I shared a little about Mopani wood last week in Part 2 of my aquascape set up adventures. I bought this piece of wood from Chewy.com. It was a great price, but too big for the aquascape I intended to use it for. I ended up cutting the wood into two pieces, but didn’t use it for the two aquascapes anyway. Instead, I took driftwood from my two ten gallon tanks and swapped it out for the mopani. I’m glad I did this and the mopani looks great in my tanks, but the process to get it there was a learning experience.
It took a week of soaking it with daily water changes twice a day. You have to soak Mopani to remove the tannins. After cutting the wood into two pieces, I soaked it in cool water overnight in a pickle bucket. The next day the water had turned the color of dark tea. I emptied it and filled it up again. This went on for a week, emptying the water twice a day. The water did turn lighter after a few days but it still had a brownish tint.
Anxious for it to hurry up and be done, I read lots of posts and sites and even watched a few YouTube videos to figure out how long this process was going to take. Most of them said it depended on the size of the wood. Some suggested boiling it for several hours. Others said it would still turn your tanks brown but that a carbon filter or frequent water changes would clear that up. And some didn’t even mind the light brown, natural tint to the water and said it didn’t hurt their fish.
I didn’t have a pot worth staining to boil the water. Instead, on Day 6 I boiled some water and poured it in the bucket. The water turned darker again, even darker than it had been the day before and almost immediately. The boiling water definitely seemed to be speeding things up. On Day 7, I repeated the boiling water process twice. The second time it appeared to be much lighter again. Maybe I had reached the end? On Saturday night, I switched back to cool water. I also treated the water to remove the chlorine this time. I had read online that some people do this just for the last soak. I was hoping this would be the last one.
On Sunday Morning, the water was almost clear with just a small amount of tint to it. I decided to give it a go, so I washed the wood off, put it in the tanks, and crossed my fingers. Thankfully, when I checked the tanks on Monday the water was crystal clear!
Also on Sunday, I went to one of my favorite local tropical pet stores to buy shrimp for one of the aquascapes only to discover they had lots of different pieces of Mopani wood! Their wood was a few dollars more, mostly large pieces too, but it was nice to know it was there and that I definitely could have shopped around. They also had spider wood which I enjoyed looking at and I’m already making plans for a piece of it, though you have to soak it too!