06-14-2011, 08:29 AM
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Live plants will do fine in sand as long as the sand is well turned or is a nutrient rich substrate. If the sand compacts down, the flow of nutrient rich water to the roots will be restricted so they will not do well unless the nutrients are already there.
As Byron said, any long term feeders in the tank will turn the substrate black as the food rots. I have tried many over the years and they have never worked out well. The best weekend feeders are the electronic ones with anti-moisture vents for long vacations.
MTS will survive anywhere. My water used to be very soft and they still bred like crazy. Their shells wont be as beautiful in softer water since the ends will dissolve as they grow, so stubby snail shells, but they will still do fine.