Freshwater Aquarium Rocks and Driftwood

Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by admins

It’s aesthetically important to decorate your freshwater aquarium with rocks and driftwood, which will also be useful for your fish! Some people may think that aquascaping is here only to make the aquatic environment more attractive. That, however, is untrue – the fish will use the landscape for exploration, hiding, and hunting! Rocks and driftwood are some of the most popular set pieces for aquariums, and today we’ll take a closer look at them!

Driftwood Aquascaping

Driftwood is the remains of large plants, mostly bushes, and trees, that washed up on the shore with time. Because of decay, these remains lose their bark with time which makes them clean and smooth. There is even driftwood that has never touched water. This wood is usually natural and it’s completely safe for your fish!

Driftwood Aquascaping

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Why Should You Use Driftwood For Your Aquarium?

There is a huge difference between a simple glass box filled with water and a comfortable environment. In the wild, fish are constantly surrounded by various things underwater. Lakes and rivers aren’t empty and clean. Using driftwood in your freshwater aquarium will make the environment feel more natural for your fish, while it will also be move attractive.

Fish use the cover of these pieces for hunting, hiding, and even laying eggs. Sometimes they will use it just for shade! 

Since the surface of driftwood is so smooth, it will often grow algae. This can be useful for the fish, as they often feed on algae. There are also fish that will actually peck on the wood itself. Combining driftwood with rocks, something we’ll discuss later can create a very natural environment that’s also easy on the eyes.

Types Of Aquarium Driftwood

When it comes to freshwater aquarium rocks and driftwood, the first major difference to think about is artificial vs. natural. You can purchase natural driftwood just as easily as artificial driftwood for your aquarium. The largest difference is the effect each have on your aquarium. For example, natural driftwood can start releasing tannins. These molecules will darken the water which will distract anyone looking in the aquarium. For the record – tannin won’t harm fish, but it makes the aquarium less appealing.


Bogwood is one of the most common kinds of wood used as driftwood. Nowadays, however, it’s more difficult to find real, natural bogwood. Most bogwood available nowadays is just a combination of wood products that was made to fit in an aquarium. These pieces are often attached to a stone or a gravel slab to make sure they’re locked in place!

This driftwood always looks nice in an freshwater aquarium and it works well with marsh root!

Marsh Root

Very popular in North America and Europe, this driftwood won’t release tannins and color water! This wood is completely safe for freshwater aquariums!

Spider Wood

Spider wood can make a great addition to any aquarium, but it’s often too large for a tank. This, however, isn’t a problem as you can easily trim it to fit. The body is a central unit, while the branches are long and twisty.

Sumatran Driftwood

This driftwood is actual, natural wood that was sandblasted to remove the bark. It’s completely natural and it can make a great addition to any aquarium. It likely won’t release tannin, but some aquarists recommend curing it before placing it in water to avoid floating.

Aquascaping Rocks

Rocks go hand in hand with driftwood when it comes to aquascaping! They’re perfect for mimicking reefs and ridges of an actual body of water. When it comes to a freshwater aquarium, rock and driftwood mimic the actual freshwater environment perfectly!

Many rocks can be useful for practical reasons, not only aesthetics! There are rocks that will actively grow algae on them – this will provide a useful food source for the fish! Some rocks can also serve as a basis for nitrifying bacteria to grow on – this bacteria can prove its use by eradicating ammonia and nitrites!

Additionally, rocks are a very common sight in actual aquatic systems. Placing them in your aquarium will make it much more similar to the fish’s natural environment.

Types Of Aquarium Rocks

Decorative Gravel

This is the most common type of rock used with freshwater aquariums! It’s very common for fishes to spend their whole lives swimming around gravel covering the bottom of the river or a lake. Decorative gravel is, however, completely clean and it isn’t harmful for fish! It would be wise to consider placing it as a foundation for your aquarium.

Shale Rock

When it comes to choosing a rock for your freshwater aquarium, it’s absolutely crucial to avoid rocks that will raise or lower the pH level.

Shale is a lava rock that can come in many colors (black, grey, purple) and is durable. Regarding shape, they’re usually thin and long!


This rock is recommended by experts because it won’t make affect the pH levels in any way. It’s usually a dark rock, coming in either black or grey, as it’s essentially molten lava that hardened with time. The best thing about basalt is how common it is – you could find this rock in the wild too, but it’s surely available in your local pet shop.


Quartz is likely the easiest rock to recognize. It’s partly transparent and it looks like a crystal. These rocks come in a lot of different colors: white, black, pink, purple, even yellow. They also won’t make a difference in pH levels, which makes them great for freshwater tanks!

Pros and Cons Of Driftwood and Rocks In Freshwater Aquariums

Once it all adds up, freshwater aquarium driftwood and rocks have more pros than cons, but you need to be careful when you’re choosing your decorations.

Most rocks and driftwood will interact with the aquatic environment (pH levels, growing bacteria, etc.), which is why it’s crucial to know whether these rocks can share the environment with the driftwood.

It can also be difficult to clean your aquarium if there are too many rocks or pieces of driftwood. Fishes will also use rocks and driftwood as hiding places if you need to catch them, making it difficult.

Rocks are heavy, meaning that the glass could crack if you place too many of them in your aquarium.

In conclusion, rocks and driftwood are plentily useful additions for your aquarium, but they can affect the environment in your aquarium. This is something that needs to be planned for and controlled. Always make sure to know how each rock or driftwood will affect water before placing it in the environment. Most of these products will have their effects clearly defined on the label, so make sure to do thorough research before buying!

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