Quite a bit of progress has been made and as of tonight I am halfway through planting. You'll have to forgive me on not knowing exactly what I have planted as I am still in the learning phase of all the proper names of the plants. I'm usually saying "oh this one looks nice" or "I like the big leafy one in the back!"
Anyway, I am trying out some of the Miracle Gro Natures Care (green bag) potting mix for the substrate. In my first setup I used the MGOCPM (orange bag) with some red potting clay mixed in. I could not find any of the orange bag around town so after doing quite a bit of research on the Natures Care, I decided to give it a shot. Yes, it does have perlite in it; however, I believe the cap layer will hold it down sufficiently to not cause to much of a mess. If not, I'll redo it!
I decided to place dirt on either side of the tank as I wanted to leave the center under the arch fairly open. I ended up with about 1/2" towards the front and middle with maybe 3/4" of dirt towards the back. I had about 1/2" in my first set up and it went well. This tank will be more heavily planted so I increased dirt thickness slightly and I hope it will work out.
After getting the dirt mixed with water to what felt like the right consistency, I capped it with Black Diamond Blasting Sand (BDSD) of equal thickness of the dirt below. Once the dirt layer was capped, I placed in the wood and rocks, and then slowly filled the tank using bubble wrap placed on the bottom so as not to disturb the substrate. It was about this time I realized I forgot to mix in some clay into my substrate at which I was at the point of no return. So I continued on and will hope for the best! Shouldn't be a major issue, but it was something I planned on doing.
With a few inches of water in, I began planting my "little" plants.
With that being said, I was generously given several plants from a friend for this tank as well as ordering some plants which should arrive in the next few days. As previously mentioned, I am still learning here, but I am making an attempt to do better about learning the varieties of plants out there. This is what I believe I have in my tank at the present moment:
A few Amazon Sword
Several Narrow Leaf Elodea
1 Anubias Nana
Some Java Moss
1 Jungle Val (Couldn't resist not putting one in from my previous set up)
Several foreground stem plants of which I haven't determined species yet.
I am waiting on the following:
After getting the plants in, I put in enough water to keep all the greenery just under the surface. This ended up being about half filled at this point. I then installed the heater and set it at 78 degrees F. I also put in an air bubbler for now to get some surface agitation. I hope to finish planting over the weekend, get the filter running, and begin cycling. Oh boy is it getting exciting! I love getting a new tank set up!