I know the dirt capped with sand or rock works well, but I'm not a fan of two layer substrate. Because at the beginning I'm going to be doing some re scaping till I get things they way I want it to look. And with double layer substrate I'm worried that moving things around will stir it up to much. I'm thinking just play sand with root tabs, it's what I have with my 29 and my plants do great in there.
Background? Now that you say that, there is a 3d background I liked of a tree stump. But realistically prob just going to have a black background. I spray painted the back glass of my 29 and I like the look of that.
Ya def will have a couple nerite snails and I like bamboo shrimp, but I don't think I've read anything about vampire shrimp. Might have to do some research. I don't know about the crayfish, wouldn't they eat my fish?
Thanks for your input. I don't want to rush into this tank, want to take my time and make sure I'm going to love it the way it's set up for years.