Years ago my mom raised and sold fish (not saying exactly since I don't want to feel old today). We didn't have water tests and premade fish food so it was all stuff we did from items you could buy at the grocery store. I currently have a 50 gallon show tank with gourami of various kinds, panda garra, royal farlowella, assassin snails, leopard danios, and a single cory cat that is the survivor of a school of them (at least 6 years old). This tank has no fake plants, it's all real plants. The substrate is 1/2 black diamond sand and 1/2 natural gravel. I also have a breeder tank (40 gallon) with various kinds of guppies, at least two ghost shrimp (I put in 10 but I've only ever seen two at one time so I have lost a few), panda garra, maybe a chameleon badis (can't find it but it likes to hide), and assassin snails. The assassin snails were bought to eat the awful bubble snails that our local fish store gave me as a free gift... This tank is 50/50 real and fake plants. The substrate is aquarium gravel with a cap of black diamond sand. I also have a 10 gallon tank that has 3 neons, a clown pleco, 2 assassin snails, and holding my rainbow celebes until they are big enough to go into a larger tank. All fake plants for the decoration in this tank with a blue gravel substrate. A large portion of my fish are very young so while it seems like overstock, some are nowhere near grown. I also have a 500 gallon (approx) pond outside. Recently the gardener left the hose on when they left and it flooded the pond and killed ALL my koi. So my pond currently only houses a red eared slider turtle that is 2 years old and a large pleco, no clue what kind it is but it's 7 years old. As far as substrate, it was originally play sand years ago but it has made it's own dirt over the years. It has water lilies but I am working on finding new plants.