What Are the Differences Between Aquarium Bog Wood & Driftwood?

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What Are the Differences Between Aquarium Bog Wood & Driftwood?
Bog wood and driftwood are decorative, and they leach beneficial tannins. (Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Aquarists use both bog wood and driftwood in their aquariums. These natural pieces of wood are aesthetically pleasing, and both leach tannins to varying degrees. These tannins, which stain the water a dark tea colour, not only give the aquarium a natural look if Amazon fish are being kept, but they make for healthy conditions in the aquarium. Aquarium fish shelter under these natural wood structures, graze algae that grow on them and lay eggs on their surface.

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Bog wood originates in bogs, where it has become preserved over time because of the oxygen-depleted, or anaerobic, conditions in these swamp areas. Bog wood is typically stained a dark brown or even black colour by organic matter in the bog. Driftwood has also been submerged in water, but this wood originates from streams and rivers, in which the water is normally well oxygenated. Driftwood is normally much lighter in colour than bog wood and tends not to leach colour to any great extent. Bog wood originates only in bogs and swamps; driftwood may be collected along rivers and on the beach.


Driftwood is normally available from most aquatic dealers, pet shops and garden centres. This wood is also normally realistically priced. Bog wood is not as readily available as driftwood and tends to command a much higher price. Specialist aquatic stores may carry a small selection of bog wood or may be prepared to order pieces for the hobbyist.

Ability to Leach Tannins

Bog wood will leach more tannins than driftwood. Trees use tannins as defensive compounds against bacteria and fungi. Tannins that are leached into aquarium water will also discourage the growth of fungus and pathogenic bacteria strains. The water in aquariums that contain a number of bog wood pieces will be darker than water exposed to driftwood.

Shapes and Types

Bog wood typically has been lying in and under peat bogs for hundreds of years, and individual pieces possess interesting knots and twists from changes to the wood that have occurred in these anaerobic swamps. Driftwood has also been exposed to erosion by water and in some cases, sandblasting by wind on isolated beaches. Driftwood therefore has more of a ribbed appearance than bog wood. Driftwood also frequently possesses numerous hollows. Driftwood can be gathered in different areas. Aquarists recognise driftwood from North America, Africa and Malaysia.

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