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soil substrate OR gravel and laterite?

Dear Plant Experts,

Reading through some old issues of The Aquatic Gardener, I found lots of 
suggestions to use potting soil covered with a little gravel as a good 
planted aquarium substrate.  On this list and it's archives I haven't 
heard much of that approach, and many books I've looked at have 
suggested gravel & laterite.  Has using a soil substrate gone out of 
fashion, or have people fund that gravel & laterite is better?

Thanks for your advice,