In almost any aquarium, driftwood (part of the root of a tree) looks very beautiful. And an intricately intertwined piece of mangrove, set in an artificial home pond, gives the whole composition a natural look. For a number of reasons, mangroves are becoming a very popular material for creating tropical aquatic landscapes.
Mangrove trees are unique in their own way. They grow in the coastal zone of tropical seas and oceans, in river deltas, sometimes creating impenetrable thickets. There are three main types of mangroves in nature:
- red mangroves (lat.Rhizophora mangle);
- white mangrove (lat.Laguncularia racemosa);
- black mangrove tree (lat.Avicennia germinans).
In total, scientists count over 50 species and subspecies of this tree.
What makes mangroves and shrubs unique?
- First of all, in their root system.
- For example, black mangroves, growing in water, receive oxygen and nitrogen necessary for life through the roots. Which release special processes called pneumators.
Near the main trunk of the tree, several such “sticks” protrude from the ground, the length of which can reach 3 meters!
- The white mangrove tree has special glands near the base of the leaves that remove salt from the sea water. Salt crystals settle on the leaves, and the tree itself receives desalinated water. It turns out a kind of natural desalination plant.
- The red mangrove is also called the “walking” tree. Its roots stick out above the water, they prevent salt from entering the “organism” of the tree. It feeds on oxygen through the numerous pores in the bark.
The roots are sometimes so intricately intertwined that they look like a complex knot. They are excellent filters for sea and river water, and where there are impenetrable mangroves, the water is very clean. It’s not surprising that these weaves are the place of active life for fry of fish, mollusks, and other small aquatic creatures. There they feel safe, as they are out of reach of large predators.
Of course, trees die off over time or are pulled out by a storm, and then a lot of debris and branchy roots are carried to the shore. Thus, commercially available mangrove driftwood is inherently part of a windbreak.
Mangrove Benefits In An Aquarium
Many domestic aquarists use snag of local tree species as a decorative element of the aquarium landscape: alder, beech, willow, and some fruit trees. Placed after some preparation in the aquarium, such driftwood is only a detail of the landscape; they practically do not perform the function of a refuge for small fish.
- The intertwined mangrove roots, as in natural conditions, are a safe place where fry, shrimp or shellfish can be relatively safe. In addition, such a “patterned” snag looks very attractive.
- The maggri snag does not spoil the water at all. More precisely, it releases some amount of tannin and slightly acidifies the environment. But such a dose is completely safe for aquarium inhabitants, and even useful for some species of fish.
On the positive side, the well-soaked part of the mangrove root becomes heavier than water and does not float. Thus, no anchoring at the bottom of the “can” is required.
- If the aquarium contains sucker catfish, then the mangrove driftwood will serve as a source of cellulose for them to help digest food. Over time, catfish will polish this wood to an absolutely smooth state.
- And finally, such a driftwood will last for many years if it is not taken out of the aquarium for a long time. It practically does not rot and does not decompose.
Mangrove Driftwood Preparation
Mangrove is also good because it does not require any complex preparation before installing it in the aquarium. Still, some processing is needed.
First, part of the root should be thoroughly cleaned of bark and dirt by rinsing in warm water. If the root is dry, has been in the air for a long time, then it must be soaked in water. There are several ways:
- Pour hot water over the snag and leave in this state for a day.
- Placing the wood in an enamel bowl, pour hot water, add salt to a saturated solution concentration and cook for about 1 hour. Then rinse with warm running water.
- The root is placed in the toilet cistern for 3-5 days. After lying for a long time in running water, it will not only rinse out perfectly, but will also be well saturated with moisture.
While boiling in salt water is considered superfluous by many mangrove rhizome owners, some hobbyists do this to kill potential bacteria.
Mangrove Driftwood In The Aquarium
If the wood does not sink immediately, it can be pressed down with a stone or part of the soil. After a few days, it will become so heavy from the water that it will definitely not float up.
You need to be prepared for the fact that under the influence of substances released from the wood, aquarium water can darken to the color of weakly brewed tea. There is nothing wrong with that. The unusual color is gradually eliminated by regular water changes.
To prevent mangroves from staining the water, it is recommended to stand for 3 to 4 weeks in ordinary water, changing it daily.
Some time after installation at the aquarium, white fluff, similar to mold, may appear on the surface of the driftwood. There is nothing wrong with that either. This plaque is easily removed mechanically (using a siphon , for example). Remains of plaque in the water are eliminated by partial water changes.
And yet, some of the decorative catfish (Ancistrus or plekostomus) is excellent at eating this harmless sediment.
Tips To Buy Mangrove Snag
If you decide to buy a mangrove snag in the store or from your hands, then first carefully examine it. Sometimes, under the guise of a mangrove, part of the root or branch of the Mopani, the African “iron tree”, can be sold. The color of the driftwood is identical to the color of the mangrove, but the root processes of the Mopani do not have complex weaves.
You can check in a simple way: even when dry, a piece of “iron wood” almost immediately sinks in water, sinking to the bottom of the container.
Rotten wood is extremely rare, but a similar situation is possible. If the driftwood is packaged, then you should ask the seller to take it out of the package and examine it carefully, especially at the cut points.
Parts of a mangrove tree (roots or a section of a trunk) are a wonderful natural decorative material that does not require special preparation and helps to create a natural natural landscape in the aquarium.