To all experienced members, seniors aquarist,
First of all, I do apologize for the long post. However, I would try to keep it as concise and short as possible to cover all the required details.
I'm a newbie to this forum as well as to the Aquarium World. Recently I bought my first aquarium and planned to start a planted freshwater community like most other newcomers. With hardly any experience (I only have 3 Betta fishes in different Betta bowls), I started with an Aqueon 38G aquarium kit. I got the kit from the local Petco along with the stand at a very good deal and it included the following.
1. 38G Aqueon Tank (36" L, 12"W, 20"H)
2. Aqueon Power Filter (most probably 30 G capacity)
4. Deluxe Fluorescent Hood with Full Spectrum Aqueon 24" light bulb
5. And few other small items.
As I was planning for a low-light low-tech moderately planted aquarium with just a drift wood in the middle, I chose the substrate as CaribSea EcoComplete Planted and CaribSea Instant Aquarium. For the 38G Tank I put 2 bags of CaribSea Eco-Complete at the bottom and on top of it I put the Instant Aquarium as it was belly safe for the bottom feeders. That gave me about 2.5 - 3 inches depth of substrate and I put some Seachem root tabs inside the substrate approximately in 4-5 inches radius.
Other additional items which I fitted with the Aquarium are:
1. One Fluval C3 50 G capacity HOB filter
2. Changed the Full Spectrum Aqueon Light with a 20 watt Life-Glo 2 Fluorescent Bulb
3. Put an additional Current USA 36 Inches Satellite Freshwater LED Light
After completing the set up, I put the following plants in my tank.
1. Few Micro sword, few hairgrass for the foreground
2. Few Ludwigia, bacopa, moneywort and Amazon Sword for the mid-ground
3. Few Jungle val, italian val for the background
4. A week and half later I added couple of Red Flame Sword for the mid-ground and couple of Staurogyne Repens (baby tears) for the foreground.
I have been using the following fertilizers for the plants
1. Seachem Excel - Every Alternative day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
2. API CO2 Booster - Every Alternative day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
3. Seachem Flourish Iron - Every Alternative day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
4. Seachem Flourish Potassium - Every Alternative day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
5. API Leaf Zone - Once a Week Sunday
6, Seachem Flourish Phosphorus - Once a week Sunday
7. Seachem Flourish Nitrogen - Once a week Sunday
8. Seachem Fourish Advance - Recently started this one, as of now using daily for the past one week
Now coming to the issues which I have been facing..
1. Very High pH - The county water here is naturally hard and even though I use Aqueon Water conditioner and Seachem prime, still the pH level is pretty high approximately in the range of around 7.8-8. An aquarium specialist in the local PETCO store advised me Seachem 7.0 Neutral Regulator which I used for 3-4 time over the span of 2 weeks (once in every 3 days) and that might have reduced the pH little bit (From 8 to 7.8 I should say) but it's still quite high.
2. Rotting Plants - This is the biggest issue.. It's been almost a month since I've set up the tank and put the plants in. I lost almost all my moneywort, bacopa, and microsword, hairgrass. Amazon Swords are surviving somehow.. Only Vals are doing ok as of now. Also the newly introduced (I put them couple of weeks back) Red Flame Sword and Staurogyne Repens (Baby tears) are still looking green.
I'm really clueless and helpless and need your expert advise and guidance on how would I keep the rest of the plants alive. I'm pretty sure I've been doing something wrong, but don't know what..
Is the High pH could possibly be the reason for these plants to die?
Or is there a lack of light? Should I put one more LED light along with the currently running Fluorescent and LED?
Am I doing too many fertilizers for these plants?
Or the issue is with the substrate?
Also how would I bring the pH level down? Should I continue using Seachem 7.0 Neutral Regulator?
I test my water with API Freshwater test kit almost every other day and also got it tested a few times in Petco, Petsmart and the LFS. Apart from High pH none f them mention about any other abnormality like high nitrate, nitrite or ammonia or anything else.. I've attached a few pictures of my aquarium, tried to capture the best possible view to depict the issue. The foreground has become almost grey/brown with dying, rotting hairgrass, only a few sprouts of greens are available.. The mid-ground is relatively in better condition. Again in the background, quite a few stems are rotting..
I would sincerely request you to take a look at these pictures and provide your valuable expert suggestion so that I can keep the remaining plants alive.. Thanks a lot!