A lot has changed with this tank over the last six months. First I changed a bit about the hardscape. I thought the middle looked a little two flat, so I added a mound of rock. I'm planning on adding some needle leaf java fern to grow up between the rock wedges.
As a corner tank, I had an issue with lighting the back corner. Originally, I believed that vals would be able to handle the dim back, but I was wrong. They died off, so I bought a regular old 16" flourescent strip light to try to light the back corner. It didn't fit very well, but provided enough to grow some sunset hygro (not the look I wanted, but it was what I had on hand). Still, the hygro would shed it's lower leaves because there wasn't enough light. I just added a vertically mounted 6500k spiral CFL just for the back corner, and wow, I can see the difference already. Now I'm just waiting to get some good, big background crypts like balansae or retrospiralis, and some plants to tweak the midground a bit.
One cool thing I discovered about the back corner light since I had to put it on its own timer, was that if I programmed the back light to come on a half an hour before and turn off a half an hour after the T5NO's, it gave a neat sunset/sunrise effect. It was a little more obvious with the pinkish AGA light that came with the strip light, but the spiral CFL still looks pretty neat.
Two other casualties were the flame moss and bolbitis. The bolbitis just never took off, and while the flame moss did, I had a clado outbreak on my driftwood (still do - don't judge me! :p) The clado completely covered the moss and the non-growing bolbitis. I haven't solved the mystery, but every tank I've had so far has ended up with clado, but only
if I put driftwood in it. If I never put driftwood in a tank, or if I remove the driftwood with clado, no more clado. But in a completely clado-free tank, if I put fresh, never before used driftwood in, it's only a matter of a few weeks before clado appears. I'm not willing to tear apart the tanks and bleach everything, especially since it seems determined to come back even in completely fresh setups with every effort made to prevent cross contamination, as this one was. I just live with it and prune it weekly. I just added some nerite snails since I read a few people have had success with that, so we'll see.
The fauna has also changed. The gouramis have both since died, though the cardinal tetras and farlowella are doing well. I added some swordtails - originally a mixed group from the LFS, though only one female and her offspring survived. I have since added four healthy black swordtails from a friend of mine, and they are doing very well, along with the one surviving red wag female. Also added some yoyo loaches, who seem quite content and add a lot of personality to the tank.
Now what you've been waiting for, the pictures. I apologize for the poor quality and the light glare - neither my camera nor my photography skills are that great.
Here's a full view of the front. You can see how much the remaining original plants have grown in:
Left side view:
View through the top of the water, featuring three of the algae crew:
Right side, not as easily accessed:
Two zooming swordtails:
Failed attempt at yoyo loach capture: