Am thinking the tank looks okay now. Using thumbnails so click if you would like to see a larger photo.
This is from 5/24. Am thinking I need to work on proportion quite a bit, red lines are supposed to be the focal points. Leaving the HOT on for more circulation. The variegated Ficus behind the tank looks great here, unfortunately I thought it was a number of cuttings stuck in one pot and when I tried to divide it it didn't go well. Still have two bits but they aren't so pretty yet.
Since that was done the fish population has changed quite a bit. Current stocking is
30 cardinals [Happy birthday to me!]
10 black phantom tetras, look to be 4 male and 6 female
7 adult + 2 baby platies at the moment
5 peppered corys
4 otos + 1 possible
1 pair of twig catfish
1 adult female bristlenose
1 subadult BN, hoping male
Stocking is complete, happy with the schooling behavior and all that. The female BN is now named Miss Piggy. I drop in a zucchini chunk and she is the only one on it and won't leave it, she even comes to visit the rock when there isn't any veggie there. Have seen some T-ing with the corys but the nice Grindal worms haven't gotten down to them so doubt I will see any eggs any time soon.
Plants, a bunch more all from SnS here.
Some recent ones are
Rotala sp 'Singapore' Love it starting to get red
Hygrophila sp 'Tiger' Very rangy, on the fence
Ludwigia arcuata Not sure, it hasn't settled down yet
Polygonum sp 'Kawagoneum' Love it. Great color and presence.
Narrow leaved Java fern that looks just great in the tank.
Took out a lot of the driftwood and put the new Java fern and a couple of floating Anubias bits on one. By accident the placement was perfect and it is in the foreground. Mystery fern disease attacked the Marsilea and it is patchy but will recover just fine.
The color of the lighting never improved, platies were orange, cardinals were only blue and the plants were all the same shade of yellow green so I have been shopping for new bulbs. Then the ballasts started driving me nuts and I realized that even the base up bell pendants could be an issue so bye bye old reliable Hamilton bells with Plusrite 6500K bulbs.
Hello FishNeedIt 150 metal halides with electronic ballasts and 8000K bulbs.
Love this set up. Fish have their proper colors, my red plants are red not wine colored and the green plants have different hues. The ballasts are completely silent. There are glitter lines!
The new fixtures went up perfectly. I hadn't a plan when I bought them either. Found an old tool hanger the perfect length and width with holes at the right intervals, miracle number one. Then I found hammered silver spray paint in the garage that actually still worked, miracle number two. Didn't drop the wet bar in the grass or anything when I painted it either AND I *waited* to play with it until the paint was dry. Guess these lights were meant to be. You can see the hanger best in the photo with the lights turned off.
I am developing a lovely case of green water due to the brighter lighting. Glossy white isn't as good a reflector as dimpled shiny stuff! I laid eggcrate to support window screening for now. Yesterday the tank didn't get as green as the day before when it was uncovered so I think it is just the extra intensity causing the problem. Dropping the lighting period to 8 hours with lights staggered by an hour for right now. Going to up the nitrate a bit this week when I restock my fert minder. Going to tinker with the CO2 as well.
When I trim this time I need to pull the wisteria as the bottom leaves aren't contributing except as a substrate for algae and they are too tall. I think I have enough good stuff now so I will be repeating this for the other groupings then I can start trimming them shorter on the left to full height on the right in an attempt at forced perspective.
Not sure about the K nano powerhead placement, will try untangling the rest of the HG to see if it looks better if it all is flowing in the current but the reason for the placement is to keep debris from collecting at the glass and starting up BGA which it is doing at this point. Do like the HOT's flow as the floaters are staying away from the overflow box.