A quick update today for week 12.
Unfortunately I've lost another male pearl gourami. My guess is that this was through bullying and harrassment rather than any other issues to do with the water parameters. I'm left with 2 pairs now which is ok.
Water parameters are stable and I performed my first water change in 6 weeks (but only 5%). Happy with how the tank has progressed now that it is growing in. The Val makes all the difference to the LHS of the aquascape.
I've noticed severe melt on the lower java ferns though. From what I've read this can happen, but so long as the rhizomes are in tact they should come back. Will see if this is the case.