A TRIED AND TESTED METHOD OF CURING BOGWOOD
Text written by David Marshall from advice given by Gerry Hawksby
Photographs by David Marshall
Along with pieces of coal, sadly 'out of fashion' as an aquarium
decoration, bogwood is one of the oldest known items of aquarium
décor. Amazingly no two pieces of bogwood look alike
and the brown-black colouration of this particular wood can
really make dark green aquarium plants stand out against its
various textures. Perhaps the main drawback with bogwood is
that, particularly in the short term, it leeches tannin into
the aquarium water and the only way to stop this is through
a curing process.
Several weeks ago 'Mark', a Texas-based aquarist, got in touch
with me, after reading Majid's Ryedale Reporter bogwood article
on the Aquarticles web-site, to ask if I would obtain for him
further information on what was the best bogwood curing process
to try? As Majid was away on holiday at the time I contacted
Gerry for advice. Gerry was thrilled to be asked to help and
I e-mailed the following information to Mark the very same evening:-
Hope you are keeping well.
Today I was speaking with my friend, and much-respected aquarist,
Mr. Gerry Hawksby. As promised I asked Gerry about the varnishing
of bogwood and here is a point summary of Gerry's advice:-
1. Unless you have to varnish the wood don't, as there is not
a 100% safe method. Leave the piece of wood to soak in a bucket
of water for several weeks and this should greatly reduce the
tannin before the wood is added to your aquarium.
2. If you feel the need to varnish then you may be able to
use a polyurethane varnish but even those deemed 'fish safe'
by your local hardware or DIY shopkeeper may not be so and you
risk losing your 'finned friends'.
3. The safest way to varnish is actually through the 'old fashioned'
method. This does not guarantee 100% success but should seal
the wood to a degree that visibly reduces the leeching of tanning:-
Find a bucket or other suitable container that is large enough
to hold the piece
of bogwood. Now fill the bucket with a solution that is composed
water and 5% vinegar. Leave the bogwood in the solution for
a week. The
vinegar will then start to seal the wood.
After a week remove the bogwood and rinse the bucket thoroughly
re-filling with water only and leaving the wood to soak for
a further week.
Further thought on this subject concerns the fact that a number
of loricarins need the enzymes found in bogwood in order to
maintain their digestive system in working order while certain
cyprinids and livebearers, in particular Russian Cobra Guppies,
will pick away at small particles of bogwood for some unknown
reason so maybe by curing bogwood we are actually doing great
harm to certain aquarium residents?
I find Mopani wood to be less 'messy' and the tannin content
leeches for only a fraction of the time than is the case with
KEY TO THE PHOTOGRAPHS:-
Magnum Plec. - Many loricarins, like the Magnum Plec. featured
on our photograph, require the enzymes found in bogwood in order
to aid their digestive processes.
Plec. - L001 grazing on Mopani wood.