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What Kind Of Wood Should You Use For A Pleco?

Plecos are seeing a spike in their popularity within the fish keeping hobby right now and we can definitely see why as many types of pleco are excellent fish for your tanks clean up crew.

With so many people looking to add a new pleco to their tank, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask what kind of wood they should use for a pleco in their tank.

Due to there being a number of options each with their advantages and disadvantages, we wanted to publish our own article to try and help as many of our readers as possible who are looking to add some wood to their tank for their pet pleco.

Now, depending on the specific type of pleco that you keep, you may not really need any wood in your tank and this can work to your advantage as it can reduce the problems you may have with tannins being released into your aquarium water from the wood.

In addition to that, the type of pleco that you actually keep in your tank may do better with one type of wood over another.

Do Pleco Fish Need Wood?

This is a great question and unfortunately, there isn’t really a definitive answer as it depends on the species of pleco that you keep.

Some species of plecos such as the clown pleco or bristlenose pleco are going to need some wood in their tank while others, like the rubber lip pleco, don’t really need it.

If you’re not sure if your pleco needs wood, the best thing to do would be to ask your local fish store or breeder when you purchase your fish.

They will likely be able to give you a good indication as to whether or not you need to provide wood for your pleco and, if so, what type of wood would be best.

What Kind Of Wood Should You Use For A Pleco?

There are a few different types of wood that you can use for your pleco and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

We have our list below and then we will be taking a more detailed look at each option throughout the rest of the article:-

  • Driftwood!
  • Cholla Wood!
  • Dried Oak Branches!
  • MopanI Wood!
  • Sumatra Wood!

Some tank setups can have multiple types of wood added to the tank too but this is not essential for the vast majority of people.


Driftwood is one of, if not the most popular type of wood used in fish tanks and it’s easy to see why as it can provide plecos with a number of benefits.

One of the main reasons that Driftwood is so popular is that it is incredibly easy to find and there are many different types available on the market.

The wood itself is also very soft which plecos seem to enjoy and it can be added to most tanks without too much issue.

One of the downsides of Driftwood is that it can release tannins into your aquarium water which, while not harmful to your fish, can cause the water to become yellow or brown in color.

This isn’t really an issue for most people but it is something that you should be aware of before you purchase Driftwood for your tank.

Cholla Wood!

Cholla wood is another popular option for pleco tanks and it provides many of the same benefits as Driftwood.

It is also quite soft which plecos seem to enjoy and it is very easy to find on the market while also having a low price tag compared to some of the other wood options that you are able to use for your pet pleco.

The main downside of Cholla wood is that, like Driftwood, it can release tannins into your aquarium water.

Dried Oak Branches!

Dried oak branches are another great option for pleco tanks but they are not as easy to use in many setups.

You also have to make sure that you have removed all of the bark and soaked the branch prior to adding it to your tank as some types of oak can release chemicals into your tanks water that may create issues.

We know that oak can often be found for free and that it is often very easy to setup but many beginners make easy to avoid mistakes over and over again when trying to use dried oak to their tanks so we usually recommend against it unless you are confident in your ability to prep the wood correctly.

MopanI Wood!

Mopani wood is a great option for people that are looking for an alternative to Driftwood and Cholla wood.

It is very similar to both options in terms of hardness and it can provide many of the same benefits as both Driftwood and Cholla wood.

The main downside of Mopani wood is that it is not as widely available as Driftwood and Cholla wood and it can often be quite a bit more expensive.

Mopani wood is becoming more popular though and we expect more local fish stores to stock Mopani wood as standard in the coming years helping to make it easier to find for your pleco tank.

Sumatra Wood!

Sumatra wood is another great option for people that are looking for an alternative to Driftwood and Cholla wood.

Some Sumatra wood may need to be soaked prior to being used in your tank but other than that, you are often able to use it with minimal issues.

Depending on the specific type of pleco that you keep, your fish may really like having Sumatra wood in their tank but others who simply graze will usually prefer other types of wood for their tank.