The piece of driftwood in your tank is everything you could ask for. It’s beautiful, uniquely shaped, and provides a cozy hideout for your fish. The only problem is that there are white spots on the wood. Are these hazardous spots? Or are they innocuous?
Regardless of what they are, these spots are unsightly, and you want to do something about it. If this describes your predicament, this article is for you! We’ll take a look at some of the common culprits behind these dots on driftwood, and how you can resolve the problem.
White Spots on Driftwood – 3 Possible Causes
The unsightly white spots or blotches on your driftwood can be caused by a number of things, but this article will focus on three primary suspects: Fungus, snail eggs, and bacterial infections.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms, potential causes, and solutions for each:
If the spots on your driftwood are small and irregularly shaped, there’s a good chance that they’re caused by a form of fungus known as cottonwood fungus. This type of fungus is actually quite common, and it’s nothing to be concerned about.
Being only about the size of a punctuation mark, this particular sort of fungus will not harm your aquarium in any way. Their growth is usually triggered by the driftwood having been submerged in water for more than 6 months without any exposure to light. In some cases, the fungus may also be caused by the piece of wood having been in contact with soil or substrate, which can provide it with nutrients.
Symptoms of cottonwood fungus include small white dots that grow over time. They usually appear on porous surfaces. Although its growth is confined to the surface of your wood, this type of fungus will often cause white specks to be present in your tank during the day. This is because fungal spores drift through the water and can attach themselves to fish and other objects.
Do nothing at all! The fungus will slowly sink into the wood, and after four or five years it will be completely consumed. If you would like to speed up this process, you can place the wood in direct sunlight. This will cause the fungus to die and fall off of the wood much faster.
Another option is to spend some time boiling your pieces of wood. This will kill off most forms of fungus as well as any unwanted bacteria and parasites. Boiling your driftwood can also enhance the overall look of the wood by darkening its color slightly.
Finally, you can always harness the powers of cleaner fish. Many species of wonderful fish such as Wrasses, ramshorn snails, and fire shrimp love fungus, and will happily eat it off of your wood. We especially love this method – not only do you get to observe the behaviors of these fun fish in your tank, but you will also be left with a naturally cleaned piece of decor. Yes, please!
This explanation is perhaps one of the most adorable on our list. In some cases, white dots on driftwood can be snail eggs! Snails are very protective of their eggs when they’re in the early stages, and they will often cover them with calcareous (calcium carbonate) shells. If the spots are perfectly round and uniform in shape, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with eggs.
Species such as the mystery snail and ramshorn snails will often deposit their eggs on plant leaves, rocks, and wood. So, if you spot a piece of wood with eggs, you may have just discovered a brand new habitat for one of your tank’s snails! If you are interested in raising these eggs into full-grown snails, give them time to develop. Snail eggs will hatch after anywhere from two weeks to six months depending on the species, so be patient.
However, bear in mind that some egg species don’t hatch in freshwater. For example, adult nerite snail eggs usually hatch in brackish water, and baby apple snail eggs must be under a certain amount of water pressure in order to hatch. It’s always a good idea to do your research before deciding if you want to keep snails as pets, since caring for them can be slightly more difficult than it seems.
If there are no fish in your tank that will eat the eggs, let them be! These snails are considered beneficial since they feast on algae and detritus, thereby cleaning up your tank water. If, however, you have carnivorous fish or snails, you will need to remove the eggs in order to avoid any potential harmful encounters. Fishkeepers who struggle with snail infestations may also want to get rid of these eggs before they hatch.
To do this, simply take your piece of driftwood out of the water and soak it in saltwater for an hour or two (this kills off most snails). We recommend using marine saltwater rather than aquarium water, since the latter can be harmful to fish when used in large quantities. After this process, give your wood piece a good scrub down with an old toothbrush or other small brush.
Once you’ve cleaned off any visible eggs, place your piece of wood back in the tank. It should be safe from snails for at least a few days, but this process can easily be repeated if necessary. Don’t forget to wash off your brush after every scrub!
White spots on wood can actually be signs of bacterial infections. It may seem strange that bacteria could (or would even want to) live on your driftwood, but it actually is very common.
The reason that these bacterial infections occur in the first place is that driftwood can be a perfect home for various types of bacteria and parasites. They often harbor decaying organic matter such as algae, fish waste, and clean-up crew corpses. These items provide an excellent source of food and shelter for bacteria – both the beneficial kind and the harmful variety.
Bacteria, parasites, and other forms of organic matter can cause these spots by themselves, or they can be the result of an infection. Remember that if your piece of wood has these white splotches, it is most likely decaying – so where does all this decaying matter go? Well, sometimes the bacteria that feed on it will excrete waste products in the form of gas bubbles. These tiny gas pockets can cause raised blotches or pustules that look like white dots.
If your fish have been battling infections or disease for a while, it’s likely that your driftwood (and your tank in general) is home to a lot of bacteria and parasites. Under these circumstances, you need to take action by improving your tank maintenance routine.
The best thing you can do to help prevent these infections is to remove decaying organic matter from your tank. You should siphon up the gravel at least once a month, and peek behind every piece of tank decor to make sure that no food sources are hiding out. Weekly water changes are also a must for a clean tank. We recommend a 30-50% water change every week or so, depending on what your water tests indicate.
Finally, a particularly serious bout of infection might require a full tank sterilization with a fish tank cleaner. Many diseases and bacteria live on the surface of objects like wood, decor, and substrate. If your fish are infected with a particularly nasty disease or parasite, you might want to remove these items from your aquarium in order to eliminate the problem once and for all.
Other Possible Causes
Algae, barnacles, resin, or factors that cause white fuzz on aquarium plants can also leave white spots that look like the ones mentioned here. Because our focus is on diseased driftwood, we won’t cover these issues in detail. However, you always err on the side of caution by doing your best to identify any possible causes. Though some white spots are harmless, you want to make sure that your tank is disease-free.
If you’re having trouble finding out how to solve the problem, we recommend seeking help from other hobbyists and others who have dealt with similar problems. There are plenty of people with fish aquariums in the online world, and all you need is a single person eager to help you.
Just make sure that you ask questions in a way that will help the person respond to your needs. Likewise, if you’re able to correctly diagnose and solve someone’s issue, you might end up making a new aqua-friend with that person!
We hope this article helped you identify some of the possible causes behind the white spots that have developed on your driftwood. These problems are more common than you might think, but thankfully, most instances are also relatively easy to treat.
If you have any lingering questions or thoughts on our article, please leave us a comment. And if you found this article helpful, please share it with a fellow hobbyist. Good luck with your fish tank maintenance, and happy fish keeping!