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What would be a good but not too expensive of a gravel. I currently use Eco Complete would that be good for a South American tank.

Only thing is I would like more of a sandy texture

And what would be good to use as a leafy bottom. Would Birch leaves work, I would like to try and get some type of leafy litter. I think that would look nice.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Use whatever you think looks like!

If by "sandy" you mean smaller-grained, you could mix in some Colorquartz with the Eco. Or you could just get black sand...

I believe Birch leaves are aquarium-safe. Get dried leaves if possible, don't use fresh ones. Are you going for tannin-stained water?
 
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