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What Should You Put at the Bottom of Your Aquarium?

Best Things to Put on Bottom of Fish Aquariums San Diego, CA

A freshwater or reef aquarium is a type of enclosed aquatic ecosystem consisting of various parts. The external base of the tank makes contact with a horizontal support element. Right above this part, on the other side of the glass, is the bottom, which should always consist of an adequate substrate. Adequate in this instance means the right combination of materials and elements that will be conducive to the intended ecosystem and all species within the tank. Let’s review some of these elements and how adequate they can be for various tanks.


This is the most popular substrate material, and it will be suitable for most tanks as long as the pebbles provide adequate roundness and size. Bags filled with multicolored gravel sell well at many aquarium shops, but you should stay away from smaller pebbles if you plan to stock the aquarium with goldfish and other voracious species that will try to eat anything. At the same time, bottom dwellers such as Plecostomus and Corydoras won’t appreciate gravel pieces that have sharp edges.


In a reef tank, sand (reef coral sand or coral gravel) is a smart addition to the substrate because it approximates the natural habitat of saltwater tropical fish. Plus, there’s also the matter of burrowing species that won’t adjust to aquarium life unless they can feed and hide in the sand. It should be noted that many riverbeds also feature sand, thus making it ideal to combine with larger gravel. While you can use beach or riverbed sand for your aquarium, the best option is to get sand from a trusted aquarium supplier because it has already been treated, and also because medium grains have been selected. Heavier grains of sand make it difficult for some species to burrow.

Imitation Rocks

You can stock your tank with territorial species as long as they have elements they can use to define their boundaries, and this is when rocks are highly recommended. Needless to say, you should choose rocks that don’t have sharp or abrasive edges. A rock formation that forms a cave or hole will be appreciated by many species for hiding and exploration.

Live Rocks

From a nature conservation standpoint, coral pieces are terrible elements to place at the bottom of your tank. For saltwater, the last thing you want to do during a snorkeling or diving trip to a coastal reef would be to take something away from it. Some aquarium shops sell coral pieces extracted from reefs, but your purchase will only enable an unethical practice. Live aquarium rocks are different. Synthetic “live rock” is what we sell at Aquatic Warehouse and is, in essence, calcium carbonate and natural elements that are built by man, then immersed in established massive holding tanks with healthy water. These “living” rocks welcome colonies of beneficial bacteria that will feed on nitrates, thus keeping ammonia levels down.

Whether you need a high-quality substrate or any other essential supply for your fish tank, you can find what you’re looking for at Aquatic Warehouse, a leading provider of aquarium and pond equipment. You can order your supplies from our website, or stop by our store located in Kearny Mesa. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 858-467-9297.

Contact Information

  • Address: 5466 Complex Street Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • Phone: (858) 467-9297
  • Email: sales@aquaticwarehouse.com
  • Working Days/Hours: Mon - Fri / 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Saturday / 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sunday / 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM


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