I really like this idea of isolating various substrates and surfaces, and opening up more of the clear bottom of the tank to stay clear. Good luck with it!! It is part of my plan for my first tank.
Minimalism can be a very powerful way to place attention where you want it in the tank.
In fact, thinking of your idea and how it sparked my brain, I may consider altering the interior design of my new minimalist tank so all rocks, surfaces, props, etc — even substrate barriers and dividers — are completely devoid of color — white, clear, or mirrored surfaces — so that literally the only color you see are colored fish, and the plants themselves. I could even mask and “disappear” any substrate by placing it in white / opaque dishes as you suggest, and line surfaces with white so even the layers of earth are unseen.
Variations on this idea might include:
- Selecting only fish in one color family…
- Seiect only two colors of fish, stark contrast, so everyone is on, say, either the red team or the orange team. Even get multiples of pooling fish in one color and species (orange) ; and a second contrasting color (green) of another contrasting shape and species of pooling fish.
(Do different species of pooling fish pool together, as a species, apart from another different species that pool together in the same tank? (My mind is blowing.))
- Selecting only fish that blend in with green plants and camouflage making them difficult to spot.
- Reversing the idea, so that all animal and even plant life are colorless — only white, black, grey or clear / neutral (filter equipment as well), and the ONLY color in the tank comes from props, furniture, and other man made or artistic elements or design.