Unirda-- Having one's work compared to Oliver Knott's is probably one of the biggest compliments one could get in aquascaping. Thanks
Craig-- no, why don't you do it? lol
Maybe someday I'll do a tank like this-- that's a bit down the road for me, at least a year off. I want to gain more experience with growing plants/holding conditions before tackling something like this. Most of my experience so far has been sporadic design of really small tanks and then taking them down within a few months. Guys like you would already have the experience and plants to do a tank like this though.
As to the fish, I think I'd agree with Craig that the fish should be chosen along the same lines as the plants, and honestly I didn't think about how acidic some of these plants like it when I thought "kuhli loach." Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to try cardinals and see how they look (I'm having a hard time picturing it in my head). How do green neons handle acidic water (just to get some options)?
I'm kind of inclined to want to use northern/central american livebearers, as they kind of fit the American-dessert theme (they do live in what streams will appear). Though, I don't know how any of them would like the conditions this tank could potentially have either.
Rasbora might be another group to think about as a lot of them have soft natural conditions as well, I think? Rainbows might be even tougher than some of the other fish considered.
unirdina-- that AFB does look a LOT like an Iguana . . .
Also, what do you guys think of pygmy cories? XD (my ground squirrels) :P