Just thought I'd post a quick photo of my current set up. It's 9 days old today. I've had some really good growth so far. Hopefully I'll have a full carpet within another 1-2 weeks, and the stems should receive their first trim.
Here is the prior scape. It was pretty and the fish certainly liked it, but it was a PITA to maintain. Too much wood/rock close to the glass, not enough depth in areas for me to develop proper bushy stems, etc.
Here is the current scape.
I recycled about 90% of the plants from the previous scape, but the hardscape is much simpler and allows me to have more of a foreground and background. Boring to look at when the plants are still growing in, but it will look better in a month or so. It also makes maintenance a breeze. I think this will be a long term layout for me. It's simple enough that I can swap pretty much any plant group out for something else, without having to disturb other sections of the tank. Say I don't want java fern anymore, no problem, I can swap it for mini bolbitis. Alternatively, if I get sick of the stems, I can rip them all out and swap them for rotala wallichii, or rotala vietnam, or something more difficult like tonina fluviatilis. My emphasis this time is on horticulture and gardening. I'm treating it like bonsai and fussing over it regularly. Still, not much maintenance goes into it. I do 2 water changes a week and clean the glass, which only takes me about an hour all up. On non-water change days, I might stick my arms while the fish are feeding and give the plants a quick preen to knock off any sediment/detritus on their leaves. Older tatty looking leaves are removed then too. This only takes about a minute or so.
Here's a snap of one of the ornate white fin tetras. I've been trying to get one of the rams, but they're too inquisitive and turn face on and follow the camera around.
For anyone wanting to know the technical details:
Tank: CADE 600 (60cm x 45 x 45)
Light: Maxspect Razor 120W.
Filter: Fluval 306
CO2 : Pressurised. Delivered via an inline Sera Flore 500 reactor.
Fertilisers: Liverpool Creek Aquariums Premium Fert Mix (This is a commercial EI solution).
Fauna: A pair of electric blue rams and 6 ornate white fin tetra.
Flora: Micranthemum Monte Carlo, Eleocharis Belem, Crypt. Parva, Helanthium Tenellum, Crypt. Wendtii Brown, Crypt. Wendtii Green, Crypt. Nevilli, Anubias nana petite, Microsorum narrow leaf, Taiwan Moss, Sydney Stringy Moss, Sydney Fissidens, Rotala Sp. Green and Ludwigia Super Red Mini.