Sterile vs. biotic loam/manure

First off...thanks for the advice re: getting the substrate right in my new
plant tank.  One question remains though.  I have been advised to use
"garden loam"  rather than sterile potting soil.  My assumption is that by
using garden soil I would surely introduce plenty of bacteria into the
substrate, thus allowing desireable bioactivity to occur.  My fear is that
by doing this I would also introduce into the tank some critters I might not
want. Wouldn't sterile soil eventually be colonized by bacteria and anerobic
bio-degradation begin spontaneously?  I would appreciate any thoughts
regarding this.  I admit that the idea of digging frozen soil out of the
far-northern New Jersey tundra does not excite me!

I have also been advised by a dealer of laterite that a 2 ounce of laterite
to 25 pound of gravel ratio is ideal.  What are the thoughts of the
experienced regarding this.  This ratio seems a bit skimpy to me for some
reason.  Will it affect results negativily to use more?  Is there benefit to
using more?  And lastly, what about using vermiculite?

I must admit that my reader ate my Aquatic Plants Digest #260 (the issue
which contained a response to my original post) so I never got to read it!
What response I did get from ya'all came via e-mail.

The Fluval 303 with bio-wheel is up and running (just finished installing).
I shut down half of the UGF while the bio-wheel gets cultured.  I am really
anxious to get that damn UGF out of the tank, substrate mixed, and plants

Thanks again for your patience

Jack <sciguy at garden_net>

From "Toxic-Ice New Jersey", where the cold rain is lubricating the ice in
the parking lot......
"What...me worry?"