Week 14 has come and gone, and I will wrap up this journal in a week or two with a final image of the tank.
Against popular recommendations, I moved my CO2 diffuser next to my HOB filter's outflow. Contrary to the reduction in CO2 as I have seen reported, in my case this increased the amount of CO2 in the water. When the diffuser was against the side, there was a slow, easy flow of water past it, such that many of the CO2 bubbles simply rose to the surface and most were lost to the atmosphere before they could be absorbed. This also leads me to question why Amano's diffuser with the curved glass tubing is so high on the side of the tank. Wouldn't it be better positioned at the absolute lowest position in the tank to give the CO2 bubbles the greatest amount of time in the water as they rise? If anyone can explain that, I would appreciate it.
After moving the diffuser next to my HOB filter, the bubbles begin to rise, but the bubbles are then pushed down into the water column where they swirl around the tank for much longer and many appear to completely dissolve. All of the plants began to respond positively. The greens are now the most intense I have seen thus far, and the algae has been practically eliminated. I will likely alternate the location of the diffuser back to the corner every few weeks to try to evenly distribute the CO2.
The microsword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) is spreading into the dwarf hairgrass and is producing an interesting look. Right now, I like the look, but eventually it may push out the DHG.
The boraras brigittae continue to color up, but then inexplicably seem to lose color at times, creating a cycle of intensity. Perhaps it is the stress of the weekly water change. I keep the parameters (hardness) and water temp consistent when I change the water, but perhaps it is just the stress of a lowering water level and then the replacement of that water that stresses them into their pale alter-egos.
I am overrun with ramshorn snails, but they eat algae, so they remain for now. My nerite travels the tank daily, making his slow rounds, his mouth part always scraping away. If I didn't know I had Amano shrimp, I sure couldn't tell from looking into the tank. They rarely come out when the lights are on.
The prominent rock in the center of my scape is lighter than the rest. It didn't appear so when I collected it, but with the close proximity to the light, it makes it appear even lighter. That is clearly a mistake. I should have also added a little more slope to my substrate and probably should have used some substrate supports to maintain that slope. I'm sure there are many other mistakes, but I like to point out what I consider mistakes in the hopes that it will help others just starting their journey.
No pics this time, but stay tuned in a week or so for those with any interest in my feeble attempt at aquascaping.