Layers on Layers of Substrate

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

To capture the essence of an underwater garden, you'll want to pay close attention to the substrate that you use. Obviously, if you are planning on growing root-based plants, you will need nutrient rich substrate. There are many different brands that offer very similar nutrient combinations to promote plant growth and while this blog isn't intended to evaluate which brand is best, we use and recommend Laden Aqua Soil.


Yet, is that all you need to create your underwater garden? Technically...yes, but we're here create something beyond that. We want to create a world that doesn't seem possible. Let's use the image below as an example. We could easily use excessive amounts of soil to prop-up the rock in the background but that may not be the most beneficial or efficient option. Particularly if you're really looking to create a sense of depth or drama.



We have found to create the necessary height while also ensuring that we use every area of the aquarium to benefit our aquatic life, we have created a dual-layer substrate system. At it's simplest form we recommend and include two different types of substrate in our Nature Aquarium Complete solutions:


The Bottom Layer: Blooming Aquatics Porous Lava Rock

The Top Layer: Laden Aquarium Soil


There are multiple benefits for using a lava rock bottom layer:

  1. Creates surface area for beneficial bacteria. Like the old under-gravel filters of yesteryear which were designed to help provide surface area and aeration to allow beneficial bacteria to grow and eventually breakdown waste at the bottom. The lava layer will mimic this effect.

  2. Create height within your aquascape. Yes, you can find excessively large rocks or place 100lbs of soil in your aquarium to generate height. However, we have found that the same can be achieved by filling mesh media bags and stacking them at strategic areas. Once topped off with soil, you achieve the benefit of beneficial growth with the desired landscape.

  3. A cost effective way to create aquascape depth. Lastly, we clearly want to create our ideal aquascape without breaking the bank. Lava rock is nearly 5x cheaper than soil and effectively leaves a larger amount of swim area for aquatic life than that an extremely large rock or piece of wood would provide.

There's always a better and more effective solution if you have the time. Unfortunately for most our daily lives don't allow us to invest that time into our enjoyed hobbies. That's why we're focused on providing these solutions and making these recommendations for you. At Blooming Aquatics we want to make the world of Aquascaping accessible to you and set you up for success. Find out today, how using our Nature Aquarium Complete solution does that exact job for you.