Chatter about...Cholla!

Ever use Cholla wood in an aquarium? 

We've had a lot of interest in this wood, particularly from catfish and shrimp enthusiasts. It's understandable- this is a really useful, lightweight, and attractive wood to use for a variety of purposes. As we've mentioned before, it's super easy to use. 

It’s soft enough that fishes like Plecos can rasp at it for supplemental nutrition, and shrimp will graze on the "biofilm" that tend to accumulate on this wood. It does leach a small amount of tannins into the water, and can give it “The Tint” that we love so much here! It’s super easy to attach aquatic ferns and mosses to, as it has lots of cool holes that make securing these plants a snap! 

These branches are derived from the dried root of the Cholla cactus in the genus Cylindropuntia, and are native to the Southwestern U.S.


What makes our wood different from the other Cholla you can find out there? Well, first off- we know our source quite well, and they are a family business, and are fully aware of the environmental impact on the areas in which they collect. They are harvested in the Southwestern U.S. on public lands in a sustainable, legal manner by experienced, collectors who hold the permits to do this.

The collectors only take "downed", dead skeletons and pay special attention not to harm or disturb any live plant or animal in the area. This ethos is an important, often overlooked aspect of the acquisition of this unique product. We vetted quite a few suppliers before we became acquainted and comfortable with the quality outfit that we work with.

Cholla is pretty easy to use, and you’ll notice that we offer a pretty consistent “nano sized” version. We offer them as little "branches" and as "chunks" in assorted sizes. Our branches are carefully hand selected for shape and size, brushed cleaned in fresh water, packaged for sale!  And, unlike the boring little “logs” you might find elsewhere, many of ours have cool little shapes that offer interesting shaping possibilities. Each one is unique in both size and shape, which makes them even more fun to work with!


Preparation for use is important, and it’s also quite straightforward, actually. It does tend to float a bit when you first immerse it, which is kind of annoying! You have a couple of options to prepare it for aquarium use. First, you could simply soak it in room temperature freshwater for as long as it takes to sink (that could take a week or more, FYI). 

It tends to cloud the water when you soak it, so you need to rinse it periodically at first. The nice thing about the "RTS"  procedure is that you can rinse it and change the water repeatedly and water your garden with it. Alternatively, you could boil in a large pot for about 45 minute or so, followed by an overnight soak in room temperature freshwater. This is nice because you can get the wood to saturate, while simultaneously forcing some of the organic materials within the wood to release. 

Either way, the extra care you put into preparation of this unique wood is well worth it, for it's utility and aesthetic advantages.

Not bad for a dead piece of cactus, huh?

Stay excited. Stay creative. Stay innovative...

And Stay Wet,


Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics

Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


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