Thanks Orange Cones.
I have a java fewn, and one of which I cannot remember the name (bottle-brush looking thing that gets dark red/brown on the older shoots, and is a bright green on the newer shoots). It's pictured earlier in this thread... they are both underwater plants. (the java fern has since moved onto a lava rock and a branch of the driftwood)
I am not using ferts (never had luck with them) or any CO2... Do I need to look into making my own CO2 system to keep them going?
just an update:
I've had decent growth from that bottle-brush looking plant. Many of the newer shoots grew about 2" in the past week-week & a half. I have had no algae bloom as of yet, but I also don't have much going on in the refugium (I had hoped to get algae going there to help with filtration).
I added a "river" to the center of the substrate, but really not liking it at all (not how I had pictured it in my head). I may try to fix it at some point, but it will take a lot of upheaval in the tank and I'm up for that yet.
the "bottle brush" looking plant looks like anachris. also if you are planning to redecorate since u don't like the river you should look into dirt. I've never had plants live until I started using dirt in my tanks. put down about an inch layer or so of an organic soil like miracal grow. then cap it with about an inch or 2 of gravel or sand. never have to buy ferts again. the plants will grow alot better as well. I'll personally never do another planted tank again without dirt. thing about it is, it's better with a heavily planted tank. also stuff like the java fern are essential. they feed in the water column and not in the dirt itself so the nutrients that leech out are absorbed by plants like that. helps keep algae at bay. mosses and duck weed are great at that too. duck weed is looked at like the herpes of the planted tank world but it really does help in a dirted tank. it can cut out a bit of light as well to prevent the plants from getting burned up. It's something to look into if you really wanna do a planted tank that is low tech and cheap, vs high tech and expensive. I'f u feel like looking into it more take a look at dustin's fish tanks on youtube.
i think the river has to be level with the "shore" haha, it can't be higher
right now it is gravel piled on top of sand.
and if you want a cross section of the river, at the front glass that area shouldn't be sand it should be blue gravel to make it look like it's a river flowing through there.