Thanks Sammy that site is informative. So plant heavy, dose regularly, supply C02, 50% water changes.
You're welcome Don! That site has taught me quite a bit about aquatic plants. Dont begin the doseing straight away. I didnt realize when i first posted that you're useing ADA substrate. That substrate is verrry rich with nutrients. You may not need to dose at all for the first month or two. You're plants will let you know when they're in need.
As far as what others have said about the tank cycleing period, they dont fully understand the fact that , in a fully planted tank, there is no nitrogen cycle going on. The plants mostly eat up the ammonia before the bacteria have a chance to start converting it to nitrite and nitrate. With a tank full of plants you can forget all that stuff about cycleing the tank and how long it takes. That applies to a tank of fish with decorations and a filter. Once you see your plants start growing new leaves and putting out roots and whatnot, its safe to say that the tank is ready for fish.
I will start using ferts next, any advice on how much to start off with? Will the plants improve once dosing is started or should I bag the bad ones and start fresh?
I know you've probably been told this before but you have to be patient with your tank. Only bad things can happen quickly. Most days, the best thing you can do is to study and enjoy it. I usually setup the tank and plant it, and start stocking it about 2 weeks later. Then after another couple of weeks the doseing will start. All the while in between i'm watching and observing and making mental notes of things.
I think you're doing the right thing with the water changes. A couple of 50% changes and you're 4 ppm of NH3 will be reduced to 1 ppm. After that i would leave the tank alone until next week and then do another wc.
After that it is up to you how you want to do it. It seems like there are two schools of thought for how to maintain a planted tank. One involves strong lighting, ALOT of ferts, fast growing plants, large waterchanges and a TON of trimming. This method requires intense maintenance but the resulting display is bright and absolutley stunning IMO. The other involves less light, minimal waterchanges, minimal fertilising, light stocking and more slow growing, broad leafed plants. This results in a darker more of a calm forest type setting. Its really up to you want you want to do with it. Many (dare i say most) aquatic plants and fish are adaptable to either setting.