Others have answered your question, so this is just an agreement with a couple of highlighted points.
The depth is critical; if substrate-rooted plants (swords, crypts, aponogeton, vallisneria, etc) are planned, you need sufficient depth to provide a rooting medium. But the plants also work to prevent compaction. If you have no substrate-rooted plants, the depth can be minimal, an inch is sufficient; this will not cause compaction issues, or shouldn't, and regular stirring during the water change is adequate.
In a planted tank you shouldn't be messing around with the substrate, and I find a 2 inch sand layer throughout the tank with deeper areas (3 inches) at the back for large sword plants and maybe 1-1.5 inches at the front works well. I never touch it.
Malaysian livebearing snails are also very useful, as they c continually weave their way throughout the substrate.
I use playsand in my sand tanks; I buy it at Home Depot, it is made by Quikrete [spelling may be off] and is dark gray/tan dry. It does light a bit under the tank lights, but as it is identical to the sand in the Amazon basin I like it. So do the fish.
You can see it in the new photos of my 115g and 33g tanks, under "Aquariums" below my name on the left. In my 5-foot 115g tank I recently changed it to sand, and used two bags; 50kg (110 pounds), cost $12 CDN.