I've had my tank up for about 8 months and finally wanted to transition from plastic plants to live plants. I did a overhaul and used the following:
30Gal tank that is low-tech
I am dosing Seachem Flourish Excel for CO2 daily
I am dosing Seachem Flourish Iron daily
I am dosing Seachem Flourish Advance for micro nutrients daily
Currently I am doing a 25-50% water change every few days due to it being freshly planted and the wood is still leaking tannins.
At your current plant stocking (based on the photo) I would go pretty light on the ferts for now. That's not a lot of nutrient demand you have going. Excel has its proponents and detractors, I'm somewhere in between. It's been debated to bits pretty recently here, so a site search for "glut" should bring you the information on that can of worms!
From the photo is does not look like your dwarf hairgrass is making it. I've not had luck with it in low tech tanks myself. If there's green, it always has a chance though.
I have a HOB filter that pumps about 5x the aquarium every hour and a Aqueon OptiPlus LED Light.
Currently I am letting the light run for about 6 hours a day for white light and 8 hours a day for RGB and Blue light. I have about 14 hours of no light for my photo time period. Also I am only letting the light intensity on 60 because the lack of CO2 I have.
Substrate: Caribsea Eco complete black planted tank substrate
Hardscape: 2 pieces of Fluval Mopani wood
Plants: 3 amazon swords, 1 Argentina sword, 2 anubias, flame moss and dwarf hair-grass
I don't own that light and have no experience with it, but your current protocol sounds like a good start. You can always tweak it with time.
I'm trying to lower my pH/kH/gH quite a bit because I have been using tap water vs. purified/ro water, thus the mopani wood. The reason is because I want to add 12 cardinal tetra's and 10 Harlequin Rosbara's and a handful of cherry shrimp for cleanup. The fish I have in there now I plan to give away or give back to my LFS to re-sell so that way I don't run into an overstocking issue.
Currently my water parameters are:
Ammonia: 0 or .25ppm (it was hard to tell)
kH/gH: 50-100ppm (took 6 drops to turn from blue to yellow per my test kit)
Nitrate: Between 20-40ppm (it was hard to tell)
To my understanding my parameters are pretty good, my dosing is good and I should be ready to put the newly selected fish in. However I had a few questions for some experienced hobbyist's because this is my first tank and I'm pretty green to the hobby.
That light tinge of green on an API kit usually means there's just a trace of ammonia present. 8 months in I wouldn't expect that, but there's a certain amount of plant decay going on I'm sure. More plants growing will get those nitrates down, nothing you currently have is terribly fast growing. KH and GH should be 2 different values.
1. Most of my plants seem to be browning slightly and have holes in the leaves. I figure this is pretty normal from all the research I've been doing since I planted about 4 days ago and they are still adjusting to the new environment. Is that true? If so, how long does it typically take for the plants to look healthy and grow well.
If they were grown emersed they will lose the terrestrial leaves and grow aquatic ones. Not sure that's what's going on in there though. But hang in there, it's hard to know much in 4 days.
2. Since the tank is freshly planted the growth of the plants is pretty minimal at this time. My understanding is that Rosbara's and Cardinal Tetra's like heavily planted tanks. Should I wait to put them in there until the plants grow more?
What is your pH, GH &KH out of the tap? If it's near where your tank currently is, should be fine for tetras, but I'm still unclear on your hardness.
3. Will I have an overstock issue?
Not at all.
Looking for some good constructive feedback for stocking, making sure my plants live and any suggestions on my set up. Please excuse the clouding. I took this before I cleaned the excess plants from the surface and just a hour after I put Seachem Clarity in the tank.
The only thing I would really advise this early in is erring on the side of using less than more when it comes to "stuff in a bottle." Your tank is really sparsely planted. In time, even if you add no more plants, those should grow, fill in, and make more (except perhaps the dwarf hg) and the tank will be "hungrier" for ferts for lack of a better term. But you seem to be off to a good start.