Epic post Dark Cobra! thank you and the community for sharing your experience and insight on the matter...
regarding the test kit accuracy and to conclude our speculation, i will purchase another nitrate kit and compare results.
i agree with houseofcards that my light was too high initially. but i have since raised the fixture >12" above the tank and reduced to a 4-2-4 (8hrs on, 2hr off rest period) photo period.
in retrospect, i doubt BGA was triggered neccessarily due to high light, as i've maintained a high light condition (albiet percieved excessive for most crypts) for well over a year before any sign of BGA. if anything BBA developed as a result and some remnants exist on my intake tube and drop checker. but this is actually under control as i reduced light and increased co2.
this is my tank (week 5) after a huge water change, major pruning of affected leaves and the cleaning filter media.
before this i've further lowered the light intensity, increased circulation and maintained >40ppm nitrates with regular pruning and w/c for several weeks already.
what pains me (and what may not be readily observed in the photo) is that the crypts are not happy.
with few exception some sp. are displaying new growth...the rest of my crop is suffering. they simply do not appreciate change.
for instance all this time i had very high light. but for many months intensity and duration have not changed, the crypts did fine. i've been EI dosing and running co2 at a constant rate and regimen, and again the crypts did well... now perhaps someone can argue they could be growing better with different parameters, but thats another discussion.
my point is my crypts (i have about 2 dozen variety in this particular tank) did Ok as long as conditions remained stable and consistent.
it seems the concept of increasing Nitrates is to ensure plants are not out competed by BGA and remain healthy thriving plants (which i guess would result in an increase in Oxygen levels that BGA despises)... unfortunately i believe i've stunted my plants.
In hind sight, i may have shocked them by doing too much (all of the above) within a short period of time (5wks). And now my crypts are showing their displeasure by a substantial melt-off.
if you keep crypts you know there will be a point the plant either bounces back or completely disintegrates... my plants have not been happy for several weeks at this point and i doubt they will recover fast enough to outlast the BGA by experimenting with methods other than the use of anti-biotics.
i think i know what i need to do.