planted community tank - help please
Hello, first of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this thread and any help is much appreciated. I have split my queries into two sections.
I have a low/medium tech fluval roma 125 with medium planting, running fluval fresh and planted 2.0, liquid carbon and ferts. I have a external fluval 306 filter thats all been running for 5 months so its fairly matured, i have a spray bar that sits on the right hand wall pointing to the left and i have an airstone on the opposite side to my spray bar.
my water parameters are stable: (50% water change a week, sometimes 2 x 30/40% pwc)
nitrate 40/50ppm (i got alot of nitrates in my tap water)
ph around 7.2/3 (7.6-8 out the tap) im not sure how much my tropica aquarium soil buffers that.
my tank is home to:
1 x male Dwarf Gourami
1 x male German blue ram (been searching for a healthy looking female to keep him company)
4 x male guppys
6 x cardinal tetra
7 x pentazona barbs
4 x albino cory
4 x amano shrimp
4 x red cherry shrimp
I have noticed a problem with my german blue ram, it seems like his lip is swollen and has a small white spot on his lip, also he cant eat food anymore or is eating very little. He was eating normally last week, eating big chunks spitting them back out and then repeating till the food was eaten. now he cant even swallow the smallest of particles, he tries to, it just doesn't seem like it goes in his mouth. he is also very active and chases everyone around at feeding time, even though it seems like he cant eat. i have attached some photos.
my second problem is my pentazona barbs. When the lfs sold me them i had no idea that they prefered dark lighting and brown tannin water and low water flow. After reading about people said they have kept them in community tanks just fine, so i gave it a go and they are pretty amazing and very active. But they seeme stressed half the time, when they are not swimming together at the front of the tank they are all glass surfing or just swimming back and forth frantically at the back of the tank and i don't know why. i have set my lights to 50% and theres plenty of dark spaces and plants, water flow is a bit high but i need it to be to get surface agitation from my spray bar all the way across. I have recently purchased a fluval edge 46l and was thinking of having a shrimp only tank, but maybe the pentazona barb would do better in there? i'd feel bad though as they are very active so a small tank isnt ideal, also it would be a massive challenge to actually net them to move them over.
my third question is that are my plants dying? most of them look healthy apart from the amazon swords. im really considering to buy a co2 kit from co2 supermarket and run it off sodastream bottles as it would be quick and easy and would give me a wider variety of plants to keep. i have got algae but i've cut back my lighting to 50%, photoperiod is 8 hours plus half an hour ramp up/down either side. i use 3/4ml seachem excel everyday, 3ml flourish comprehensive twice a week, 7/8ml api leafzone twice a week. i have tropica aquasoil substrate with gravel on top and i use root tabs every month or 2.