I agree, it's not cheap but as a complete beginner with a planted tank crypts, vals and dwarf sag do very well in the 3-4" of Eco Complete fine in my low/no tech 55g. MTS snails seem to do well in it, and it's ok for the corys. Also liked the 'no rinse' aspect. Fairly easy to keep clean with surface vacuuming. It's pretty light, but the crypts hold it together enough that I can pour in a 5g water bottle pretty fast and nothing blows around.2) Inorganic substrates Secahem, Eco - Seem to grow Crypts, Amazon swords, Vals etc Well
I like coarse concrete sand from a builders supply or the Horticultural sand from a garden center.