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Hey community!
First time poster and planted tank beginner.
After some inspiration from the site, I began my first aquarium journey. I have always had a healthy fascination with things a bit macabre, so I decided the focal point of my tank should be a skull, yeah I know real original. However, after having done some quick searches of aquariums with skulls I noticed they all were lacking a sense of subtlety. In other words, most of the end results were incredibly tacky. So I made it my mission to attempt the "skull" aquarium while straying away from kitsch.





The skull decor I settled for is the most realistic one I found at my LPS, also the one commonly sold at wal-mart. I figured the detail wasn't half bad. However, once I threw it in the empty tank (a vertical 5 gallon) as a starting place I saw just how dominant the object was, and how little room in the front it allowed.





So I figured I'd do the sensible thing and saw it in half. The skull tried pretty hard on anatomical proportions, but since there will be no viewing from the back I figured the face served as the important effect.





Much better.. the skull looked best nudged in the corner, and I figured I would follow with a asymmetrical hardscape. So I slanted the substrate and found some driftwood that didn't cover the skulls line of sight.







I started to think that this goal might actually be possible.
I did some research on various aquatic plants and decided on four species to start out in the tank. For a backdrop plant I got some red jungle val, some red ludwigia for mig-ground, a bunch of microsword, and some classic java moss for the driftwood. The result so far:







I was told the plants will need some adjusting from travel shock and possibly new water type, so the plants are obviously not at their best. I'm still not satisfied with the subtlety of the skull, and hoping the micro-sword and java moss will grow to immerse it quite a bit more and will add more moss to the first stretch of wood once I get a feel for its growth. I'm also a little concerned that any runners the red jungle val might produce won't get enough light as the back is a bit shaded. I will get my carbon reactor up and running real soon and will just use excel in the meantime. Any suggestions for the goal would be appreciated! I suppose time will tell.
 
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