I liked the layers of sediment in the rock at the store...but when I got it home...it looked a bit awkward in the tank, I figured I'd just go with it though, no big deal.
Substrate was just pea gravel, as I'm sure you can tell. Plants: a couple crypto, a small amazon sword, anubias, bolbitis, some pygmy chain sword, and a banana plant.
At this point I just sort of crossed my fingers and hoped everything would stay alive.
After a couple days, I decided that I wanted to add some fast-growing stem plants so that I could get some nutrient uptake going and start dosing. Initial plans were to just dose Excel daily until I started noticing deficiencies, then slowly start dosing with micros to see where that got me.
So, I picked up some red ludwigia (love it) and some wisteria (don't love it, but it grows fast) and added that to the tank.
I kept reading about planting heavily with stem plants, and so...I went overboard a bit. Also decided to rescape a little bit and move the ginormous rock out of the center of the tank. It was messing with the light distribution too much, and was difficult to work around given the design of the tank. This is what I ended up with midway through rescaping:
Yea...picked up another rock. I had this bright idea that maybe a smaller rock would work better, but I didn't care for the color much once I got it into the tank (there's that learning curve again). I decided that maybe I could place a rock to either side, and create some contrast with the red and green leafed plants.
I densely planted the right side, thinking I'd leave it that way for a day or two and see how the plants did before buying and adding more to the tank. Well...they didn't like that much...just not enough light.
I had originally planned on maybe adding some sort of carpet to the foreground on the left to blend with that green rock...but it was a no-go considering how the plants were doing bunched together like that.