I ruled out saf-t-sorb and oil-dri only because they don't seem to be available in a dark or black color. I heard Turface used to have a dark grey... wish it was still around. I also wish I weren't so picky sometimes, but I'm an artist/designer, so color and aesthetics rank high on my priorities.
(edit: not saying those substrates don't look natural and wonderful! it's all personal preference and just not what I have my heart set on for this display)
I'm a careful and neat person, but that just may very well mean it'd drive me crazy if/when I'd inevitably pull up soil through a cap...
That's very true that it's not forever! I have no idea how long tank break-downs and resets take because I've never done this, so I'm thankful to hear how long yours takes. Still, it'd be nice to not spend $78 on substrate just to realize down the road it's not working out for me.