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Why doesn't anything live in substrate?

Another newbie question:

I've seen marine tanks where the substrate is alive with many types of 
worms and other goodies that digest waste, and keep the substrate aerated 
and "alive."  When I ask my marine tank friends, they say that it "just 
happens" and they never added anything to their tank (other than live rock)

I've never seen a freshwater tank with similar beasties.  Why not?