This is my 5th dry start so far over the years. I took all the HC I previously had growing in my Mini-M and planted it in this tank. It turns out I had a lot of it, so I placed the HC as close together as I could to speed up the growing time.
I also planted mini dwarf hairgrass from a pack of Tropica 1-2-Grow. I'm a huge fan of these because they pack a ton of plants into each pack. It's also grown emersed so there's no die-off from the transition to emersed growth during the dry start. Because DHG will easily overtake HC if planted together, I put a plastic divider to separate the two plants.
The leaves on the HC has started to yellow as expected. They'll all eventually be replaced by new, healthy green growth. The entire dry start should be finished in 4-5 weeks.
The dry start has been slow this time around. Usually, I'd place the tank on the floor and have it tilted so that water level is even for the entire substrate. Unfortunately due to the size of this tank and the fact that it was sitting on a stand, I wasn't able to do this. As a result the shallow substrate at the front had a lot of water whereas the deeper substrate at the back was almost dry. Despite me misting the tank 3-4x a day, most of the HC and DHG in the back died off. After waiting 3 months for it to fill in, I flooded the tank two weeks ago. The HC has filled in about 90% and looks great. The DHG has a bit of thread algae, but otherwise doing well also. The Aquasky light is actually stronger than I though, so I had to reduce the light period to 8 hours to curtail the algae growth.
Here's what it looks now:
Close-up of FTS:
I've placed the lily pipes into the openings under the light
After cycling, I added 25 green neon tetras
The tetras are doing great and have all survived so far. They're forming tight schools and swim all over the tank between the rockwork. Next week I'll add a school of C. habrosus dwarf cories to complete the livestock.
Man wish I had thought to check children's storage at IKEA!! I just set up my modified and reinforced Besta cabinet for my new 60P, but hate the extra lip behind and in front. This fits PERFECT. Ugh...now I'm seriously considering going to IKEA this weekend to get this stand and redo it all again haha.