Thank you duff, demonr6, The Dude, and Aphyosemion for the suggestions!
In response to your questions:
Definitely agree that the crypts would look better clustered together towards the left. There is just something about the negative space created under the wood arrangement that doesn't look good on it's own, but maybe something else would better suited for that spot. The wood is actually two seperate pieces, but this was just the most interesting / appealing configuration that I've managed to so far. I like to watch the fish peek out and swim through the little knot hole in the top piece. XD
The heater does need to be hidden it better, but at the moment it's not plugged in (no climate control in the room), and I'm a little concerned that it will be "out-of-sight, out of mind" when cooler weather arrives.
I also very much agree that some foreground plants are needed. There is some C. parva in there, but it doesn't want to stay rooted this time (Amanos & MTS might be partially to blame there), and it grows too slowly anyway. It's a bit of a challenge finding the *right* foreground plant for a shallow, low-tech / non-CO2 tank, but I'll keep looking. ;-)
Okay, now on to the new high-tech 3G nano.
You know how they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Yeah this is sort of like that. Bought a kit tank on sale with intention of using some of the parts to set up a simple betta tank for a friend, while using this tank as another low-tech for my bed room. Long story short; I decided it was time to try a high-tech tank, and after spending a lot more than originally intended, and a months worth of shipping delays, I've finally gotten it started.
Replaced the kit internal filter with an AZOO palm (it was the only filter that would fit in the precut lid), the kit light with an Archaea 27 W light, and used a mix of Flourite Black Sand and Tahitian Moon Sand for substrate. From a six pack of assorted Malaysian driftwood pieces, I decided the best looking combination was these 4 arranged to (somewhat) resemble a rotted stump...
One valuable lesson learned: no matter how many pics you take, it's not always easy to get things arranged the exact same way again. XD
Found some static-cling 5% "limo-tint" at a local car shop, and used that to provide a "black" background. Due to space limitations around the tank area, I decided to go with one of those Pierce CO2 systems, despite the pricey nature of the refills, but replaced the diffuser and check-valve with ones I already had. It is, at very least, an easy system to set-up and use.
Now I just need MOAR plants: (Apologies for the less than stellar photo quality)
The HC in this tank is a bit of an experiment. Certainly have more of it to plant, it's just bit pain-staking compared to what I'm used to. XD I couldn't find any references of people planting submerged growth HC that had been allowed to get tall, so I am interested to see if it will start to grow more compact after having a chance to root and receive regular trimmings.
In addition to ordering more plants next week, also plan to order a nano sized drop checker & 4dKH solution since I don't have one that quite fits this tank. Also need to rebag some Purigen for the filter. Another lesson learned: if you're going to use panty hose as a Purigen filter bag, fill it very loosely. The first attempt wasn't loose enough, causing beads to slip through the weave when packed into the filter, and drastically reduced the filter flow.