Can You Use Grapewood Driftwood In An Aquarium? {Is It Safe Or Toxic?}

I find grapewood in my aquarium very appealing, but it comes with some risk and effort. Can you use grapewood driftwood in an aquarium?

How do you clean, cure and get grapewood ready for your tank? What are the benefits of grapewood besides how pretty it looks?

In this article, we’ll run through the pros, cons, process and plenty of other questions surrounding grapewood driftwood.

Can You Use Grapewood Driftwood In An Aquarium?

Yes. You can use grapewood in an aquarium, but be aware that it rots quickly and discolors your tank water by leaching tannins if it is not treated and prepared the right way.

We have details, explanations and steps to help you out because grapewood lowers pH, provides nutrients and the aesthetic appeal makes it an inviting addition to your aquarium.

What Is Grapewood?

Grapewood is a type of wood harvested from different species of the Vitis plant. Despite being small trees, these trees have vine-like branches. The tree produces light woods that are durable and useful to vivarium enthusiasts.


The wood is light and decomposes as fast as any softwood making it suitable to serve as dryer biotypes. As much as it is useful to every other person, it is also useful in aquariums. Although there might be a little difficulty in it sinking, it is very useful as a substrate.

It has a knotted appearance with twisted and narrow branches that take after the shape of whatever it rests on while growing. The trunk of this softwood is mostly hollow, twisted, and knotted but not as knotted and twisted as the branches.


The grapewood comes in different colors ranging from dark reddish-brown to light ivory color. It is not uncommon to see a combination of these colors on a single tree in a swirling style. This wood is very soft and smooth in texture, making it break apart without splintering.

You can find the grapewood in various sizes and shapes. The grapewood is native to the tropical forest in California.


It lowers the pH and hardness of the water in an aquarium. Lowering the hardness and pH of the water beyond considerable state can affect the health of the aquatic creatures.


Grapewood leaches tannins at greater rates than other common driftwood in the water. It causes water coloration in aquariums. At times, the coloration might not be visible, but it affects the parameters of the water.

Although lowering the parameters beyond the considerable state is not quite good, grape wood helps lower parameters, especially when they are excessively high.

Grapewood Aquascape

These trees produce distinctive wood that is light, strong, and beneficial to a variety of aquatic creatures.

In the first few weeks after being submerged in a tank environment, grapewood is prone to developing a strange white mold, but as long as this stuff is routinely removed from the wood, fish and the water’s other parameters usually fare well.

Most aquarium caretakers have noticed that it stops growing again shortly after that. Additionally, grapewood tends to function similarly to when one brews tea, causing the water to darken and need replacement.

This can occasionally be troubling depending on your particular setup if it is not cleaned and cured before being put into the tank.

How Long for Grapewood to Sink?

The time it takes for grape wood to sink depends on your preparation methods to get it ready for your tank’s ecosystem.

How to Prepare Grapewood to Sink Easily In Water

  • Soaking the Plank in Water
  • Cleaning the Wood
  • Boiling the Wood
  • Scraping the Excess Dirt Off the Wood
  • Using Suction Cups or Plate
  • Stick the Wood to Something Heavy
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Why Does Grapewood Change The Water Color?

Because grapevine wood has a lot of sugar, it will produce a lot of biofilms. On the wood, biofilm looks to be a moldy, white layer that is growing. Additionally, the film provides a fantastic source of food for shrimp and algae.

When immersed in water for an extended period of time, the wood also releases tannins. The water’s hue changes as a result of this. It turns brown, as though teabags were incorporated with it.

As a result of the tannins released in the water, there is no cause for concern in this situation. The pH of the water is lowered by it. However, changing the water regularly will fix the issue if you want to always see fresh water.

Is Grape Wood Safe For Snails and Shrimp?

Shrimps and snails that live under the sea are especially safe when exposed to grapewood. Although this wood is secure, it may interfere with your underwater friends’ way of existence.

Yes, grapewood can begin to decay, which prevents the fish from swimming freely. Even though it’s not dangerous, this causes discomfort.

Is Grapewood Toxic?

No. Grape wood is not poisonous underwater. Since they are vines, their branches are made of softwood. Fish chew on the branch since the wood is still usable for some time. This wood has a distinctive look that is unique.

It provides a safe refuge for the inhabitants of your aquarium to hide, breed, and eat. This type of driftwood does not poison:

  • fish
  • reptiles
  • invertebrates

The bark gradually flakes off, leaving an unsightly look. Aquarium water will appear somewhat tinted as a result for a while.

Can You Use Grapewood Driftwood In An Aquarium

Benefits of Driftwood in Aquarium

Driftwood looks good. Besides its aesthetic advantages:

  • Shy or skittish aquatic life may find a home and a hiding spot in aquarium wood.
  • For animals that deposit eggs, it could act as a spawning ground.
  • It may even serve as a source of food for the algae and tiny microscopic creatures known as aufwuchs.
  • Wood can also change the chemistry of your water, enabling you to create the ideal conditions for your chosen species.
  • Your fish’s immune systems benefit from driftwood.
  • Natural tannins will progressively bleed into the aquarium water when driftwood is immersed.

These tannins provide a mildly acidic environment that aids in warding off germs and viruses that cause illness.

Why You Need To Soak Grapewood

Soaking causes extra tannins to leak out, which can lighten or color the water. Your aquarium’s occupants won’t be harmed by the tannins’ coloring, but it will gradually drop the pH.

This characteristic is used by some enthusiasts to create the soft water conditions that many tropical fish love.

  1. Check on the driftwood that is soaking frequently to see whether the water needs to be changed.
  2. Empty the entire container as the water becomes darker, then carefully clean the driftwood.
  3. Continue soaking the driftwood while adding clean, dechlorinated or RO water to the bucket.
  4. Repeating this procedure will cause the water to become less “tea-stained.”

When there has been no noticeable discoloration for several days your grapewood driftwood is ready.

How To Cure Grapewood

It is essential to make use of waterlogged branches of the driftwood. Driftwood from riverbeds is suitable for your aquarium, but if gotten otherwise, it should undergo the curing stage.

To cure the wood, you should soak it in a large container filled with water for about a week or two.

  1. If the driftwood floats on the water, you should place it on a heavy rock or stone to press it down into the water.
  2. It is better if the water in the container is hot.
  3. You should monitor the changes in the color of the water as days go by.
  4. Also pay attention to the color of the water whether it is changing to a light brown color.
  5. You can change the water frequently to aid the process.

You can boil smaller pieces of wood to leach the tannins by opening the pores of the wood. Then you should submerge the pieces of the wood in a large container to become waterlogged.

How to Prepare Grapewood to Sink Easily

  • Soak the Plank in Water
  • Clean the Wood
  • Boil the Wood
  • Scrape the Excess Dirt Off the Wood
  • Use Suction Cups or Plate
  • Stick the Wood to Something Heavy

Other Types of Driftwood For Aquarium

There are different types of driftwood to use in your aquarium. Some driftwoods are essential, while others place little or no benefit to the tank. Some of these driftwoods include;

  1. Manzanita
  2. Cholla wood
  3. Rose Wood Root
  4. Malaysian Driftwood
  5. Mesquite
  6. Ribbon Wood
  7. Beefwood

1. Manzanita

It is a popular and branching type of wood with a large influence on Aquascaping. Pieces of the wood come in twisting and large sizes. It sometimes comes in intricate and fine texture.

2. Cholla wood

The cholla wood is a beautiful wood with astonishing patterns. It doesn’t last as long as other solid varieties. One of the prominent characteristics of cholla wood is its hole-like structure.

3. Rose Wood Root

This driftwood has thick and unusual branching woods. It creates a dazzling effect through branching down into substrates. Aquarist makes use of it to depict a large root system and forest tree that flows down into the water column.

4. Malaysian Driftwood

It is solid and mostly purchased as large pieces of wood. It is perfect for large tanks and could be suitable for small tanks if smaller chunks are available. It is identifiable by its distinct color and has a high risk of leaching.

5. Mesquite

Mesquites are available in large sizes. It is a beautiful and intricate branching driftwood. It is a great choice for aquarists as it is suitable for both large and small tanks.

6. Ribbon Wood

It is an excellent driftwood for small aquariums in need of dark driftwood. It is dark in color with a textured finish and beautiful curves. If you intend to create a river-style aquarium, ribbon wood might be a good choice.

7. Beefwood

The beefwood is a thick tubing driftwood suitable for tall tanks. It features a beautiful root system that enhances the beauty of your tank. It is also suitable for attaching ferns and plants.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do you clean grapewood?

The driftwood has to be cleaned before being positioned after deciding where to put it. Scrub the driftwood well with a clean brush to get rid of any dirt or debris.

Use only non-chemical cleaners; do not use soap. Any leftovers can contaminate your tank. After cleaning, the driftwood will require soaking to get saturated and “cure.”

2. How is driftwood treated?

While most driftwood will stay immersed in the sea, some pieces float a little bit until they get completely saturated and “waterlogged.”

Make sure the entire piece of driftwood is completely submerged while soaking it in the huge bucket for as long as you can. To allow for complete immersion, a minimum of one to two weeks is advised.

3. Does Grapewood harm fish?

Sometimes. The pH of the water in an aquarium often decreases when driftwood is added, and depending on the size of the wood, the pH might decrease significantly. Your fish may possibly perish as a result of this.

4. Is Grapewood Okay in an Aquarium?

Yes. Grapewood is prone to growing an unusual white mold during its first few weeks being submerged in a tank environment, but fish and the water parameters generally tend to do well as long as this substance is regularly cleaned off of the wood.

5. Is Grapewood Safe for Aquarium?

Yes. Your fish and other aquatic animals can safely enjoy grapewood. However, if your fish prefer hard water with a high pH, you must exercise caution.

If so, you should stay away from grape wood. This is due to the significant tannin release from grape wood. As a result, the water becomes acidic and becomes less hard.

6. Do I have to boil driftwood for aquarium?

Yes. Before you directly let the driftwood sink in the water, you should boil driftwood to remove tannins and make it fish-safe. This is the key to maintaining a healthy aquarium.

7. Does Grapewood raise pH in aquarium?

No. By adding some natural driftwood, you may safely reduce the pH levels in your aquarium. Similar to peat moss, driftwood releases tannins into your tank’s water, which lowers pH.


There are different driftwoods that you can put in your tank. The grapewood driftwood is useful in the tank, but you would have to change the water frequently because of the tannins that leaches from the wood into the water.


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Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.