There are a large number of people out there who are looking to add Mopani wood to their aquarium right now due to how versatile it is as well as how cheap and widely available Mopani wood is right now.
In addition to this, aquascaping is becoming increasingly popular within the fish keeping hobby right now and more and more people are starting to add Mopani wood to their tanks as a part of their wider aquascape too.
This has resulted in a spike in the number of people reaching out with various questions about how they should prepare Mopani wood for use in their aquarium.
With this being such a commonly asked questions as well an often overlooked question due to the possible side effects of using Mopani wood in your tank, we decided to publish this article to help as many of our readers as possible.
Can I Use Mopani Wood For An Aquarium?
You can use Mopani wood in your aquarium and when done correctly, it really can be a great addition to the majority of tank setups out there.
The issue is that you really need to know why you are adding your Mopani wood to your tank as different use cases need you to prep the wood in different ways.
For example, take the two articles we mentioned earlier about using Mopani wood for plecos and using Mopani wood for bettas.
Both of these are different use cases for the wood with the pleco usually needing a smooth grazing surface from the Mopani wood and the betta just needing the Mopani wood to slowly release tannins into its tank water.
This requires you to prep the Mopani wood in slightly different ways for your aquarium depending on your goals for the wood.
How you source your Mopani wood for your tank will also come into play too, the majority of the Mopani wood you purchase from a pet store will be good to go and you can add it to your tank when you get it.
If you purchase your Mopani wood from a garden center or find it in your local area (surprisingly common in warmer states in the USA due to there being a number of Mopani wood farms) then you will have to prep the Mopani wood prior to adding it to your tank.
Do You Need To Boil Mopani Wood Before Putting It In Your Aquarium?
Boiling your Mopani wood can help to draw out a large number of the tannins in the wood as well as deal with any parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungus on the wood that may cause problems in your aquarium.
As an absolute minimum, we would always recommend that you boil your Mopani wood prior to apply it to your tank.
The basic method of boiling Mopani wood involved soaking it in boiling water and letting it sit for at least one hour. You don’t have to put the Mopani wood in a container that you are using to boil your water and many people make this mistake.
The shape and size of your Mopani wood can make it very difficult to boil in a container that you can use to boil water so our recommendation would be to put your Mopani wood into a different container and then add the boiling water to that container if possible.
If you are wanting to remove as many of the tannins as possible from your Mopani wood then we would actually recommend you go through the boiling process at least three times using the same method above.
How To Prepare Mopani Wood For Your Aquarium!
The basics of preparing Mopani wood for your aquarium usually involves cutting it to size to meet your needs, dusting the Mopani wood down to remove debris, removing the bark if needed, boiling the Mopani wood to remove tannins, and then doing a water parameter test in clean water prior to adding it to your tank.
Although all of these steps are not required all of the time, we would recommend that you try to stick to this method if you are a beginner to using Mopani wood in your tank.
Cut Your Mopani Wood
If you are wanting to use your Mopani wood in an aquascape or smaller aquarium tank then you will often need to cut the Mopani wood down to size.
This is generally quick and easy but spending a couple of minutes double checking the size you need your Mopani wood prior to cutting it can be well worth it, especially for a detailed aquascape.
If you just want your Mopani wood to release tannins or to provide some cover for your fish to hide then you may not need to cut your Mopani wood down in size.
Dust Your Mopani Wood Down
Mopani wood can be covered in debris depending on where you get the wood so spending a minute or two just removing any debris from the wood with a cloth can be well worth it.
This really does only take a couple of minutes but can make the rest of the Mopani wood preparation process much easier so we would always recommend it.
Remove The Bark
Depending on what you are using your Mopani wood for, you may not have to remove your bark from the wood.
Some plecos tend to be able to graze from Mopani wood easier if you strip the bark but most setups won’t need you to strip the bark.
It is usually easier to strip the bark from your Mopani wood by hand after it has been boiled a couple of times but many people will have access to wood chippers and other tools you can use to strip your bark from your Mopani wood easily.
Again, this is not essential for all uses of Mopani wood in an aquarium though and many people leave the bark on without issue.
The bark of Mopani wood can contain a huge amount of tannins though so stripping the bark can help reduce the amount of tannins that will be leached into your water.
Remove The Tannins
There are a number of ways to remove the tannins from your Mopani wood but using the boiling method covered earlier in our article is our preferred method.
Not only does it make it easier to strip the bark if needed while also removing tannins but it also helps to remove parasites, fungus, and bacteria that can cause issues in your tank.
As we mentioned in the section above going over boiling your Mopani wood for your tank, you will usually need to boil your Mopani wood multiple times unless you sources your Mopani wood from a pet store and it is pre-boiled.
Water Parameter Test
The final step in preparing your Mopani wood for your aquarium is to leave the wood in cool, freshwater for at least a day to let it make any changes to the water that it may cause in your aquarium.
You then use your aquarium water test kit on the water that you have let your Mopani wood sit in to see if there have been any drastic changes to your water parameters.
If there are any changes, you need to investigate potential causes, if there are no changes to your water parameters, your Mopani wood is usually good to go and can be submerged in your aquarium.