Thanks Doogy and Shay!
It's been a learning experience so far, and I'll post up a few more photos to help get everyone up to speed. For those that know all this stuff, feel free to turn this thread off for a few months until I wind up knowing enough to have a gorgeous, planted tank! For everyone else, here's another step in what it took for me to get there!
I have been slowly removing all the tupperware plants and sorting out where the live plants should be. I shuffled the plants a little and noted that each time, they took a little bit to acclimate to the new surroundings. I assumed that disturbing the substrate removed some of the nutrients that were dispersed throughout the new landscape, plus, the roots were not as spread out as they had been before. So, it took a while (week or so) to see any headway. But it was noticable, albeit slow headway.
With the crayfish gone, the plants started to stay where I put them. This allowed them to finally build a root system. First point to note, if you're going to freshly plant a tank, don't do it with a crayfish! I hear there are some that don't disturb plants, but I can assure you that mine wasn't one of them!
Keen eyed readers will note that there's some Mondo Grass in the left foreground. I like it, but found out after the fact that it isn't really a submerge-able plant. They say it goes away after a few months. Mine is still there, so we'll see.
Also, Doogy, that reddish plant that is center front is one that came with the RAOK shipment. Do you know what that is called? I keep thinking it's an S. Repens, but I don't know that for sure. I'm pretty sure that it would appreciate a little more lighting though, right? Here's a closer picture. Sorry for the bad picture. I'll try to get more when a "soft focus" doesn't benefit the tank's appearance so much.
As you can see, the leaves are pretty shriveled up, which combined with the darker color, I would imagine indicates that the plant could use some more light. It IS shooting a lot of roots down into the substrate at many of the nodes up through the stem. I'm assuming that this is a positive sign, yes?
If everyone can forgive my low-brow attempt at figuring out if more light would benefit the plants, red one included, I'll share my technique. In trying to figure out PAR, Lumens, light spectrum and whatnot, I've read that those spiral florescent bulbs throw the proper lighting that provides for photosynthesis. I happen to have one in my drop light. So, in the name of science, I decided to try pouring a little more light on the plants to see if there's any noted improvement. I don't see this thing hard-wired into the living room, but if it shows improvement...
Plus, I plan on getting a designated light that works for planted tanks, as I noted above. Facepalms and ghastly sighs aside, here's the non-scientific experiment.
As you can see, it's set on "Bake" for the (S. Repens?) red plant. I put it on there for around three hours a day and carry it over to the Cabomba for a few hours. I think both are showing signs of growth. I know the smaller stem plant behind the red plant is really digging it, as the top two rows of leaves is a new growth and a totally different shade of green. I think the Cabomba is growing as well, and the tops seem to be opening up more. In preparation for growth?
Anyways, here is how the tank looks currently. Everything looks like it is acclimated to their location and appear to be growing. There are smaller sprouts on each of the stemmed plants and I'm not sure if it's due to plant growth or not, but I noted that the water is super-clear today. Now, I know that lots of folks use most of the alphabet when talking about water quality, and I plan on delving into that realm very soon. Many places have the API kits with the tray full of various bottles for testing. Is this a consideration for someone such as myself or would the thirty or so odd dollars be better spent on another brand/kit?
Thanks for reading!