Is Grapewood Safe for Aquariums

Is Grapewood Safe for Aquariums? [Let’s Discover]

Are you an aquarium enthusiast? If yes, then you must have tried installing plants and different wood in your tank. But we know all woods are not safe for underwater usage.

But which one should you go for? Is Grapewood Safe for Aquarium?

Yes, Grapewood is safe for your fishes and other aquatic creatures. But you need to be careful if your fishes require high pH and hard water. If so, it’s better to avoid grape wood. This is because grape wood releases a high amount of tannins. This makes the water acidic and reduces hardness.

Are you still confused about the risk that may come along? Do not worry, we have discussed it all for you. We have also mentioned 2 processes to make the wood sink in water. To know more, let’s quickly jump in.

Myth-busting 1: Grapewood is Toxic Underwater

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No, grape wood is not toxic underwater. Their branches are softwood as they are evergreen vines. This wood can be utilized as a hardscape element in ripariums for some time as fish nibble on the branch. This wood has a one-of-a-kind appearance.

It gives a haven for your aquarium residents to hide, reproduce, and consume. Fish, reptiles, and invertebrates are not poisoned by this form of driftwood.

Although it’s not toxic, it would be great to utilize it without the bark. This is due to the ugly appearance of the bark flaking off over time. Also, these evergreen vines retain it’s buoyancy when alive and green. So preprocessing needs to be done before submerging in water.

It’s important to mention here that over time, grape wood tends to absorb tannins. It’s at a faster rate than other common varieties of driftwood. For some time, this will result in slightly colored water in aquariums.

The water’s yellowish color may be unappealing to some. Yet it has a beneficial effect on the water’s characteristics.

Nonetheless, if you’re in no way preferring the watercolor then just change it. Now, are you thinking this task is another sort of hassle?

Don’t worry! There are plenty of water changer kits that would make your work easy-peasy. So, let’s have a look at the following table.

Myth-busting 2: It’s Not Toxic But is it Safe?

Grape wood is safe and helps in lowering the pH of water. So aquatic plants and fishes that need hard water to survive may face difficulty in living. For this, you need to be cautious about the demand for your aquatic animal.

However, if you want to increase the hardness you can use a Gh booster made by yourself. In no other way, it’s toxic or dangerous.

Grapewood is especially safe for creatures underwater like shrimps and snails. Although this wood is safe, it can bother the lifestyle of your underwater buddies.

Yes, Grapewood can start rotting which bother the fishes from moving. This exactly is not unsafe but creates discomfort. So, to prevent the planks from rotting quickly, several steps are necessary. They are:

  • Make the wood fully dry before placing it in the aquarium
  • Spraying it with polyurethane like Minwax 40900000 Wipe-On Poly. It’ll protect your wood against water.
  • Soaking in water
  • Boiling the wood

We have explained the points in detail below. To know more, let’s get into the details.

3 Issues Of Using Grapewood in Your Aquarium

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The wood is native to the tropical forests of California. Grapewood is available in a variety of colors. This range from dark reddish-brown to light ivory. Also, this wood has a delicate, smooth feel that allows it to fall apart without splintering. 

However, using grape wood can cause several issues inside your aquarium water. These are given below for your better understanding.

Makes the Water Gloomy

Grapevine wood has a high sugar content, which means it will create a lot of biofilms.

Biofilm appears to be a white moldy film growing on the wood. Moreover, the film is an excellent source of food for algae and shrimps.

The wood also leaches tannins when submerged in water for a long amount of time. This causes the water coloration to change. It becomes brownish as if teabags were merged in. The fishes might not be visible. 

There is nothing to be worried about here as it’s due to the tannins released in water. It lowers the pH of the water. But if you want to see the water fresh all the time, changing the water frequently will solve the problem.

Moreover, you can use some chemicals to clear up your water. For that, you can check the overall comparison between seachem pristine and stability. And choose the right one for yourself.

However, my another personal favorite is API Proper pH Powder. This powder is manufactured for different pH levels. Thus, it fixes and stabilizes water pH to the level fish need to thrive.

Furthermore, preparing the wood beforehand will stop it from making the water polluted. This includes boiling the wood for a long time. This will help in extracting the chemicals within that cause the water to get discolored.

Rots Easily

Grapewood has very soft branches and has an evergreen vine. It has a knotted build, with twisted and narrow branches. That mimics the shape of whatever it grows on.

The wood is very lightweight and decays at a very quick rate. Compared to other average softwood, they have a higher rate of decomposing.

If they are submerged when green and raw, it becomes difficult to anchor them for their buoyancy. If kept with bark, the bark comes off with time and pollutes the water. This happens as the bark is of thin layers. These thin layers get rotten faster than the other parts and pollute the water.

To prevent the wood from rotting, grape wood must be well dried before placing them in the aquarium. They also need to sandblast.

In this case. you can very easily sandblast your woods with a sandblaster gun. I have many times sandblasted my grape woods with the LE LEMATEC Portable Sand Blaster Gun. Trust me, this will give the wood a smooth surface which makes fewer chances of getting it rotten.

Produce White Bacteria

Grapewood is available in a variety of colors. This color range from dark reddish-brown to light ivory. There can also be a whirling blend of these colors on a single tree.

This wood also has a delicate, smooth feel that allows it to fall apart without splintering. When grape wood gets damp for an extended time, it becomes susceptible to mold and fungus.

The wood has a lot of starch and sugar concentration in it. This makes the wood prone to bacteria and fungus. The bacteria start growing at the surface and move to the core with time.

Also, this wood sprouts white bacteria because of the excessive humidity. It poses no threat to your residents. If it’s unattractive and dirty, you may either remove it or let your tank’s residents graze on it.

With regular water changes and care, it will finally go away. I also use the EcoBio-Block Stone in my fish tank to be on the safe side.

This volcanic rock contains beneficial bacteria colonies. And circulate them almost every 30 minutes. This eventually clarifies cloudy water and eliminates smells as well.

Also, to stop the growth of bacteria and fungus, the wood can be sprayed with a polyethylene coating.

Make sure that the wood is completely dry before spraying. Polyethylene is not harmful underwater. But you need to make sure to check the packaging of the spray to be sure of its ingredients.

Grapewood is Best for Which Aquatic Animals?

Grapewood Branches can be used in a vivarium in a variety of ways. Many vivarium florae are epiphytes. Such as air plants or moss, use this sort of driftwood as both a hardscape and a substrate. They have a longer shelf life above water and are usually sandblasted to remove the bark.

Due to its vining nature, grape wood comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common sizes sold are 5 to 38  inches. Depending on the source’s preservation, branches can sometimes be collected for even longer.

The wood is best for reptiles in vivariums. Above the ground, they are best for petting mice, rats, and all types of hamsters.

For underwater creatures, it’s best for shrimps and snails. The white slime they form is a great source of food for these creatures.

Also, driftwood is best to create more surface area. The shrimp require hiding, grazing, and sitting areas. This wood may increase the surface area of an aquarium by more than double.

The tannins are the second major advantage of using Grapevine. The tannins leach from the wood and produce antibacterial and antifungal properties. These are very good for shrimps and snails. They also feel comfortable and protected in this water.

So, if you are thinking of getting this wood, here are some you can check out.

You can also add aquatic plans to them. You can install roots of java moss that will grow beautifully within. There are certain processes to make java moss grow. This will also increase the ecosystem of the water. It gives the creatures a friendlier environment.

How to Prepare Grapewood for Lasting Long Underwater

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When looking for Grapewood for sale, look if you’re getting a high-quality plant. Pests should never be found in these woodlands. The wood should be bought from a store that specializes in the pet sector, if possible.

If you can’t be sure the wood hasn’t been treated with hazardous chemicals or pesticides, don’t take them.

Regardless of all this, grape wood can easily rot after about 10 months. But this process can be slowed down by following a few preparation steps. They are discussed below:

Frequently Change Water

You can change the water once a week whenever you see the water looking gloomy. The layer that discolors the water is due to the tannin released from the wood.

This helps in lowering the pH of water along with removing hardness. This is quite safe for aquatic plants and animals.

So try not to change the water too often. Aquarium water maintenance is very important for healthy fishes. 

Look For Any Bacteria/Fungus

Be careful in examining the piece of wood. If you see any fungus growing from the wood, you need to clean it. 

For doing so, you need to take out the wood from the aquarium. Boil it in water and brush the pieces with a wood brush. Scrape off any excess mud and fungus you find. 

You can also add aquatic plants on the wood such as java moss. They will suck in the excess moisture and starch that attracts bacterial growth.

Dry the Wood Well Before Submerging

If you have chosen a green raw wood, make sure to dry it well. A time frame of about 7 to 10 days is needed to completely dry off the wood.

Nevertheless, do not bake the wood as it might make cracks in them.

Spray Polyurethane

After completely drying off the wood, you can spray polyurethane on the surface.

Make sure to completely dry the chemical before submerging the wood. Polyurethane will make the wood water resistant and prevent bacterial growth on it.

If you are new to this process, we have discussed it below:

Pre-Treating the Wood

After you are done firstly clean the wood with the steps mentioned above. You need to prepare the wood for coating.

Secondly, you need to use a wood conditioner to prevent the wood from staining. But, applying it directly won’t be a good idea.

Soak a cloth in the conditioner. You can order Howard Product Wood Polish & Conditioner. Lastly, use a cloth to rub the conditioner on the wood surface.

After you are done doing a thick coating, dry it fr 15 to 20 minutes. It’s better not to be tempted and finish this process before moving into the next one for an even finish.

Stain Application

Now, it’s time for you to apply a stain. But before diving into the process you definitely need a good-quality wood stain. And there we’ve come with our reliable list. Have look below-

Have you chosen a stain already? If yes then put on the rubber gloves. Now in the same process as the previous one, stain the wood with a cloth.

It is better to apply the stain in a circular motion and rub the product into the wood.

After you are done staining, let the wood dry for 15 minutes. But, if your layer is thick, it may need some more time.

When you can see your desired color, you can rub off the excess and keep the wood aside. You will understand that the wood is dry when you rub the wood and no stain comes off.

Polyurethane Application

Now, we have come down to the final step. You can apply two layers of polyurethane to the wood surface.

Firstly, after the first coat, keep the first coat dry off for 7 to 9 hours to dry it. After that, you can go for the second layer. 

You need to keep in mind that applying a polyurethane layer will darken your wood color a little. A trick here would be to spray a small area at first to check how dark the layer would be.

Finally, your driftwood is ready.

How to Prepare Grapewood to Sink Easily In Water

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Firstly, the wood should be collected from rural areas. It should be dry and you need to check if there is any fungus, rot, or mold.

You can also cut a branch from a tree. But in that case, the wood should be dried for several weeks. It’s best to collect wood in summer as the trees drop branches to prevent dehydration. Fresh grape wood is also easily available after a storm.

Like grape wood, many other driftwoods may not sink due to several reasons. One is for the buoyancy, it becomes hard to sink driftwoods like grape wood.

So, preparation is needed for it to sink easily. Some of the processes have been discussed below:

Process 1: Soaking the Plank in Water

This process is important after drying and boiling the wood. Due to soaking, the excess chemicals and barks come off easily.

The steps to do it are given below.

Step 1: Cleaning the Wood

Excess dirt and sand can be removed with a quick brushing. Pressure washing Grapewood would be the next stage.

The wood can be sandblasted to smoothen the surface. If the pieces are too big to be cleaned, they can be cut into small pieces as per preference.

Step 2: Boiling the Wood

Boil the wood, if the pieces are small enough to fit in a saucepan. It’s a surefire way to kill bacteria and soak the wood faster, allowing it to sink.

The wood can be boiled several times until you see clear water even after boiling. The saturation process will be accelerated by boiling the wood. It allows it to sink practically immediately after preparation.

Apart from eliminating pollutants, boiling also encourages tannins to drain out. This allows you to speed up the curing process if necessary.

However, be aware that boiling your wood may develop an odor. Especially if it is a new piece. The odor will not be particularly unpleasant; it will simply be present.

Step 3: Soaking the Wood

If you’re going to soak the wood in a bucket, let it soak for a few weeks before removing it. You’ll have to redo the process whenever the wood dries out.

So, assuming you have access to a large enough pot, soak your grape wood for at least 2 weeks. You can keep it longer if it’s still obviously dirty.

Step 4: Scraping the Excess Dirt Off the Wood

After soaking you will see the barks and any excess soft parts coming off. To check if there is any fungus inside, make a small hole inside the wood.

If you see any white residues, you need to scrape them off with a needle. Finally, you can place it inside the aquarium.

Process 2: Using Suction Cups or Plate

If soaking the wood doesn’t do the trick, you can use anything heavy to anchor it. You can also use suction cups, glass or cement plates, etc. Some recommendations that you can rely on are given below:

The steps to do it are given below:

Step 1: Process the Wood

Cut the grape wood into small pieces and make holes on the bottom where you can stick it to something heavy. This can be done using a drill machine. But make sure to process the wood well using the above-mentioned boiling and drying steps.

Step 2: Stick the Wood to Something Heavy

You can now attract the pieces to suction cups to attach them to the inner wall of the aquarium. You can also use Seachem Flourish Glue to add the woods to some cement plates or stones to make them heavy. This is a non-toxic glue so there’ll be no harm to your fish pets.


Is Mopani wood good for aquariums?

Mopani Driftwood is suitable for use in both aquariums and terrariums. This adaptable wood sinks quickly and provides a nice substrate for plants to grow on. Use this wood in any vivarium that does not require a high level of water hardness.

What cleansers are safe for fish tanks?

Salt, vinegar, and gentle scrubbing pads are all you’ll need. Hard water stains and fishy odors will be removed using vinegar and salt. Before adding any water to the tank, make sure it has been well rinsed. Fill the tank with water after it has been thoroughly cleaned to ensure there are no leaks.

Are tannins bad for fish?

No, Tannin has no negative effects on fish. The sole restriction is the aquarium’s appearance. This might drop the pH levels of the water depending on the quantity. The color is caused by decomposing materials and trash.


That is all from us on is grape wood safe for aquariums.

If you have any queries about your aquarium hobby do not forget to let us know. We would love to answer your questions.

Till then, have a great day!

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