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Laterite substitutes

>A quick bit of background and then my questions. I have been keeping fish
>for 12 years but only 2 years ago I began planted tanks. I live in a 
>where we do not get laterite, flourite or any decent substrate. Our 
>is very weak so importing is out of the question.
>Up to now I have used plants that do not need to be anchored in the
>substrate and have been feeding via the water column. It has worked for me
>and the growth I have had has been good. I would like to try a 'proper'
>planted tank. I have a spare 10 gallon I would like to use. I will have 1,5
>watts per gallon of light. I know I should strive for more but fish 
>in this country are very expensive as everything is imported.
>My question is twofold. I need advice on a decent substrate. I have read
>extensively on the web but there is so much conflicting information. I am 
>no means an amateur as I have bred and kept various species some of which
>are notoriously difficult to keep. The plant route however is somewhat new
>territory and as I said the information out there is confusing.
>The other question naturally would be what plants do well in the lower 
>conditions. Unfortunately plants are pretty scarce here also so a list of
>names, normal and Latin would be useful. I can then see what I can get.
>Aquaria in this country is still very much using the information of 20 
>ago. Thankfully I discovered the web a long time ago and have been able to
>break out of the old school of thought. It has helped me a great deal.
>Without discovering PMDD I would never have been able to keep my first 
>tank in the manner explained above.
>I am sorry for the length of the post. Any and all help will be 
>Please do not hesitate to ask questions if any of my ramblings have been
I've seen a tank in Nepal (yes they keep fish there too) that had a red clay 
substrate covered with gravel made from brick. Interesting to say the least 
and successful. The tank contained some nice Euryale ferox, locally 
collected crypts and hydrophilia. Unfortunately there were no native fish in 
the tank, just some imports from America.
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