So I need to retract a few things I said in my previous post. Been busy the last few days so a lot has happened!
1. Turns out, the bubbles were just backing up to the top of the reactor and sitting until the reactor finally "burped" out a bunch of them. So, I added the spray bar. I painted a few feet of 1" PVC, bought a 1" fitting and elbow from Home Depot, then after assembling all of it, I ran the PVC from the top of the tank to the bottom, and turned it 90 degrees to run behind the driftwood. I camouflaged it a bit with a couple of rocks. Now, with adjusted reactor settings, I'm still seeing a few bubbles, but not nearly as many. I'm satisfied with the result for now.
2. I added an old 1st generation Hydor Koralia for some current to help circulate the water while the plants are still growing in.
3. A couple of the swords I trimmed back didn't make it, so I replaced them with a St. Elmo's Fire, a Melon, and a Marble Queen Radican. These along with the remaining two Amazons and two Fire swords should provide plenty of color, and when they get bigger I may need to re-home a plant or two for the sake of space. Plus, the Cabomba is already showing growth- root systems and small leaves at the crowns so far.
4. I checked my pH to make sure the cement block holding down the wood wasn't going nuts, and so far so good. pH was around 7.6-7.8. I did a 50% water change today anyway just to make sure. Plus, my TDS is sitting around 400 (tap water), which is in stark contrast to the 650 it ran this time last year. I'll have to keep an eye on that for my Discus' sake.
5. Going on vacation next week, and then the wisdom teeth are coming out (ugh). In short, this means the tank will have a couple more weeks to mature before I start doing final parameter checks to place livestock. First, planning on a few cherry shrimp culls just to test the water (and because if they live they'll be snacks later anyway). If they do well, I'll add the Amano's and the Cardinal Tetras, followed finally by the Discus. Also considering a small group (5-10) Sidthumunki Loaches, but they're usually expensive in this area ($12-18).
I will be posting pictures of this all tonight, as when I photograph during the day, the window across from the tank leaves a terrible glare and ruins the photo, regardless of what I do with the blinds.