...But first a quick summary of my situation...
I've owned and ran a 55 Gallon non-planted tank with mostly cichlids and wild caught local sunfish in them for about 15 years (since high school). I had to break that tank down and put it away for storage. I just moved to near center city Philadelphia for my job and I just set up a 16 gallon bow front about 4 months ago. This is my first attempt at a planted tank. I am using the stock Aqueon HOB filter, I've removed all the activated carbon and have replaced it with ceramic media and adapted an intake sponge cover (for a different filter) with fishing line to fit the intake. I also got my hands on 2 free sponge filters from a friend, so I threw those in there as well using an Eheim air pump, some T-connectors, and also hooked up the Eheim air diffuser.
-My new 16 gallon tank had cycled for about 3 weeks with 24/7 low light, and stocked only with about 10 Red Cherry Shrimp and I left food to rot in the tank.
-Fast forward to the end of cycling and 3 shrimp are left alive.
-I plant my tank with wysteria, micro sword, rotala nanjenshan, and also swap out the stock Aqueon fluorescent hood light with a Finnex Ray2. Plants were contaminated with snail eggs, infestation of snails ensued, I treated the tank with "No Planaria" to eradicate the snails.
-Through the process of snail eradication, daily 20% water changes to deal with ammonia spikes were necessary with light gravel vacuum to pick up dead snail parts followed by several daily 50% water changes to remove the medication from the water.
-10 more RCS , 1 nerite snail, and 5 ottocinclus were added for a total of 13 RCS, 1 snail, and 5 ottos.
-4 RCS died after adding more stock to the tank, I suspect the tank had undergone another minicycle at this point, all my shrimp had shown signs of stress
-OK, HERE IS WHERE MY ANIMAL ISSUES END, from here on out, all my animals are healthy, alive, active, constantly foraging, and show no signs of stress, it has been a few weeks with 0 deaths doing weekly 40% water changes. On to my plant woes...
-I stocked up on chemicals, I bought Seachem Excel, Prime, Trace, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, and Root Tabs. I know I went a bit crazy with the ferts, but I have not used anything at this point except Prime, I start using Seachem Prime instead of the small bottle of dechlorinator that came with my tank purchase.
-I used excel once in a while, I read that it is mildly harmful/toxic to RCS, so I did not use it heavily. I also dosed with trace and iron once for good measure, but I have not used any ferts otherwise. My substrate is 3 bags of Ecocomplete and I also placed 3 tabs evenly in my gravel.
-I purchased locally a Fluval CO2 kit, but it is a piece of $%!+ with plastic threads that leak (I plan to return it and get a proper CO2 setup). My plastic bubble counter broke and I am dosing CO2 without any way to measure its output on the same schedule as my light schedule, I turn it on when I leave for work and turn it off in the evening, both run about 12 hours a day.
-In a nutshell My Tank = Ecocomplete + Finnex Ray2 + CO2 - Ferts + Trace + Root Tabs + Air Diffuser - Activated Carbon + 200W Heater (total overkill, but made no mention of one above, 74 degrees)
I've attached a picture of my tank after it was initially planted and also a picture of my tank as of yesterday.
(you can even see all the blue shrimp on the 'after' picture)
My wysteria is growing like crazy and I've had to trim it many times already, my grass and rotala look great, green, and even show signs of root growth, but have not grown at all... In fact, the entire reason of my post boils down to this here, my plants are slowly being overtaken by string algae and a few other types because they are not growing, only my wisteria is growing like crazy, but all the old growth is accumulating more and more algae. My ottos did a number on them, but it looks like I'll need way more than 5, but I guess I'll see after my amanos show up.
I've ordered 10 more RCS and 20 amano shrimp which should arrive in a weeks time.
So now that my animals have a tank that won't kill it, I need to focus on my plants. I went ahead and familiarized myself with some materials that is compiled here (https://barrreport.com/forums/are-yo...start-here.24/
). My first gut feeling and my intuition tells me that becauseI am not dosing my ferts and CO2 correctly, it has lead to an unbalanced tank and a haven for algae. I'm not overly worried about my CO2 dosage, I'm currently limited by the [censored][censored][censored][censored]ty system designed by Fluval, which will eventually be replaced by a 5-lb CO2 tank and a dual stage regulator.
I don't know how to dose ferts and I don't know if I need to even worry about dosing ferts until my CO2 situation is fixxed (so it can be measured and constant). If I had to figure this out on my own (and based on what I've read so far), I would just dose everything (provided CO2 is set up correctly) after water changes as per the instructions and then adjust CO2 to Light to maximize growth, then later adjust fert dosage to maximize growth again.
Any help, guidance, advice, tips, information, anything is appreciated. Thanks.