Good responses...in sum, it's all good and depends on what we do after we put the plants in it.
yes, color matters (no neon pink please, no offense pink substrate users). I like dark and/or natural (I was also considering turface). i also don't mind plain old gravel, not sure how fine to make it since i want to have some cories or dwarf cories. not on a budget (however i won't spend hundreds of dollars) or in a rush.
@topfrog: can you explain what the heck you mean by this: "Or (my personnel preference) you can make your own Mineralized Top Soil substrate and "cap" it with one of the cheap inert substrates from above." appreciate it! sorry, that went right over my head but sounded like good stuff.
in my 29 i used flourite "complete" or something like that. my plant growth was phenomenal under the high lighting that the lfs encouraged me to buy (and not knowing otherwise i just did whatever they told me, ha ha) but then everything started dying off, turning brown and yellow. so i've adjusted everything but want to avoid a frontloaded success in plant growth followed by a downer period. does that make sense?
still overwhelmed but now i know i won't make any fatal errors that are irreparable.