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Old 09-16-2019, 01:48 AM
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Default dogwood in viv?

Has anyone tested dogwood in a viv? I cut down a few about a month ago, and I have another one to go. It may be nice to put one giant branch diagonally in a 55gal I will be doing.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

Greetings,

I don't think Cornus wood or branches would present a danger to the viv (like Walnut might, for instance). The wood is not likely to be especially durable in a warm/moist viv but it should be safe otherwise.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:17 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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The wood is not likely to be especially durable in a warm/moist viv
Agreed, based on experience working & playing outdoors in Appalachia and the PacNW. Cornus-wood goes squishy PDQ. It will grow some moss though. For a year or two...then mushrooms.

Crazy thought here, bear with me. Have you ever heard of tung oil? Not "tung oil finish" which has various hydrocarbons added to it, just pure 100% tung oil. It's pressed from a seed, like canola or coconut. Anyway, tung oil polymerizes - turns into basically a plastic - over time. I've used it a few times in wood projects (home, not viv). Love it! I think the ancient Chinese used it to waterproof their wooden boats? My biggest project, I re-finished a ~1000 sq ft hardwood floor with it about 5 years ago. It doesn't add any hardness but the water repellence is top-shelf.

Anyway, point is, you might tung oil some of that Cornus-wood, and see how it works & looks. I do know you can use this oil on e.g. cutting boards and counter tops - it's perfectly food safe so...my guess is, it ought to be frog safe, once it's cured.

Like I said - crazy thought. If I'm out to lunch somebody speak up. I can take it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

I like the idea of sealing the branch -- it would have to be dry (not green) first, I assume, lest the rotting happen from the inside out.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:59 AM
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Why do you want to? Is it an interesting shape etc?
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Agreed, based on experience working & playing outdoors in Appalachia and the PacNW. Cornus-wood goes squishy PDQ. It will grow some moss though. For a year or two...then mushrooms.

Crazy thought here, bear with me. Have you ever heard of tung oil? Not "tung oil finish" which has various hydrocarbons added to it, just pure 100% tung oil. It's pressed from a seed, like canola or coconut. Anyway, tung oil polymerizes - turns into basically a plastic - over time. I've used it a few times in wood projects (home, not viv). Love it! I think the ancient Chinese used it to waterproof their wooden boats? My biggest project, I re-finished a ~1000 sq ft hardwood floor with it about 5 years ago. It doesn't add any hardness but the water repellence is top-shelf.

Anyway, point is, you might tung oil some of that Cornus-wood, and see how it works & looks. I do know you can use this oil on e.g. cutting boards and counter tops - it's perfectly food safe so...my guess is, it ought to be frog safe, once it's cured.

Like I said - crazy thought. If I'm out to lunch somebody speak up. I can take it.
Very interesting. I assume it wouldn't grow moss after being sealed in that manner, is that correct?
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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Originally Posted by DPfarr View Post
Why do you want to? Is it an interesting shape etc?
The impetus is the cost of getting large pieces of wood. Purchasing them is rather expensive, so if there is a species of tree in my area that I can use, it would be an inexpensive way to obtain the large pieces.

In this case, the dogwoods needed to come down due to age and potential damage to my house, so it was a good opportunity to discuss the pros/cons of using them.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:12 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

Greetings,

I would advise strongly against using a sealant on your wood. Beyond the fact that sealed wood cannot participate in the fascinating biological cycle of breakdown by fungi, moss and detrivores (which also serve as secondary frog food), sealed wood will eventually fail. This failure will come quickly if you miss even the tiniest spot of unsealed wood and this is especially likely on a rough branch, stump or piece of driftwood. Any break in the seal will absorb water and lead to runaway failure of the sealant.

Enjoy the natural life cycle of trees - which includes their steady breakdown after death. It is the rare viv, anyway, that lives untouched for more than 3-4 years. By the time your dogwood branch is ready to fall apart, you'll likely be ready for a viv remodel.

Last edited by kimcmich; 09-17-2019 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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Originally Posted by kimcmich View Post
It is the rare viv, anyway, that lives untouched for more than 3-4 years. By the time your dogwood branch is ready to fall apart, you'll likely be ready for a viv remodel.
This timeline is what I've suspected as well.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:08 PM
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Construct one with the decomposition design as central. If you rested a piece against walls and let it collapse changing the orientation of epiphytes and terrestrials.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:32 PM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

Quote:
Very interesting. I assume it wouldn't grow moss after being sealed in that manner, is that correct?
I honestly could not tell you from experience (as yet, all my applications have been indoors; but I do anticipate one day using it to seal an outdoors fence or gate). But I assume differently than you - I assume a tung-sealed, cured branch would host all manner of epiphytic growth.

Have you ever been to the humid neotropics? You will see epiphytes on everything that is not aggressively biocidal. Passive hostility is not enough to repel the epiphytes. They behave more like a marine fouling organism.

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I would advise strongly against using a sealant on your wood. Beyond the fact that sealed wood cannot participate in the fascinating biological cycle of breakdown by fungi, moss and detrivores (which also serve as secondary frog food), sealed wood will eventually fail. This failure will come quickly if you miss even the tiniest spot of unsealed wood and this is especially likely on a rough branch, stump or piece of driftwood. Any break in the seal will absorb water and lead to runaway failure of the sealant.
Philosophical quibbles aside - with which I cannot totally disagree - the remainder of the argument is based on a misunderstanding. Tung is a penetrating oil, not a superficial one. You don't really coat wood with it, you fill wood with it. I mean, sure you apply "coats" but you are seeking to drive the oil into the wood, where it slowly polymerizes. Look into it - I challenge you to remain completely uninterested in the subject. It's neat stuff. Not to say, again, that I disagree with the philosophical quibbles. Sometimes though, you get a piece you'd like to have an extended relationship with, something less ephemeral.

Anyway - for those who were previously uninitiated, I'm glad to make the introduction. Tung oil is neat goop.

cheers
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Old 09-18-2019, 02:21 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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Originally Posted by DPfarr View Post
Construct one with the decomposition design as central. If you rested a piece against walls and let it collapse changing the orientation of epiphytes and terrestrials.
Very true; however, in this case I think I'll probably end up making a selection that is thick enough to survive the average life of a tank. Possibly 2-3in thick or more if the density of the wood is sufficiently low when dried (though in general dogwood is really dense, 0.79 dried I believe).

If I can't select a piece that I believe will reasonably survive the time required, I won't do it. I've had some cork pieces fall in tanks in the past due to degradation (height of the drop was just a few in), but it reminds you that a frog hiding under a piece of wood can easily get crushed if it collapses.
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Old 09-18-2019, 02:25 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

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Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
I honestly could not tell you from experience (as yet, all my applications have been indoors; but I do anticipate one day using it to seal an outdoors fence or gate). But I assume differently than you - I assume a tung-sealed, cured branch would host all manner of epiphytic growth.
I'll remember to try it on a test piece in the future.

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You don't really coat wood with it, you fill wood with it.
Do you use a solvent to reduce viscosity to increase penetration?
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:40 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

jgragg,

I'm familiar with tung oil (I even had a tree of it in my yard growing up). Even a penetrating sealant is going to have a hard time fully getting into the nooks and crannies of a bark-covered dogwood bough and then on into the core wood itself.

A careful, soaking application might manage to create a perfect envelope all around the log - but I don't know how long it would take such a heavy application to cure (weeks at least). If it wasn't a perfect seal, then moisture would work its away into the inner, dry wood eventually.

I understand the desire to preserve a really pretty piece of wood. Tung oil seems as close to a harmless treatment as one could try - I just don't think achieving a true seal is going to be easy in real life. I would be interested to see how a tung oil surface handles epiphytes and fungi in the long term.
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Old 09-25-2019, 02:05 AM
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Default Re: dogwood in viv?

Quote:
I understand the desire to preserve a really pretty piece of wood. Tung oil seems as close to a harmless treatment as one could try - I just don't think achieving a true seal is going to be easy in real life. I would be interested to see how a tung oil surface handles epiphytes and fungi in the long term.
Me too - not sure how easy, not sure how effective in realistic application situations. Probably - no, surely - would be best to debark the piece first, before application. Right now for viv wood I'm mostly using field-collected juniper, which is probably more "toxic" than tung oil, and might provide longer-lasting viv props. Time will tell, so far so very good. I do take care to debark it, which is easy if the tree died years ago. The bark just peels off in long shaggy strips. And I have a truly unlimited supply, so I can "shop" for choice pieces in terms of size, shape, soundness etc, when I go play outside. Man, I love long-dead, silvery twisty juniper in vivs. Just raw wood. I keep loppers and a toothy pruning saw in my truck at all times - it helps with collection, but they're really there to help get the truck into the boonies. Old roads, brushed up, some deadfall. My kind of heaven, ha ha.

Quote:
Do you use a solvent to reduce viscosity to increase penetration?
Yeah, absolutely, for furniture, floors, fences etc. I used a citrus-based solvent, because - given that I was working for days, with gallons - I didn't want to deal with petroleum mineral spirits. Plus I read I could get great results with the citrus stuff. And finally, I got a good price on the citrus solvent. It seemed to work great. But anyway - I'm not sure I'd use even that for a frog viv. Though they say the solvent evaporates (I sure don't smell the limonene any more in that floor!)

Here's an example of a pre-mixed product (I just got 100% tung oil from WoodCraft, and the solvent at Home Depot or some place like that, and mixed my own sauce in a gradually-thicker ratio over about 7 applications):
https://www.realmilkpaint.com/shop/oils/half-and-half/

Quote:
I've had some cork pieces fall in tanks in the past due to degradation
Wow. That, I have not seen. Congrats, you're the daily winner! Ha ha. I like a day where I hear or see something new (and isn't bullshit, I mean). It happens less and less with age...though one hears more and more bullshit of late. Ha ha. Sheesh. OK, enough of that - sorry!

Regards
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