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What is Bogwood?

Bogwood is wood preserved in a bog due to anaerobic conditions. Usually bogwood is stained brown by organic matter (tannins) present in the bog.

Driftwood is very similar. It is wood submerged in water for many weeks or years usually in a river, stream or pond. Apart from that, it is treated by aquarists as if it is bogwood.

The wood becomes waterlogged after many weeks and so will sink in the aquarium. Large pieces with interesting shapes are quite collectible and are often added to aquariums to give them character.

What Bogwood does to the water

The wood will leach out tannins which slowly turn the water brown (this reduces with age). This is harmless and indeed often thought of as beneficial to the animals as it is a mild antibacterial, fungicide agent and the wood provides trace minerals and nutrients for all your animals and plants. These tannins will alter the pH of the water making it more acidic and will soften the water in a similar way that peat does. This can be counter balanced by adding Calcium carbonate like crushed seashells or coral sand. Ensure your tank water has a decent level of KH and this pH effect will be minimal.

Benefits of Bogwood

Types of wood used

True bogwood is hundreds to thousands of years old.

Normally aquarium companies simply pre-treat dry wood by sand blasting the bark off and that is all. Some will pre-dip the wood in water for at least a few weeks or in rare cases collect true bogwood where peat is being collected before selling it in shops.

Aquarium shop 'bogwood' is normally sandblasted Mopani wood and should in fact simply be called driftwood. If in doubt ask the shop on their definition of this term.

Sources of Bogwood

Bogs are not easiest places to get to and most people don't collect from the wild due to the trouble of finding a suitable piece of 'wild' bogwood or in the amount of work and time that is required to ensure the bogwood isn't carrying parasites and have the majority of tannins removed.

The usual sources are:

Preparing the wood

Do not simply dunk the wood into your tank. Your piece of wood has probably been sitting on a shelf in the shop or in your home for a long time. It may have collected chemical sprays from the air and often will be coated with dust.

Take the wood and rinse it under normal tap water and leave it in a bucket of tap water for several days. If the water turns very dark brown then the wood probably hasn't been pretreated and you'll need to replace the water and re-examine the water every 2 days until it shows signs of lessening. This can take months in a untreated piece.

If it is pretreated it should sink rapidly within a day and will not leak out high levels of tannins. Once you're happy with the way the wood is looking, add to your aquarium.


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