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Hello, everyone. As the subject line states, I am totally in over my head with my 40.

I had idea of something Tonina-inspired for the aquascape, and bought a bunch of val spiral, hygro, bacopa, ludwigia, and rotala, put the val in a row along the back, a clump of hygro on each side, placeholder rock in the center, and artfully arranged the three other stem plants around the rock.

I was trying to avoid all the algae problems I had with my 20h so initially had a 4-hour photoperiod. This led, in about 2 weeks, to a massive melt-off. I frantically removed everything, salvaged what I could, bunched it together with lead ribbon at the bottom, plopped it in, and increased my photoperiod to 8-hour. My plan was to do a grow-out until everything had recovered from the melt-off, then deal with the aquascape.

As you can see from the photo, what I have now is great growth, but a HUGE mess from an aquascaping standpoint. There are so many plants that I am now at a place where I literally have no idea what to do. The rotala alone fills the left half of my tank from back to front, top to bottom. I also had a massive blossom of this brownish-green, long, stringy algae which, luckily for me, was very easy to remove with a toothbrush.

The tank is cycled, though there are no fish living in it, I have been adding 5ppm ammonia daily for a couple months. I am injecting way too many bubbles/sec of CO2 to count. Temperature is 78f, Ph is 7.2, Gh hovers right around 5, with Kh about 8. Lighting is 164 watts of CFL for 8 hours. Fertilization is about 1/2 ei.

What should I do? Remove and inventory everything? I was thinking that for the bacopa and ludwigia I could top it and discard the bottoms (you can see in the photo where it started thriving when I cranked up the light) but a lot of those bunches have sprouts shooting from the bottom. The rotala is almost like a weed at this point. The hygro is doing great, but the vallisneria not so much. The plants have each shot out a half-dozen runners that are doing great, but the original blades have all turned yellow.

Any advice would be greatly welcomed...not just aquascaping ideas, but suggestions on how to approach this mess. Hope everyone is having a great holiday season, and thanks.
 

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I would focus on my 2-3 best growing plants. Eliminate my weakest plant(s) sp. I would trim what you keep and replant the cuttings. Continue to fine tune your tank to get it in balance were algae is very much in control.

I'd get some Amano shrimp in there. I like Ramshorns as a part of my Algae clean-up crew.

While this is happing , maybe start looking at other Aquascapes for inspiration.
 

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Man, if I had a tank that looked like that I'd just sit in front of it and cackle madly, scissors in one hand, bucket in the other.

Then I'd go to town like a botanically inclined Sweeney Todd.
It would be beautiful.
 

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Sculpture

I would treat it like a sculpture. Start with the front and create a row of stems.
Then go to the second level and cut the stems a little higher. Then go to the
back level and cut the stems a third higher. This way you create a stair step
approach to the scene. This with give spacial depth. You can also shape the
rows, so some groups seem different than others in the row. Buy playing with
size alone would be very interesting to look at.
 
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