When setting up an aquarium, there is a lot of thought and planning that goes in to it. What kind of filter do I need? What kind of lighting should I get? What kind of substrate? One of the biggest questions that needs to be answered and which will set your aquarium apart from others is, "How should I scape my tank?." Some people will go with artificial decor such as castles, pirate chest bubblers, neon gravel, and fake plants.
Some people will want to go with a more natural look.
There is no right answer. You need to scape your tank with what ever makes you happy and what you think looks good. After all, you will be the one looking at it day in and day out. For me though, I want to make my tank look as natural as possible. I want those fish to feel like they never left home.
Aquascaping an aquarium takes time, planning, and the right resources. Once you figure out the equipment side of things, it's time to start looking at hardscape.
I am all about the wood. Can I say that?
I can't even remember a time when one of my tanks didn't have a piece of manzanita, ghostwood, or spiderwood. Honestly, I don't even want to think about those times. My aquascapes were pretty terrible back then.
Those are just three of out of the many types of aquarium woods you can choose from. Currently, we carry over 25 types of wood which are suitable for aquariums. Yes, you read that right. 25 different types of wood for your aquarium!!! There are a lot of choices out there!
Why do we love aquarium wood so much?
Aquarium wood offers so many benefits to your tank. First and foremost, it's aesthetically pleasing. Nothing will stop a person in their tracks and drool over your tank than a perfectly placed piece of a driftwood. There is just something about having wood in your aquarium that make people stop and notice.
Definitely a head turner.
Two, the fish love it. It provides cover and a sense of safety for the fish. Nothing is better than seeing a large group of tetras dart in and out of the gnarly branches of a large piece of manzanita wood. If you have timid or shy fish that seem to hide in the corner, add a piece of aquarium wood to your tank. You will see a change almost instantly.
Three, most aquarium woods will release something called "tannins" into the water column. Tannic acid can lower the ph of your water which many fish prefer. Tannins also change the water in to a tea colored look, but fear not, these tannins are actually beneficial for your fish. Most hobbyists strive for crystal clear water, but I say "Embrace the Tint!" I personally love the look of tinted water and strive for it. I've never seen fish more active and healthy than in a well balanced tannin stained aquarium.
Some woods release more tannins than others. Malaysian driftwood, Spiderwood, and Mopani are the biggest releasers while Manzanita wood and Ghostwood tend to release very few. This would explain why Manzanita is such a popular aquarium wood with most hobbyists.
There are many reasons on why you should be incorporating wood into your aquarium. In a future post, I plan on going in to more depth about the origins of each type of aquarium wood and their benefits. Until then, as you sit and plan out your next aquarium, start to think about how you can make the most natural aquascape for your fish so they can feel right at home.