Re: fertilizer...Iím not using root tabs, just dosing the water with liquid fertilizer. Should I get root tabs?
Ok Iím going to dig up the java fern and attach it to the wood ASAP
Answers to Jelloís questions below...
Re filter: itís a top fin silent stream hanging filter.... it came as part of a package deal with the 55 gallon tank.
Re temp: 78 pre-set heater
Dosing regimen: 3/4 capful of seachem Liquid fertilizer 2x per week (but this is a BRAND new tank, only had it going for a 1.5 months so my regimen is loose as Iím figuring out whatís what.)
Substrate is all Eco Complete
Stock: I have 3 guppies, 2 platys, one molly, one big shrimp (2 inches), 2 snails and about 6 tiny shrimp.
Plantsó I bought a small amount of a LOT of different kinds of plants thinking that I would see what was doing the best and buy more of that. But since everything is dying, Iím trying not to buy any more until I figure out the problem. I have a few bunches of tiny grasses, some java moss, one anubia, an Amazon sword, a java fern, a few stems of Ludwigia, a tiger lily and some Val.
Nitrates and phosphates: nitrates are 0. Phosphates... I actually donít think I have a test for phosphates... should I??
Backstoryó This tank was started mid-September. My first fish came with anchor worm so I was doing a lot of water changes as I battled that. I treated it with this stuff from the UK thatís not supposed to harm the plants at all. Last water change was about 10% 5 days ago. I had been messing with the tank and fish so much and I was trying to give the fish a break. I was going to do another 10% change today. I use dechlorinated tap water. Iím fairly certain that all the meds are gone now. Iím not sure if I can ever buy another fish bc I have heard that the anchor worm is never going away and I donít want any more fish to get sick. I pulled off every adult with tweezers and I havenít seen any anchor worms for weeks. But Iím sure they are still there. I sort of gave up on treating the anchor worm and now Iím just trying to focus on the plants.
Thank you so much for all your help! Iím definitely making progress! Unfortunately I have forgotten so many of the principles that I knew the last time I was doing this... it was so long ago! I jumped in so fast thinking that it would all come back to me ...but itís not!
When you say Seachem liquid fertilizer, are you talking about Flourish? If so, it's extremely mild and likely why your plants seem to be suffering from deficiencies.
In many cases, if water column dosing is good enough, root tabs aren't required even in inert substrate, but in your case I'd definitely recommend root tabs. You have many options in this category, Seachem, Thrive, and Aquarium Co-Op offerings are all good choices. Others on this forum opt for the DIY route of using osmocote inside gel caps, but I prefer to get the aquarium-specific stuff.
Insofar as dosing the water column, I'd recommend getting a more "powerful" all-in-one liquid fertilizer, since that seems to be your comfort zone. For that I'd recommend NilocG's Thrive or Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green. That would be a good place to start while you figure things out and decide if you want to dive deeper and start dry dosing, which I'd strongly recommend since you're going the co2 route already.