Thanks everybody. That means a lot to me.
Did the first water change on Saturday. Despite all the ominous slurps against the skimmer teeth these were the only surfers, 3 platies, 1 oto, 2 black neon tetras and a corydoras. Been hearing fewer slurps, hoping they have figured it out.
It turned out to be easy to get them out. I turn off the pumps, pull out the emergency drain pipe for more access and net them out. There is still about an inch of water in the overflow box so they were fine. Just need to be sure there is enough room in the sump for the extra water or I would not be fine!
I thought there would be a lot of mulm to vacuum up but it was gone. Kicked up by the corydoras and picked up by the water flow? Some plant debris was it. I have done a pretty good job of keeping the rocks and wood away from the tank panes so it went well. The wood seems nice and stable too.
The ballast hasn't arrived yet so only one light on. Here is the tank today. As soon as the lights are both on I will break out the tripod for steadier photos.
There is a floating Anubias I need to reseat and the pennywort is a tangle again. Not sure why the narrow leaved java fern looks odd, IRL it is flowing with the current and looks great. Except for a few melting crypt leaves so far so good. I do need to think on the background plantings, bit lumpy looking so far.
The fish have settled down, less frantic schooling by the corydoras and Black Neons. Black Neons adore current and love to school in front of the returns. Bristlenoses look great hanging from the tangle of wood and piled rocks.