Listen to Byron, he's a pro.
You need to decide whether you want to go 'high tech' or 'low tech'.
High tech is much more expensive, and more work.
Low tech is the opposite. Fertilisation perhaps weekly, no supplimental CO2 (co2 comes from fish and substrate) and relatively low light (compared to high tech.)
As for substrates, there are dozens of good ones. Natural pea gravel (if you can find it in a smooth and small-grained cinsistancy) would be a great choice. You will need a grain size of 1-4 mm.
I typically useplain gravel over a cap of soil, but it's risky using soil. Some use plain gravel, root tabs, and liquid fertiliser with great results.
You can also buy an expensive substrate like tahitian moon sand, ADA Aquasoil, Flourite, etc.
It really comes down to preference and your budget.