The piece of driftwood in your tank is all you could ask for. It’s beautiful, uniquely shaped, and provides a cozy hiding place for your fish. The only problem is that there are white spots on the wood. Are these places dangerous? Or are they harmless?
Regardless of what they are, these spots are unsightly and you want to do something about them. If this describes your situation, this article is for you! We’ll take a look at some of the common culprits behind these spots in driftwood and how you can solve the problem.
White Stains on Driftwood: 3 Possible Causes
Unsightly white spots or stains on your driftwood can be caused by a number of things, but this article will focus on three main suspects: fungus, snail eggs, and bacterial infections.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms, possible causes, and solutions for each:
If the stains on the driftwood are small and irregular in shape, they are most likely caused by a form of fungus known as poplar fungus. This type of fungus is quite common and is not a cause for concern.
Being only the size of a punctuation mark, this particular type of fungus will not harm your aquarium in any way. Its growth is usually triggered when the driftwood has been submerged in water for more than 6 months without exposure to light. In some cases, the fungus can also be caused by the contact of the piece of wood with soil or substrate, which can provide it with nutrients.
Symptoms of aspen fungus include small white dots that grow over time. They usually appear on porous surfaces. Although its growth is limited to the surface of the wood, this type of fungus will often cause white spots in the tank during the day. This is because the fungal spores travel through the water and can stick to fish and other objects.
Don’t do anything at all! The fungus will slowly sink into the wood and after four or five years it will be completely consumed. If you want to speed up this process, you can place the wood in direct sunlight. This will cause the fungus to die and fall off the wood much faster.
Another option is to spend some time boiling your wood chips. This will remove most forms of fungus, as well as any unwanted bacteria and parasites. Boiling driftwood can also improve the overall look of the wood by slightly darkening its color.
Finally, you can always take advantage of cleaner fish powers. Many species of wonderful fish, such as wrasses, ramshorn snails, and fire shrimp, love mushrooms and will happily eat them off the wood. We especially love this method: not only can you observe the behaviors of these funny fish in your tank, but you will also be left with a clean piece of decoration naturally. Yes please!
This explanation is perhaps one of the most adorable on our list. In some cases, white spots on driftwood can be snail eggs! Snails are very protective of their eggs when they are in the early stages and will often cover them with calcareous (calcium carbonate) shells. If the spots are perfectly round and evenly shaped, they are most likely eggs.
Species such as the mystery snail and ramshorn snails often lay their eggs on plant leaves, rocks, and wood. So if you see a piece of wood with eggs on it, you may have discovered a new habitat for one of your tank’s snails! If you are interested in raising these eggs into adult snails, give them time to develop. Snail eggs hatch after two weeks to six months depending on the species, so be patient.
However, keep in mind that some species of eggs do not hatch in fresh water. For example, adult nerite snail eggs typically hatch in brackish water, and baby apple snail eggs must be under a certain amount of water pressure in order to hatch. It’s always a good idea to do your research before deciding if you want to keep snails as pets, as caring for them can be a little more difficult than it seems.
If there are no fish in your tank to eat the eggs, leave them alone! These snails are considered beneficial as they feed on algae and detritus, thus cleaning the water in your tank. However, if you have carnivorous fish or snails, you will need to remove the eggs to avoid potential harmful encounters. Fish farmers battling snail infestations may also want to dispose of these eggs before they hatch.
To do this, simply remove the piece of driftwood from the water and soak it in salt water for an hour or two (this kills most snails). We recommend using sea salt water instead of aquarium water, as the latter can be harmful to fish when used in large quantities. After this process, give the piece of wood a good scrub with an old toothbrush or other small brush.
Once you’ve cleaned up any visible eggs, place the piece of wood back in the tank. It should be safe from snails for at least a few days, but this process can easily be repeated if necessary. Don’t forget to wash your brush after each exfoliation!
White spots on wood can actually be signs of bacterial infections. It may seem strange that bacteria can (or even want to) live on your driftwood, but it’s actually very common.
The reason these bacterial infections occur in the first place is that driftwood can be a perfect home for various types of bacteria and parasites. They often harbor decomposing organic matter, such as algae, fish waste, and the corpses of cleaning staff. These items provide an excellent source of food and shelter for bacteria, both good and bad.
Bacteria, parasites, and other forms of organic matter can cause these spots on their own, or they can be the result of an infection. Remember that if your piece of wood has these white spots on it, it is most likely decaying, so where does all this decaying matter go? Well, sometimes the bacteria that feed on it excrete waste products in the form of gas bubbles. These small pockets of gas can cause spots or pustules that look like whiteheads.
If your fish have been fighting infection or disease for a while, your driftwood (and your tank in general) is likely harboring a lot of bacteria and parasites. Under these circumstances, you should take steps to improve your tank maintenance routine.
The best thing you can do to help prevent these infections is to remove decaying organic matter from your tank. You should siphon the gravel at least once a month and look behind each piece of tank décor to make sure no food sources are hiding. Weekly water changes are also a must for a clean tank. We recommend a 30-50% water change every week, depending on what the water tests indicate.
Finally, a particularly severe attack of infection may require a complete sterilization of the tank with a fish tank cleaner. Many diseases and bacteria live on the surface of objects such as wood, decoration and substrate. If your fish are infected with a particularly nasty disease or parasite, you may want to remove these items from your aquarium to eliminate the problem once and for all.
Other possible causes
Algae, barnacles, resin, or factors that cause white fuzz on aquarium plants can also leave white spots like the ones mentioned here. Because our focus is on diseased driftwood, we will not cover these topics in detail. However, always err on the side of caution in doing your best to identify possible causes. Although some white spots are harmless, you need to make sure your tank is disease free.
If you are having trouble figuring out how to resolve the issue, we recommend that you seek help from other hobbyists and other people who have faced similar issues. There are many people with fish tanks in the online world, and all you need is one person willing to help you.
Just be sure to ask questions in a way that helps the person respond to your needs. Likewise, if you can correctly diagnose and solve someone’s problem, you might end up making a new aquatic friend with that person!
We hope this article has helped you identify some of the possible causes behind white spots that have developed on your driftwood. These problems are more common than you might think, but fortunately, most cases are also relatively easy to treat.
If you have any persistent questions or comments about our article, please leave us a comment. And if you found this article useful, please share it with a fellow hobbyist. Good luck with your fish tank maintenance and happy fish keeping!