So the LFS had a moving sale and I got a bunch of stem plants for fairly cheap. $20 got me two water sprites, 5 ludwigia(I think-lol they are a few different varieties), 2 red camboba and a pot of baby tears. The plants were over 12" and each bunch had 7-10 stems. There were so many plants I had to leave some out and cut them down. This is a 10 gallon with two wal-mart aquarium CFL's. One is brand new today and one is 6 months old notice the weakness after 6 months. I don't have a filter in there today. There are a handful of guppies just to make sure it's safe for my giant betta in a week or so. As the stem plants grow in I will thin them out and replace them with more suitable fore and mid ground plants. I'm not sure what to do with the baby tears yet. They are not the dwarf variety. I will switch the lights around so the baby tears have the stronger light. I will let it settle for a few days then attempt to vacuum the black dirt off the sand.
I have made at least a few changes to the next tank. I will use black soil that doesn't have perlite or wood chips. That stuff was super messy. I will set the filter before the plants too. I will also find larger hardscape stuff. I may paint the back of the tank silver or white to reflect some of the light back in. I think I want a bubble rope too.