09-23-2012, 02:46 PM
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The substrate is something you want to get right at the first, because while it can always be changed, it is a lot of work to tear down an established tank, plus the bacteria issues associated with a new substrate.
So you want something you enjoy looking at, obviously, but remember that the substrate is primarily dependant upon the needs of fish and plants. It must provide a good bed for bacteria, suitable rooting medium for plants, and be acceptable for any fish that may "use" it, such as cichlids, all catfish, and loaches. And it will be m ore satisfying if it is natural in colour/appearance. If substrate fish like corys are planned, definitely go with sand. The Quikrete Play Sand which i happen to use repicates the sand in the Amazon so it is very authentic in appearance, and plants grow fine it it.