New Tank Disaster
I'm attempting my first planted tank and have committed some serious amateur mistakes. Now my plants are dying and I'm not sure how to react.
First, I put the plants in the tank before letting it cycle (day 3).
Then, I forgot to turn the water heater back on the first night.
Next, I broke my light and the plants got only ambient light for 2 (almost 3) days
Finally, I misunderstood the soil directions I was using from the internet. I mixed pottery clay (It was a light reddish grey purchased at hobby lobby) with play sand (about 50/50 but could be 60/40 or 40/60) for the base layer. The recipe recommended clay mixed with soil or vermiculite or gravel (I thought it listed play sand as a 4th option). The top layer is just play sand.
-40 gallon tank (NO FISH)
-DIY filter based on 265 gph pump and tons of poly felt
-I used Tetra BRAND Goldfish water conditioner (accident, thought it was water conditioner for Tetra's), with Jungle brand Plant conditioner and a small pouch (for 10 gallon tank) of each Stress zyme and stress coat.
-Plants: Jungle Val, 3 Sword varieties (one is Sagittaria) and Ceratopteris. All of them are buried so that a 1/2 cm of the root ball is above the sand.
-Ammonia (2 ppm)
-nitrate (10 ppm)
-nitrite (10 ppm)
-GH 4-5 degrees
-KH 20 ppm
-Temp 75 degrees
It took a couple days for the cloudiness to go away. Everything looked fine for another few days, then it started going downhill. I did a 50% water change and but things continue downhill maybe even faster.
-The sagittaria still look fine.
-1/2 of the flame sword has gotten redder and the other/outer half has turned completely translucent yellow brown.
-The other sword ( a small unknown green variety) looks pretty good but has a couple brown leaf tips and a couple translucent yellow leaves
-The Jungle Vallisneria are dying fast. First they yellowed and browned randomly. Then they got yellow brown tips and random holes. Now they are disintegrating from the tips, edges and anywhere the leaves were damaged.
-Ceratopteris leaves are browning from the bottoms up, and the roots have all turned brown.
Based on the Nitrogen readings, the tank is obviously not cycling properly yet (2 weeks in). I have no idea how this effects plants or if it is being caused by the rapid decay of my Vals.
I also have no idea if my base layer of clay/sand is anything close to acceptable due to my mistake. And, when I planted the plants NONE of the roots made it down to the clay. They are buried in the sand pretty close to it but not in it. I thought they would grow down to it but i don't know why I assumed that. Between the bad clay soil and the roots in the sand I feel like they could be over feed, underfeed, or just going trough transplant shock.
I've decided I should either start over or just cross my fingers.
What do you think?