10 Best Aquarium Driftwoods

BEST OVERALL

GEOsystem Fluval Mopani Driftwood

PREMIUM CHOICE

PIVBY Natural Aquarium Driftwood

GREAT VALUE

SunGrow Cholla Woods

Apart from enhancing the look of a fish tank, driftwood contributes to creating a natural environment for fish and it serves as a safe spot where they can hide or play. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which type of driftwood is right for you. There are many factors to be taken into account, but you should pay special attention to driftwood’s types, size, firmness, and structure.

Table of Contents

BEST OVERALL

GEOsystem Fluval Mopani Driftwood

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This type of driftwood is an excellent choice for aquariums because it sinks instantly. It’s made of natural hardwood and it comes in two shades, which add up to the intriguing look of your fish tank. Mopani driftwood has a sandblasted finish that prevents water contamination so it’s a safe option for your fish. Nonetheless, you’ll still need to boil it for a couple of hours before you put it in a tank to sanitize it. Mopani driftwood can sometimes cause the water to turn slightly brown because it releases tannins, a substance that’s particularly beneficial for fish that prefer acidic water conditions. This driftwood is firm and it serves as a great hiding spot for the fish. It’s also beneficial for planted aquariums as it acts as an anchor for plants.

What We Like Most

Natural hardwood

Sinks instantly

Convenient hideaway spot

Sandblasted finish

Comes in two tones

Our Synopsis:

This type of driftwood is a great addition to fish tanks due to its interesting look, its ability to sink immediately, and its roles as a hiding spot for the fish and anchor for the plants.

Analyst Rating

PREMIUM CHOICE

PIVBY Natural Aquarium Driftwood

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These Mopani branches add a realistic look to aquariums and do a great job in mimicking the fish’s natural setting. The branches are sturdy, dense, and lightweight, but still heavy enough to keep the plants anchored. Each branch is unique when it comes to the curves and knots and you get a set of 3 pieces. It also works great for terrariums and as a piece of garden landscape. The branches release tannins, but you can reduce the amount that gets released by boiling them longer. The manufacturer recommends boiling it 3 times for an hour to speed up the sinking process and to get rid of tannins completely.

What We Like Most

Pack of 3

Unique look

Sturdy and dense

Act as anchors for plants

Work great for fish, shrimp, and reptiles

Our Synopsis:

These uniquely-looking branches will certainly spark the interest of your aquatic pets. They’re durable and they’re particularly useful if you have plants in your aquarium.

Analyst Rating

GREAT VALUE

SunGrow Cholla Woods

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Cholla wood is a safe bet in terms of practicality and decoration. It comes from the Cholla cactus and one of its biggest perks is its unique texture. This pack contains 3 pieces, and it’s fairly affordable so you get great value for money. This type of wood has a hollow center and it serves as a great playing and hiding place for the fish. Before placing cholla wood into a fish tank, it’s advisable to boil it and keep it soaked in fresh water mixed with a bag of activated carbon to fully sanitize it. Cholla wood should sink to the bottom of an aquarium after 24-48 hours. It can also be used as a chewing toy and it grows biofilm that serves as a source of food for the shrimp.

What We Like Most

Pack of 3

Unique texture

Hollow center

Hiding spot for the fish

Can be used as a chewing toy

Our Synopsis:

Cholla wood has an appealing, hollow structure that serves as a great hiding and playing spot. It’s also a source of food for the shrimp, so it’s beneficial for various aquatic pets.

Analyst Rating

4

Zoo Med Mopani Wood

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This type of African natural wood is a great choice for aquariums because of its two-toned look that will certainly intrigue your fish. Also, mopani wood has a smooth surface decorated with textured details that contribute to the natural look of a fish tank. Mopani wood is quite hard and dense, which allows it to sink immediately when put in the water. This type of wood is extremely durable and it doesn’t rot, so you can expect it to decorate your aquatic environment for a long time. Mopani hardwood releases a large amount of tannins, which turn the water brown, so if you wish to avoid this, it’s best to boil it for several hours before use. However, if you have fish that prefer acidic conditions, the presence of tannins in the water is quite desirable.

What We Like Most

Two shades of color

Smooth surface with textured details

Sinks immediately

Long-lasting

Releases tannins

Our Synopsis:

Mopani natural wood is an excellent option for aquariums because of its rich texture and interesting shades. It’s also durable and particularly beneficial for fish that thrive in acidic conditions.

Analyst Rating

5

Este Malaysian Driftwood

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This large piece of Malaysian driftwood comes in deep brown color and it will make your aquarium look more natural. It has a hard, sturdy surface, and it will sink quickly once placed in the tank. Despite being lightweight, you won’t need extra weight to keep it at the bottom of the tank. This type of driftwood is coated with eco-friendly, high-gloss resin for durability, and it won’t contaminate the water, making it a safe choice for aquarium decoration. Malaysian driftwood releases tannins in the water, which makes it a great choice for owners of betta fish, discus, and angelfish. Apart from aquariums, Malaysian driftwood also works great as an accent piece for reptile enclosures.

What We Like Most

Sturdy

Sinks quickly

Coated with eco-friendly resin

Releases tannins

Suitable for aquariums and terrariums

Our Synopsis:

This type of Malaysian driftwood is a great choice for aquariums with fish that prefer acidic conditions, such as discus and angelfish. It’s also durable, it sinks quickly, and it contributes to creating a natural setting for the fish.

Analyst Rating

6

Pisces Medium Spiderwood

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Spiderwood is a special type of wood with intricate branches that doesn’t only make a great decorative addition to an aquarium, but it also mimics the natural habitat of the fish. Its elaborate branching allows the fish to swim through it and play. This type of driftwood also requires boiling prior to use to eliminate harmful bacteria and excess tannins. It has a tendency to color the water brown, but you can prevent this by leaving it soaked in water for a few days. Spider driftwood has smooth surfaces to ensure your fish’s safety and it’s made of natural wood. It will take 7-10 days for this type of wood to sink to the bottom of the aquarium. Apart from fish tanks, it can also be used in terrariums.

What We Like Most

Natural wood

Smooth surface

Intricate branches

Tends to color water brown if not soaked in water

Takes 7-10 days to sink

Our Synopsis:

Spiderwood is a great option for fish tanks because it elevates the surrounding with its unique look and it helps create a happy and fun setting for your fish to swim through and play.

Analyst Rating

7

NilocG Aquatics Cholla Wood

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This type of cholla wood has an interesting design and texture, with many hollow places for fish to explore and hide in. Apart from the fish, it also works great for tanks with shrimp and crabs, as well as for terrariums. This driftwood has been cleaned and sustainably sourced from a location that hasn’t been contaminated by pesticides or fertilizers, so it’s safe to use around all animals. Cholla wood will float until saturated, which usually takes between 24 and 48 hours, after which it will sink to the bottom. You may speed up the process of sinking by boiling it before use. It comes in the pack of 5 pieces so it offers great value for money.

What We Like Most

Pack of 5 pieces

Hollow structure

Cleaned and sustainably sourced wood

Free of pesticides and fertilizers

Suitable for aquariums and terrariums

Our Synopsis:

This type of wood works great in mimicking the natural environment of the fish. It provides fish with a great spot to swim through and play and it’s sustainably sourced.

Analyst Rating

8

Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree

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This amazing Bonsai tree is made of natural Malaysian wood and crafted into a small landscape piece that will elevate the look of any fish tank. The tree releases tannins, which makes it great for fish that prefer acidic water conditions. Before using Bonsai driftwood, you need to place it in boiling water for 30 minutes to remove any algae or fungal spores. It’s also recommended to soak the tree at least 4 days before adding to the aquarium to make sure it’s been properly sanitized. This type of driftwood is safe for fish, shrimp, and turtles, and it can be combined with plants, rocks, and moss to create a vibrant aquatic theme. You can also use it in water gardens.

What We Like Most

Made of natural Malaysian wood

Hand-crafted

Releases tannins

Safe for fish, shrimp, and turtles

Can be used in water gardens

Our Synopsis:

Bonsai tree driftwood is certainly a unique piece of aquarium decoration that adds a special touch to fish tanks. It’s hand-crafted using natural wood, it’s safe for various aquatic pets, and it works particularly well if you own fish that like softer water conditions.

Analyst Rating

9

Emours Natural Driftwood Branches

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These natural Mopani wood branches will look great in aquariums and terrariums, as they can also be convenient places for reptiles to climb on. They come in sets of 4 pieces, and each set contains different branches, meaning no 2 pieces are the same. Since it’s a Mopani wood, they release large amounts of tannins. The branches require a lengthy preparation process before use. You’ll need to soak them in water for 7 days, then boil for 4-5 hours, wash again, and then put in your fish tank. This will ensure that the pieces have been properly sanitized. The branches are lightweight and durable. Since the pieces are very small, it may work best for smaller-size fish tanks.

What We Like Most

Unique shapes

Come in a pack of 4 pieces

Release tannins

Suitable for aquariums and terrariums

Best for small fish tanks

Our Synopsis:

These branches are an interesting alternative to your regular aquarium driftwood. They come in different shapes, so you’ll get a unique piece, and they’re great for small fish tanks.

Analyst Rating

10

My Pet Patrol Natural Teddy Bear Cholla Wood

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Teddy Bear cholla is a special type of cholla wood that looks almost the same as the regular one, but it's thicker. It’s also rare because it takes a long period of time until cholla plants that are this thick can grow and be harvested. This Teddy Bear Cholla is extra hollow and it provides a great spot for the fish to swim through, hide in or play. It’s sourced from a chemical-free area, so it’s safe for all animals. Since it’s collected from nature, it varies in shape and texture and every piece is different. Another perk of cholla wood is the biofilm it grows, which serves as the main source of food for shrimp and it helps maintain a balanced and nutritious water environment. It needs to be boiled for several hours before use.

What We Like Most

Thicker than regular cholla wood

Extra hollow

Grows biofilm

Releases tannins

Sourced from a chemical-free area

Our Synopsis:

This type of Cholla helps in creating a safe, healthy, and playful environment for the fish and other aquatic pets. It’s also extremely rare and it will make a stunning decorative addition to any fish tank.

Analyst Rating

Buyer's Guide

Aquarium driftwood comes in all shapes and sizes and browsing through products in search of the right one can be overwhelming. You need to take various factors into account, such as the size of your tank, the type of wood, as well as the type of fish you own and how big your budget is. It’s important to remember to narrow down your search to products that fit your style and preferences, not just the ones that get the most reviews.

Size

It may seem obvious, but you’ll need to pay attention to the size of your fish tank when buying driftwood. Pieces that are too small won’t stand out in a large fish tank, and conversely, pieces that are too large may take up too much space in a small fish tank, particularly if they need to be secured by additional objects to be able to stand the way you want them to.

Firmness

Harder types of driftwood are generally a better choice for fish tanks because they sink faster and last longer. Sturdy driftwood takes more time to break down, which means that it won’t disrupt the balance of the water environment and put the health and safety of your aquatic pets at risk. Softer and bristler types of driftwood degrade at a faster rate and often take longer to sink.

Texture

Driftwood can take various forms and feature the most interesting designs that may or may not suit your taste. Cholla wood is known for its hollow structure that can be great for fish to hide in or swim through, but this wood also degrades at a faster rate than Mopani wood, for example. You may also enjoy the sophisticated branches of spriderwood, but this type of driftwood also has a tendency to break down quicker than some other, more plain-looking driftwood, so you’ll need to decide what’s more important to you when purchasing driftwood.

Tannins

Some types of driftwood, such as Mopani and Malaysian wood release large amounts of tannins when submersed in the water. Tannins naturally lower the pH levels of the water, making it more acidic, which is a perfect match for the majority of tropical fish, such as betta fish, discus, and angelfish. Tannins also contribute to the wellbeing of fish by stimulating the growth of helpful bacteria and increasing oxygen levels. However, the presence of tannins may not be suitable for fish that thrive in alkaline water conditions, such as Paradise fish and African and some Central American cichlids, so you need to take this into account as well when choosing driftwood.

Which type of driftwood is best for aquariums?

In general, wood that is sturdy and dense is a good option for fish tanks as it is durable and it will sink faster. Some of the most popular types of natural hardwood are Mopani, which comes from Africa, and Malaysian wood. Other popular choices of driftwood include softer alternatives like Cholla, spiderwood, Manzanita, and rose roots, which degrade faster compared to hardwood, but have conspicuous looks and interesting textures.

Is driftwood safe for aquariums?

Driftwood is safe to use in aquariums provided you choose the type of wood that’s labeled for fish tank use. You should avoid adding willow, pine, witch hazel or cedar to fish tanks, as these types of wood are softer, more brittle, and degrade faster. Additionally, you should avoid driftwood that’s too sharp or pointed as it can hurt the fish while they’re swimming or chasing each other. Also, if you plan on using driftwood that’s intended for reptiles, double check if it is suitable for aquariums, as they can sometimes contain chemicals that are harmful for the fish.

How to clean aquarium driftwood?

You can use a brush or a scraper tool to remove any dirt, debris or pests from driftwood. It’s also recommended to soak driftwood in distilled water for a week to increase the rate at which it sinks and to clean it more thoroughly. After that, you should boil driftwood for several hours to sanitize it completely and get rid of excess tannins, which will minimize the coloring of the water once you put it in a fish tank. Boiling also speeds up the sinking process.

How long should you boil aquarium driftwood?

When it comes to the amount of time you should boil driftwood, there is no single right answer and it will depend on individual pieces. Manufacturers usually specify the recommended boiling time for their products. In general, smaller pieces of driftwood that are up to 1 foot long may require 15-30 minutes of boiling, whereas larger pieces may need boiling for 2-4 hours. The longer you boil driftwood, the more tannins you will remove, so it will also depend on the type of fish you have.

What is the best place for driftwood in a fish tank?

You can place driftwood anywhere you want it, but the most convenient place would be in the background or in the corner of the tank. However, once you pick a place for a piece of driftwood, you should stick to it, especially if you have more fish. Changing the position of driftwood may also mean that you’re putting it in a different territory, which could result in fighting among fish.

What causes white spots on aquarium driftwood?

After adding driftwood to a fish tank, you may notice white spots over it. This is a type of beneficial bacteria that often grows on driftwood after it’s been submersed in the water, and it’s a result of the natural interaction between organic matter - the driftwood and oxygen in the water. It’s a natural process of decomposition, and, although it may not be visually appealing, it won’t harm the fish. The white spots will disappear on their own after a period of time, it could be after several days or weeks.

Expert tip

It’s always a good idea to boil driftwood in salty water, as salt is an efficient sanitizer that will remove the harmful bacteria and kill off any potential diseases of the wood.

Did you know

The occurrence of the water turning brown due to tannins in an aquarium simulates the environment of Amazon black water rivers, which species like Tetra fish particularly enjoy as it mimics their natural setting.

Conclusion

After reviewing the options above, you should be a little closer to deciding which aquarium driftwood is the best for you. Whatever choice you make, it will certainly add up to your home aquatic landscape and keep your fish happy.