06-03-2012, 01:09 PM
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First off, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
By having read the guides, I assume you mean the 4-part "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of this section. Since I wrote it, I can't say much more
. But I have changed to sand substrate, using Quikrete Play Sand, in 5 of my 7 tanks over the past year, and the last two are under consideration. Just keep it on the shallow side, 2-3 inches depending upon tank size (larger plants need the deeper 3 inches) and with lots of substrate-rooted plants there will be no issues. And Malaysian Livebearing Snails help a lot, as they continually burrow throughout the substrate.
Many plants will do well for you, depending upon your light and water parameters. If you could provide some data on the light, and the GH and pH of your tap water/tank water, this will help.