I purchased a 55 gallon fish tank, 60 pounds of Seachem Flourite (50% Black and 50% Red), and 2 pieces of Mopani driftwood. As far as equipment goes, I am just about set. I have a Fluval 305 filter set up under the stand with the default filter media (bio-tubes and activated carbon). I bought an Aquatic Life T5 HO light fixture with 1 6000K spectrum light and 1 650nm spectrum light (almost 2W/G). I have a 300W Jager heater coming in this Friday (2/17) along with an Aqueon aquarium water changer. I also should have a 10lb CO2 system being delivered in the next two weeks or so.
I soaked the Flourite in 10 gallon tubs using a hose to remove the extra dust. Once the water in the tubs appeared clear, I spread out the gravel on a tarp and let it dry for the entire day.
The mopani driftwood is already dense enough that I don't have to water-log it however I was still concerned about excessive tannin leaching. I left the wood in a 10 gallon tub for 2 weeks, changing the water twice a day as time allowed. I also got a big turkey fryer and boiled water with the wood in it for 2 hours.
When it comes to the plants that I am putting in to the tank, I am a little uncertain as I've never kept any before. I'm trying to emulate a Dutch-style aquascape. My tap water's pH currently sits at 7.0 but I know that will change once it is added to the tank with the wood and CO2. Here is the rough flora plan that I put together:
Imgur album with a (grainy) picture of the aquarium hardscape, the Flourite drying on a tarp, and my aquascaping plan (layout):
How does the layout look? Are there any suggestions about my plant placement or grouping? As you can see from the picture, the gravel is higher in the back than it is in the front. I think this helps to give an illusion of depth. I really like the difference in leaf shapes between the two Anubias plants and the Lobelia cardinalis. From an aesthetic point of view, the Sag and the Anubias nana could be switched although I think that the Anubias would flourish better than the Sag if the Hygrophila begins to provide more shade.
Regarding fauna, I anticipate having 2 Otos and either a shoal of 10 Tiger barbs or a group of 10 Harlequin Rasbora and 10 Bleeding Heart tetra.