What are the pros & cons (benefits) of lava rocks (bio media) for aquariums or ponds?

Lava rocks are highly advantageous for fish tanks because they allow heaps of useful bacteria to grow on their surface. Many aquarists keep lava rocks in their filters because they react with the toxic chemicals released from fish waste. Lava rocks are used for keeping water clear, & aquarists use them to make structures for their aquariums. However, the edges of lava rocks could be sharp that could scratch your aquarium inhabitants, & fish waste could clog the pores of lava rocks.

Pros and cons of lava rocks for aquariums or ponds
Pros and cons of lava rocks for aquariums or ponds

Pros of lava rocks for aquarium or pond:

  • Lava rocks are used for keeping water clear. They are available at lower cost than ceramic rings.
  • Lava rocks are used for holding both nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria that help in removal of ammonia & nitrites due to nitrifying bacteria, & nitrates due to denitrifying bacteria.
  • Aquarists use lava rocks for building caves. Fish hide inside the caves that relieve their stress. Fish babies can also use caves for hiding from adult fish.
  • Aquarists use lava rocks as plants’ substrate. They grow their plants in this substrate because it is available for a slightly lower price than ceramic rings.
  • Lava rocks provide a natural environment in your fish tank that copies the wild home of fish as they are used for building caves & other structures. Lava rocks have pores that seem natural. They are used for attaching carpeting plants including mosses & ferns.
  • Lava rocks can be used for mechanical filtration, as they are porous & could replace foams or sponges.
  • Lava rocks are more porous than ceramic rings, which make them highly effective bio media because they offer a larger surface than ceramic rings.


Cons of lava rocks for aquarium or pond:

  • Despite many advantages, lava rocks have some disadvantages too.
  • Lava rocks are used for removing even nitrates but still you cannot skip regular water changes. Fresh water has minerals that are required for both fish & live plants.
  • The sharp edgy lava rocks could scratch the bodies of fish. Some fish like digging the substrate & they could hurt themselves if you are using lava rocks as substrate. However, you can smoothen the edges of lava rocks by rubbing two lava rocks against each other.
  • Preparing lava rocks can take time. Newly bought lava rocks need cleaning. The first step is to use a brush & clean water to remove the dirt off the lava rocks. Then, it is time to disinfect lava rocks using boiling water or bleach solution.
  • The tiny pores of lava rocks can clog up with fish poop & other detritus.
  • If lava rocks are clogged, they need maintenance.

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