1st planted tank
I started my 1st planted tank in January. I have a 30 gallon (36" long x 17" high x 12" deep) in which I plan to keep an apisto trio with some dithers. On the advice of my LFS and another forum, I put 20 pounds of "ECO COMPLETE planted aquarium substrate" in the bottom with another 20 ounds of #1 gravel on top. I wanted to use pool filter snd, but no one sells it here in the winter. The #1 is only slightly larger.
I also purchased a Coralife T5 with a 6700k & a Colormax bulbs (21 wats each). This gives me a little less that 2 w per gallon. I planned on a low tech aquarium. The main goal was the fish, but I aslo want the plants to thrive.
Again, with the advice of the LFS, I planted mixed swords, valisnaria, wysteria, water sprite and some small crypts. They suggested that I would not need to fertilize for a year or more because of the ECO Complete.
Everything seemed to be ok at first. I had some brown tips and lost some of the leaves on the swords, but assumed that emergent vs imergent. Then some of the valisnaria leaves were dying. Onto the internet and read about the need for carbon. My tank is really to small for CO2 generator lurking in the back (or at least I think so), so I purchased excel and started adding. I started with 5 mls every 3 days (the 30 gal equivalent of 5 mls every other day in a 50 gallon tank), but read on this forum that the carbon containing material lasts only 24 hours, so I am now doing 3 mls every day.
Then my nitrates fell rapidly and are 0 before a water change and 5 afterwards (my tap water is 5). Back to the LFS. They suggested that my swords were heavy feaders and would benefit from fertilizer tabs. I bought Flourish tabs (Seachem) and put one under each sword. I still have black spots on some of the sword leaves and one or two have dying leaves. And now many of the valisnaria leaves are dying. The others seem to be ok. I have some green algae on the back of the tank, but nothing bad.
I have 10 silver tipped tetras, 1 small BN pleco, 1 oto and a synodontis cat left over from the tanks previous life.
I am at a point where I don't know what I don't know and am in information overload. I really need some steps to follow to see what is wrong. I came across this forum in a thread on another, fish based forum. I figured if I can't get help here, I won't get it anywhere.
Here are my water conditions:
pH - 7.2 - 7.4
Ammonia - 0
Nitrites - 0
Nitrates - 5
ppm GH/KH - 89.5 (5 drops)
I have some pictures, but have to figure out how to post them