You’d be amazed by all of the different things that you can create in an aquascape. Yesterday I demonstrated that you can combine aquarium wood with carpet moss to create a convincing tree. Well, would it surprise you to learn that you can create underwater waterfalls, too?

Yep, just see for yourself:

Believe it or not, that’s a custom aquascape. But… there are two waterfalls! How is that even possible?

This is actually a clever optical illusion. That’s not water that’s tumbling down the side of that rock face, but fine-grain white sand. It creates a near-perfect replica of a real life waterfall.

So, how does it work? It’s all pretty simple, really. If you disassembled this aquascape, then behind each waterfall you’d find a tube with an air pump at the bottom. The air pump creates bubbles, which sucks sand up through the pipe. When the sand reaches the top it spills out and tumbles back down to the waterfall. Once the sand reaches the bottom it can be sucked up through the pipe again in an infinite loop.

You can see a fairly basic demonstration of how these waterfalls work below.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between a professionally-built waterfall and the type that you might build in your garage. If a sand waterfall isn’t built correctly, it could require constant maintenance at best or totally ruin your aquascape at worst. First of all, the sand could spill out of the tube quite forcefully, so unless you have a system in place to catch the sand, you could end up with a waterfall that shoots sand into your aquarium like a fine mist. Before long, it will look like your aquarium is in the middle of a blizzard.

The second major hurdle lies in the pool of sand at the bottom of the falls. If the pump system isn’t built correctly to catch all the sand, then the surrounding plant life will gradually get swallowed up by sand deposits. The waterfall on the left from the first video suffers from that problem – you can see mounds of sand at the foot of the falls.

Getting professional aquascaping guidance can make all the difference in the world. Designing an aquascape is already hard enough on its own with setting up all of the equipment, selecting the right species of plants and animals, and arranging the features in an artistic layout. Dealing with the complicated mechanics of a sand pump waterfall only adds to the workload. If you want a truly stunning custom aquascape with an underwater waterfall, then sit back and leave it to the professionals.