Boy this took too long. In the process of soaking the driftwood I managed to kill all the plants I had taken from my two retired tanks, killed a bunch of new plants I bought, killed a bunch of plants I collected and after looking at the state of the latest batch I collected they were starting to die so I kicked myself in the behind and got this done tonight.
For starters I decided to go with mostly crypts in this tank - Wendtii Red & Tropica. There is also a couple of stems of Cardamine Lyrata, Hygrophila Difformis (Water Wisteria), some Anubias Nana that managed to survive the first die off and from my weekend collection run there is Hornwort and the branch is covered with some Willow Moss. I think the Hornwort is on the way out because I dipped it in PP then a bleach solution and found it yesterday in awful shape. It was really green when I first brought it home and lush then the day after the dip more than half of the plants had lost all their leaves and looked like they were done for. You touch them and they fall apart. What is in here was the survivors. The moss is looking like hell too and this is the best of the bunch. I still have an entire huge bucket left and I may get creative with that. I am hoping it bounces back. I will add some foreground cover along the left front but intend to leave the other open areas as is.
The two rocks in the front were also collected at the springs, covered in some neat algae. There are three more but right now they are on the wood trying to get it to stay down as it still wants to float. I will figure something out this weekend to weigh it down so I can move the rocks back into place where I had them.
For now I am using my ZooMed canister until this weekend when I order a new canister and a small powerhead to help improve water flow across the tank. I am also still sorting the light situation and am counting on the sunlight from the window to suffice for a couple of weeks supplemented with the two lights you see in the pic. I may just pick up a couple of desk lamps then throw some CFL's in there till I decide on where to go with the lights. Half-assed improvisation is necessary sometimes..
As mentioned in the OP staying true to my dirt aspirations this is using organic soil capped with Zeobrite Zeolite which took me a good number of washes to get to run clear. We will see how it works out as a cap material. It looks nicer I think that stark white sand. I know even that changes over time but I like the grains of this much better.
Not the slightest clue as to fauna except I may go with mainly shrimp and something that won't eat them.
Feel free to throw in your comments, suggestions etc as they are always welcome. I do not intend to do any major rescaping as I like it as is.. it suits my taste.
Pics are not the greatest and I will get some better taken tomorrow.
and the shrimp colony thriving (and snails unfortunately)
and you can see someone is preggers in this one..