I would do the stones with a black substrate, plants in the back, some type of carpet plant but not over the whole front part of the tank so that some of the dark substrate shows.
I was thinking the same thing. I still got left over fine black sand I used in my Fluval Edge. Looks great IMO.
interesting... you planning to use co2 on this?
If not, I think an island style layout would work nicely with that wood. i.e. clean sand in the foreground, use the branch wood as a centerpiece with some smaller ryouh, instead of smooth river stones. some NLJF in the background and perhaps some anubias nana in the foreground, maybe some Mini pellia on the rocks... the wood is just the right size for that little tank, personally, I think i'd be a waste to ditch it in favor of an iwagumi.
Thanks for your input.
This will have pressurized CO2. Wanted to do something different by using smooth river stones. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like iwagumi tanks are done to death now a days. You're describing tanks that look like those of TPT member manini. Love the tanks in his store Aquascapes but I'm trying to be different. I do plan on some mini pellia (expensive little thing). You have an eye for aquascapes, no doubt about that.