Sustrate color, grain size and ph altering
I've got a 90 gallon tank that I plan on adding plants to.
For fish I've got C.Moorii, Yellow Labs, Clown Loaches and two bristlenose plecos. I'll be going with fairly easy, low light, not-too-much-fun-to-eat plants like crypts and swords.
I'm having trouble picking out a substrate, here's why:
The C.Moorii are sand sifters/spitters so I can't go with gravel-sized grain--it's got to be sand--or pretty close to it. (Can't be too fine either or it'll mess with one of my filters). So that eliminates the Flourite.
I'd almost decided on Eco-complete but where I'm not going to completely cover the substrate with plants the black/grey eco is going to show quite a bit and I don't want to have all that black showing. (I've got a black background so I think the overall effect would just be too dark)
I looked at the Aqua soil sand--exactly the color I want--a rich tan/brown, but it claims to LOWER the ph and while I know most fish can adjust to a different ph than what's considered ideal for them, 6.5 is too low for these africans and plus I'd be fighting my tap water which comes out in the high 8s and is easily lowered and locked to 8.3 with just the right amount of baking soda.
So my question: what would you suggest for a substrate that is hopefully not going to hinder plant growth, (be nice if I could find one that helps it), doesn't significantly alter the ph, would be considered sand, and isn't black?