Adding wood straight to the tank

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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This is redmoore from an LFS :) Never foraged for hardscape, not found the right places really. I always thought tannins from driftwood lowered ph and gh - wonder if you have a high kh that stops it from dipping?

Wills

I don't think redmoore is very tannin heavy anyway, is it? It's more mopani type wood that turns your tank tea coloured overnight :)
I don't usually pre-soak wood from a store, I tend to trust that it's okay, and I just scrub it with a scrub-brush I have just for fish stuff in the sink, and add it to the tank. My two wood pieces I added to my new set up have finally waterlogged and sunk without me wedging them down after a few weeks.

I have a GH and KH tester kit, and I tend to add a lot of botanicals like almond leaves and alder cones to my tanks, but even when I did have tannins, my GH didn't seem to shift - I need @Essjay to confirm because I always get confused with these things, but I *think* we all decided in an old thread that because my GH is naturally 253ppm and KH is 15, that these things don't soften the water much because the KH stops the GH from dropping? I might have that totally confused. But perhaps since you're in a harder water area, you're in a similar boat? We basically decided that without adding peat (which I don't want to use for ethical reasons) that the only way to soften my water was via mixing RO or rainwater, because botanicals/wood etc weren't going to be able to do much to affect my GH and KH (I ended up using a mix of rainwater and tap for my smaller tank with softer water fish). Do you know your GH and KH? Maybe you're in the same boat and don't have to fret about purigen etc?

I only had one problem with a piece of wood from a store, and it wasn't a huge deal. The branchy looking one in the middle of the first photo? I really liked it, but It grew this fuzzy stuff that wasn't the typical biofilm, and otos etc ignored it
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I removed it, scrubbed it with the scrubber and salt, got it clean again and put it back in the tank, but the fuzz grew back. The fish seemed fine and water tests were fine, so I left it for a while, but it didn't go away, so I finally removed and it put it in a tub of water outside to overwinter. It ended up staying out there for a year or so, then when I rooted through that tub for hardscape I found it and that the bark was peeling off of it. I helped it along and removed the rest of the bark, added it to my new set up, and it's doing fine in there now! must have been something in the bark, but it didn't do any harm. Don't know what type of wood it is, but redmoore doesn't usually have any bark on it does it? I wouldn't worry about the redmoore, honestly. :)
 

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I used long-dead juniper wood from the desert for my Rio Negro tank. It took FOREVER to sink, and it's still releasing tannins, but it will probably last longer than I do.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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I used long-dead juniper wood from the desert for my Rio Negro tank. It took FOREVER to sink, and it's still releasing tannins, but it will probably last longer than I do.
Is juniper okay then? I thought pines weren't okay because of the oils and stuff I think, and aren't junipers similar? I'm not even close to knowledgeable about trees though! You've never had a problem with it though?

I did steal a dead silver birch from the park once. Just because I know it's fish tank safe, and vandals had snapped the young tree :( and it was just lying there. Came across it while walking the dog, then looked like a dafty carrying a 7ft tree home... But it's very straight so not super interesting shapes, and I haven't done anything with it yet. Still in the garden, lol. I was thinking of trimming it down and suspending it from the ceiling above a tank and growing plants from it, but it's one of those projects I may never get around to, or it may not work.
 

Essjay

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I *think* we all decided in an old thread that because my GH is naturally 253ppm and KH is 15, that these things don't soften the water much because the KH stops the GH from dropping?
KH stabilises pH not GH.

pH is a measure of acidity - low pH = more acid, high pH = less acid. KH reacts with acids. Tannins are acidic. When there's not much KH it can all get used up and pH drops, so tannins can lower pH when KH is low. When there's a lot of KH, there's so much of it that it would take a lot of acid to react with it all. That means dumping a huge amount of acid in the tank, which would not be very good for the fish, or not doing water changes for months (regular water changes top up the kH) again not good for the fish.

GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium, and tannins have little impact on these.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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KH stabilises pH not GH.

pH is a measure of acidity - low pH = more acid, high pH = less acid. KH reacts with acids. Tannins are acidic. When there's not much KH it can all get used up and pH drops, so tannins can lower pH when KH is low. When there's a lot of KH, there's so much of it that it would take a lot of acid to react with it all. That means dumping a huge amount of acid in the tank, which would not be very good for the fish, or not doing water changes for months (regular water changes top up the kH) again not good for the fish.

GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium, and tannins have little impact on these.
Thank you!!

I wish I was smarter and I could wrap my brain around GH/pH/KH! Every time I think I might get it, I realise I don't :( I have really tried! But I just get messed up, and feel like a dunce because I know I had to stumble through a lot of this stuff in like, primary school...!

But that's why I tagged you - because I knew there was a good chance I'd got it wrong! Glad we have you here :)
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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KH stabilises pH not GH.

pH is a measure of acidity - low pH = more acid, high pH = less acid. KH reacts with acids. Tannins are acidic. When there's not much KH it can all get used up and pH drops, so tannins can lower pH when KH is low. When there's a lot of KH, there's so much of it that it would take a lot of acid to react with it all. That means dumping a huge amount of acid in the tank, which would not be very good for the fish, or not doing water changes for months (regular water changes top up the kH) again not good for the fish.

GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium, and tannins have little impact on these.

Sorry to pester you to be my chemistry teacher, I'm just trying to learn! And working from memory of a very old thread of mine from when I first joined and learned about not mixing soft and hard water fish.
Was it because if there's a high GH, there also tends to be a higher KH, so with weekly water changes like most of us do, that adding things like tannins/leaves/leeching wood wasn't going to affect my tap parameters much? So I couldn't make the tank water softer due to high KH buffering the acids in the leaves etc, and I would need softer water from another source?

Tell me to stop if I'm just making more of an idiot of myself and going off topic! I need like, an idiots guide for this stuff
 

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Is juniper okay then? I thought pines weren't okay because of the oils and stuff I think, and aren't junipers similar? I'm not even close to knowledgeable about trees though! You've never had a problem with it though?

I did steal a dead silver birch from the park once. Just because I know it's fish tank safe, and vandals had snapped the young tree :( and it was just lying there. Came across it while walking the dog, then looked like a dafty carrying a 7ft tree home... But it's very straight so not super interesting shapes, and I haven't done anything with it yet. Still in the garden, lol. I was thinking of trimming it down and suspending it from the ceiling above a tank and growing plants from it, but it's one of those projects I may never get around to, or it may not work.
I've heard both about Juniper. I suspect that live juniper would be somewhat toxic. I've used dead juniper in two different tanks that ran for several years, and never had any problems that I could discern. I like it because 1. It's free--there's a ton of it growing around here and no one cares if you cut it, and 2. it gets into really twisty, interesting shapes, and 3. It's easy to find dead stuff that's probably been standing for a decade or more, because 4. It is extremely rot-resistant, so it lasts pretty much forever.

Send that birch trunk to me and I'll make a bow out of it! :lol:
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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I've heard both about Juniper. I suspect that live juniper would be somewhat toxic. I've used dead juniper in two different tanks that ran for several years, and never had any problems that I could discern. I like it because 1. It's free--there's a ton of it growing around here and no one cares if you cut it, and 2. it gets into really twisty, interesting shapes, and 3. It's easy to find dead stuff that's probably been standing for a decade or more, because 4. It is extremely rot-resistant, so it lasts pretty much forever.

Send that birch trunk to me and I'll make a bow out of it! :lol:
Oh man, I've sent Christmas and Birthday cards to the US before, and it was pretty pricy! Imagine the cost to send a 7 ft dead birch tree across the pond :eek:


Juniper does makes some AWESOME shapes!! Wish we had some around here. I need to get better at IDing trees so I can go collect wood and leaves...
 

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Sorry to pester you to be my chemistry teacher, I'm just trying to learn! And working from memory of a very old thread of mine from when I first joined and learned about not mixing soft and hard water fish.
Was it because if there's a high GH, there also tends to be a higher KH, so with weekly water changes like most of us do, that adding things like tannins/leaves/leeching wood wasn't going to affect my tap parameters much? So I couldn't make the tank water softer due to high KH buffering the acids in the leaves etc, and I would need softer water from another source?

Tell me to stop if I'm just making more of an idiot of myself and going off topic! I need like, an idiots guide for this stuff
The reason for not mixing hard and soft water fish is because their bodies need different hardness. Hard water has lots of hard water minerals, mainly calcium with some magnesium. Soft water still has these minerals, just not very much of them.

Hard water fish have evolved to get rid of most of the hardness minerals that they take in from the water. Put them in soft water and they continue getting rid of the minerals. But because there are only a few minerals in soft water and their bodies get rid of the few there are, they suffer mineral deficiency which causes stress and they get sick more easily. Some species such as mollies also develop a condition called the shimmies (sort of swimming on the spot) in soft water.
Soft water fish come from water with hardly any minerals so their bodies have evolved to hang on to what minerals there are. Put them in hard water with lots of minerals and their bodies still hang on to them. They develop calcium deposits in their organs, mainly the kidneys. Think kidney stones. So their kidneys don't work as well as they should and they die sooner than they should.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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The reason for not mixing hard and soft water fish is because their bodies need different hardness. Hard water has lots of hard water minerals, mainly calcium with some magnesium. Soft water still has these minerals, just not very much of them.

Hard water fish have evolved to get rid of most of the hardness minerals that they take in from the water. Put them in soft water and they continue getting rid of the minerals. But because there are only a few minerals in soft water and their bodies get rid of the few there are, they suffer mineral deficiency which causes stress and they get sick more easily. Some species such as mollies also develop a condition called the shimmies (sort of swimming on the spot) in soft water.
Soft water fish come from water with hardly any minerals so their bodies have evolved to hang on to what minerals there are. Put them in hard water with lots of minerals and their bodies still hang on to them. They develop calcium deposits in their organs, mainly the kidneys. Think kidney stones. So their kidneys don't work as well as they should and they die sooner than they should.
I'm sorry, I wasn't clear! That bit, I totally get! I sucked at chemistry and physics, but was great with biology!

It's how KH/GH and pH interact, and why things like tannins don't soften my water. And why we worry about those things softening our water if pH and KH don't affect GH that I get lost with :(
 

Essjay

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Sorry, misunderstood.

Hard water has high GH - that's lots of calcium and magnesium. Hard water usually also has high KH - that's lots of carbonate and bicarbonate. Hard water also has other minerals which are not measured in GH or KH and these other minerals usually cause high pH.

Tannins are acids which react with carbonate and bicarbonate (KH) though if there's high KH ,wood etc can't release enough tannins to react with all the KH so there's some left to stop the pH falling. In hard water, tannins from wood etc have little or no impact on pH though KH will drop a bit.
Tannins don't react with calcium and magnesium. So GH remains the same.
 

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