Well a ham and beef sandwich is a Cuban special.
Where I see a slight POSSIBLE glitch is the combining of the kitty litter(clay) with
the back yard dirt(clay heavy) which to me implies a chance of over doing the clay ?
I applaud the creative nature of the Aquascape contest entries.
But I'm skeptical at the same time. I frequently see plants put where they won't last for more than a couple of months without getting algae for closeness to the light source.
Let me see that tank after it is 2 years old and I'll cease and desist immediately.
The kitty litter is baked and fracted. Something not often discussed here is the difference (chemicaly) between raw clay (goopy stuff from the earth) and baked clay (think pottery). When clay is baked, and not at low temperatures, like in a kiln, it changes composition and does different things in the tank than raw clay does. Raw clay is super fine sediment that is nutrient rich and great for plants, they love it, the only problem is they don't love how hard it is for their roots to dig through, and it's anaerobic as a result of it's density. BAKED clay however can never again become the same material it once was. Even if you grind it to a dust and hydrate it, it isn't clay. See here if you're interested: The Drying and Firing Process of Clay - Physically and Chemically
Once clay is baked, it is useful for it's CEC capabilities. It absorbs goodies from the water, just like it absorbs oil from your drive way.
I'm told (and may be wrong), in essence, it seeks after balance. When it's submerged in a solution it tries to fill itself with a similar composed solution. So when clay bits soaked in salt water are dumped into fresh, they release much of the stored salt, only what we are after as planted tank enthusiasts are ferts. When ferts are in higher numbers, the clay absorbs it, when it begins to lessen, the clay leaches it.
My hope is that this property will help my root tabs last a touch longer, and that it will help any water column fertilization stay relatively balanced, reducing spikes, and managing depleted levels. I intend to put a thin layer of this directly on top of the soil before capping, to help with the water column ferts.
Awesome, me too I dug out clay out of my backyard few weeks ago to setup my new 20 long.
Ask me: Do you want clay or pond soil or play sand?
Answer: Yes please.
So I made a three layer cookie about 2 1/2" thick. And I wanted the creamy layers to be visible unlike 99.9% of the community.
Having it visible gives you a chance to teach too. "this layer helps with X, while this layer is good for Y". I was considering this since the tank I am putting this in will be in a class room. I think I'll make it visible from the sides, but not the front, so it looks nice head-on but is still accessible for teaching.