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Collecting wood/leaves etc

guy_in_a_tie

New Member
Messages
14
Hi everyone!
I'm setting up a tank at the moment for a pair of borrellii/hongsloi (still undecided) and have got some wood and rocks to add and and create line of sight obstructions etc. However I need much more and it would cost a lot to buy from my LFS or online. I've seen some amazing tanks on this forum with exactly the wood/branches I need but can't seem to buy anywhere! Would I be able to just go to my local river/forest and collect anything I see that I like, or is there a specific place/way to get these sort of things?
Thanks in advance,
-Ilias
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,905
Location
Germany
Would I be able to just go to my local river/forest and collect anything I see that I like, or is there a specific place/way to get these sort of things?
It depends heavily on what you're looking for and where you live.

Rocks:
I prefer using smooth rounded river rocks from inert rock types like granite and quarz-mixes. I collect on the banks of the River Rhine, which in itself is a quite alkaline river with hard water, but I live so far down river the pebbles and rocks here have no influence on water chemistry. For preparation I simply put them in a pot, take near-boiling water, chugg it in and let it sit until I can just take them out with my hands. That's enough to kill of any algae or pathogens I could possibly introduce from a freshwater ecosystem into my tanks. The rock types I use also don't absorb pollutants so this is a quite safe source.
Rock types I can only warn you about: oily slate, pumice, sandstone, limestone. If the rivers in your region flow through these rock types your best bet is going to a building or landscaping supply store, there you get good rocks of your choice by weight so usually you pay a little fraction of what you pay in the aquarium trade.

Leaf litter:
Go to a forest as far away from agriculture, industry and traffic as possible, between late October and early
January. You can pick any brown leaves that have fallen from the twigs or that are about to fall. I have to stress: brown. Not green, not yellowisch green. Stay clear of coniferous trees and evergreens.

Wood:
I prefer getting only small branches and twigs from the woods, bigger pieces are a gamble. At best the wood has been curing in the sun and fresh air, relatively dry for a year or two. It should not be from a lake or river, definitely not from the coast. I prefer buying wood still from a certain online supplier that has delivered excellent quality for a good price for years now. Wood is simply the hardest to source in the wild in Europe.
 

guy_in_a_tie

New Member
Messages
14
Hi MacZ,
Thanks for the information, very useful! Just to clarify:
-So I can collect small pieces of wood and twigs/small branches from the forest, yes? (or even my garden).
- I went to my local crystal clear river in the forest and collected some small branches/pieces of wood which were already in it (in the river I mean), would I be able to use that in an aquarium or not?
-Would I be able to know who the online wood supplier is? I'm in england so I presume if they can post to germany they ship to UK as well
Thanks,
-Ilias
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,905
Location
Germany
-So I can collect small pieces of wood and twigs/small branches from the forest, yes? (or even my garden).
Garden only if you or your neighbours do not use pesticides and fertilizers. I prefer to use such at least fom outside the town limits.
I went to my local crystal clear river in the forest and collected some small branches/pieces of wood which were already in it (in the river I mean), would I be able to use that in an aquarium or not?
Crystal clear... you can't see pollutants or how hard the water is. If the wood is waterlocked it will release all of it into your tank. Rather buy dry and soak yourself.
-Would I be able to know who the online wood supplier is? I'm in england so I presume if they can post to germany they ship to UK as well
Garnelio is the name of the company I used to get driftwood from the last few times, but... Brexit. They only ship EU and Switzerland. Not to the UK anymore.
 

guy_in_a_tie

New Member
Messages
14
Crystal clear... you can't see pollutants or how hard the water is. If the wood is waterlocked it will release all of it into your tank. Rather buy dry and soak yourself.
Would it be fine if I dried the wood before putting into the tank? it has been drying for a week or two and will be for a bit longer.
Garnelio is the name of the company I used to get driftwood from the last few times, but... Brexit. They only ship EU and Switzerland. Not to the UK anymore.
ahh annoying brexit, very unfortunate i'll see if I can find something similar in the uk.
 

Gamegurl

New Member
Messages
17
Location
Santa Rosa, California
It depends heavily on what you're looking for and where you live.

Rocks:
I prefer using smooth rounded river rocks from inert rock types like granite and quarz-mixes. I collect on the banks of the River Rhine, which in itself is a quite alkaline river with hard water, but I live so far down river the pebbles and rocks here have no influence on water chemistry. For preparation I simply put them in a pot, take near-boiling water, chugg it in and let it sit until I can just take them out with my hands. That's enough to kill of any algae or pathogens I could possibly introduce from a freshwater ecosystem into my tanks. The rock types I use also don't absorb pollutants so this is a quite safe source.
Rock types I can only warn you about: oily slate, pumice, sandstone, limestone. If the rivers in your region flow through these rock types your best bet is going to a building or landscaping supply store, there you get good rocks of your choice by weight so usually you pay a little fraction of what you pay in the aquarium trade.

Leaf litter:
Go to a forest as far away from agriculture, industry and traffic as possible, between late October and early
January. You can pick any brown leaves that have fallen from the twigs or that are about to fall. I have to stress: brown. Not green, not yellowisch green. Stay clear of coniferous trees and evergreens.

Wood:
I prefer getting only small branches and twigs from the woods, bigger pieces are a gamble. At best the wood has been curing in the sun and fresh air, relatively dry for a year or two. It should not be from a lake or river, definitely not from the coast. I prefer buying wood still from a certain online supplier that has delivered excellent quality for a good price for years now. Wood is simply the hardest to source in the wild in Europe.
Why not from the Coast? I live in Northern California. I am having a friend bring me driftwood and rocks. My plan was to soak, then boil the wood and rocks.
Why wouldn't you use from the coast?
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,905
Location
Germany
Why wouldn't you use from the coast?
Wood because it will release salt and whatever it absorbed beforehand. The whole process of preparation is quite a chore which can be achieved just as cheap and with less effort when collected inland.
Rocks... depends, usually on the coast you find limestone which will raise conductivity and alkalinity and thus pH. I would definitely not boil rocks.
 

Mike Wise

Moderator
Staff member
5 Year Member
Messages
11,177
Location
Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
Most of the driftwood along the coast of the northwest US are from conifer trees, mostly cedar and spruce. Since these are resinous species, I wouldn't add them. I have used cottonwood, oak and elm branches, but only from limbs cut after the leaves fall and then take 2 months of soaking, rinsing, resoaking over and over to remove any live (= sugars) in the wood. Then I put it in a tank with a 'sacrificial fish' to see if it is safe for aquarium use. It's only worth it if you are cheap like me.:)
 

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