It was mentioned in another thread that I start a tank journal, and after thinking about it, I decided that it was a good idea. So here goes.
In deciding to start a planted tank, my first decision, tank size, was decided for me. I still had the aquarium stand that I built when I was running a reef tank, about 20 years ago. Add to that the fact that Aqueon puts their "standard" size tanks on fairly deep discount several times a year, and the decision to go with a 40 breeder was made.
In preparation for the tank sale (you never know exactly when one of these events will occur), I visited a friend and gathered some holey limestone rock from his pasture to use in the tank. Then I got to work on layouts. Here's what I came up with as a prelim:
Then in the June 2020 monthly flyer, Pet Supplies Plus announced their dollar a gallon sale, which meant that the 40 breeder would be 40% off. After picking one up, the real design work started.
After moving and shifting and stacking and epoxying and moving again, I came up with this layout:
But the rocks were too close to the same height. So following up on something that was mentioned in another thread, I got some tile to use as a platform. Now we're getting somewhere, I thought:
And on to the substrate. Substrate is garden soil left over from the raised bed I built for my wife this spring. It's good, fertile soil, very clean, with hardly any large pieces of organic matter in it (I think the largest I removed was about 2" long and maybe the width of a pencil). I had a partial bag of miracle-gro soil, but it had gotten wet at some point in the past and was really rank, so I rejected it. So the soil went in and was capped with Black Diamond Blasting Media courtesy of Tractor Supply, which brings us to where we are today:
In retrospect, I would have liked to have more slope from the front to the back, but the sand is in there, and I think I'll go with it for now.
Now I need to figure out what plants will be going in to it. For that I need your help. I'm wanting to stick with North or possibly South American plants if possible. Not really a biotope, but I thought it'd be neat to do so. I'd like some kind of carpet in the front, but I think I'd like something grass-like, so no HC or Monte Carlo. I'm shooting for maybe 1-1/2" tall in the front. I've looked at DHG or maybe Helanthium Tenellum, both regular and broad leaf. Is there any consensus on whether the DHG or the Helanthium Tenellum would be the better choice? I might have some S. Repens in the foreground as well. Then for the midground I'm thinking maybe some Alternanthera Reineckii Rosanervig, some Bacopa Caroliniana Red, and maybe something else around the rocks. Probably some some Ludwigia Arcuata in the background and possibly another plant back there, but I'm not sure what. Does that sound like a good selection?
I'll also be doing DSM on this, so I'm planning on doing the front at least from tissue cultures. Several of the other plants I've listed are also available as tissue cultures. How do stem plant TCs do from dry start?
Thoughts? Recommendations? Criticisms?