in terrariums and in aquariums, I prefer, by far, the fake wood/roots.

These fake woods are certainly expensive (it depends a lot where you buy them),
but after that, they last for decades, and cannot rot. And there's nothing to boil or bake neither, LOL.

Now, we've got plenty of choice concerning the model we'd like to have.
I agree that back to ten-twenty years ago, the fake wood/roots looked really fake,
but the industry improved a lot,
and it's almost impossible to tell the difference between a true root and a fake one.



This is one piece of fake root
I've got for two-three years now in an aquarium, it's just great.



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Old 10th June 2009   #16
Johnny O. Farnen
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

I am such a cheapskate, that unless it is seriously on sale I do not buy it...

I have taken to making fake wood out of PVC Pipe recently. It is amazing what you can do with some PVC, PVC cement, and a Die grinder or Dremel tool.

I have been experimenting with acrylic polymerized concrete also.



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Old 12th June 2009   #17
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

I've been looking around for some fake roots... those mangroves look perfect.... wonder if they have em in the US?

I wondered if a wood were naturally occurring in an animals habitat if it could still be bad in an enclosure.

for example, I would not use a piece of redwood burl for a tiger salamander or Axy but might it be ok to use for A. gracile, Taricha or Dicamptodon species.? I imagine it might lower your PH a bit and it resists rot and bugs so I also assume it has some pretty potent tannins in it...
any west coasters ever tried it?



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Old 13th June 2009   #18
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Quote:
Originally Posted by bewilderbeast View Post
I've been looking around for some fake roots... those mangroves look perfect.... wonder if they have em in the US?

I wondered if a wood were naturally occurring in an animals habitat if it could still be bad in an enclosure.

for example, I would not use a piece of redwood burl for a tiger salamander or Axy but might it be ok to use for A. gracile, Taricha or Dicamptodon species.? I imagine it might lower your PH a bit and it resists rot and bugs so I also assume it has some pretty potent tannins in it...
any west coasters ever tried it?

You have to keep in mind that what goes on in your enclosure is very different from what goes on in the wild. Redwood and other conifers in particular can be fatal to caudates in captivity. It is less about tannins and more about alkaloids, glycosides and taxol and their effects in an enclosed space. Quite a few nasty substances can evaporate into the air or leach into the water creating a very bad situation for an animal that is forced into constant exposure to it.


Here are some more additions to the "Do not Use" list, after more research on this topic. Remember these lists are with caudates and other amphibians in mind...

almond
juniper
apricot
kumquat
beech
laurel
birch
mahogany black locust mango
black lotus mesquite
blackwood myrtle
box elder
oak
buckthorn
oleander
cashew
peach
cedar
pine
cherry
pistaccio
chestnut
plum
citrus woods redwoood
cypress
sequoia
ebony
spruce
elderberry
teak
eucalyptus walnut
fir
fig
ginko
willow
hemlock
yew
holly


honey locust

hydrangea




Last edited by SludgeMunkey; 13th June 2009 at 13:09. Reason: Added list, typos
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Old 13th June 2009   #19
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

Thatīs one fantastic post Johnny.
Cypress wood is widely used for both aquairums and terrariums, but iīve always recomended against it because of the phenols....in my eyes it just canīt be safe.



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Old 13th June 2009   #20
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Default Re: Wood that is safe in water

While I have been unable to find substantiated documentation against cypress as it pertains to use with amphibians, From personal experiences with numerous reptiles, I advise against it on the grounds of the "When in doubt, leave it out." rule. Cypress bark in particular had serious health effects on numerous old world chameleons and their neonates. Also, it is very chemically similar to Hemlock and Cedar, so that, in my mind is one more reason not to use it.

I'll continue to research this topic in depth. If anyone else stumbles across scientific papers or other valid sources, please post them here, or let me know via PM.

I feel this is a topic we can all learn from.



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