hmm i think i know what youre saying about the beach thing. you want it to be planted then have a bare foreground correct? also with the aquasoil, it only comes in one grain size i believe. ADA makes soil and they also have sand. the soil does look like little pebble things but these breakdown into a fine silty looking stuff. you could definitely layer the substrate if you wanted so give a nice visual effect for the tank but im not sure about the plants benefits since they do get the nutrients from the substrate.