I made a planted tank nearly 6y ago and had to tear it down immediately (a couple of months) due to family issues. I still love planted tanks and watch too many planted tank videos and always resisted re-starting one up. Last year, I bought a tank and light used and it has been used for growing some carnivorous plants, until finally, this week, I decided to re-try a high tech planted tank. I am planning on doing a dry start with Montecarlo and elocharis hair grass mini. This is one bag of aqua soil (9L) and I am contemplating whether I should open up the second bag, or use some colorado sand. I want to make a strong hardscape that I will enjoy for a while to come. I couldn't justify spending a lot for stones and ended up buying "landscape" stones from Big Als. Looks pretty good if I may say so. What do you think?
My goal is a Lush green HC or Monte Carlo carpet with grass in between giving the sense of scale. I want a bright red focal plant at the back/center in between the rocks (should I get bigger rocks?) The livestock I want to have is again very specific : oto cats, siamese algae eaters, Amano shrimp, celestial pearl danios, chili rasbora and at least a couple of Dario Dario.
Which of these ideas do you guys like best? Any other suggestions on rearrangement?