SubstrateSource Cholla Wood Aquarium featOne of the easiest ways to add simple beauty to an aquarium is through the addition of driftwood. Want to know the best part about adding driftwood to your aquarium?

Driftwood has far more benefits than just adding beauty to your aquarium!

Driftwood provides shelter to fish and invertebrates, a surface for plant growth, and some types of driftwood can help keep your aquarium pH levels in check.

Finding driftwood that you can trust will ensure you get safe driftwood that will last your aquarium a long time. Here are reviews for the 8 best driftwood for aquariums to help you find high-quality, attractive driftwood for your aquarium.divider3 goldfish bowl

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium Driftwood Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium Driftwood
  • Heavy wood
  • Can withstand multiple years underwater
  • Smooth surface
  • Best Value
    Second place
    SubstrateSource Cholla Wood SubstrateSource Cholla Wood
  • Cholla wood does not discolor water much
  • Sustainably harvested
  • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree
  • Hand-carved
  • 6”x8” pieces
  • Should last a few years in an aquarium
  • SunGrow Cholla Wood Aquarium Driftwood SunGrow Cholla Wood Aquarium Driftwood
  • Sustainably harvested
  • Ecofriendly
  • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
  • Fluval Mopani Driftwood Fluval Mopani Driftwood
  • Heavy wood
  • Can withstand multiple years underwater
  • Adds beneficial tannins and biofilm to the tank
  • The 8 Best Driftwoods for Aquariums – Reviews 2021

    1. Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium Driftwood– Best Overall

    Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium

     

    The best overall pick for driftwood for aquariums is the Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium Driftwood. This driftwood is available in small, which is 6-8 inches in length, and medium, which is 10-12 inches in length.

    Mopani wood is a great driftwood option because it’s heavy enough to sink immediately and hard enough to withstand being submerged underwater for multiple years. The Zoo Med Mopani Wood has a smooth surface and is a nice light-colored wood with unique mottling patterns on each piece.

    Even with soaking or boiling, this wood may discolor your tank’s water with tannins. Also, since this is a natural product, each piece will be unique and different sizes and shapes.

    Pros
    • Available in two lengths
    • Heavy wood
    • Can withstand multiple years underwater
    • Smooth surface
    • Light-colored wood with unique patterns on each piece
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    Cons
    • May discolor water even with soaking or boiling
    • Pieces may not look as pictured

    2. SubstrateSource Cholla Wood– Best ValueSubstrateSource Cholla Wood Aquarium

     

    The best driftwood for aquariums for the money is the SubstrateSource Cholla Wood. This pack includes two 6-inch long pieces of cholla wood.

    Cholla wood is hollow and has holes throughout, making it ideal for tanks with shrimp and other small aquatic animals. Cholla wood comes from cholla cacti and is sustainably harvested. This wood is lightweight and relatively soft, so it will only last for about 7-14 months in an aquarium.

    Since cholla wood is lightweight and hollow, it needs to be soaked or boiled to get it to sink. Otherwise, it will take multiple days of floating in your aquarium to sink. Like mopani wood, cholla wood pieces will differ slightly from piece to piece but cholla wood pieces are all cylindrical with diamond or oval-shaped holes.

    Pros
    • Includes two similarly sized pieces of wood
    • Cholla wood does not discolor water much
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    • Sustainably harvested
    • Great for hides and biofilm growth for shrimp and other small animals
    Cons
    • Will float for multiple days without soaking or boiling
    • Only lasts up to 14 months in an aquarium
    • Pieces may differ slightly from pictured

    3. Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree – Premium Choice

    Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium

     

    The premium choice for driftwood for your aquarium is the Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree. This piece is hand-carved from bonsai wood to resemble a tree. Each piece is unique and measures approximately 6 inches by 8 inches.

    This piece can be used to create aquarium scenes with just the addition of the wood or by attaching moss balls, Java moss, or other types of plants onto the ends of the branches, to give the piece a full, tree-like appearance. Bonsai wood should last a few years submerged in an aquarium.

    Since each one of these pieces is hand-carved from a unique piece of natural bonsai wood, each piece will look slightly different with slightly different measurements. This wood will float for a few days if not soaked or boiled and will release tannins into your tank, discoloring the water for a few days or weeks.

    Pros
    • Hand-carved, unique pieces
    • 6”x8” pieces
    • Can be used to create tree-like scenes with plants
    • Should last a few years in an aquarium
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    Cons
    • Premium price
    • Will float for multiple days without soaking or boiling
    • Pieces will differ slightly from pictured
    • May discolor water even with soaking or boiling

    4. SunGrow Cholla Wood Aquarium Driftwood

    SunGrow Cholla Wood Aquarium

     

    The SunGrow Cholla Wood Aquarium Driftwood is another great cholla wood option. Each order includes three pieces of cholla wood measuring 6 inches long and approximately 1 inch in diameter.

    These pieces of cholla wood are a great addition to shrimp and snail tanks and promote the growth of biofilm and beneficial bacteria. They make great hides for shrimplets or small shrimp after molting. This cholla wood is sustainably harvested and ecofriendly. These pieces of cholla wood are also safe for hermit crabs, reptiles, birds, and insects.

    SunGrow recommends boiling this cholla wood for 20-30 minutes, rinsing well, and then boiling a second time with activated charcoal to thoroughly remove any toxins that may end up on the wood. These pieces of wood will float for multiple days if not boiled or soaked.

    Pros
    • Includes three 6-inch pieces of cholla wood
    • Cholla wood does not discolor water much
    • Sustainably harvested and ecofriendly
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    • Great for hides and biofilm growth for shrimp and other small animals
    Cons
    • Manufacturer recommends boiling twice before use
    • Will float for multiple days without soaking or boiling
    • Only lasts up to 14 months in an aquarium
    • Pieces may differ slightly from pictured

    5. Fluval Mopani DriftwoodFluval Mopani Driftwood

     

    The Fluval Mopani Driftwood is an all-natural mopani wood option from a trusted aquatics brand. Each small piece measures approximately 4 inches by 10 inches. This driftwood is also available in medium and large sizes up to 18 inches in length.

    Fluval sandblasts each piece of mopani driftwood to ensure they are smooth, clean, and will not contaminate aquarium water. These pieces are light-colored and mostly solid-colored, but they may have some mottled patterns. Mopani wood is a great source of aquarium tannins and biofilm growth. This wood can withstand multiple years underwater.

    This wood will need to be boiled or soaked to remove some of the tannins. Otherwise, it will likely discolor your tank water significantly. Since this is a natural product, each piece will differ slightly.

    Pros
    • Available in 3 sizes from 10-18 inches in length
    • Each piece is sandblasted to create smooth surface free of contaminants
    • Heavy wood
    • Can withstand multiple years underwater
    • Adds beneficial tannins and biofilm to the tank
    Cons
    • May discolor water even with soaking or boiling
    • Pieces may not look as pictured
    • Small size is a premium price
    • Not as colorful as some other mopani wood options

    6. My Pet Patrol All Natural Teddy Bear Cholla WoodMy Pet Patrol

     

    The My Pet Patrol All Natural Teddy Bear Cholla Wood is available in 11 lengths and 1-4 piece pack options. This wood can be purchased in lengths from 3-29 inches.

    Teddy bear cholla wood is a fun twist on the more common cholla wood. Teddy bear cholla wood is much larger around but is less dense than cholla wood. It does still come from a type of cholla cacti and is sustainably harvested. Teddy bear cholla wood has a large enough hole in the center for larger shrimp and even some fish to get into. This type of wood is also great for reptiles and small mammals.

    Since teddy bear cholla wood is so lightweight, it will take a very long time to sink if you don’t boil it. Even soaking will take upwards of 2-3 days. If you keep this type of wood in a tank with larger fish that enjoy caves, like Plecostomus, then you’ll need to plug the end holes, so the fish does not get stuck. This wood can last from 6 months to 2 years or more.

    Pros
    • Available in multiple pack options
    • Sustainably harvested
    • Great for hides and biofilm growth for shrimp and other small animals
    • Does not discolor water much
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    Cons
    • Needs to boil or soak to sink
    • Can take multiple days to sink if soaked instead of boiled
    • Ends need to be plugged for fish that may get stuck
    • May only last a few months

    7. EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood

    EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood

     

    The EmoursTM Aquarium Sinkable Driftwood is available in small, medium, and large sizes and the small size is available in a pack of three pieces. This driftwood is Malaysian driftwood, which is a high-density wood.

    This type of wood will last for multiple years in an aquarium and often will sink immediately due to its density. It’s an excellent source of tannins for your aquarium. Fish and invertebrates will appreciate the shade from these dense pieces of wood as well as the biofilm that grows on the surface.

    The manufacturer recommends boiling this wood for 1-2 hours or soaking for up to 2 weeks to decrease discoloration of your aquarium water.

    Pros
    • Available in 3 sizes
    • High-density wood that sinks quickly
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water
    • Creates shade and surface for biofilm growth
    • Lasts for multiple years underwater
    Cons
    • Premium price
    • Should be boiled or soaked for a long time to decrease water discoloration
    • Will likely discolor tank water even with boiling or soaking
    • Some pieces of this type of wood will not sink immediately
    • Pieces may not look as pictured

    8. kathson Mini Driftwood

    kathson Mini Driftwood

     

    The kathson Mini Driftwood is an economical option for small driftwood. This pack includes 10 pieces of spider wood, which can be used to create tree-like ornaments or root-like ornaments.

    Spider wood is a great driftwood variety that is named for its spidery or web-like appearance. It will last for a couple of years underwater. The pieces are all unique and come from root systems, so they are great for fish that naturally exist around root systems, like tetras. They will release some tannins into the water but will not discolor as much as some other types of wood.

    These pieces of wood are small, so you will need multiple or need to attach pieces together to fill enough space in most tanks. This wood is very lightweight and will take a long time to sink, so it will need to be boiled or soaked. This wood is light-colored and is usually solid-colored.

    Pros
    • Economical option
    • Can be used to create tree or root appearances
    • Will last for a couple of years underwater
    • Great for fish that exist around roots
    • Adds beneficial tannins to the water with minimal discoloration
    Cons
    • Will not sink quickly
    • Needs to be boiled or soaked to sink
    • Very small pieces of wood
    • Pieces may not look as pictured
    • Very little color differences between pieces

    Buyer’s Guide

    Types of Driftwood:
    • Mopani Wood: A dense wood that usually sinks quickly. It is uniquely patterned with mottling and releases large amounts of tannic acid into the water, coloring the water and lowering the pH. This wood can stand up to multiple years in an aquarium.
    • Manzanita: An extremely popular aquarium driftwood, manzanita is sturdy and can withstand years in an aquarium. It has beautiful branching shapes and is often used to build underwater scenes with trees covered in aquatic plants. This wood is a light-colored wood and will not discolor aquarium water as much as some others might, but it still should be boiled or soaked before use.
    • Cholla Wood: Cholla wood is a lightweight wood from the cholla cactus. It is usually sustainably and legally harvested, making it ecofriendly. Since it is lightweight, it does not last much longer than a few months to a little over a year. It is often consumed by invertebrates.
    • Teddy Bear Cholla Wood: This is a lightweight wood from another type of cholla cactus and is less dense and larger in diameter than cholla wood. Teddy bear cholla wood has a distinct appearance, is easy to find, and usually lasts a little longer than cholla wood.
    • Spider Wood: Spider wood is from the roots of a plant called the Water Azalea or Chinese Azalea, which is why it has a noticeable root-like structure. This wood is common and typically easy to find but be aware that it tends to break down around 1-2 years.
    • Bonsai Wood: Bonsai wood isn’t actually one specific type of wood. Instead, it’s wood that has been made to look like a bonsai tree. It can be made from one or more types of wood to create the tree-like appearance.
    • Malaysian Driftwood: Malaysian is one of the more common types of driftwood for large aquariums but some LFS will carry pieces for smaller aquariums as well. This wood is sturdy but releases large amounts of tannic acid and needs adequate boiling or soaking.
    • Mesquite: This type of wood is often seen in large, singular pieces, but can sometimes be found split into smaller pieces as well. It needs thorough boiling or soaking and should last a long time. This type of wood can be pricey.
    • Madrona Driftwood: A rare type of driftwood, madrona is beautiful but expensive and difficult to find. This wood is extremely hardy and will outlast most other items you put in your aquarium. Usually, madrona is used in large aquariums.
    • Azalea Driftwood: Similar to spider wood in appearance, this wood is from true Azalea plants. It is light-colored and a relatively soft wood, so it will not last more than a year or two.

    Some other types of aquarium driftwood include beefwood, corkscrew willow, crepe myrtle, ribbonwood, rose wood roots, mangrove roots, and tiger wood.

    Choosing Driftwood for Your Aquarium:
    • Size: The cool thing about driftwood is that it doesn’t necessarily have to fit inside of your aquarium. Some people with open-top tanks will place driftwood in such a way that part of the wood sticks out of the top of the tank, which can be used to grow terrestrial or emersed plants. However, you still want to choose a piece of wood that will fit the aesthetic of your tank and that won’t take up too much swimming space or add too much weight to the walls or floor of your aquarium.
    • Shape: Much like the size of the driftwood you choose, the shape is a consideration to make sure you don’t end up with something that takes up valuable aquarium space. A wood like cholla wood or spider wood will take up far less swimming space than something like mopani wood or Malaysian driftwood, even if they are the same size. This is because cholla wood and spider wood allow for swimming underneath or through while more solid pieces of wood do not. A large, club-like piece of wood may not be the best choice for a small aquarium.
    • pH: Just about any driftwood you put in your aquarium will alter the pH at least slightly, but some driftwood can take your aquarium from alkaline to acidic. If you have fish that prefer acidity, then this is a good thing, but if you keep cichlids or saltwater fish, then altering the pH in this manner can be dangerous.
    • Inhabitants: Your tank inhabitants should be taken into full consideration when it comes to choosing driftwood. The size, shape, and pH alteration the driftwood you add will have a direct effect on their environment. Shrimp will appreciate branching wood with plenty of hiding places while a Plecostomus will appreciate a large, solid piece of wood that allows for shading and rest during the day.

    Conclusion

    When it comes to choosing driftwood for your aquarium, you have options! The best overall driftwood for your aquarium is the Zoo Med Mopani Wood Aquarium Driftwood since it has unique, lovely patterns and lasts a long time. For a premium choice, the Bonsai Driftwood Aquarium Tree can bring life and personalized beauty to your tank. If you’re looking for the best value on driftwood for your aquarium, then the SubstrateSource Cholla Wood is the way to go.

    Driftwood is a great addition to just about any tank and hopefully these reviews have helped you identify driftwood for your own aquarium. Keep in mind that anything that releases tannins into the water can lower the pH of the tank, which can be beneficial to many fish and invertebrates, but some fish prefer alkaline water with an elevated pH.

    Whatever you choose, be prepared to thoroughly inspect the driftwood for any signs of parasites or sharp edges. Clean any driftwood you purchase before adding it to your tank and don’t be surprised if you notice tea-colored water for a few days or weeks after the addition of driftwood.