Why is Aquarium Driftwood Expensive? (Explained)

Do you often dream of adding character to your aquarium? And do you wish to keep a natural-looking tank that gives your fish hiding places aplenty? But then, has the price of driftwood pieces given you a mini heart attack? Oh well!

And to be honest, they are pretty expensive. Several reasons contribute to the high price tag of driftwoods. The first and foremost reason would be its processing. A manufacturer has to cut the wood into a proper shape and then scrub out all the bacteria and algae from it. 

Also, the shipping charges of driftwoods boost its price to the best level.

For the aqua enthusiasts, these are things that they are willing to pay upon. So, the demand has actually increased the cost as well.  But, have you ever wondered what makes you break the bank just to buy them? We are here to tell you why and also why you need them.

Niche products are overpriced

Excellent products or products designed only for aquariums can be exorbitant in their price. You must be wondering why. The pricing factor is related to demand and supply to a large extent. 

Driftwood overpriced

There are a handful of sellers that may sell aquarium supplies like driftwood. But, there may be millions waiting to buy them. Aquarium keeping is a hobby. Thus, this hobby is viewed as an activity where people are willing to shell out cash. That is because people with aquariums have a lot of money to spare.

Retailers know that some people with large aquariums will always spend that money. So, do you see how the good old capitalism still works in this regard? Sellers take advantage of aquarium enthusiasts because they know they will earn huge profits from niche products. 

Buyer’s readiness to pay 

This point discusses the demand side rather than the supply side of things. It seems simple for people to pay high costs associated with some driftwood types. As long as you keep buying driftwood at outrageous fees, sellers will keep charging high prices. 

The more you are willing to pay the high costs, the more the sellers will continue to hike the prices. For instance, if you buy a driftwood piece for 60 dollars without any bargaining, sellers will never find reasons to reduce the price. Sellers will lower prices only when you are no longer willing to pay those astronomical costs for a simple wood piece.

Demand and supply 

Supply and demand is a principal reason that adds to the cost of driftwood. Many people want to buy driftwood, but there are a handful of sellers selling it. According to the demand and supply law, when a product’s demand is more but supply is limited, its cost will be higher. The rarer the driftwood piece is, the higher the seller will charge for it. 

The limited competition also has a crucial role to play. Although there are a few sellers selling aquarium driftwood, the supply can barely keep up with the demand. 

Shipping costs 

Handling and shipping costs make aquarium driftwood unaffordable. The bigger driftwoods for larger aquariums are heavy. Hence, shipping them overseas or within states can get expensive for the weight.

Driftwood Shipping Cost

A single and decent driftwood piece may not cost a lot. Let us assume it costs somewhere around 40-50 dollars. But, due to weight and size, the handling and shipping costs are another 50 dollars. 

Of course, you as a buyer have to cover the cost, which the seller will not do. Even smaller driftwood pieces can have significant weight, but they can end up costing a massive deal with the costlier shipping costs involved. 

The composition process

The preparation process makes aquarium driftwood expensive. Although it may appear like any regular wood, the driftwood does undergo a lengthy process. This step makes it ready for the aquariums. First, sellers choose the right driftwood pieces for aquariums. After selection, they may size or cut it down into different shapes. The chips are then scrubbed and cleaned to remove bacteria, algae, and dirt.

Once that is done, driftwood has to be cured. Curing is a mix of boiling and soaking the wood. This process removes tannins that affect the water chemistry of an aquarium, a process that sometimes lasts weeks or even months.

As you see, there are many steps and labor involved to prepare driftwood; hence, the high cost is a result of all these measures. 

How much is driftwood worth then? 

Honestly, it is your call at the end of the day to tag driftwood as worthy or unworthy of your money. Aquarium driftwood does have several benefits. Thus, we feel it is totally worth the money if you have no problem paying a high price for lovely driftwood pieces.

But, if you have a small tank that can do without driftwood, then its worth changes. Let us tell you that it is not a requirement. But, it has its own share of benefits.

If you can spring for smaller pieces, then nothing like it. Yes, it is pricey, but it also looks nice, and your fish will love it. We say look around and if you find some great deals, bag them. 

Exotic driftwood pieces can be extravagant

Certain driftwood pieces can be super expensive because of their rarity. There are some very unique and rare driftwood types out there that we are about to discuss with you. But, you must know that the rarer your driftwood is, the higher the cost will be.

Also, the law of demand and supply is also related to the rarity factor. The more exotic and rare the driftwood is, the lesser its supply will be, hence higher the cost.

Here are some unique driftwood pieces you need to know about:


Manzanita Driftwood

The Manzanita is a popular and branchy wood style. It is the most popular in the world of aquascaping. The wood is pricier to purchase, and most buyers consider it a long-term investment. But, when you buy one, ensure that it has had sufficient time to dry. This driftwood is resistant to decomposition and has a neutral pH. 

Do not use freshly fallen raw wood as that can pollute your aquarium. Our personal favorite is a very fine, intricate, twisting, and extensive Manzanita.

Rosewood root 

Thick and unusual branching wood, the rosewood roots create the most dazzling effects. Most people participating in aquascaping competitions use this driftwood. Aquarists place it for emulating large root systems and forest trees. 


Have you ever seen designer driftwood? If not, the bonsai driftwood is something you cannot miss. The wood pieces resemble bonsai trees. They are eye-catching and look like a fantastic standalone piece in your aquarium.

Live plants grow on them, especially mosses. They are not ideal for tanks that store betta fish or fancy goldfish owing to their sharpness. Nonetheless, each piece looks unique and is pricey. 


Driftwood with beautiful branches has to be Mesquite. You can source large pieces of driftwood. Cured and whole parts can be costly but beautiful and intricate at the same time. Most aquarists are big fans of Mesquites as a single piece beautifully decorates their large aquariums. You may find more prominent pieces of the wood broken and sold into smaller batches. 


Azalea is similar to rhododendron. It has several branches. This driftwood makes for a stunning masterpiece. It has an intricate pattern; hence most people buy it to decorate their small aquariums.  Azalea driftwood with thick branches lasts longer than the ones with more refined components. 

Roots of Western Hemlock 

You can find the roots of Western Hemlock in giant pieces. It is considered a jaw-dropping choice for big aquariums. The big sizes are rarely seen and if you do find them, be prepared to spend truckloads of cash for an intricate piece. It is not suitable for small aquariums, but you can recognize its patterns and personality from a distance. 

Cholla Wood 

Cholla Wood Driftwood

One of the most beautifully patterned woods has to be Cholla wood. It is expensive and difficult to obtain. But, if you can find it at a lower price, grab it. You can identify this wood by its hole-like structure. It is the dried remnants of a Cholla cactus.

Unlike other sold varieties, the Chola wood does not last long and wastes away the fastest. It is ideal for a freshwater shrimp tank as the Cholla surface is suitable to harvest biofilm. 

Linden trees

Some of the most seemingly rare and unusual driftwood has to be the Linden tree. After curing, this driftwood looks splendid. Always keep an eye out for intricate pieces of this unique driftwood. 

Why do you need aquarium driftwood?

Driftwood is much more than decoration for your aquarium . Here are some of the ancillary purposes it serves, that you must understand before you buy one. 


Hiding place

Many fish need hiding locations inside an aquarium. Aquariums with big driftwoods make the fishes feel safe. As a result they do not hide in the recesses. Twisted and gnarled driftwood provide lots of natural hiding spots.

Chemistry of water

Driftwood alters the water chemistry. Depending on the fish species you have in your tank, it can be a good thing especially if you are storing Amazon river fishes. That is because fishes from the Amazon river prefer low pH soft water and driftwood help maintain the lower pH. 

Health of the fishes

Driftwood does look great. But, did you know it maintains and stimulates the ecosystem within a fish tank? Much like the filter media and substrate, driftwood also helps with beneficial bacterial growth. Driftwood boosts the fishes’ immune system. Also, the tannins released by them creates an acidic environment that demolishes the disease-causing bacteria. All in all, your fishes will use driftwood for breeding, hiding and even as food.

Steps to use Driftwood

Driftwood Using Process

Prepare where to place

Before you position the driftwood, draw a rough sketch. Imagine how the aquarium would look if the driftwood was vertically positioned instead of horizontally. A rough sketch will help you visualize the aquascaping without disrupting the fishes. 

Clean the driftwood 

After determining where to position the driftwood, scrub the driftwood using a clean brush. Scrubbing will help in getting rid of the debris or dirt. We recommend not to use any chemical cleansers or soap as residues of any kind can poison the aquarium. 

Cure it 

Submerge the driftwood in a large water bucket for as long as 1-2 weeks. allow complete saturation to leach out excess tannins. This curing helps in achieving soft water conditions for your aquarium. And, if you have many tropical fishes in your tank, curing may be the best solution. 

Boiling Driftwood 

Boil the driftwood for aquarium use. This method sterilizes the driftwood, encourages to leach out the tannins much faster and shortens the curing stage. We recommend boiling the driftwood for 1-2 hours. 

We hope you liked our blog, and if there is anything, you would like us to add, please comment below. 

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