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Melaleuca Driftwood?

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So I have a question for the brains trust...

I occasionally read about melaleuca driftwood being used in aquariums, and I'm wondering is that Australian Melaleuca, as in tea trees, and if so, is it any kind of melaleuca and does it need to be treated in some way (other than boiling to kill any nasties)?

I've tried doing google searches but I end up learning that melaleuca is used in Melafix, which is interesting and makes sense now that I think about it.

Anyone have any ideas?

The reason I ask is because my father has a small bit of land with a creek running through the back, and there are wild melaleuca/tea trees growing all over the place there, and often dead bits and I'm wondering if I can attack his property and use those in my aquariums.

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I don't know about the tea tree wood, but I have used gumtree and oak wood in my aquarium without causing any harm. But the thing is I soaked the wood in water for about 3 months and then boiled it for about 8 hours (2 free water changes) then soak it in old aquarium water for another week or so.

I think it depends entirely on the concentration of substance that's leaking out. Difference substances need smaller amounts to cause trouble while some others needs a whole lot more to cause any trouble. For example chlorine at small amounts can kill a lot of fish while salt can also kill freshwater fish but it takes a whole lot more than accidental dosage.

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I think people use the root ball of either tea tree or paperbarks as it gives the best look.

I do know there is some controversy over whether tea-tree oil is harmful to labryinth fish or not. Some species I believe, are sensitive to the oils leeched by melaleuca (I think it was pencil fish in this instance) so maybe try it first in the tank of a fish you are not too attached to :P

I think most wood is safe if it is old and weathered enough. I would be a little bit more wary of leeching with fresher stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Adam

Just noticed this thread I have some in my tanks i gat them from the sand dunes as the shire use prunnings to stabalize the dunes and each year they put more on so I ask and take some nice pieces that are well aged. I still soake them and then wire brush them. the wood is a lot softer and all my crested java fern are rooted into them and the cheery shrimp spend most of there time crawling over it



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  • 2 weeks later...

Just thought I'd revive this thread and maybe even contribute a bit of a DIY / Photo essay / collection of accumulation of anecdotal knowledge-base-knowledge... (thingy)

I was down at the Mornington peninsula for the last week and have been quietly slipping away from social activities to trawl the sides of roads, paddocks and beaches for driftwood as there's SO much dead Tea Tree around the area... I figured it was in surplus anywayz.

There was a large burn pile in a paddock and I spoke to a property owner about coming back and pinching it before he set it alight (i was on a horse at this stage) and while he couldn't give a stuff what i wanted to do with it (verbatim)

I returned to fill the boot of my tiny car with branches & very dead twigs thinking "what the hell am I doing?"

There wasn't much big stuff that I could fir (WHY i don't have a hand-saw in my car i DONT know)

I got a pile of interesting branches, and I've been toying with a scape sort of like this:

(somewhat concerned about a male betta in a tank like this - so perhaps for the angels, or my sorority+angel tank)


well, branchy anyway - so yes. I have a bag full.

When I get home and do five billion water changes for my poor neglected fish & fry - I'll photograph the driftwood for your comments, and help!

it's very dry and quite dead - the bigger parts might have had bora (it's very light and swiss-cheezy) so i'm interested in hearing if this will create big problems down the track.

Lots of research on how to prepare the wood - boiling, soaking, bleaching, bla bla

One step at a time, I'll shoot it, and see if any of you can positively identify it as tea-tree (nuff nuff corner here, I'm flying blind!!)

Matt95 I'm looking to you for help my dear horticulturalist!

Updates later tonight when my fingers are wrinkled and my eyes probably popping out of my skull from tiredNess.

I'm in no hurry to get it in me tank (forgive 100% full bogan mode since this bogan aussie holiday)

just want to get it right mate

She'll be right aye?

God.. is it 5pm yet? i need to sleep.

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Oooh yay!!! I can't wait to see/hear/read more about your finds.

I've turned into one of those people who collects "sticks" when I'm out walking the dog.

I like the piece you've got in the photo already, it's looking interesting.

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Oh - That's not my photo - My sticks are still in the car *ugh* so tired from monster-week-holiday...and came home to some pretty sad looking fish so elected to do a monster 180lt water change in my 2 big barracks, instead of driftwood playtime.

Back hurts. Eyes burn.

BUT! Tomorrow morning will shoot sticks with iPhone camera and post for verification of species/type and if they're a good idea to proceed with.



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Aiight - I'm a bit slow off the mark, but here are the shots of said driftwood twiggiNess:

5d1fef6e.jpg twiggy bits - VERY brittle and dry - quite hollow... no bark

634a19e1.jpg twigs n bits detail - sand and dirt on them - will need washing - thinking of taking it to the carwash and high pressyre water hosing??



58ca3380.jpgThis is the afore mentioned piece that probably has bora - if I boil it, and they die, and get trapped - they'll rot in the tank and that will be bad... right?

So firstly - is this Tea Tree?

This was all taken from a paddock that was around 200 meters from the dunes, and obviously has been out in the weather and dried out the wha-zoo so it's pretty crispy.

There is Lichen growing on some parts that I can remove - very little or no bark.

VERY light - I think if this was actually water logged it'd still float.... but I'm thinking of working out an arrangement and weighting it down after I've treated.

So... if it's ok wood.... and the largest piece is 2foot.... boiling is out of the question - can I soak it in boiling water in my bath and then weigh it all down and plop it in my 44 gallon drum in the backyard (rainwater) for a few days and then poke it in the tank?

eh eh ?

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Hey Ness

I would get a big tub and soak it first about two or three weeks is what i usualy do, then give it a brush up to remove anything that is loss on the out side. any holes that may contain debry use an apropriate screwdriver to lossen by wiggeling it in the hole and the final tuch if you cant fit it in a pot then in the bath it goes (Thats the part my wife hates) I put it in the hottest water and leave it there till it is cool, I havent had a problem yet. If you get some cherry shrimp they will spend most of there time crawling all over it, it realy looks a treat with twentyodd berries having a feed LOL

I hope that helps as for ID of the wood it is prity hard to ID in that condition unless your in the area and can see whats growing I normaly use leaves and bark for ID perposes



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If there were tea trees in the area (which in sand dunes there usually are) then there's a good chance that's what it is. It does look like that.

If its too big to boil then I'd probably do exactly what your suggesting, with maybe a bit of light scrubbing (as Les suggested) somewhere in that mix as well.

I love the straight area of one of those, I'm on a mission at the moment to find straight pieces of driftwood that are about a foot long (for a project I will reveal in good time), and you'd be amazed how difficult that is, so I've turned into the crazy straight stick admirer who can't help but notice how nice and straight some bits of driftwood are. (and often not even entire bits of driftwood, just that there's a straight section between the bends, that's all it takes to get my admiration on at the moment. I a weirdo.

I digress... I'd be cautious of using the rotting piece that maybe have the bora community inside. I'm just cautious of any sort of rot action in the tank.

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But basically anything organic will rot in the tank. Different woods rot at different rates and the wood that rot slower can be used as driftwoods in aquarium tanks. I'm actually a little worried about the tannis. Coz when I was preparing my collected driftwoods I boiled each for at least an hour and a couple weeks of soaking and the water is so brown that i can't see through it.

There's three things that concerns me about collecting driftwoods:

1) bacteria: can be fixed easily by boiling or hot hot water

2) chemicals: can be avoided if be careful where to collect and soaking in water also helps get any naturally occuring or man-made chemicals out of the wood

3) the pH swing caused by the tannis; epescially if it's a small tank or a lot of driftwoods at the same time

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Hey Ness, can't spend much time sexplaining this. Wood should be fine as long as it is not pine and has been dead around a year and is fully dried out. Also make sure it is not soft. I used a piece of wood with borrors once and they produced hydrogen sulphide.

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Oh matt! dont Sexplain it to me.. just spell it out.

I've not yet got an ID from my landscape architect housemate (she has a cold and hasn't left her room in days - should probably get in there and check for a pulse)

I think I'm going to proceed without the one with creepy crawlies - DAMMIT - the best chunky bit.


The wood has been dead for 5+ years and hasn't been in water - just on a hill - dead - in the rain

(sounds like a the perfect way to end it all)

Tannins should be interesting - i'm thinking of chopping a bit off and boiling up to see if it colours at all but it's GREY like - No brown - grey dead.

I might even do a little soaker bucket somewhere in the backyard and test the ph every few days - oh yes. I feel a photo essay upcoming!

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(you asked for it)

Here's the twig in question:


Bit of grot, bit of dirt, can't see bugs or nothin' ....but very brittle and easy to snap



After a scrubbin'


I have to say I'm suprised at the colour! THIS IS GOIN TO LOOK SO NOIIIIICE IN ME TANK.

Remember those colgate ads when they snapped the chalk in half with the blue ink?


Could this possibly be the best photographed, most boring thread in the universe?


This is the pot. This is the twig - it was naughty and was too big so i snapped it in half with my BEAR (GRYLLS) HANDS! God I'm tuff.

It boils. I will wait to see if a.) housemates crack the poo's b.) tannins emerge c.) test ph once water cools to see if there's any effect (probably need to test original tap water to see what the change was aye?)


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Well I must say - this has been an interesting little experiment.

On the boil for just under 2 hours - and we have tea tree tea - the wood is quite brown and the water is quite stained.

Note: Housemate didn't mind - my pots...


So armed with this tannin stained water - which I don't mind - but what Joan mentioned about it affecting Ph concerned me - so the scientist in me decided to do a PH TEST KIT EXPERIMENT

I can't be bothered photographing.... however

Tap water measures quite blue/geen at 7.4

The tap water I filled up the pot with and boiled the wood in now measures 6.2 - and is yellow as my test kit allows - so could be much less.

Obviously this is bad.... and I'm glad I'm doing this slowly, while a pretty tank is nice, I need fish that are ALIVE to swim in it.

The pieces aren't big enough to boil, so what do y'all think of me soaking it in a bath in VERY HOT WATER over night - then popping into my 44 gallon drum in the backyard (rainwater) to soak for eternity

Will this leach the tannins?

Once the tannins are leached, will the ph stop being affected?

If I use Carbonate hardness powder (7) will this stop the tannins affecting the ph?

Over to you brains trust....

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Oh yay!! This is an awesome photo essay!!

I'm afraid I'm not much help when it comes to how much it will affect the ph. How big is the tank it's going in? I'd think the bigger the tank, the less impact it would have, but that also depends on how much pretty stickies you throw in. I've found with any pieces I've put into my large tanks the ph change is minimal to non-existent (& I have some large pieces in there). The tannins on the other hand, I have one thick large piece that's about 18inches long, 12inches wide & 3 or 4 inches at its thickest. No idea what sort of wood, but it's hard as a rock. It floated for a week, then sank slowly & leached like crazy for a couple of months, the tank looked permanently like tea & I loved it (I was actually disappointed when it eventually stopped). There was a minor change in ph, I think it dropped from 7 to 6.8, but doesn't seem to have any impact at all anymore.

I think the dramatic drop in your tea tree stock pot is probably because the boiling has sped up the leaching. Try soaking some in approximately the quantity of water in your tank in the backyard for a week or so, and see what the ph does then, that should more accurately reflect what will happen in your tank.

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If there is any effect on the PH it wont happen as fast as you boiled it, try testing it next time with tank water, tap water naturally drops after it has sat for an hour ot two. You shouldn't have any trouble with teh ph dropping to fast, IAL would most likly drop is faster... Should be fine to use :)

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Oh my god don't tell me that... I'll throw those little branches in quicker than you can say... branches in.

Obviously the boiling is an acceleration of the process, I think I want to encourage as much tannin OUT as possible before I throw it into my 3 footer... fortunately this is the tank with the Eheim filter on it - so I imagine the tannins won't look as strong as they otherwise would.

I think it's a spot of boiling water over it all tonight in the bath, then into the 44 tomorrow (it's 33 degrees and the thing is in full sun all day) that sould encourage the woody pores to open and leach.

Maybe I do a little ph test of the 44? It'll get rain water and will change up - but might be interesting.

I like doing ph tests because I feel like a scientist.

I am not a scientist.

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LOL that is what the boiilings for to fasten the process of leaching Tanins. If your worried about the woods effect on your fish then get a couple of VT girls and use them as guine pigs,put wood and VT girls in a tub and monitor, if they live its safe for your other fish if they dont its collatrel damage and you dont get to use the wood



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I'm working with 80x40 cms here - that is the total floor space that I have for an entire breeding setup.

it's my allowance so i don't turn into a mad fish woman.

this is why i go to subscape and fluff over their fish for 4 hours every fortnight..... because i'm NOT a mad fish woman (uh huh)

my makeup has no animal testing - cant "guinea pig" VT either (anyway - they're TOUGHER than my flouncy HM looser fish)

but I can safeguard - might try that first :P


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