I started this way back in mid October (2016) with a dollar store potting soil base and HC "Cuba" on a dry start. I originally had photos all through the build, but unfortunately my SD card died.
A commonly cited problem with fish bowls is the limited surface area, but a half-filled sphere actually has a huge surface area. I really like the aesthetic.
Update: I filled the whole tank to give it much more volume. Surface area doesn't seem to be an issue at all.
My inspiration for this scape is the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. The HC looks like the forest that leads up the gently slope at the base of the mountain, and the little stones in the middle are like bare cliffs.
Hardscape and Equipment:
12-inch glass bowl from craft shop
Aqueon 10w betta heater
ExoTerra f150 sponge filter set to minimum flow
Generic natural gravel, super coarse grade to build up slope
3 pieces of rock rubble
Anubias nana "petite"
Frogbit (never really took off)
7 Boraras naevus
I really wanted cherry shrimp and no fish at all, but the 2 batches that I tried didn't survive in this bowl at all.
Update: drip acclimation did the trick. I got 3 cherry shrimp now.
Flooded at 5 weeks.
Top-down week 1 vs last night, HC is nicely carpeted
I was quite busy before Christmas, so the tank sort of got away from me. Now I'm getting back on top of maintenance. I only wiped the glass on the front and side where I usually look in. The heater in the back is also a new addition. It's a piece of equipment that I bought when I was in high school thinking that I would eventually use it. My mom dug it up a few months ago, and when I was home for Christmas I decided to take it with me. I suspect it's broken though.