I have playsand as a substrate. I mixed the bottom 2 inches with a box of laterite (50 oz) and then toped off with about another 2 inches of the sand. The I bought a small bag of natural looking small size brown aquarium gravel and just kind of sprinkled it in areas on top of the sand. I like the entire effect. I have corys who love it and also Dojo loaches that bury themselves in it, with only their heads poked up through it. It is really neat! I don't see any reason to clean up the sand, since most of the fish kepp it lookin clean.