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5 Best Driftwoods for Freshwater Aquarium

Driftwood in aquariums are known to add character, much like stones and rocks. These little things make a great foundation for fish to feel at home.

In fact, there are many different types of driftwood that even come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.

The choice may seem random and entirely dependent on the owner’s aesthetic preferences, but other things must come into play as well. So, how do you choose the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium?

In this article we’ll answer the most vital questions – is it really necessary to get driftwood for your fish? What exactly does it even do? and take a look at five of the best driftwood for freshwater.

So let’s dive into the different great options on the market.

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Best Driftwood for Freshwater Aquarium – Top 5 Review

driftwood in freshwater aquarium

Driftwood is essential when it comes to building the best environment for your fish. This is why it won’t do to settle for any old piece of driftwood, which could bring on discoloration or pollution in the aquarium.

For a pretty and safe source of refuge for the fish in your tank, let’s take a look at some of the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium that Amazon can offer.

1. Pisces Gold Spiderwood

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As the name suggests, the Pisces Gold Spiderwood is both near gold in color and spider-like in shape. Because of this, it’s gained popularity as a centerpiece because of the beauty and exotic look it brings to an aquarium.

Made from Azalea roots, this driftwood looks quite stable despite its willowy, interwoven aesthetic, and it makes for a great habitat and playground for small fish. However, it can’t really grow a healthy environment.

Needs to be soaked and boiled

This means its main assets are its appearance and playful character that will keep the fish entertained. It usually doesn’t last a year and may need to be replaced after that thanks to quick disintegrate ion. It will also have to be soaked and boiled before use, to avoid toxins leaking out into the water.

Despite its popularity, the Pisces Spiderwood has some downsides. It has a relatively short life and requires preparation before it’s dropped right into the aquarium. Still, its strengths are notable.

From a very unique and exotic look, thanks to color and shape that makes it pop, it’s a wonderful centerpiece for aquariums that need more personality. If you ultimately want a playground for your fish, then this is one of the best options out there.

This driftwood is also offered in two sizes. Small size comes in 12 inches in width, while the medium size ranges from 14 to 18 inches in width.


  • Beautiful and eye-catching appearance, perfect as a centerpiece
  • An excellent playing environment for fish
  • Has a natural yet exotic look


  • Not really a rich resource for fish health
  • May disintegrate easily
  • Needs to be soaked and boiled extensively before use

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Small)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Medium)

2. Marina Décor Mangrove Root

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Perhaps the most positive feedback Marina Décor has online is that it’s often a pleasant playground for aquarium fish.

Because it’s a mangrove root, it has a nice brown color and a splayed-out shape, making it an awesome centerpiece for more natural-looking aquariums. Under LED lights, it has a cool, elegant look.

Most importantly, it can lure your fish in for some leisurely swim time and will fulfill its main purpose as the perfect hiding and breeding place.

A downside is, some people have reported fungus issues, with the wood exuding a smell after some time. This could mean that to avoid this, the driftwood must be soaked and boiled for a substantial amount of time before being placed in the tank.

Eye-catching embellishments

This is the ideal driftwood for those who want eye-catching embellishments that still look natural in an aquarium, thanks to its dynamic shape and understated color. For your fish, it will be a memorable refuge – as long as you make sure it’s prepared properly beforehand.

The Marina Décor Mangrove Root comes in two sizes. In medium size, it measures 9.5 inches in width, 8.5 inches in length, and 8.5 inches in height. Meanwhile, the large size measures 12.7 inches in width, 11.2 inches in length, and 9 inches in height.


  • Looks very authentic and natural
  • Size and shape make it a fun playground for fish
  • Can be easily secured in place
  • Improved look under LED lights


  • Some reported fungus issues
  • May develop a smell if not prepared properly

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. Zilla Reptile Décor Malaysian Driftwood

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For those who envision an amazing centerpiece that caters to both dry and wet environments, then Zilla Reptile Décor is the driftwood you’re looking for. With a dark brown that makes it look natural, it’s been reported as a comfortable hang-out for little reptilian friends.

Placement-wise, tank owners often use this as a crossover between the water and the land within an aquarium. In fact, it easily submerges in water without any problems.

Sinks easily

This is the optimal driftwood for those wanting personality in their aquarium. More than being an ornament, it sinks easily and doesn’t have any pollution problems that could risk your fish’s health.

The standard size of this driftwood is 14 inches in width, 4.8 inches in length, and 5 inches in height, which may be small for a big reptile. Its shape may also cause you some trouble when it comes to figuring out how to place it in the aquarium.

Once placed properly, it will for sure serve its purpose particularly for reptiles, but tank owners will have to figure out how to place it in.


  • The most eye-catching and distinctive look out there
  • Can bridge water and land within a tank
  • Has an authentic, dark brown color
  • Works fine in both dry and submerged environments
  • Easily sinkable in water


  • May be too small for average tank reptile
  • A bit challenging to place in the tank

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. SunGrow Natural Cholla Wood

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Advertised as one of the safest driftwoods on the market, SunGrow Natural Cholla Wood promises a beautiful refuge for your fish which they can use both as a home, a playground, and a source of food.

Best for freshwater aquariums that house baby shrimp and other small fish. The cool design filled with holes and swimming space can make excellent entertainment for little marine friends who want a hiding spot. It also only requires around 2 or 3 days of soaking for the driftwood to be sinkable.

The biggest upside to this product is that, because it’s cholla wood, it can be chewed on by your fish.

Still, there are some reviewers online who report slime or mold developing after a lengthy amount of time. With this feedback, it would be best to boil the driftwood for a week or two before placing it in the tank.

A nutritious source of food

All in all, cholla wood is a great choice for those who want a nutritious source of food in addition to the aesthetic and leisure functions of the average tank driftwood.

Not only does it look great and keep smaller fish entertained and comfortable, but it’s also a valuable resource health-wise (as long as it’s boiled properly). It even comes in a pack, making it a worthy purchase.

SunGrow Natural Cholla Wood can come in a pack of two, three, or six, depending on how big your aquarium is, how many branches you want in there, and how many marine friends you have. Each piece is sized at 11 inches in length, 7 inches in height, and 0.7 inches in width.


  • Has a cool, understated look when placed in an aquarium
  • Safe and healthy resource of nutrients
  • Doesn’t require long amount of soaking time for submersion
  • The perfect playing and hiding place for small fish


  • Some reported slime and mold issues
  • May still be too small for dwarf shrimp

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood

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Known as a sturdy competitor in the market, the EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood boasts great quality that helps it last long whether in a dry or submerged environment. Look-wise, it’s natural and sophisticated, bringing a pleasant character to any aquarium.

However, it doesn’t come across as dull thanks to its dynamic shape that will entertain not just you, but most importantly your fish. It’s an excellent centerpiece that doubles as a safe hiding and playing spot.

Perhaps the only downside to this product is that there are reviews of tiny pieces of wood that might come off once submerged and float around and dirty the water. It’s best to scrape off these possible loose ends and boil the driftwood to avoid such leftover from manufacturing.

A nice, pleasant centerpiece

This sinkable driftwood is the best for freshwater aquariums that want a nice, pleasant centerpiece. It’s convenient because it’s offered in four different sizes, all of which are dynamic in shape.

Suited for both dry and submerged environments, it’s a safe and fun playing and hiding place for all sorts of fish. There’s no risk with this wood, as long as it’s polished and soaked beforehand and placed securely with the help of some rocks.

EmoursTM Driftwood comes in 4 sizes, convenient for those who want the piece to perfectly suit their aquarium. Small size is around 5 inches in length. Medium size is in the range of 5 to 9 inches. Large size is between 9 to 12 inches. Extra-large varies from 11 to 14 inches.


  • Has an authentic, natural look
  • Of the best quality, making it sturdy and long-lasting
  • Suits both dry and submerged environments
  • A great, dynamic hiding and playing spot for fish
  • Available in 4 different sizes


  • Tiny pieces could come loose if not polished beforehand
  • Requires secure placement

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What Driftwood Does for Your Fish

Aquarium driftwood isn’t just a random piece of wood. It has to have been snapped off by wind or waves and immersed in any body of water, be it a river, lake, or the sea.

Because of this connection with the natural environment, it’s a great source of food and nourishment for fish and birds. Placed in an aquarium, it’s a beautiful ornament that makes any old tank look more impressive and homier for your fish. Much like filters and substrate, it helps out with developing good bacteria by depositing healthy tannins into the tank water.

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Driftwood for Freshwater Aquarium

In addition to beautifying the aquarium and looking like a fun, comfy spot for your fish, the health benefits of driftwood make it an essential item. It contributes necessary acidity to tank water and can be a source of food.

What many people don’t know is that it boosts a fish’s immune system as well by producing natural tannins when submersed. This is what makes the water slightly more acidic and protective against bad bacteria.

The thing is, not all types of driftwood do these things in equal measure. With that said, these are the factors you must look out for to make sure you’re deciding on the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium.

The Type of Driftwood

Let’s get one thing straight: not all driftwood can be used for aquariums. You may be thinking that you won’t need to spend if you just go outside and pick some up from a nearby lake or river or beach.

Yes, sure, you can do that. But you’ll need to cure and submerge this natural driftwood before it can be dropped straight into the tank. Otherwise, it could leak too many tannins and cause discoloration in the tank water, which could contaminate and even poison your fish.

So, unless you’re willing to do research and dedicate time and effort into curing and submerging natural driftwood, it would be best to just purchase some from the store.

Now let’s talk about the types of driftwood you can choose from.

Some may be too brittle or too soft. Wood such as witch hazel, pine, cedar, and willow won’t do because they degrade easily in water.

The best driftwood for freshwater aquarium you must look for include:

Malaysian Driftwood

Based on appearance alone, Malaysian driftwood looks quite tough and it lives up to that first impression. Color-wise, it often leans toward a more orange profile.

It’s also more ideal for larger aquariums since it’s usually cut larger thanks to its toughness. Take note that there is still a risk for percolating tannins, meaning it will require boiling before being placed in the tank.

Cholla Wood

Pricier than most of the driftwood on this list, Cholla Wood is harder to find and is known for its unique pattern. Better suited for smaller fish thanks to the many holes and spaces in its structure, it isn’t as tough as other woods.

It may disintegrate faster as well, but that’s why it’s often sold as a chew toy or natural source of food for tank fish.

Rose Wood Roots

Generally thicker than other driftwood on the market, Rose Wood is quite uncommon, has a more radiant appearance that makes it an excellent adornment, and a contender for the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium

Its shape contributes to the look as well, with a root-like quality that branches off to make a dynamic shape.


Speaking of dynamic shape, Manzanita is another driftwood that is awesome to behold, making it a great centerpiece to spruce up a boring old fish tank with its branch-like appearance.

The thing is, this is a bit costlier than the other items on this list. It also requires more time in the curing process, which means it has to be boiled or else it may contaminate aquarium water.


Another nice, branch-like driftwood is the Mesquite. Known to be bought in huge pieces, it’s more suited for larger fish tanks and may be pricey as well.

However, it’s still a popular pick due to the beauty and sophistication it brings to any aquarium. Most purchase a single, large piece, although for budget options, it is also broken down and sold in smaller pieces.

Usability After Preparation

Video: “How to Prepare/Clean Driftwood for Aquarium Use”

Aside from the type of wood, you’ll also want to check if the product you’re purchasing can be used right away, or if it’s safer or better boiled, soaked, and/or polished before being placed inside the tank.

Larger pieces of driftwood, for example, might have to be soaked for longer so that it will no longer be buoyant enough to float. This is why many aquarium owners resort to securing driftwood in place through rocks or stones so that the piece will remain in the desired position.

There may even be cases of driftwood having pointy parts left over from manufacturing, which could be dangerous for your fish. Others may have tiny holes that even fish can’t swim through but just serve as passageways for water to break down the driftwood faster.

These can be solved by scraping off and polishing the wood to get rid of pointy parts, and hot gluing any tiny holes to avoid future rot or breakdown.

The point is, the driftwood pieces you will buy are still manufactured for aquariums, so they often come with a catch. This is especially true if you ordered them cheap online.

Do some research and find out if the product you’re looking at requires a bit of quality control before you drop it in a tank.

How It Looks in the Aquarium

The aesthetic factor has value as well. Adding driftwood to your aquarium isn’t as easy as placing it somewhere randomly because you’ll have to consider how the fish interact with it and also how it looks.

This is especially a concern if the driftwood will serve as the centerpiece. In that case, you won’t want to take apart the whole tank just to find the right spot. You will need to plan for it.

A technique for this would be to draw a rough sketch of your fish tank so that you’ll have an idea where you might want to place the driftwood. You can use your imagination and see if it’ll look better vertically or horizontally.

That way, you won’t waste time and energy racking your brains at the last minute, and there won’t be a risk of you not liking the look of the piece after all on the day it arrives.

Now that that’s clear, it’s time to dive into the best options out there. We’ve listed down 5 of the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium products out there.

Your Own Needs and Preferences

These are all just suggestions. The best driftwood for freshwater aquarium you’ll end up purchasing depends entirely on your preferences and your fish’s needs.

Whether it’s less costly or if it comes from a big brand doesn’t really matter, because you’ll still have to weigh the options based on your criteria. From health to aesthetics to convenience, everything must be taken into account.

The most basic advice we can give, however, is that harder and firmer driftwood is usually better. These don’t break down easily, meaning they’ll last longer, and they won’t contaminate the water much after time.

Most importantly, make sure that the driftwood you buy is labelled for aquarium use.

Final Tips

  • Cleaning – To clean driftwood, you can use a brush to remove dirt or loose pieces that can pollute tank water. Don’t use soap or chemical cleaners, as these could leave residue and poison your fish.
  • Soaking – Most driftwood can sink underwater, but you may have to ensure that a piece is waterlogged so it stays in place. Soaking in a bucket requires 1 to 2 weeks for a piece of driftwood to become totally saturated. Replace the water whenever it darkens. Once there’s no more discoloration, then the process is complete.
  • Boiling – For driftwood to be sterilized to get rid of possible algae or fungus problems, you must boil it for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Placement – The best time to organize an aquarium’s landscape is right after a water change before you put the water in the tank. You can arrange your driftwood properly any way you want without bothering your marine friends.

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Both online and in fish or pet stores, there will be many options when looking for the best driftwood for freshwater aquarium. Again, aside from the standards of quality, safety, and cost, it’s all a matter of what your fish needs and what your personal preferences are.

With that said, even though it feels great to have a stunning centerpiece in your aquarium, the health of your fish comes first and foremost. Hopefully, with the summary of benefits and reviews we’ve given in the list above, you’ll have an easier time choosing.

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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