Things are going well. Almost all of the hair algae has disappeared. Only noticing a little algae on the bottom front right glass. It's similar to the brown algae that coats the inside of your filter or lily pipes. Comes off no problem. The modification I made to the skimmer has so far successfully kept the shrimp out of the filter. The pygmy corys are awesome and a really cool addition to the tank. The Cardinals are doing great as well and there has not been any jumpers of late. They are more accustomed to my presence now and do not scatter when I or my cat or children approach. Cleaned my impeller for my aquaclear/fluval20 HOB and was getting a lot of filter noise. Added a little petroleum jelly to the impeller and it has turned the noise into a light murmur. Wanted to upgrade the HOB but the next step up take up to much space on the side and will force the light to move more towards the front of the tank. I am not fond of that look. The more central the light the better. But having the HOB and the Eheim 2211 running together gives a nice 1-2 punch for filtration and gaseous exchange.
Raising it up has been a real blessing in disguise. I don't have to move it to work in the tank and the algae on the rock has been reduced to only two green spots. Raising it up has done wonders. I'm very close to being dialed in with the water.
Right now I'm doing:
50% water change, and 4ml of Thrive, 3/4tsp of Magnesium Sulphate.
Day 2,3,4 topoff
50% Water change and repeat.
This has seemed to work well fertilizer regime seems to be working well.
I still have a little curling of the bacopa leaves at the top of the tank. But they are now growing out of the tank. I'm going to let the bacopa over grow this week and maybe next and then do a trim. I want it to establish a strong root system before I trim.
Happy with how things are going. Getting closer to the equilibrium horizon.
Thanks for those who are following this thread or who have stumbled upon it.
ps added an old ACURA 50W heater that I have had in storage since 2005. It's keeping the tank at 76 degrees and working flawlessly. Surprised by the quality of the heater.