Dave, that kind of thing (getting it completely backwards) is why i try to doublecheck informaiton picked up in stores (or on the internet).
BTW, before posting this, I also tried testing the PH by taking a long stiff tube and sucking up some water, but it was so discolored by debris that it was hard to judge color. My guess from the colors is that it was lower PH, but I was quite unsure (and also not sure what happened if I was well off the scale in one direction).
I'm always experimenting, both on more short terms to get the right level when I can test for them, but also to see plant reactions. This current trend is much longer term. Usually in a few weeks I can see some change from a change in ferts (I do not much play with the lighting), but this is a longer term trend that has survived several changes in fertilization.
AWolf - I looked through your documentation, and there are some interesting thoughts there especially with respect to simplifying. Certainly the more variables the harder it is to make what one does more science and less wishful thinking. I'm not sure I am ready to head down that path however. I'm hoping for a more natural balance that has a lot of built in resilience in the same way a natural pond or river will. I can never really get there with gallons versus hectares of water, but at least directionally that is my goal.
Dave, as to whether there are fert issues, the one thing that makes me think something more is going on is this wisteria.
That shot is from mid-February. Notice in the center slightly photo right that huge plume of wisteria (the tank is 28" high). That was about the 3rd grow-in of it. It started in August (+/-) of last year, after 2-3 months it would grow huge and start becoming more cloud than plant. I would cut about 3/4 of the plant out, and within a month or two it was back near the top of the water.
This is the same area today.
Since the last trimming, the foliage has actually died back to maybe a half or a third the size from when I trimmed it. The leaves look stunted and a bit unnatural. About half way through this slow death, I added a couple of root tabs just to see if it mattered; no change.
Now while you're looking at the feb shot, notice on the photo-left the size of the crypt wendtaii. Here's today with the rocks in the same size/place:
They are probably 3 times the size as a few months earlier.
Here's a closeup of the rotala (I don't have a good wide survey shot from before).
Note the well formed and full leaves. It was growing vertically about as fast as the wisteria, and I would cut it off down load to make it branch and fill in, and replant what I cut. Then somewhere about 3-4 months ago, it started doing this:
Slow growth vertically, and tiny, tiny leaves. Now I will add that I had a suspicion I had too much potassium (and yes I know that is supposedly almost impossible), so I cut way back on that dose, and the rotala looks slightly better, but that may be wishful thinking. It is still nowhere near where it was.
Now this is a different tank, but one I maintain very similarly. Notice the sword in the right corner. It is growing well and I had some concern it would eventually get too big. Leaves are well formed and not eaten.
Here's the plant today, a much closer shot.
The plant has actually shrunk, the leaves are getting thin and are now being picked at by the plecos, who previously would leave them alone. It's also more yellow. It has a couple fresh root tabs from about a month ago also once I started seeing this.
Final image is from the crypt and java fern and a glacially slow annubias that is beside the sword. Compare to the survey shot and log, and you can see how well they have done in the same time frame.
I realize some do better in less rich conditions, but that includes things like the wisteria. If it was doing well also, and it was more demanding plants like the sword doing poorly. But the wisteria is practically dead.
Any thoughts given the photos?