Bonsai tree in aquarium

Our Bonsai driftwood trees are back in stock! With this exciting restock, we wanted to briefly cover and provide an overview for frequently asked questions about these underwater bonsai trees.

Our Bonsai driftwood trees are made by hand from natural driftwood that is aquarium safe. Artisans create these underwater trees in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit almost all aquarium tanks. They’re versatile, easy to work with and are the perfect piece of hardscape material to create an instant aquascape layout. These underwater bonsai driftwood trees pair well with aquatic plant species such as Anubias, Bucephalandra, Ferns and aquatic moss species. Quite often, these aquatic plants are used to mimic the foliage found on natural bonsai trees. On the flip side, these bonsai driftwood trees can be used to display an array of plants, aquatic or terrestrial such as tillandsia aka air plants.

If you decide to use your bonsai driftwood tree in an aquarium tank setting, here are some tips and tricks for care and general information:

  1. Almost all driftwood is buoyant! Before using a bonsai driftwood tree, we recommend soaking the wood as long as possible prior to adding it into an aquarium. To do this, all you need is a large bucket, sink or even a bathtub will work. Simply add the bonsai driftwood tree into the water and make sure it is completely submerged. Then, set it and forget it! Alternatively, you can also choose to boil the wood. This encourages tannins to release quicker and it will also sterilize the wood. Tannin water is not dangerous and will not harm tank inhabitants, but it will lower the pH over time. You will notice the tannins in the water by its notorious dark tea coloration. We suggest changing the water out every so often and allowing it to soak thoroughly. However, some hobbyists enjoy tannins present in their water. This usually is contingent upon personal preference and species of fish that are kept. Once your bonsai driftwood tree sinks by itself, you’ll know that it has been thoroughly soaked and is ready for use in an aquarium.

Once your bonsai driftwood tree is ready for use, it’s time to add some aquatic plants!

There aren’t any restrictions to the species of aquatic plants that you can choose to compliment your bonsai tree or to create your bonsai tree’s foliage. For our own bonsai driftwood tree, we’re using our Epaqmats. These are easy to use and attach using some superglue. As pictured, we cut them up into smaller sizes and proceeded to glue them to the upper half of the tree.

We’ve added some random bits of Bucephalandra to the base and boom, we’re done! As a reminder, the options are vast and you can use whatever you prefer! Here are some other commonly used aquatic plants:


Aquatic moss species are great for creating your underwater bonsai tree’s leaves. Different species exhibit different growth patterns and can be trained and trimmed to provide the look desired. Aquatic moss is extremely hardy and great for beginners who are new to planted tanks or keeping aquatic plants in general. Here are some popular choices below:

  • Christmas Moss
  • Mini Christmas Moss
  • Willow Moss
  • Flame Moss
  • Java Moss
  • Peacock Moss
  • Fissidens Fontanus
  • Fissidens Nobilis


Following suit, Anubias is widely known for its easy care and beautiful foliage. This aquatic plant makes a wonderful addition to add to the base of your bonsai tree. It helps to add a sense of maturity and will easily cover unnatural holes and crevices in your bonsai driftwood tree aquascape. This aquatic plant is also an epiphyte and does not need to be planted in aquarium substrate. You can easily attach it to the upper parts of the bonsai tree to mimic the leaves as well. Browse our Anubias selection!


Similar to Anubias, Bucephalandra species have similar care requirements. This aquatic plant species are generally hardy and will adapt to a wide range of aquarium conditions. Like Anubias, you can use Bucephalandra to compliment your underwater bonsai tree whether it be as a form of foliage on the tree or as accents on the base and trunk. Bucephalandra comes in an array of choices and colors to suit your preference. Check out the following below for some great Buce species and packs!

  • Buce Starter Pack
  • Bucephalandra Red Mini
  • Bucephalandra

Underwater bonsai driftwood trees are a fun and unique way to create an aquascape layout. We hope this short guide has helped to inspire you to create your own! As always, if you would like further help or recommendations, Team Buce is always happy to lend a hand. Shoot us a message, email or send a pigeon. We’d love to hear from you! Have fun. 😛

Making A Bonsai Tree

After seeing a few of the amazing pictures of aquarium bonsai trees online id really like to make a go of it.
this is the best out there ive seen.
rather than buying some expensive bog wood (not that i have even seen any suitable piece’s where i live) i’d like to get a plant of the right shape and size, and i have found one, looks like a little evergreen plant with leaves on it like a bay leaf.(ive no idea what plant it is or how quickly it would disintegrate or poison my fish, now i expect some advice on not using random stuff in my aquarium, the bark on it looks great but i suppose i will have to strip that down) its going to take about a week of using a combination of salt / oven / bleach and hot water. While i get my CO2 system up and running,
link on how to make safe “bogwood”
its about 8- 12 inches tall and would look great in my tall tank with some flame or xmas moss tied to it.
On removing the plant from the pot i discovered that the root system looks even more suitable and would give the impression of a tree like an oak, but alas the roots will have to be removed as i would imagine they would hold a considerable amount of sap.
Pictures later(if i dont get slammed for even trying this)
any takers on discussion?

Hurricane Harvey caused what the National Weather Service described as “catastrophic flooding” in Houston and across southeast Texas.

“This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service said.

Some downtown areas of Houston were knee-deep in water, and some highways were shut down as a result of flooding from as much as 10 feet of water. In fact, some parts of Houston and just west of the city possibly received a Texas record of 50 inches of rain. Since making initial landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in southeastern Texas, Harvey dumped an estimated total of 20 trillion gallons of rain on the Houston area.

This was truly catastrophic to homes, vehicles and people. And, as the flooding recedes, you might be wondering what this excess and longer-standing water is also doing to your commercial landscape trees and plants.

Here is some insight into what standing water and flooding does to plants and what we can do to help.

Soils And Flooding

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to change the weather.

While many landscape plants and trees can survive short periods of flooding, extended periods of standing water can often be detrimental.

Why? Flooding results in poor soil aeration because the supply of oxygen to flooded soil is severely limited. And oxygen is one of the most important environmental factors that trigger growth inhibition and injury in flooded plants.

Flooding of soils also increases the pH of acidic soils and decreases the pH of alkaline soils.

Organic matter, which is beneficial to soils, also slows down its rate of decomposition when flooded. To add to that, high concentrations of ethanol and hydrogen sulfide are produced in waterlogged soils, which can be damaging to root systems.

Soil can also be washed away around the base of trees and plants in a flood, exposing roots. This can lead to plant stress.

Trees And Flooding

Tree survival and recovery after flooding depends on how much trees are covered by water. Some species can survive standing in several feet of water for months, but if their foliage is completely covered they can die in as quickly as one month. In fact, very few species can tolerate more than one month of complete submersion.

Obviously, adult trees will tolerate flooding better than their younger counterparts. And dormant plants are more tolerant to flooding than actively growing plants.

The good news if you’ve been hiring a professional to tend to your trees and shrubs: Established, healthy and well-cared-for woody plants will be more tolerant to flooding than very old trees, stressed trees or young trees.

What To Look For

Within one to two weeks you should be able to tell if plants will survive. Impacted plants will start to show damage. However, woody plants may take longer to reveal issues.

Symptoms of plants under excessive water stress include yellowing or browning of leaves, leaf curling and pointing downward, leaf wilting, reduced new leaf size, early fall color, defoliation, branch dieback and, in extreme cases, gradual plant decline and death over the next couple of years.

Some plants can recover from flooding injury in as little as a year, while others don’t recover at all. But trees that suffer from flooding can end up more susceptible to secondary issues afterward, including growth of fungi and wood boring insect infestations.

What Can Be Done

First, you have to let the water recede. Then we can assess the damage.

Your landscape professional will remove flood debris from the area and move soil that has shifted, especially if this soil is on top of a lawn area; it only takes 1 inch of soil to kill a lawn. It takes approximately 3 inches or more of silt and soil to be detrimental to trees.

Survivability depends greatly on the species on the site. Your landscape professional can give you some insight into your specific species and site issues and help you assess damage and create a plan for recovery.

A flood event will also reveal areas on your site that drain too slowly. A landscape professional can help you create a plan to improve your site’s drainage.

Proper plant health care is an obvious important step in limiting plant decline. This includes removing dead or diseased branches, aerating the soil around tree roots and properly mulching trees. You’ll notice landscape professionals will increase this type of activity on your site after a flood event.

Did Hurricane Harvey Impact Your Commercial Site? We Can Help!

How long plants can survive after roots are submerged in a flood depends on multiple factors—from the time of year the flood occurs to duration of the flood event to species sensitivity to the type of soil the plants are growing in.

Native Land Design can assess the damage, clean up the site and help you implement a plan to ensure minimal damage or interruption to your site aesthetics. Contact us for a free onsite consultation at 512-918-2270 or fill out our contact form online today.

Can Bonsai Trees Live Underwater?

The age old question by bonsai enthusiasts and fish tank enthusiasts alike, can bonsai trees live underwater? Simply put, no, bonsai trees can’t live underwater. Bonsai trees, like normal trees, breathe through the stomata in their leaves, meaning they cannot breathe underwater and will soon die. Don’t get me wrong, there’s few things I would rather have in my tank than a stunning bonsai tree but unfortunately it’s simply not possible. Growing a bonsai with roots semi submerged is possible but having the whole tree living underwater would kill the bonsai relatively fast. Whilst there are rumours that it’s possible to keep bonsai trees alive underwater, it’s said that you’ll need to be constantly changing the water and adding nutrients to keep the bonsai alive. Even then, it’s said that the majority of underwater bonsai trees will die due to the roots being flooded, the same way that would cause the bonsai to die in soil. There are some species of trees like Mangrove that can actually tolerate being semi submerged in water but even still, they aren’t healthy being full submerged for a long period of time.

Is There Any Substitutes For Underwater Bonsai Trees?

Absolutely! There isn’t really any way to actually grow a bonsai tree underwater because the bonsai is just going to die within a few days, but you can still have the desired look from a fake bonsai tree.As suggested on Bettafish forums, the best port of call would be to find some driftwood or the stump of a dead bonsai. Aim to use something that already looks like the shape of bonsai you’re looking to create as styling a dead tree isn’t going to go too smoothly. Once you have your ‘fake tree’, add moss to the top and shape it to create a sort of tree, as shown in the picture. It might not be what you were looking for but realistically unless you want to spend a lot of money and time trying, it’s your only option as bonsai trees don’t live underwater and stay alive. If anyone seems to successfully keep an underwater bonsai tree alive for more than a few weeks I’ll make sure to update this post with a link and tutorials etc, but for the mean time, we’re going to have to fake it!

Why Can’t Bonsai Trees Live Underwater?

Bonsai trees are genetically identical to a normal tree, only small due to having the roots constricted in a tiny pot and being continuously pruned. Normal trees have stomata in their leaves, which is, in easy terms, how they breathe. Being that bonsai and a normal tree are genetically indifferent, this too is how a bonsai would breathe. This leaves both trees unable to breathe at all underwater, meaning they will die very fast.

When roots are fully submerged for a long time in water, they are very susceptible to ‘root rot’, a disease that effects plants or trees in extremely wet areas. When a bonsai has root rot, you can try aggressive pruning of the roots but depending on the condition and health, it could be fatal to your tree. Yet another reason why it’s sadly impossible to grow a bonsai tree underwater.

Pruning A Bonsai Underwater

When people think about having a bonsai tree underwater, they normally gloss over the fact that bonsai trees only look so pristine and well formed due to the constant pruning that goes into them. Unless being left to grow out for something like a sacrificial branch, bonsai trees are usually lightly pruned every week or so in the growing seasons if on display. Whilst this isn’t actually a problem, it would definitely something to think about if you don’t have too much time on your hands – this is why I would lean more towards the implementation of a ‘fake’ underwater bonsai instead.

Flood Tolerance of Trees

Wayne K. Clatterbuck Associate Professor Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries University of Tennessee

Flood Tolerance

Trees have varying tolerances to flooding. However, flooding during the growing season, especially during and after leaf out, can be harmful to trees. The roots need oxygen to survive and grow. Flooding results in poor aeration, because the oxygen supply in flooded soil is severely limited. Oxygen deficiency is likely the most important environmental factor inhibiting growth and causing injury in flooded trees. Most trees will tolerate flowing water for a few days during the growing season. Flowing water retains dissolved oxygen (aerobic conditions) such that the oxygen to the roots is not depleted. However, oxygen is exhausted (anaerobic conditions) in water that is standing or puddled. Few trees can tolerate standing or puddled water during either the dormant or growing season.

Once trees are stressed by floods (symptoms are leaf yellowing, defoliation, reduced leaf size, sprouting and crown dieback), secondary organisms, particularly opportunistic fungi, insects and disease, invade the hosts and further weaken the tree. These symptoms may progress and eventually lead to tree death, especially with repeated, annual flooding. Generally, though, flooding does not occur each year and stress symptoms may subside, indicating the tree is recovering.


Knowledge of the varying tolerances of different tree species to flooding is critical in selecting the right tree for the right place for planting and for managing growth and development of trees in the landscape. Trees that are not well suited to certain moisture conditions will perform poorly. Matching the tree’s physiological requirements to its most conducive environment will increase the probability of success in managing your landscape with minimum maintenance costs.

Daniel, W.W., J.A. Helms and F.S. Baker. 1979. Principles of Silviculture. McGraw Hill, Inc. New York. 500 p.

Bonsai Aquarium Plants – How To Grow Aqua Bonsai Trees

Bonsai trees are a fascinating and ancient gardening tradition. Trees that are kept tiny and carefully cared for in small pots can bring a real level of intrigue and beauty to the home. But is it possible to grow underwater bonsai trees? Keep reading to learn more aquatic bonsai information, including how to grow aqua bonsai.

Bonsai Aquarium Plants

What is an aqua bonsai? That really depends. It is theoretically possible to grow underwater bonsai trees, or at least bonsai trees with their roots submerged in water rather than soil. This is called hydroponic growing, and it has been done successfully with bonsai trees.

There are a few important things to keep in mind if you’re attempting this.

  • First of all, the water must be changed regularly to prevent rotting and the buildup of algae.
  • Secondly, plain old tap water won’t do. Liquid nutrient supplements will have to be added with each water change to ensure the tree gets all the food it needs. The water and nutrients should be changed about once per week.
  • Thirdly, the trees need to be gradually adjusted if they’ve been started in soil to allow new roots to form and become used to life submerged in water.

How to Grow Aqua Bonsai Trees

Growing bonsai trees isn’t easy, and growing them in water is even trickier. Often, when bonsai trees die, it’s because their roots become waterlogged.

If you’d like the effect of underwater bonsai trees without the hassle and danger, consider constructing faux bonsai aquarium plants out of other plants that thrive underwater.

Driftwood can make a very attractive “trunk” to be topped with any number of aquatic plants to make for a magical and easy to care for underwater bonsai environment. Dwarf baby tears and java moss are both excellent underwater plants for creating this tree-like look.

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