So this past summer, I was gone for about three months, and life is only beginning to resume normalcy. During this, the amount of time I have had to spend on my tanks has dwindled, and I had to change strategies for the types of plants, lighting, etc used. Here is how this year has affected my 11 gallon tank:
January 30, 2014: Right after the initial setup. Not much going on, and plenty of room for growing out.
February 17, 2014: Two and a half weeks of growth, the jungle vals (tall green plant in the back left) grow quite fast. Everything else starting to fill in.
March 30. 2014: Grasses spreading nicely! Added in some hygrophila in the back right. This was also when I was practicing making riccia fluitans carpets. They grew so nicely!
April 9, 2014: The grass has finally spread (thinly) over the front area. The riccia carpets are so thick and epic looking. (See the next update below for their downfall.) Added in some Echinodorus quadricostatus in the back right and trimmed down the jungle vals on the back left to give the riccia more light.
July 8, 2014: This was after more than two months without care. I had someone doing water changes every month and adding in some Flourish Excel. There were no trimmings, so lighting became an issue. The riccia fluitans carpets grew so thick that the lowest layers received no light and died. Clumps of riccia floated to the surface, blocking light.
September 8, 2014: Finally back at home, but had no time or energy to really do much with the tanks other than maintain them. They needed to bounce back after a general trimming/reorganizing. It was around this time that I became plagued by filamentous green hair algae. It would grow along the substrate, choking out new growth in the plants.
March 3, 2015: Finally starting to aquascape the tank again. I had to dig up many of the plants in order to do a thorough cleansing of the green hair algae. The Echinodorus quadricostatus was taking over, so I tried to direct it in a single line along the angle of the large rock, rather than previously trying to rout it into two channels on either side of the tank. Not happy with it, but this is how it stands today.
My next plan is to cut back the Echinodorus quadricostatus further and encourage the carpet to fill in the far right (which was taken over by the Echinodorus quadricostatus before this latest rescape). I still feel that the echinodorus is too tall and not shaped properly. I need to plan out how to create the perspective I want in this tank – though I am comtemplating rehoming all the creatures for a few days while I tear it down and create a new aquascape!