Adding driftwood and stone decor to your aquarium

Decorating an aquarium is equal parts pragmatism and creativity.

With enough care, you can decorate your tank with almost anything you can envision. The trinkets and items you include in your aquariums environment are a personal choice and can reflect the individual taste and preferences of the owner.

However, there are clear favorites of aquarium hobbyists everywhere.

Those who seek to provide their tanks with an environment that mimics nature often prefer to go for two classics: driftwood and stones. Their realism and simplicity adds an authentic touch to the aquarium and makes the fish feel at ease.

But it’s not as simple as it seems.

There are certain factors you must take into consideration before attempting to include rocks and wood into your aquarium. Otherwise, you risk ruining your carefully crafted environment and potentially cause harm to your aquarium’s inhabitants.

Some driftwood and stones can alter your water’s parameters

Successful aquariums have carefully balanced water parameters. Elements like pH, hardness, or ammonia levels must be monitored closely, and certain stones or driftwood pieces can make or break said balance.

For example, limestone and petrified coral are known to be alkaline agents that can raise a tank’s pH. Similarly, driftwood can occasionally increase a tank’s acidity and reduce water hardness.

Certain fish need rocks / stones or driftwood for health issues

You can always benefit from imitating your species’ natural environment, as it makes them feel more comfortable and eases the adaptation process.

Some fish, particularly small ones that are easy prey in the wild, tend to feel happier when they have spots where they can hide. Driftwood and certain types of rock provide this type of safety, therefore reducing the fish’s stress.

Likewise, if you seek to breed your fish, you could benefit from these natural ornaments. After all, certain species need them to lay eggs.

Here is an article on the Farowella Catfish. This unique catfish would be an excellent addition to a driftwood filled tank. Link opens in a new tab.

Driftwood and stones can make cleaning your aquarium a real hassle

While driftwood and stones can change the aquascape of your tank to a more aesthetically pleasing environment, it can complicate the cleaning process.

These decorations introduce small holes, trenches, and cavities where uneaten food and biological waste can accumulate. This waste can decompose and potentially turn your tank into a toxic nightmare.

To properly clean the aquarium, you’ll need to remove the decorations entirely and reach the substrate beneath them, at least once a month. If you are unable to perform this routinely, your tank could reach dangerous levels of ammonia in no time.

You need to take certain precautions before adding driftwood or stones to the tank

Not every rock or piece of wood is appropriate to use as tank decorations.

If you are not buying your stones and driftwood in specialized stores, you have to ensure they are safe enough to be introduced to your aquarium. Otherwise, you risk exposing your fish to lethal bacteria and disease.

Careful cleaning and repeated boiling can kill most damaging agents, but it’s still essential you pick your natural décor from non-toxic areas. An example would be to avoid introducing saltwater driftwood into freshwater tanks, as it could be dangerous.


It comes down to preferences

Natural decorations are popular, but not universal. Your aquarium should ensure your fish’s well-being while still reflecting your tastes and personality.

Regardless, carefully-selected stones and driftwood can turn an average aquarium into a thing of beauty.

This page contains Amazon or Ebay affilate links. If you purchase one of my recommendations, I may be paid a commission, at no additional cost to you.

The driftwood in the video above of my 30 gallon aquarium is called spiderwood.  I bought it for my 10 gallon tank, so it looks a bit small.

I found it for sale on Amazon. (affiliate link) It is awesome driftwood. I left a very positive review. I really wouldn’t buy any other driftwood.

Bear in mind that like all driftwood this wood will give off natural tannins coloring the water yellow to brown. This coloring will eventually go away. Clicking on the picture will take you to the Amazon page that has this and other driftwood for sale. 

Stunning Spider driftwood

(Pictured below) This is Dragon Stone. Although I don’t own any it is very popular with planted aquarium owners.

You can find it here. (Amazon link)

dragon stone on black gravel