Update, finally! I've been busy with the Pacu and Blood Parrot.
I noticed that there were air bubbles in the sand. Which is really bad over the long term, because trapped air can become aerobic and release all sorts of nasty noxious gases and kill the entire tank. See here -
So I took my finger and very carefully swished it through the sand, feeling the difference between the sand and the dirt. As you can see in this next photo, quite a bit of air bubbles were released -
However, I intend on adding Malaysian Trumpet Snails to this tank so they can get rid of the remaining air bubbles, because I'm sure there are still some left that I missed but I feel I got the majority of the bubbles. Gotta love MTS! :;th
Next was the Moss Ramp. Here, fishing line actually has a use since zip ties are much too big to fit through the little tiny holes that fiberglass window screening has. Fortunately, there was a damaged screen from the former tenants of my house, so I just ripped that up and used it. I don't think they're expensive at the home improvement stores. I took my Java Moss and spread as much as I could on the screening -
By the way, that fishing line? It wasn't really effective in the end, since the screening would bend and the moss could come off. Still, I tried. Fishing line does very much have a purpose in this next photo. I wrapped the screening around the ramp and tied off at the top. The Java Moss should grow readily inside the screening then it'll come through the holes and form the Moss Ramp.
I didn't have time to do the little square part between the aquaponics containers, but I will once I return home from my family's house next week. Here, the water's been brought up and plants put inside the substrate. The plants are Wisteria, Anacharis and Java Ferns. Since Java Ferns are the most hardiest plant I know of, I figured it would do okay under the shaded portion of the tank. Newts love those plants as well.
I had to put the sponge filter back in the tank since the plants were just planted and the ammonia hasn't yet started to be eaten up by the plants and Fire Belly Newts are very sensitive to water quality, so I wanted to keep this tank cycled and the newts healthy.
Here's what the tank will eventually look like without the filter. The plants will be the filter, since it's dirtied. I need to find some smaller ground cover plants like dwarf sags that can be planted in the substrate for the center front of the tank.
While the dip in the eggcrate was accidental, I actually like it. I think it mimics the natural shoreline, which isn't perfectly straight, of course. Plus, should the newts want to be in shallower water but still in the water, they can use the center part. If they want to get out, they can go into the aquaponics surface.