I would definitely do the organic removal thing. I always do that from day one to lessen the change of anything starting along with a short light duration and seeding of the bio-filter. Do you have plants that grow or mostly slow growers, etc taking up most of the space. I guess I'll see that from the pic. The whole carbon is bad for plants is really alot of BS. If you have algae issues or want to prevent algae issues don't hesitate to use carbon and/or organic waste removal media.
In addition to changing water do you remove dead leaves regularly and what is your fish load and feeding. The cleanliness of the water is key especially if you have already reducing lighting, etc. I'm no a big fan of dirt bottoms, but does that get stirred up at all?
I updated my previous post with a pic of the tank.
I'll get my hands on some carbon and toss those in a for a few weeks and see if it helps.
I do try to prune back what I can when I see it. I'm assuming any dead plant matter doesn't help out much?
Fish load is 2 angelfish, 10 ornate tetras, 5 sterbai cory cats, 3 otos, 1 bristlenose pleco. I feed every other day at night.
No, the substrate does not get stirred up either.
bba comes from CO2 problems, yes. but whether it can be a sign of CO2 flux, or overall insufficiency, i cant say; probably both induce it equally well.
light drive CO2 need. the more light you have, the more CO2 you need. its a balancing act.
i do not use a drop checker. used to, but then trashed it. i used to keep it green in my ADA 30C, and my CO2 was not high enough (my tank had a ph of 6.7 at that time). then i turned up the CO2 til it turned yellow and my tank had a ph of 6.2 (i keep mentioning ph cuz i keep my CO2 on a ph controller, and can indicate how much more im putting relative to the previous value). but i still had some CO2 problems, including BBA. a while later, i removed the drop checker and started paying attention to my plants instead to see what they say.
got the tank to this (with a ph of 5.4):
the drop checker was giving me a false answer. its not the best tool in the world.
but look at the other part of the picture. that tank used to have BBA problems, and it was saved.
good CO2, flow, and nutrients to encourage plant vigor and halt BBA growth, and some occasional excel to kill what BBA was still there was all it took. simple, but only in retrospect.
I've heard that the drop checker really isn't that accurate, it just gives you a rough idea.
Now, lets say I do have low CO2 in the tank, how would I be able to tell from my plants that I have low CO2? That's the part that I'm stumped on. Watch the plants, I understand, but what am I looking for exactly? I'm assuming better and more luscious growth, right?
I've already pushed my CO2 to where my fish were gasping for air, so I turned it down a little bit and have left it there since.