Good morning everyone! Thanks for the comments. So, yes, Orlando, this is Eco-complete, and I agree with those of you who pointed out that Eco is not normally this large. I was quite shocked to see these big particles when I opened up the bags. I don't know if CaribSea changed their formula, or if I got a few anomalous bags, or what... But I figure I'll go with it, since I don't really have much of a choice, and the majority of the substrate was the normal sized particles I am familiar with-- there were just a few larger particles as well. I think they should all settle towards the bottom of the substrate soon enough.
The stripey rock is Zebra rock. I saw it first in an ADA dealer's website, and knew that it was what I wanted, but it was $3.99 a pound, and then there's shipping and stuff. So imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that a LFS had this rock in stock at half price! For $1.95 a pound, I picked up about 30 lbs of the stuff, then came home and spent literally 5 hours trying out different combinations of rocks before settling on this hardscape.
My thoughts on the inhabitants are, so far, that I want a nice school of fish in there, and I already have a small school of Black Neons in my girlfriend's nano tank, so I'm going to initially put them in there. If they don't provide the look I'm going for, then I will move them to the 45 Tall that I am still working on as well, and then maybe go with some Rasbora in here. But ultimately I'm thinking a school of tightly-schooling fish, a bunch of Amano shrimp, and of course, my favorite fish of all time, a handful of otos.
As far as flora, I'm initially going to just start off with just a carpet of something... to get that traditional Iwagumi look. I'm going out today to pick up about 4-5 pots of lillaeopsis brasiliensis, because I liked the way that looked as the carpet in my now-defunct 10 gallon. But if the LFS doesn't have any, or it doesn't look good, I'm going to take that as a sign that I should move on and try a different foreground plant to expand my pallette a bit. In that case, I will go to aquaticplantdepot's nursery tomorrow during my lunch break and get some glossostigma. I've seen some really nice Iwagumi's with just glosso, and I think this hardscape would make that work well.
Ultimately, though, I'm hoping I can get some microsword in here, and just carpet the whole entire tank. As soon as that look gets old to me, I will start adding a few Rotala spp. to fill out the background a bit, and then maybe put a stand of some Rotala 'Vietnam' in there as a focal point. I'm a full-on Rotala junkie now, and I am in love with that Genus. If I could, I would marry it.
I'm open to suggestions, by the way... for plant suggestions, or even livestock for that matter. I mean, I definitely plan on starting it up as a traditional Iwagumi, but that will evolve into other things, undoubtedly.
Stay tuned, because I'm gonna make this tank supersweet, I promise. I still have some hardware to buy in the near future, too. For instance, I plan on getting some glass filter tubes, and an inline heater, to make some of the ugly hardware disappear. Then I'm either going to build a CO2 reactor, or get one of those new glass diffusors over at Green Leaf. That means I'll be talking to you soon, Orlando.
More pics coming soon, hopefully this evening.