Made some good progress this weekend. Once we were sure that the auto-water change system is working as intended, we drained the tank and set up substrate, hardscape, and some plants.
This tank will be primarily viewed from the left side, but is actually fairly centered in the room. As a result, I decided to go with a right-skewed "V" shaped scape. This will allow the tree to have a better sense of scale up on a hill, but still look reasonably symmetrical in the room (unlike a normal triangle scape). In the past I have only worked with small tanks, and have tended to over-fill the scape. I am going to try to exercise some restraint this time and begin small and slow. The "tree" is the focal point, and should provide a good playground for the cherry shrimp underneath, egg-laying space for the fish, and a good perch for the bamboo shrimp near the highest flow areas of the tank. I have never been good at artsy things, but I think it turned out well.
We are using eco complete for this project. I used 2 new bags as well as ~1 more bag of pre-used from our other tank. I planted API root tabs as instructed. The hardscape will be our spiderwood and flame moss tree, transplanted from the 10g tank, some small dragonstone pieces, and a piece of artificial driftwood that we had. I tried to arrange the dragonstone in a way that would help prevent erosion on the hill and also appear like the tree is on a rocky hill. I really like the sense of scale between the tree and dragonstone.
We have been reasonably unhappy with some of the plants we have kept in the past. The Purple Temple stem plants have not been growing well and are not maintaining good coloration. Additionally the stems are very brittle which makes them a pain to work with. The Hydrocotyle tripartita we had grew well but was more unruly than we care for in a foreground pant. The lilaeopsis has been a favorite as far as looks go, but it seems that the snails always uproot it, causing it to look messy.
We planted a portion of hydrocotyle in the back corner, to hopefully grow into a large tangled bush. We planted some lilaeopsis in the back center. The flame moss remains on the tree, and we planted a little more on the driftwood and dragonstone.
I could use an ID on one of the plants we used. It was in our shrimp tank, doing quite well. It has medium size green leaves and grows in a sort of chain, typically crowing in a straight line in our shrimp tank. The runners also send off very fine brown roots. It is the plant that lines the front of the driftwood in the following photos.
In addition, we ordered some new plants from Han Aquatics. Amazon Frogbit and Salvinia cucullata will be our floating plants. They should stay in the left side of the tank due to water flow, and we are planning on investigating retention methods to keep them where we want them. We ordered a portion of monte carlo to begin carpeting the front left of the tank. I also have been growing monte carlo in my work tank, and will be adding that. We ordered a couple stems of Ludwigia Senegalensis to add some color, and a Green Waves buce.
That concludes our plants for now, but I assume we will continue to tinker with it. The stems will go in back, and I am thinking of planting the buce on the hillside. Tonight, now that things have settled out, we plan to move over the CPDs and the snails. We will also be temporarily moving the C2 filter to the 40g to keep things cycled. I hope that the existing bacteria and zooplankton in the moss and used gravel will help the transition for the adolescent fish and snails.
Here it is drained with hardscape:
A short video of it filling showing the rock and parts better: https://imgur.com/If2P0jq
The plants in the back and some of the plant for ID:
Here it is filled, also shows the plant for ID:
Here it is in the room, next to the old tank: