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According to the kind folks on the www at Aquatic Concepts and the book "The Optimum Aquarium," fine sand will eventually become too hard and will not provide a good substrate for planted tanks. Check out http://www.frii.com/~booth/AquaticConcepts.htm for more info. Also, in the book "Nature Aquarium World" you will find that the author points to tank size as one factor in choosing grain size: the larger the tank, the larger the grain size. Presumably there are upper limits to grain size of course, but you get the idea ( you don't want huge pebbles as substrate!). ADA offers three grain sizes. Check out www.natureaquarium.com for more details. The overall winner in the substrate category seems to be #3 natural quartz gravel mixed with laterite in the bottom third.