First off, I want to thank everyone for their opinions. Posting here has helped me decide what I want to do. Im very excited now.
To start, I am not changing the substrate. I know now that an enriched substrate is not necessary, but I do like the color and texture for what I have in the tank. I will definialy go with sand for future tanks as I love it in my 10. Here is what I believe my stock to be, exact tetra numbers may be off by 1
10 Black Neon Tetra
11 Rummynose Tetra
5 Hengels Rasbora (lost one, never got to replace)
1 Pearl Gourami
5 Zebra Loach
1 BN Pleco
1 Bamboo shrimp
I may be slightly over stocked, and I know the rummynose should probably not be there. But the two tetra species and rasbora swim together, and the pearl gourami Usually minds his on business. Not going to add anything else, other than maybe 1 or two more rasbora, and possibly extra RCS if I get them for my other tank and they have babies, I don't mind them being loach snacks, sorry if that offends anyone.
I still like the wood, the picture I posted is actually different than how it looks now, and it looks better in the pic I posted so lets keep that in mind.
Anyway, what I wanna do Is completely replant the tank. Lets start from the top down:
I have pennywort floating. It does its job, but its starting to annoy me. It gets tangled in itself, becomes heavy and sinks some. Parts of it sink about 2-3 inches below the surface, it especially sucks in my smaller tanks. What are my alternatives? Anything easier to manage? I found some salvinia natans. it seems that one leaf will sink some, but not the whole stem, would this be a better alternative.
The issue is that the penny wort sinks and gets tangled on the java fern thats on the wood, so if something does not sink, my java fern would look better. I also want to put moss on the wood, I think the effect of having it grow only on the "sunny side" would be nice.
Then to the substrate. This is where I would love your opinions on aquascaping. What should I do? I dont have a middle to plant anything, just sides corners front and back. I can do a pygmy chain sword in the front. Do you suggest to buy two, put one in each corner and let them send runners?
No idea what else to put anywhere. I have dwarf lily that grows very well but that also gets tangled in the penny wort. Since the stems are so thin, once the leaves reach the surface you dont really see any of the plant so it has no point to me, I may move it to the smaller tank and just trim it more often. It looks nice seeing the red leaves grow to the surface.
The other issue is that there is very little room between the back glass and the wood, terefore there is not alot of light that will hit the base of the plants. Would that be an issue?
Big post again, sorry