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hello world,
I have been lurking internet forums and benefiting from your experience for many years now - excited to join in the conversation. Here's the outline for a new project I'll be working on over the weekend, will send progress pics and happy to hear comments / advice:

Aquarium: 5 gallon rimless cube (25cm * 25cm * 30)

Equipment:

Filtration - Eheim Classic 150 external canister filter - 3D printed cartridges to separate filter media. If interested I can share my files but please note they're sized for the 150 model. Running 2 foam layers in the base - coarse to fine but with space for a medium I need to add - Seachem matrix above as biological media (about 60% of the canister volume), and capped off with a carbon sponge. Running a glass spin-pipe for the outflow. I've had this running on an old tank for a month now and will transfer it over after a dry start period.
CO2 running from a UNS mini dual stage regulator and Aquario Neo C02 diffuser.

Lighting: Sattelite Plus Pro (I have the 24" left over from an older tank ... so it's just hung from the ceiling. Overkill but not interested in investing in another expensive light at the moment)

Fertilizer: NilocG Thrive Plus

Substrate:
ADA Powersand Advanced, Small. I'll be capping this with Fluval Stratum. From what I understand, Fluval Stratum is essentially inert, so hoping the powersand plus ferts is sufficient. It's what I have on hand and preffered to invest money in other things. Lastly, I actually plan to allow for a thin layer (1") of powersand at the front of the aquarium and cap it with black sand from stoney river. Doing this for the HC Cuba which I've heard can be finicky in larger substrate. Again, a little nervous about the inert substrate but hoping the powersand underneath will be sufficient. I just want it to root well and know Fluval Stratum won't cut it for these tiny guys.

Planting Strategy:
- Carpet of HC Cuba
- Mid-ground carpet of Staurogyne Repens.
- Mid-ground hardscaping pieces with Riccardia Chamedryfolia on the exterior and mini Bolbitis Heudelotii Difformis) and Bucephalandra growing on the interior. Hoping to create a rock crag split down the middle for interior planting - Bolbitis at the top for high lighting and Bucephalandra below to thrive in the shade. Riccardia on the exterior to benefit from uninterrupted growth space and light.
- Midground cluster of Rotala Bonsai behind the s repens. I think they'll compliment each other well.
- Background center piece Alternanthera Reineckii Mini
- Final backdrop comprised of Rotala Macranda and Rotala H'ra

I plan to do a 3+ week dry start depending on plant growth. Daily misting with Wabi Kusa mist to help prevent mold. All of these plants, save the Bolbitis, will come in as tissue cultures so should take the dry start just fine. I'll be using the blender/yogurt method to paint on the Riccardia to the exterior of the hardscape. Once flooded, I hope to house some nano shrimp (debating between Neocaridina and Caridina ... this will be decided based on my stabilized water parameters). I'll also be adding a few Horned Nerites, Chili Rasboras (6-8), and one Scarlet Badis. I'd love to get a pair but females are so damn hard to come by.
I'm curious how the Bolbitis will hold up during the dry start and if the transition will be smooth for it. I would rather trim it right down to the rhyzome before planting but decided against it during the dry start. I've never worked with Bolbitis before but am hoping it is as straight forward as other ferns. Not sure how big the mini variant can get ... fingers crossed. Also curious what rock types work best with riccardia. Definitely looking for rocks/wood with more texture but the final hardscape will be a composite of a lot of smaller pieces. I'll be using the cigarette filter / super glue method to achieve that. What could go wrong? Everything. Fingers crossed and looking forward to putting this together. What do you think?
 

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