Tag: Feat

How To Make Your Own DIY Aquarium Driftwood

bettafishy-diy-aquarium-driftwood

How To Make Your Own DIY Aquarium Driftwood

 

One thing that I’ve never really grown out of is the terrible habit of walking on the beach looking for pretty things to pick up and bring home. Doesn’t really matter if it’s broken up pieces of sea glass or an interesting seashell, driftwood or sand dollar. It’s on the beach and for whatever reason stands out as different among the rest, more than likely it ends up in the gigantic plastic bin that’s making an entire room in my house smell like old ocean stuff.

Away I try to redeem my packrat nature with ocean trinkets and treasures is by repurchasing these little things found on the beach and turning them into, at least what I consider, priceless home accessories, wearables and aquarium furniture. And you know what? Driftwood is among the most satisfying projects to take on in preparing it, cleaning it up and making it betta fish friendly. Believe it or not, it’s actually not a very easy task to take a piece of driftwood and make it suitable as a betta aquarium accessory. Believe me, there is a lot of work that goes involved. In my own opinion though, it’s well worth it. Every time I look in my aquariums I can see the driftwood and in my minds eye attach it to the beach that I picked it up from. It’s kind of cool to see the fish swimming around it as I tell myself fish in the sea of the same with that particular piece of ocean wood. So with that being said let me show you how to go about making your own driftwood accessory for your betta’s aquarium

 

Freshwater Aquarium Driftwood Dreams

One thing you definitely don’t want to do is take a ”raw” piece of driftwood that’s fresh off the beach and place it straight into your aquarium. You have no idea (nor do I actually) what terrible microbial monsters are lurking inside and on that cool looking piece of driftwood you so desperately want to add to your aquarium. So, what you want to do… Actually, I’m gonna back that up a bit. First what you want to do is you want to make sure that you have a piece of driftwood that can end up fitting in your aquarium. Take a good long look your aquarium and comparing it to the driftwood that you have on hand is a good place to start. You definitely don’t want to have a big log inside of your aquarium and a fish fighting for space.

You want to try to minimize how much and how often you’re going to disturb the fish inside of your tank.

Why don’t you start by doing something like drawing out a basic sketch of what your aquarium looks like and what your ideal aquarium driftwood accessory would look like inside of that aquarium. You want to try to minimize how much and how often you’re going to disturb the fish inside of your tank. Doing something like drawing a sketch and visualizing on paper, or even in your mind’s eye, is better than constantly plopping in new “furniture” and moving things around. This is exactly the opposite of how I rearrange furniture in my own house. But I suppose betta fish are more sensitive to giant hands entering their home moving couches and things around. Once you get a good idea of how you want things to look in your bettas aquarium, we move on to the actual cleaning of the freshwater aquarium driftwood.

But before we jump into that, let me leave you this really special link. Remember it’s here for later because, once you see how much is actually involved in prepping your personally picked up piece of darling driftwood… you may want to see how incredibly cheap the suff is to buy all pre-prepped and ready to go. And actually, sadly too, the freshwater aquarium driftwood forsale that you can easily just go out and buy is pretty much always fancier than the things I’m able to find on the seashore. It just doesn’t carry with it the sentimentality I suppose.

 

Betta Clean Dirty Driftwood

Okay now we can go into the part where we talk about cleaning out all the creepy crawlies and microbial nightmares living inside of your pretty piece of what used to be drifting wood. Assuming that you made all your modifications to the piece of driftwood, such as cutting it to size or sanding it down further than the ocean already has, you want to start by scrubbing your chosen piece of driftwood like there’s no tomorrow. Find yourself a good sturdy brush with hard bristles and just are going at it. Do not, I repeat, do not use any sort of cleaning agent. No soap. No bleach. Nothing chemical in nature. The reason for this is that you will never be 100% certain that you got all of the toxic chemicals out of the driftwood before placing it in your bettas aquarium. A scrub brush and a bucket of water is really all you need and is really all you should be using. Mind you scrubbing is only gonna get the surface stuff off. We’re going to treat the inside of that piece of driftwood later on.

 

Un-Drift Driftwood Cure

One thing that driftwood is notorious for is its magical ability to float. You probably want to stop that from happening. In order to do that you have to do what is called “curing” the driftwood. Basically all this means is that you want to submerge the driftwood in a bucket of clean water and let it soak for a very long time. You want to find a way to keep the driftwood from floating to the top while it’s soaking in the water. You can pile something heavy on top of it or you can try to tie it down somehow. I generally stack things on top of the, would be, floating Driftwood.

Generally speaking, I’m not a very patient person and this part is the hardest part for me. It can take up to two weeks for a buoyant piece of driftwood to become fully waterlogged and no longer float. So, make sure that wherever you have your driftwood soaking isn’t a high-traffic area. Because it can be sitting there for a long time.

Driftwood is like a giant teabag. It’s full of tannins that will cause the discoloration of whatever body of water it’s in.

While you have it sitting in a bucket of water waiting ever so patiently for this log to become fully saturated, you might notice that the color of the water is changed. Driftwood is like a giant teabag. It’s full of tannins that will cause the discoloration of whatever body of water it’s in. In general, these tannins will not necessarily harm the creatures inside of your tank, but your pH levels will start declining over time. Why driftwood is soaking, some of the tannins are to leach out of the water, which is a good thing in my opinion. Not all though, but working to take care of the rest of them (them being the tannins) in another extremely necessary step.

Over the course of a few weeks as the driftwood soaks, it’s a good idea to keep checking in on the water level. Depending on where you live, you may find that your water evaporates more quickly than not and have to remedy that situation. On top of evaporation, changing the water with clean water regularly will help leach out any of the bad stuff remaining inside the driftwood. The fresher you can keep your clean water in the bucket you have your driftwood soaking in, the cleaner the piece of driftwood you will be left with. It’s not that hard of a thing to replace the water in the bucket once a day. And if it is hard to do, it’s not the end of the world, just try to do it often as you can.
Eventually what you’ll be left with at the end of a few weeks should be a non-floating piece of driftwood in crystal-clear water. The two weeks, mind you, isn’t a hard and fast rule but rather a general guideline of time. It will take as long as it will take. It might take only a week. It might take a solid month. They really just depends on the driftwood and how frequently you change the water it’s soaking in. But, when you finally do end up with crystal-clear water and a piece of driftwood that no longer floats on its own… It’s time for the next step. Boiling!

 

Betta Boil that Driftwood

Remember that Driftwood teabag reference just a bit up above? Yeah, working to continue along with that for a bit. You want to boil that sucker next so, look for an appropriately sized pot. What we’re trying to do and we boil the driftwood is get rid of most of the rest of those tannins that could possibly leach out in your aquarium, and kill off any microbial monsters that are just waiting for a betta fish dinner.

Now, some people actually skip the curing process and the two week wait time outlined above and head straight for the stockpot and the stovetop burner. I don’t like doing this for a couple reasons. One being that the amount of old oceans smell that invades your house for weeks after boiling is intensified by many multiples if you don’t cure it first. Another reason being that if the piece of driftwood is fully waterlogged, fully saturated all the way to the very innermost fibers, boiling at that point will be far more effective in killing off whatever was using the driftwood as a host to begin with. Things like algae and bacteria and fungus and mermaid poop. Yeah, you basically fished out this piece of driftwood from Neptune’s porta potty. Keep that in mind while you wait patiently for your piece of driftwood to finish boiling.

At a full boil, and depending on the size of driftwood you’ve chosen for your betta tank, you are going to want to boil it for about two hours.

At a full boil, and depending on the size of driftwood you’ve chosen for your betta tank, you are going to want to boil it for about two hours. If you went through the curing procedure first, that would be the bucket of cold water for two weeks thing, you may end up being done boiling in about an hour. If you went against all of my sage wisdom and advice and decided to skip the two week waiting period of curing… I boil for at least two hours. Boy will your house smell lovely!

After it’s done boiling you can cool the driftwood down pretty much whatever way suits your fancy. Personally what I would do is dump the hot water down the sink, carefully use some kind of tool to remove the driftwood from the pot and insert into a bucket of fresh and clean cold water. One thing you definitely don’t want to do is let your perfectly sterilized, fully waterlogged, patiently waited for and completed piece of driftwood to air dry outside. Or air dry anywhere for that matter. If you let the peace of driftwood air dry for too long you will end up having to go to the waterlogging procedure all over again. Granted, it probably won’t take as long as two weeks this time… But you been patient enough so try to skip making that mistake. Like I said before, what I would do is transfer the boiling hot to driftwood into a bucket of cold clean water to cool down in.

Driftwood can retain heat on the inside for an incredible amount of time. It might be cool to the touch, but that doesn’t mean the insides not really really hot still. So, try to make sure that you let it soak in the cold water for at least an hour. Honestly, if you have the extra patience, letting the “aquarium driftwood to be” soak overnight in the cold water would be just fine and ensure that no part of it is hot anymore.

 

Driftwood Aquascaping

After that you’re pretty much done. Well, minus actually putting it in your betta tank and arranging it ever so perfectly and meticulously as specified by your betta’s demands. You did make sure to ask your betta’s opinion first right? After all, it is his tank.

One last thing to mention is that even after following all of the above information meticulously and to a T, given enough time having your piece of driftwood soaking in your bettas aquarium, you may find out that the driftwood is still leeching tannins into the tank. Believe it or not, these tannins will not harm your betta fish, so don’t really worry about that part of it. If anything, the discoloration will just irritate you personally. Betta fish come from naturally tinted water called “Black Water” and there are actually products on the market made specifically for betta fish that release tannins into the water that will give off this tinted coloration. If you’re not all about tannins in the water, filtering your water through activated charcoal filters will clear up your water. Now, more than likely do the whole curing process in the boiling process and everything this piece of driftwood is gone through up to this point, you are more than likely not to have a tannins in the water at all. But sometimes it does happen and I thought it worth mentioning.

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The Best Live Plants For Betta Fish

The-Best-Live-Plants-For-Betta-Fish

The Best Live Plants For Betta Fish

So you have your aquarium, water and a betta fish swimming in all this open “space”. While some people really like a minimalistic design, betta fish don’t really dig it too much. There are really quite a few options you can explore in sprucing up your bettas tank with all sorts of aquatic furniture, but looking at live plants for your betta fish may actually be beneficial in the long term. For both you and your betta buddy.

Live aquatic plants give your betta fish a very natural and home-style setting. They can provide natural hiding and resting spots, which in turn, will help your betta live that stress free betta lifestyle. There’s also a certain amount of playful stimulation your betta will get out of having those live, moving plants. This keeps betta fish boredom at bay. It’s also a lot more entertaining for you to watch an active and playful betta rather than one that… isn’t.

On top of that, there are also some natural betta health and aquarium ecological benefits you will gain out of maintaining natural live aquatic plants. If the plants and aquarium are properly set up together and taken care of, the plants can help reduce some types of aquarium pollution and even introduce wanted nutrients.

 

Check Out The Most Popular Live Plant!

 

Java Moss

betta-fish-java-moss

Java Moss is sometimes regarded as the easiest aquatic plant to raise and care for in a betta’s aquarium.

Java Moss is sometimes regarded as the easiest aquatic plant to raise and care for in a betta’s aquarium. You can pretty much get away with any type of betta tank set-up and have this aquatic plant stay strong and healthy on it’s own. Owners of this plant have kept Java Moss in an isolated, unwatched container with nothing in it except water and had the plant appear as if it’d been growing with perfect lighting and fertilizer. Java Moss is beyond easy to care for.

Because Java Moss is a moss, being mindful with the temperature is really the only thing to watch out for. Ideally, mosses prefer cooler temperatures than you should have your betta tank set to, but will still be perfectly fine in a betta temperature environment. In case you forgot, Betta fish need their aquarium to be 78-80 degrees.

If you choose to use Java Moss in your betta’s aquarium, be sure that you keep the rhizome above the gravel or substrate. The Java Moss rhizome is that thicker part of the stem just above the roots. The Java Moss can die if the rhizome is covered.

 

Java Fern

betta-fish-java-fern

You can grow entirely new Java Ferns by plucking off one of the leaves.

Java Fern is also very easy to take care of and grow. Actually, Java Fern is more than easy. You can grow entirely new Java Ferns by plucking off one of the leaves. If you let some of the plucked leaves float around in an aquarium, after a few weeks you will start to see new Java Ferns growing from them.

Java Ferns also have a rhizome that you have to be careful not to bury in the gravel. The rhizome is that horizontal, green stem that the roots are attached to. As a simple rule, only plant the part of the plant that is brown. Brown generally means roots, at least in this case. As long as you make sure that you only plant the roots themselves while the rhizome is above the substrate, you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you find that you are having trouble planting these Java Ferns, and they keep running away from you, you can try the bottle cap trick. Take a bottle cap and punch a hole in it. Stick an end of some fishing string through the hole and tie a knot so that the sting can’t pass through the hole. Tie a loose loop or lasso of sorts between the leaves of the Java Fern. Plant the bottle cap in the substrate and your Java Fern shouldn’t travel anymore!

 

Amazon Frogbit

betta-fish-amazon-frogbit

Really, the only trick to keeping Amazon Frogbit healthy is to make sure that the top of the leaves are kept dry.

Amazon Frogbit is yet another easy keeper. This plant resembles lily pads that float on the surface of the water. Because of that, you want to make sure they don’t ever cover too much of the surface as your betta needs to be able to reach the air above. The betta fish has a special organ called the Labyrinth that it uses to suck air from the surface of the water, and you don’t want to cover that up.

Really, the only trick to keeping Amazon Frogbit healthy is to make sure that the top of the leaves are kept dry. For some strange decision in evolution, if the surface of this aquatic plant becomes wet, the plant will start to rot. Because of this, you need to be a bit careful when changing the aquarium’s water. Also make sure that the water filter, if you have one, isn’t splashing on the plant.

If your betta has snails as tank buddies, you may want to keep a watch on the snail population when keeping Amazon Frogbit. Snails really enjoy eating the undersides of this particular plant. It’s not so much of a concern when you only have a few snails in the tank, but if your aquarium is teeming with them, you may not want to choose this plant for your betta’s tank. One other thing to note is that if you try to corral these plants in the middle of the aquarium and away from the sides, this should help keep the Amazon Frogbit’s bits away from the snails.

 

Anacharis

betta-fish-anacharis-

One of the cool ways to use this plant is to have it grow at the back of the aquarium and cover the aquarium’s wall.

Anacharis is a great plant for betta tanks. This plant can be planted, or left alone to just float. Because you have the option to let this plant float on it’s own, this makes a perfect live plant for an aquarium that doesn’t have any gravel or substrate.

Anacharis can and does grow roots though. The roots take quite awhile to grow out which makes it difficult in some situations to keep down in one place. Some people choose to use weights of various types just to keep this plant in place.

One of the cool ways to use this plant is to have it grow at the back of the aquarium and cover the aquarium’s wall. That sure beats any of those cheesy aquarium wallpapers you can buy in the store. No offense if you have one of those cheesy wallpapers… Just being honest! Live plants just look more natural is all.

 

Anubias Nana

betta-fish-anubias-nana

Wherever you decide to plant Anubias Nana in your aquarium, you will find your betta there shortly after!

Most betta fish love Anubias Nana! These plants have huge, broad leaves that make perfect chairs for bettas. In fact, there’s a lot of betta specific plastic aquarium furniture made to look like the Anubias Nana because bettas really enjoy getting their siesta on with them. These are a great addition to your betta’s aquarium!

With these plants, like some of the others listed here, you do have to be careful about not burying the rhizome as it could kill the plant. The rhizome on this plant is the large and round, found right at the base of the plant. It is the part that has both the roots and the leaves growing out of it. It’s one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” kinds of things. You can’t miss it.

The roots of the Anubias Nana grow slowly but firmly around anything you set it on top of. Some people “plant” it on top of freestanding rocks and driftwood submerged in the betta’s aquarium. Wherever you decide to plant Anubias Nana in your aquarium, you will find your betta there shortly after!

 

Marimo Moss balls

betta-fish-marimo-moss-balls

Marimo Moss balls actually do clean your betta’s tank a bit

Marimo Moss-balls are just plain cool looking! That, and they are extremely easy to keep and maintain. In general though, they serve no real great purpose other than cosmetic.

Marimo’s are a clean plant as they don’t dirty up your betta’s aquarium with algae. The Marimo Moss balls actually do clean your betta’s tank a bit by using some of the free-floating particles as a food source once decomposed.

It should be noted that Marimo Moss balls are not an alternative to filtering and cleaning your betta’s fish tank. There are some people who do not understand this and never clean the tank once they add a few of these to it. Yes, they do “clean” a bit of the pollution, but they are no substitute of regular aquarium maintenance. Just trying to make that point understood… not pointing fingers.

An interesting thing that you can do with Marimo Moss balls is that you can break them apart, roll them into smaller balls and they will continue to grow! If you would like to try this, look for a “seam” on the Marimo and gently pull apart from there. Roll the pieces into a ball shape between your hands and place them back in the betta’s tank. Granted, you may end up loosing some, but in general they should slowly grow into bigger versions of themselves.

 

Hornwort

betta-fish-hornwort

Hornwort is a great plant for your bettas tank, but only if you have the time to keep up with it.

Hornwart is on this list because it is super easy to grow. The drawback to this plant, however, is that it can easily “grow” into a problem if not kept after. If you like more interaction with your betta and it’s aquarium than not, hornwart will quickly become the reason you “have to”.

One of the great things about this plant is that it does a good job at removing nitrates and ammonia from the tank. The trade-off to that is that it uses what it removes to quickly grow. If left alone for too long, you will end up with your aquarium filled with the plant and it’s sheddings. Being that it does tend to shed a lot, you may find that you need to clean your filter much more often.

As was said before, Hornwort is a great plant for your bettas tank, but only if you have the time to keep up with it. You pretty much can’t kill this plant and it really doesn’t need any special attention to really grow, really fast.

 

Duckweed

Duckweed photo taken in Waimanalo, Hawai‘i by Eric Guinther

(Duckweed photo taken in Waimanalo, Hawai‘i by Eric Guinther)

Duckweed is last on this list, and is really only on this list so that you don’t buy it for your betta’s tank

Duckweed is last on this list, and is really only on this list so that you don’t buy it for your betta’s tank. Duckweed rests on the surface of your aquarium as does the Amazon Frogbit up above. The “leaves” are much smaller, and the growth rate is practically uncontrollable. Duckweed is practically impossible to get rid of once “contracted”.

You can have 5 different betta tanks, plant this in one of them and then weeks later, find it somehow spread to the other 4 tanks. Duckweed will dry on and in anything that you use in and for your aquarium. Things like your nets, gravel and brushes. Duckweed is something you do not want. In all seriousness, Duckweed will end up killing your betta.

Duckweed is, actually, a really fascinating plant in general. Just not for your betta tank!

 

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