I am setting up my first aquarium that will have live plants. What an adventure. I have been reading and researching extensively, but have not been able to reconcile an issue of great import.
I have come away with small gravel for plants, to avoid the compaction that is possible with sand, though there is enough posted on growing plants in sand, that I don't think that is a show stopper.
At the same time, and what appears to be a bit at odds is care of cory cats which I love. I am going to use over 1/2 my "allocation" of fish inches on cories, but I read that sometimes gravel is bad for their "whiskers" and that they greatly prefer sand. However, I see a lot of pictures of cories over gravel...so that may not be a show stopper either.
My current intent is to have about 60% of my tank with small gravel and about 40% with sand. Generally sand would be in the front, and on the discharge end of the tank (no current), with gravel along the back, with a small, narrow patch in the very front for some grass type plants in front. Don't panic, the boundary will be meandering, not stark.
I have not seen this approach mentioned, though my research is a bit short of exhaustive. What am I getting myself into? The only advantage of being on the downhill side of 50 is that I have learned that "you don't know what you don't know." Ideas, comments, solutions are welcome and appreciated.