Since I have thought over the hardscape and aquascape and had everything ready, I started setting up the aquarium last weekend.
I placed a large 60 lb rock, which I got at a local sand and rock yard, on egg crates. Man, that was a heavy rock and I was so scared that I might drop it accidentally and break the aquarium glass. Thank God, I placed the rock carefully without any accident.
Then I dumped five bags of Miraclo Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix, which created a 1"-1.5" layer of soil.
I then started capping it with washed Quikrete All Purpose Sand, which is basically coarse sand. Well, here is the thing. I washed the first bucket of sand without sifting it first, and I can tell you after 25 minutes of non-stop washing, the water in the bucket was still muddy. So, for the rest of the sand, I first sifted it to get rid of fine sand/dust and separate larger grains from the rest of the sand.
Another thing about Quikrete All Purpose Sand is that while tan under sunlight, it's quite pale in color under bright aquarium light. So, I had some darker river sand in my smaller tank, which I used on top of the Quikrete All Purpose Sand. I also attached rubber bands in multiple points of the driftwood to attach Anubias.
Having half-filled the aquarium with water using a glass bowl under the hose, I started planting the flora. The driftwood, although previously waterlogged, due to several weeks of drying became free floating again. So I used a rock and a few clay bricks to keep it down.
By the time I finished planting and filling the tank, it was time to put kids to bed, so I had to turn off the light and wait patiently until the next day.
The next morning, the water in the aquarium was quite murky and stayed like that for the next couple of days. First, I thought that it might be the first batch of sand, which was quite dusty. However, when the murkiness did not disappear after two days, I understood it was a bacterial bloom, common in newly set up aquariums.