Strata Rock (Sandstone)

A popular type of rock formation found in nature is the rock stratum.

Being able to capture this look in a vivarium is challenging if you don’t know exactly what rocks naturally take on this type of development.

This article will cover Strata Rock, an inherently eccentric sandstone that makes a suitable replica of the vertically bedded landscape.

Quick Stats:
Traditional Name Strata Rock
Common Names Sandstone
Origin Aeolian Environments
Habitat Deserts, Canyons
Color Reddish Brown, Tan
Density (g/cm3) 2.00g – 2.60g
Hardness 6 – 7
PH Impact Neutral (No Effect)
Elemental Type Sedimentary Rock (Quartz)

What Is Strata Rock?

Strata Rock is a clastic sedimentary rock composed of mostly sand-based minerals.

This type of sandstone forms its unique look from strong winds that graze the surface of the rock.

The composition of this stone is mostly coarse-grained quartz minerals cemented by a clay matrix.

This sand-based stone may also contain fragments of other rocks like chert.

Pagoda Rock "Sandstone" Aquascape Tips

Strata Rock Facts

Strata Rock is a name given commercially to the stone due to its close resemblance to sandstones often found with uniform layers imprinted along its surface.

The name is very similar to the term rock strata (or stratum for plural), which is used to describe stacked layers of generally any type of sedimentary rock.

This type of sandstone is commonly misidentified with Pagoda Rock.

One major difference between the two variations of sedimentary stone is the consistency in layers found throughout the rocks when cutting in half.

Strata Rocks only show the stacked layering on the surface while Pagoda Rocks show the bedded sheet pattern all the way down to the core.


Strata Rocks have the density of a typical sandstone.

Weighing between 2.00 to 2.60 grams per centimeter, the tightly compacted quartz makes this stone a solid material to use in aquascaping.

The coarse-grained minerals visible with the naked eye are rough to the touch with little porosity due to the clay matrix evenly cementing the sand together.

Like most sandstones, Strata Rock rarely exhibits fossils or fossilized fragments.

The distinguishing feature that separates the stone physically from any other is the vertical bedding pattern carved into the surface.

Strong winds grazing the rock face slowly sculpt small lines across it making uniform markings.

Strata Rocks will mainly consist of either tan or reddish-brown colors.

This is attributed to the oxidized metals like iron and magnesium mixed into the clay during formation.

Over time, small amounts of the oxidized metals will weather away into the tank.

This is beneficial for plants sharing the enclosure and shouldn’t leech fast enough to affect softwater inhabitants negatively.


Strata Rocks are typically found in high-energy environments where long-distance mineral transportation accumulates.

These areas can consist of water in the form of flash flooding and rain but will likely be dry with high winds.

Deserts with heavy aeolian activity will be the ideal setting for this type of rock to form.

Mining these rocks would mean breaking off the surface of a stone formation since the bedded pattern does not form throughout the rock.

Environmental Influence

Due to the high-energy environments that Sandstones from under, they are rather hardy rocks that won’t dissolve as fast as other sedimentary stones.

This makes Strata Rock an inert stone suitable for many types of vivariums.

On the hardness scale, this rock can range between 6 and 7.

The strong composition of quartz is a long-lasting mineral that has no effect on buffering PH up or down in the water.

Be wary of darker colored Strata Rocks that carry relatively large amounts of stained oxidized irons in the clay matrix.

Leaching iron into an aquarium can be beneficial for plants but large amounts can be lethal for some inhabitants.

Vivarium Preference

Strata Rock can be used in saltwater aquariums as well as freshwater.

I’d recommend using this type of rock in tanks that consist of mostly softwater and have vivarium plants.

Some fish, like cichlids, for example, thrive in rocky enclosures stones like Strata would be ideal.

In terrariums that house reptiles, sandstones like this are a very natural way to provide a hardscape relative to a mimicked habitat.

To keep the natural aesthetics this type of rock is meant to exhibit, make sure to align the stones in a way that the strata pattern is pointing the same direction.


This kind of sedimentary rock has an exclusively unique type of surface pattern.

It is the go-to rock for anyone trying to replicate stratum mountains found in nature.

Vivarium rocks like Strata Rocks are inert stones making them ideal for softwater enclosures.

Inhabitants that require rocks in their tanks will find this stone very capable with no sharp edges due to its coarse-grained composition and fragment-style breakage.


Darker colors of Strata Rock can leech slightly larger amounts of metal consistently.

This can be lethal for fish and invertebrates that are sensitive to metals as well as harder water conditions.

Regardless of the color, always keep a close eye on the vivarium when placing new rocks in it, and clean all stones thoroughly before placing them in any type of tank.

Another concern is the weight of Strata Rock.

This amount of density per square centimeter will make it potentially dangerous for the glass as well as the inhabitants if not secured correctly.

Never place the rock on the bare bottom of the tank or up against the side glass.

The concentrated levels of pressure focused on the edge of the rock could cause the glass to crack.

Buy Strata Rock

Finding this particular style of sandstone can be difficult.

For the sake of assuring the stones, you seek to purchase are safe for vivarium use, I’d highly recommend going with a source that is selling Strata Rock specifically marketed for aquarium use.

This will guarantee the product bought is authentic and 100% safe for tank mates.

Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info:

Strata Rock Recommendations

There are a few recommendations I would advise when working with Strata Rock for the first time.

Inspect the rocks to verify the intended type of Sandstone has been acquired.

Even if the stones have been prewashed, it is always good practice to rinse rocks once more before use.

This type of stone can easily conceal excess dust, unwanted hitchhikers, and additional minerals due to its many crevices.

Cleaning Strata Rock

In most cases, newly acquired Strata Rock will need slight preparation before going into a vivarium.

This will matter more for aquariums, ripariums, and paludariums since unclean stones can cause water to change color.

Begin by placing stones in a bucket of cold water.

Scrub and redip each rock thoroughly in the bucket of water.

Rinse and repeat this process until you are able to place stones in a clean bucket of water and observe no noticeable change in color.

Avoid using chemicals or strong water pressure on the sedimentary rocks so they aren’t worn down drastically and lose their aesthetics.

Breaking Strata Rock

Be careful with breaking Strata Rock into smaller parts.

The unique bedded surface is usually only found on one side of the rock.

Chipping off that area of the rock would mean a permanent loss of aesthetics.

Use a chisel kit to crack this stone into desired parts.

This rock breaks into fractures and can be difficult to strategically break due to its level of hardness.

No matter which way the rock is broken up, make sure to wear safety goggles because parts of the rock will go air born.

Also, reclean rocks as needed once they are broken.

Rocks Similar To Strata Rock

When designing a new enclosure for the first time… It would be best to stick with one type of stone to use as a hardscape.

Furthermore, this type of rock can be hard to come by depending on where you are located in the world.

If for any reason, you find Strata Rock difficult to acquire or simply want to consider something different…

There are a wide variety of stones to consider.

Here are some other types of stones one might find are worth taking a look at in place of this Sandstone:

Sandstone "Quartzarenite Rock" Hardscape Guide
Seiryu Stone "Mini Landschaft" Hardscape Guide
Petrified Wood "Fossil Wood" Hardscape Guide


Strata Rock can be a very rewarding stone to have in a vivarium.

It’s a hardy rock that can be beneficial for both plants as well as animals looking for a secure place of shelter.

Even though I would recommend this rock for softwater enclosures, don’t be afraid to experiment with it in different biotypes.

These types of sandstones are easy to identify and will add authenticity to any aquarium/terrarium it is established within.

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