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Exotic African hardwood creates a dramatic two-toned look. Deep, chocolate brown and light, sandy yellow colors and striking shapes and textures are sure to be a focal point in any aquarium. Dense, natural driftwood is also an excellent way to anchor plants.
Just as you would cure other natural structures (live rock, etc) before adding them to your aquarium, it is important to thoroughly soak driftwood prior to placement. This helps saturate the wood, loosen debris caught in the grain, and leach out tannic acids which would otherwise discolor your water. Tannic acid, while unsightly, won't harm your tank, but it will slightly lower your pH levels, a concern among some cichlid enthusiasts.
To avoid discoloring your water, soak your driftwood for as long as possible before placement. Total submersion for 1-2 weeks is recommended, since the tannic acids take that long to completely leach out of the dense wood. Boiling your driftwood in a large stock pot for 1-2 hours prior to soaking may help shorten the required cure time down to 48-72 hours. Only use dechlorinated or RO water, and scrub the wood with an algae brush to remove excess dirt.
Monitor your soaking driftwood throughout the week, watching as the water darkens, and refresh the soak water every other day or so, until you no longer notice any discoloration for several days in a row. The driftwood is then ready for placement.