Yes, laterite does have a bad rap. I sometimes think that because something is expensive, some people like to think its better(I know, because I was one of them...lol).
My substrate used to be an all gravel 75 gallon tank, and then , I wanted to add crypts, and other rooted plants and read they liked laterite. Well, the tank was pretty established(running about 4 1/2 months) and I didnt want to catch and move all my fishes to the spare 100 gallon. I bought First Layer laterite(I don't like dupla, and thier approach,no offence, for me, just way overpriced..lol) and I took all the plants out. I added the laterite with the fish in there, and mixed them together...it was cloudy, I know, but I did rinse it numerous times using a shirt(can you imagine what the white shirt looked like after?). I did'nt add the plants until about 6 hours later and saw the tank was quite clear. So I added the plants, and everything was back to normal in about 8 hours(mostly waiting). No casualties. I didnt add a second layer of gravel until a week ago, and the fishes are still growing strong. Also, I added 4 more tiger barbs after a day I added the laetrite, and a pictus cat a week later, and it just shows it doesnt harm them in anyway, aside from porr vision, and getting startled while I was mixing the laterite.
Btw, how long does the laterite last until I need to add more?
And I'm new to the forums, and i'm mostly interested in what is called a "natural" tank,or in other words, Low tech/low cost/low maintennace tank. I wanna go filterless someday and I'am currently using indirect bright sunlight to supplement my 2.3 watt per gallon lighthing. I've been only doing this for a month now(the planted part) and i just got the most of my plants a week ago, and its amazing how much the water wisteria can gorw in 5 days(4 new leaves on each stalk for me!)