In developing the plan, we needed to balance the location of low growing plants and their requirements for varying degrees of light against the locations of the taller or faster growing plants. Even with this careful design, regular pruning is needed to keep the faster growing plants under control.
The tall Anubias (lanceolata, afzelii), the Hygrophila stricta and Hygrophila salicifolia were placed in rear corners and along the sides of the tank. This keeps them from shading the lower plants in the front and provides some relatively open areas in the rear of the tank for fish to hide in if they get nervous. By not densely planting the corners, it also makes it easier to siphon up any detritus that collects in these areas. These plants have their leaves mostly towards the surface so they are not blocked from view by the plants in front.
Visual strong points are the thick clusters of Ludwigia repens, Heteranthera zosterifolia and Hygrophila polysperma. All three of these grow very quickly and provide the major textures of the aquascape. The H. zosterifolia is an especially striking plant with its bright green rosettes. The tall Anubias lanceolata visually separates it from the Hygrophila polysperma.
To fill in the shaded areas in front of the larger plants, low growing Cryptocoryne and Anubias plants are used. The C. affinis is positioned along the path of the lower water return on the left side and nicely defines the current flow. The A. barteri var nana and A. coffeeafolia add interesting color and texture highlights in their areas of the tank.
A major focal point is the vertical color splash of the Ammannia senegalensis. This offers a dramatic contrast to the plants around it and serves to divide the tank into two separate visual spaces. A lesser counterpoint to this is the small bunch of Lysimachia nummularia tucked in by the A. coffeeafolia. This and the A. senegalensis forms a frame around the highly textured Anubias, providing a perfect setting for photographing fish.
The focal point of the left side of the tank is the Echinodorus osiris. Its large dark red leaves contrast nicely with the Ludwigia behind it and the A. nana in front of it. A group of bright green Armoracia aquatica provides a detail point in the middle front of the tank.
To provide a dynamic feeling to the tank, a large Barclaya longifolia with its soaring flower stems and rippled fountain-like leaves is placed just to the right of center. A smaller Barclaya to its right provides for a feeling of territorial conquest. The soft, flowing texture of the Barclaya leaves is nicely set off by the leaf varieties behind it. A small clump of Hydrocotyle vulgaris occupies the far right corner, providing a bright green splash of color.
A final accent is a section of Hydrocotyle verticillata floating on the top. We tried to plant one end of it, but it kept pulling itself out of the gravel. It has large water roots and lily-pad like leaves and seems perfectly happy just floating over the left side of the tank. It is a lovely green and looks very appealing from above. It is a fast grower that we keep under control by merely cutting a few inches off the end every few days.