Just an fyi, Here is my tank before I ripped out the plants in the back due to stunting/holes/dying (right after the daily 1/8 tsp of K). I kept the light and ferts where they were and my initial pics is what happened: https://gfycat.com/remorsefulhorribledesertpupfish
. I ripped them out because the plants were growing extremely slow and dying from the bottom up. This is the problem I've yet to understand or solve from my main post, even after everyone's help.
Anyways, thanks for the posts. I DO understand the light vs co2 vs ferts thing. I bought a book called Sunked Gardens that explained it. Three months into my tank, my plants were stalling so I read the EI method and thought "ok, these people have success and I know I need more ferts because my plants are suffering even though I have adequate light and co2". However, I think EI, with what the current plant mass was, ruined my plants. Otherwise it was potentially my insanely high calcium.
Either way, I now realize I don't need a ton of ferts. Plants won't die when the nitrate isnt sitting at 20ppm, but it can die if it's way too high.
Now that I'm comfortable with my understanding of all of the parameters, my plan is to reset with water changes, lower the light time to 4 hours a day and replant. Basically reset. I'll be keeping co2 where it is as well because I havent read that it will make a negative difference.
If I run I to the same problems of old leaves dying, expect another thread. I simply cannot remember what exactly my maintenance or ferts were at after my initial stunting three months in. My hope is that I missed something obvious then.