First, a big blob of soaked peatmoss. I know, you're supposed to just do a light dusting of the bottom glass. Well I went for about 1/2 inch of peat.
I want to do things a little different than in my other tanks, with more focus on substrate fertilization, and less water column dosing. So, in go a bunch of Jobes Ferns and Palms. I pushed them all the way down into the peatmoss.
Next, about 1 inch of a product (not by ADA) called "Special Kitty". It is used for many noble purposes, but its nutritious value and CEC for growing plants is excellent, and this layer costs me about 95 cents. I didn't wash it, just a quick flush in a bucket to get rid of the finest dust. This gives us about 1.5" substrate height.
Jobes? Kitty litter? I must be out of my mind. So let's continue... There was still a bag of price-matched Flourite. I took about 15% of it for a good cleaning, the rest went as the next layer, out of the bag, totally unwashed. I think when you rinse and rinse and rinse Flourite much of the good stuff is rinsed off. Okay now we are at about 2.5" height.
For biological activation, step one, I cleaned out one of my XP3's (really needed it) which left me with two cups of dark smelly sludge. Distributed that evenly over the flourite, then, for biological activation, step two, topped it with used flourite from my soon to be gone garage tank. Finally, added some thoroughly washed flourite on top of all. This gives us about 3" of substrate height, however, with the peatmoss and further settling it will go down to about 2.5".
Before going any further, I sucked as much water out of the tank as I could. This is a pretty good way to avoid a duststorm later when planting, as this moves the smaller particles further down.
With me so far?
Now the fun begins... filling up the tank.