New wood from the wild

When I went for 40km bike ride weeks ago, my parallel goal was to find a new piece of wood for my fish tank.

I honestly expected it to be very easy around the Black Forest, south of Germany. However, the vegetation here is too much homogeneous when compared to my origins, South America.

In fact, Black Forest is composed mostly of pines, softwoods, not suitable for fish tanks. There is a lot of limewood (Tilia) around as well, which is not suitable either.

After hours of research, I found out that fruit trees (apple, grapes, pears), oaks, beeches and ashes are appropriate, in addition to the most used mopani, manzanita and some tai wood that I don’t even care to read about, simply because they can’t be found in this area.

Then, by studying their leaf shapes I was able to identify some of those tree in the nature. It is indeed a hard task to find suitable trees. But more difficult is to find a decayed and dry suitable tree. After a long search, however, I could get a piece of what seems to be an ash tree (see pictures below).

The first issue is to sink it. This process may take weeks or months. But for my surprise, it sank right away when I put it in a bucket with water! Anyway, I boiled it to make sure it is clean of bacteria etc. I also rounded the edges and shaped it to stand better on the gravel.

I baked it in the oven for some minutes as well, as a double-check. Unfortunately, it got so dry – with some cracks – that I needed a couple of days to make it sink again. Also, I realized that chopping out the innermost part of the wood resulted in floating it, because this part has much higher density than the outermost.

The wood has been kept submerged for some weeks (with a help of rocks!) to release tannin and check any abnormal issue, like mold. It will be in my new layout probably within one week from today.

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