Apologies for the long wait. Don't worry, I didn't forget this forum, I just got sidetracked by some random events in my life (possible Lyme disease late last month... weird). But, I've kept a photo log of the scape's progression over the past few weeks, and here it is:
Added Rilix, my old betta, in mid October. Ignore the HC-covered rock on the right, I was temporarily storing it.
Rilix hanging out in her new home. Old betta girl is nearly 3 years old and partially blind in both eyes. Doesn't stop her from being a fiesty little nipper.
Early November. Floating some Mayaca fluviatilis on the left. Some areas of DHG and UG began to rot, for reasons I don't know. Had some trouble with Green Dust Algae.
Mid November, added Mayaca as background plant.
From a few days ago. Removed a patch of HC in the back left of the "wash" where the roots/base had begun to rot (no idea why! ugh). UG still hasn't filled in a few areas on the left where it suffered a melt back. DHG is flourishing in some parts and rotting in others (I think the parts that are rotting are the original emersed plugs I set in the tank). Mayaca's doing well. Green dust algae is still around but I've gotten it mostly under control by knocking it off the glass with a toothbrush every day. There's some cyanobacteria and thread algae that seems to be trying to take a hold on the plant tips, but so far it's very contained.
Still trying to figure out the optimal dosing schedule for the tank.
I think I may need to up the nitrogen dose.
My LFS sells small banana plants... I'm thinking of taking the tropical feel of this tank even further by adding a banana plant on the left, and maybe some sag behind the large stone. Soon this will be more "Jungle" than "Arroyo"!
@kkcirtappatrick - you were right; the plants bounced back!
@firudwhi - thanks! I took your suggestion and tried a taller background plant, the mayaca, and I think it looks great.