Help Needed, New Tank
I've been lurking on here for some time, tried to start a low tech 125g last year but the turtle going into his new larger tank had other plans (I know, I know, most turtles and plants don't mix but I had to try...). Thanks for those who take the time to read and provide me any feedback as I'm sure this will be a long post in order to give the full backstory.
In December I started a new 56g "cube" tank for my office. Substrate is eco-complete, driftwood was sourced from a local lake. Having been years since I started a new tank (75g to 125g transition I moved most of the water as well as the already established filters) I may have jumped the gun on this one and started stocking too early.
About a month after starting the tank (used API QuickStart as well as the bacteria supposedly in the eco-complete substrate) I saw what I thought was the nitrogen cycle start and complete... now I'm wondering if that was not the case. I planted dwarf hairgrass throughout and threw in 4 otos and 2 nerite snails to clean up the driftwood etc. about a week later I had a diatom explosion (bloom is an understatement), lights came on and everything was a rust brown color including the water column. I did a 50% water change so that the murky water didn't block out the light for the dhg. The dwg were completely coated in brown so I did my best to dust them off followed by another water change a few days later to help remove the lingering diatoms. The tank was still relatively cloudy though no visible particulates were in the water column. Prior to this the tank was never really that clear fyi.
Jump to this last Saturday, I picked up a small dragon stone, some red ludwigia, and another stem plant that I forget the name of but is pictured below. Also threw in about 15 ghost shrimp and 3 tiny guppy hitchhikers. Yesterday I noticed quite a few of the ludwigia leaves floating around and half of one of the other plants floating. The stem of the plant had turned to complete mush as well as one of the ludwigias... this morning 3 more of the ludwigia were complete mush and 3 more were on their way. I trimmed off the dying parts and replanted what was left but I need help as to why this is happening and hopefully salvage what I have left. If it's too late then I would like to at least fix the problem before adding more plants. The dhg is actually growing pretty well, will do better once co2 is added.
Cascade 1500 canister filter (more filtration than needed but I had an extra one)
-Filter floss, coarse filter pad, bio-balls... removed carbon after 1 month as I wasn't sure if it would suck up ferts
Lighting- 2x Asta 120 can LED lights from amazon, 6500k, 5000lm running 10 hours/day
Dosing Flourish daily, Excel 2x per week
Co2 will hopefully be added soon, have everything but a tank, family member offered to give me a 8lb one in December but dragging their feet on it.
Ph 8.0-8.1 (tap is 8.8 and eco-complete raised that so I do 50% RO water during changes)
Ammonia and nitrites=0, Nitrates ~6.0ppm
I believe my lights are more than adequate but from online readings low lighting will cause this in stem plants. Is the cloudiness chocking out the plants? Thanks for your help!