Do It Yourself (DIY) driftwood takes time, but it will save you tons of money. Some small pieces cost well over $20. Also, the soak method (minus salt) will work for store bought driftwood. Store bought driftwood is cleaned and has not been soaked. This may lead to tannin's being leaked into your tank
What you'll need:
Driftwood, which can be found anywhere. It doesn't necessarily have to come from the water. You could find it in the woods, as long as it is weathered down and looks unique. Also make sure the wood is not rotting.
BIG soaking container, I use a 15 gal rubber maid container.
Aquarium Salt, I use Doc Wellfish brand. This is used as a natural way of killing bacteria and parasites.
First step, clean off your wood! Make sure all debris and bark are removed from the wood (or it'll fall off in your tank!). Once complete, boil the water in the BIG pot and add aquarium salt. I use about a tablespoon per gallon. Boil the entire piece for about 2-4 hours depending on your size. If you can only fit half the wood in the pot then you will need to boil the other half.
Once the boil is complete you can transfer your wood into the rubber maid container. Add water until the whole piece of wood is under water (you can also add salt if you want). If the wood does not sink place something on top of it until it does. It'll sink after a week or two. You'll notice the water turn into tea-ish color. It is the result of the tannins that are released into the water. If you didn't soak the wood, the water in your tank would be this color. Tannins are natural and some fishes actually like it because it'll make them feel more at home. It'll also affect your PH, I'm not sure about GH or KH. You'll need to do water changes every other day to clean the water. This may take weeks or months.
When the color of the soak water suffices, you will need to soak your wood for another week without any salt. This will make sure that the wood does not hold any salt that may leak into your tank.
Once soaking is complete wash the wood well and transfers the wood into your tank. Do not keep the wood out of water for a long time or it will float.
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