In today’s day and age, there is a large variety of items available for indoor and outdoor decoration and aquascaping. As the massive plastic and resin manufacturing industry can practically make anything in large quantities, they also produce fake driftwood out of polymers and plastic. These come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, are made of different polymer compounds, and are easily available from online stores that can ship them over at a moment’s notice.
How to spot fake driftwood?
With high precision machines and manufacturing equipment, one might say that telling real from fake driftwood apart can be a rather challenging task. While this is true to some extent, the keen use of your senses and a good look at the piece will allow you to easily tell the real from fake stuff apart with a little practice.
The first, most obvious way, is by sight. Once you have seen a few different pieces of real and fake driftwood, you will start to tell them apart easily. The real stuff will have a unique, irregular, natural-looking coloring, while fake driftwood will (depending on the quality) usually look plainer, and give off a fake-looking vibe. This doesn’t mean that some high-end fake driftwood won’t be well painted, as they can look deceivingly natural.
Next, is the feeling of driftwood in your hands. Real driftwood will have a specific texture; with natural irregularities, you will feel under your fingers. Fake driftwood will feel a lot smoother. Finally is the smell. Real driftwood will have a specific smell, mainly like earth, and salty in case the driftwood stems from saltwater. Fake driftwood will have a plastic smell that will be easy to notice.
Is fake driftwood better than real driftwood?
As with any choice, there are certain benefits of using fake driftwood over the real stuff. But keep in mind that there are certain drawbacks, which need to be considered when making the choice of what to use.
The first and most obvious benefit is the ease of use. Fake driftwood does not need any preparation compared to the process of real driftwood. While real driftwood needs to be cleaned, waterlogged, boiled, and have the tannins drawn out, fake driftwood doesn’t need more than a rinse with water before it can be used.
Next, fake driftwood is made out of high-density material, meaning it will instantly sink to the surface, without the need to soak it with water and tie it down in some cases. The lack of tannic acid in fake driftwood will also prevent cloudy, tea-stained water that can occur with real driftwood, and there is also no pH change as well. Finally is variety; with a short internet search, you can find a wide variety of different shapes, sizes, and looks of fake driftwood if you decide to use it.
Keep in mind that all of these benefits come with certain drawbacks, for instance – certain species of fish require a lower pH level, and some feed on driftwood, which are things fake driftwood can not provide. Also, cheaper pieces of fake driftwood might have a low-quality coating of paint, which may start chipping off sooner or later, presenting a hazard to both your fish and filter system.
The main advantage of fake driftwood is convenience, so it will make the better choice if that is what you’re looking for.
What are the advantages of using real driftwood?
While the aforementioned benefits of fake driftwood might seem enticing, the advantages of real driftwood should also be noted. First and foremost, it’s a real, natural piece of wood, which will look authentic and better, whichever way you decide to use it. The next obvious benefit is the price.
Fake driftwood can be quite costly, especially if you consider what you get for the money. Real driftwood, on the other hand, is practically free and only requires some preparation and time to use. Unless you’re after specific exotic kinds of driftwood like spider wood or Mopani, taking a stroll in nature will usually net you a nice piece of driftwood to use. The process of preparing and cleaning driftwood can also be a quiet relaxing experience.
Finally, the biochemical benefits of using driftwood. Real driftwood aids in the pH balance of water by releasing tannins, which some fish prefer, especially river fish or those from warm regions. The tannins also slightly stain the water, giving the tank an enhanced natural look. Other species of fish may get additional nutrients from driftwood that they can not get from regular fish food. Driftwood also makes for a great substrate for plants like fern and algae.
In summary, there are certain benefits and drawbacks to using either real or fake driftwood. If you plan to use either of them, consider weighing your choice, and seeing what works best for you. Using fake driftwood might be favorable if you value convenience and saving time. But real driftwood is generally considered superior in terms of looks, variety, and biochemical properties it brings to your aquarium. Not to mention the fact you can practically get for free, from any body of water in your vicinity.