Do Goldfish like Driftwood


There are many different types of goldfish, and they are a popular choice as an aquarium fish because many species are small, and easy to keep. There are various ornaments that can be put into a tank, and a popular choice is driftwood. In this article, I will explain if goldfish like driftwood.

Overall, goldfish like driftwood. But, if driftwood has any sharp pieces they should be removed or smoothened. Most goldfish like to rub and bump against things as they swim, and some goldfish species have long floppy tails and fins that can easily catch and tear on sharp pieces of driftwood.


There are a few reasons why driftwood is good in a fish tank with goldfish. Below, I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of driftwood for goldfish, the benefits goldfish get from driftwood, and if there are any special things to be aware of when using driftwood in an aquarium with goldfish.

Pros and Cons of Driftwood for Goldfish

Goldfish are a unique type of fish, and naturally live in a different environment from some other types of fish. Driftwood is good for a goldfish tank, however, it’s important to know if there are any disadvantages to putting driftwood in a goldfish tank. Here are the pros and cons of driftwood for goldfish.

Driftwood mimics the natural environment of goldfish, makes a goldfish fish tank look better, and also provides a surface for beneficial algae and bacteria to grow. The disadvantage is driftwood takes 12 hours to prepare. But, is necessary for all fish tanks, not just for goldfish.

Goldfish are fairly adept swimmers but swim rather lazily. For example, they will bump into the sides of an aquarium, and will swim sideways or upside down and rub against the floor and substrate of a tank. 

They will also swim close and often bump into any ornaments in a fish tank. For this reason it’s best to remove any sharp bits that are sticking out from driftwood. Their tail can catch on a piece of driftwood. 


Or, they can cut or poke themselves on any sharp parts that are sticking out. Goldfish like many fish can develop habits. For example, they can like to hang around a certain part of a tank such as a corner, or swim back and forwards against one of the walls of the aquarium. 

If they have a habit of swimming very close along the edge of a piece of driftwood that has sharp edges, it’s only a matter of time before they bump into a sharp edge, and hurt themselves.

A piece of driftwood doesn’t offer any advantages that are unique to goldfish, except for the fact that it mimics their natural environment. And therefore, the main reason to add driftwood to a goldfish tank would be to improve the aesthetics.

Removing sharp parts of driftwood for a goldfish aquarium

It’s fairly straightforward to remove any sharp parts that are sticking out on a piece of driftwood. They can be sanded down using some sandpaper. 

Any grit sandpaper will work. It can also be a good idea to cut off some parts using a pair of garden pruning shears, and then sand down the part of the driftwood you cut.

Goldfish naturally live in areas where there is driftwood

Goldfish in the wild live in freshwater bodies of water that are stagnant. Such as ponds and lakes. On the shoreline it’s common to find trees. 

As trees grow they often drop branches both big and small that will land in the water, and over time sink to the bottom. Therefore, driftwood is something that mimics a goldfish’s natural environment.

Goldfish don’t hide so will swim around driftwood

The natural behavior of goldfish is not to seek shelter. The predators of goldfish are animals that are outside the body of water, and rarely swim. 

Goldfish group
Goldfish group

Such as cats, dogs, racoons, and heron (source). Therefore, goldfish aren’t naturally skittish, and will typically just swim away or not see a potential predator. 

Goldfish are also not naturally territorial, and hang out in large groups. Therefore, they will not use driftwood as a hiding place, unlike other types of fish and animals.

Will Tannins Hurt Goldfish

Tannins are known to be given off by driftwood, and is a concern for the overall water quality in a fishtank. It’s considered best practice to remove tannins from driftwood before putting it into an aquarium. But, this is whether tannins in general will hurt goldfish.

Overall, tannins will hurt goldfish. The common sources of tannins are driftwood, and decaying plant matter. But, in general, it’s not possible to put enough decaying organic plant matter into a driftwood where it would release enough tannins to have a negative effect on goldfish.

Tannins are present on the surface of driftwood. Tannins will increase the pH of water, but the main disadvantage is they discolor the water and turn it dark or yellow in color. In some ways it can look somewhat cool. 

But, in general it provides reduced visibility in the tank. The subtle increase in pH from driftwood isn’t any cause for concern provided the majority of the tannins are removed using a tried and true method.


The main concern would be if the water in the tank is already slightly acidic. The extra tannins from the driftwood be just enough to make it so acidic that it makes the goldfish uncomfortable. But, your fish tank is established, and has been what is called cycled, driftwood is more than fine to put into the water. 

Next, is how to prepare driftwood for a fish tank. Before, doing that it’s important to note that not all types of wood can be used in an aquarium. 

They are either toxic, or break down really fast. If you buy driftwood from a pet store it’s always fine. 

However, if you gathered some driftwood yourself, or are unsure what type of wood it is, then I recommend checking out the list of woods that should NOT be used in an aquarium in another article I wrote about whether it’s possible to have too much driftwood in an aquarium.

LEARN MORE with our Ultimate Guide to Learn How to Clean Driftwood

How To Prepare Driftwood for Goldfish

Before driftwood can be used in a goldfish aquarium it needs to be prepared. Doing so reduces the discoloration it causes to the water, and also makes it safe for goldfish. Here is what needs to be done to driftwood before putting it in a goldfish tank.

As a general, first remove any sharp parts using sandpaper, then boil it in water for about 5 hours. After that change the water, and then boil it again for another 5 hours. Doing so will take out most of the tannins into the water, and kill any parasites in the wood.

Below, is a video that shows how it’s done:

Recent Posts