I would suggest rearranging your media layout. 1st: foam for mechanical filtration; 2nd: biological filter material (ceramic rings, lava rock, pot scrubbers, etc); 3rd: filter floss. Having the filter floss first will result in clogs building up faster at the first “stage” of filtration. Normally, you want mechnical sponge to take out all the large particles before the biological filter and filter floss to avoid clogging of the other two filter materials. Some people do initial mechnical filtration, filter floss and then biological filtration, which also works.
Thanks for the advice! I am in agreement. I've also read that the foam that comes with this model can turn into a nitrogen factory. Moving it over to the 1st stage for mechanical filtration and cleaning when necessary will hopefully avoid the problem other people have had. I was also thinking about buying a 3rd party media rack that inTank makes for this model. It's a little pricey at 50$, and I'm considering making my own with some leftover acrylic I have, but that 50$ might be well worth the extra headache/time.
If you're going to go high tech on this, I would be wary of plants like H. tripartita, glosso, and java moss. They grow super fast and you'll be pulling out fist-sized chunks every week. Either that or your tank will be completely overrun.
Consider slower growing mosses for the wood (there are plenty of those, HA!). Especially cool would be a slow grower like a fissidens mashed into the length of the wood (and kept moist) a day or two before you end up planting/flooding (unless you're doing to do a full DSM, at which point you can let it settle in for weeks).
Not sure what I'd recommend to replace the tripartita as it looks nice and has it's own distinctive look. You can never go wrong with a bunch of tiny coin buces ;P
The glosso can probably be swapped out for one of the marsilea, especially since they all have slightly different heights and growth rates, giving you some options (crenata is smallest and slowest) with a similar look (while still being different from monte carlo).
Otherwise, the scape looks like it'll be really elegant. Good job with the MSpaint skillz, it really helps imagine the overall idea. I would definitely build up with the gravel and get that driftood 3-4" higher, you can use the verticality to create a nice focal point. I know you can't show that now since the tank is empty.
You've also got a lot of green in there, consider something with a little red or purple to offset it. AR mini, buces, any number of low and slow growing red plants. Ludwigia repens will probably grow annoyingly fast.
I appreciate your voice of reason haha. I think I knew deep down inside that those choices were probably not the most practical, but more along the lines of my inner child screaming "I want my big green forest FAST!
" I'm definitely going to use fissidens now that I've seen something like https://youtu.be/wvrGMXIRpGY
I really enjoy looking at the tank in this video and hope to reproduce their success of fissiden+wood.
I'm not so attached to glosso, so I'll be happy to look for other carpeting options, and maybe even just getting rid of one or two of the choices here to keep everything in check.
I'll have to think about the rest of the plant choices in mind (especially the red/purple choices as I was thinking most of the red in the tank will come from cardinal tetras) and figure out if I'm okay to keep at least 1 fast grower, and gauge how much my wife is willing to help when I'm away on business for a week at a time haha...Thanks again for the advice and I'll probably come up with another MSpaint visualization
I got time since I'm soaking the driftwood and taking things much slower by planning out with tank rather than throw stuff together like I've done in the past.