ok so I might just switch to sand, which is better for planting? sand or gravel?
That is true! Technically none of them will help growing the plants since they don't provide any nutrients unlike a dirt substrate, eco-complete or fluorite. However I like sand since they usually are able to anchor plants better and it looks better too. I would go with sand also it is easier to vacuum since most of the debris and poop stay on the surface of the sand so you just have to skI'm the surface with the vacuum. With gravel any debris or such will hang on the surface and underneath the gravel thus you actually have to fully dig in with the gravel vacuum. Both though should be stirred from time around that way no aerobic air pocket will form. I have Malaysian trumpet snails which digs in the sand so it aerates it.Neither are better for plants in my opinion. Both can grow plants fine with the right balance of light, and fertilizers.