Yesterday I found out about a new LFS that was supposedly "the biggest and best in town". It actually was pretty nice, a little dirty and run down, but huge selection and other than the betta section, the fish all looked very healthy.
They also had a huge selection of plants with their healthy looking fish. Their prices were better than the online prices I have seen and they had some REALLY nice looking Anubias Nana and some pretty good looking Java Fern (2 of the plants I've been looking for for my tank) so I unexpectedly got them. I also picked up some small dragon stone pieces to tie those plants to since you can't really plant them to start.
After a salt bath and then rinse, it was time to do some planting.
Top View, look at how green those Anubias are, 4.99 EACH for a big one like that.
Finally, after some water, the cloudiness will settle after a bit.
For the DIY filter media (not super DIY, just not what comes in the whisper) I bought a Fluval Sponge
For BioMedia I got fluval BioMedia, I wanted to just use lava rock, but couldn't find any small amounts of small rocks.
I also have Polyfil for a water polisher and I kept the Whisper10i water scrubber in there.
I popped the bottom off the filter and added a sponge along the intake to protect the shrimp and betta's tail. Inside, in the large area, I put the sponge, some polyfil and then the biomedia held in by the water scrubber. Then in front of the water scrubber, I packed in some more polyfil.
I am still trying to figure out what plants to use in the foreground. I've thought about grabbing some Anubias Nana Petite to line the driftwood like shrubs and maybe some crypt parva to make a "carpet" I'd also like something in front of the filter behind the big rocks, maybe a val or corkscrew val something semi-tall that would work with this setup. I'm definitely open to suggestions for the foreground.
I've also gone ahead and started the fishless cycle, I have food in the tank and the filter and heater running. (as well as the light on a timer). I have some quickstart I may use once I start to get an ammonia reading and I've considered using media from my established tank, but one of my fish had cotton mouth and I'm afraid to add that media and maybe infect this tank, so I'll probably refrain from that.
Once the water finishes clearing up from the water polishing, I'll post another picture.