I took my hood in and it turns put the starter I have is good enough to power a 20 watt high output T8. The tank looks so much better with the new bulb.
Congratulations! It is still low light but try a choose plants in that range.
I haven't found a suitable sponge for my filter yet so I am using a baby sock. Talk about low tech lol.
A user by the name of H4n makes intake covers for this purpose. Here
is a link to them. Just finished a trade with him. He does what he says and stands behind what he sells. Tell him I recommended you.
The BGA is slowly starting to come back. I'm going to try another blackout period before trying chemicals.
Now that you have plants to uptake the nitrates that may be the problem. Low nitrate is a common causes of BGA. Test your nitrates and try to keep them over 10ppm. Also make sure you have good water flow throughout the water column. A build up of mulm in the substrate and filter is another cause.
Maracyn would be the chemical fix since it a bacteria. It is an antibiotic erythromycin if I'm not mistaken. Honestly, since it keeps coming back the key to get rid of it is to correct the cause. Blackouts and chemicals treat it but it will always return until the underlying problem is corrected.
The red plants in the pictures keep getting uprooted. It's always on the sand side and they don't seem to have any roots. My guess is they were not planted deep enough to get past the sand and the roots died off. Is that possible?
That alternanthera reineckii usually has a strong root system. The roots grow at every leaf junction above or below the water.
I would trim just below a leaf junction and bury it very deep. It should have no problem. If you need a rooted plant PM me and I can send you one but it should root fine.
We have some new green stem plants. My wife picked them out. Lots of the original leaves are melting off but they all have some new growth. I hope the survive.
Most likely they were grown emmersed. Melting happens on most plants when they are immersed. If you see new growth that is most likely the culprit.