Planted tank startup
Alright so I have been reading around this forum for awhile I’ve had my 120 for a year now. Made everything myself 2 1 1/2 overflows (1 each side) 1 1 inch 1300gph return line. Sump half full with bio balls and hits filter cloth first goes through bio balls and then hits bags of media in return chamber. I know the nitrogen cycle I honestly never check my water but when I do it’s always 0 everything and almost nothing in my nitrates. PH is 7.6.
My tank on its own magically vanishes about 20 gallons a week. I have a turtle bigger than your hand so I have a basking area 200 watt bulb and a fluval 48 inch plant led light. So I don’t really ever water change unless I vacuum every other weekish and I do my water change then. I have 3 adult cichlids and the pair keep mating so I have about 12 little guys in there.
So I went to turn some of the smaller guys bcuz I had well over 30 in there and decided I wanted to give plants another round (first died a fast miserable death). I picked a couple random things the guy recommended that are pretty easy growing. I can’t remember the names I know useless without info. I’m going back tomorrow to check the names and grab some fert.
I’m getting a dual stage regulator from alanle and I plan to do a 3 inch 24ish Grigg reactor off my pump return. For the time being I grabbed a bottle of co2 booster and when I did my water check today my ph hasn’t moved (don’t have a hardness tester, will grab that tomorrow too.) it’s still at 7.6 after the co2 booster. Is this supposed to adjust my ph just like actual co2 or am in the wrong thought process?
My substrate right now is river rock that’s medium sized turtle was eating the rocks so moved to larger stuff plan to order some aqua soil soon and have it sit in a tub u til I can leech the ammonia from it before it enters my tank.
So long story short my basic questions are...
Am I on the right track for the tank?
Should I abandon the plants I have right now? My tips are turning brown and dying going downwards.
What are you dosing with for ferts and what are you recommending to look for in order to decide when u need to actually dose.
What plants do you recommend that are pretty easy beginner plants and pretty hearty to survive possibly being unroofed by a turtle once in awhile.