Manzanita Wood and Why You Should Be Using It

Manzanita Wood and Why You Should Be Using It

Where does manzanita wood come from?

Manzanita is a mountainous shrub found all over the Western United States in higher elevations. It is widely viewed as a "weed", good for fire logs as it burns much hotter than other types of wood. There are over 100 different species of manzanita. Some species can even be found as far East as New Mexico and Texas. 

Why choose manzanita for aquarium use?

Manzanita is one of the most popular and sought after woods for aquarium use. In it's natural state, manzanita has a beautiful smooth red/orange bark with many twists and curves to its branches.  Besides being visually appealing, manzanita possesses many positive traits when it comes to being submerged in an aquarium. Branches sink quickly, usually with in 5 days. The wood is ph neutral and will not effect the water chemistry. If properly cleaned and cured, it will hold up over long periods of time under water. Manzanita is also resistant to leeching tannins into the water column, you will notice very little if any "tea colored " water.

Using manzanita in your aquarium:

Manzanita comes in all shapes and sizes, so it lends itself for nearly all types of styles but it is mainly used in nature and biotope aquarium setups. Because manzanita wood has so many twists and curves in the branches, combining several pieces together can create a unique and full aquascape. This method is prefered over trying to find a large single center piece. It is also more cost effective as center pieces tend to cost more for its uniqueness.  Covering the base of the wood with stone will also help give the structure the appearance of being a single piece of wood. There are many ways to arrange the branches: sweeping across the tank, inverted to give the appearance of roots coming into the water column from the surface, or having the branches come up out of the water column.

Below is an example of several 24-36" branches I put together to create the appearance of one large branch structure sweeping across the tank. This was used in a Central American Biotope based on a river system in Guadalajara. 


Inverted to where the branches are breaching the water column. Typically used in a nature theme.


Inverted branches mimicking roots coming from the surface. Used in biotope aquariums.

Please comment on your opinion and experience with manzanita wood.


  • Adam Gamberutti

    You can use Manzanita with the red bark. Just expect it to fall off eventually as it is in your tank. You may see a bit more of the white fungus with it breaking down and releasing proteins into the water column.

  • Todd Schweitzer

    Can you put the red manzanita in the aquarium or does the red have to be removed? I guess it’s a thin smooth bark

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published