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I highly suggest going to a home improvement store and getting a couple small porcelain tiles and placing them on the driftwood to make it sink. It should help it water log since it will be submerged. Maybe it doesn't matter, but my imagination says it should.
 

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I have a fine sponge prefilter on my shrimp tank that absorbs a ton of tannis (if that is possible?). I rinse it ever week and just running fresh water through it turns the water brown. So maybe a fine prefilter would help too. The purigen will load up quickly and require cleaning if you have a lot of particles to be removed. Well, that's just it doing it's job isn't it? haha. Make sure you check on it! If it is dark, it isn't going to absorb any more particles.

And I really feel you on the journal thing. My tank just isn't popular, so I chronicle things mostly for myself and to give reference when I leave replies for others.

I think your 'skip week' of water changes probably did bring them up. You'll want some fast growing plants in there to absorb those nitrates. I suggest floaters, water sprite, and spiral vals. They have all been fast growers for me.
 

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Tough call! All you can do is try. SS is pointing out a lot of truths and there is a lot of uncertainty in this hobby. I can't even guarantee that I'm doing the tests correctly.

I do know that fast growing plants, lots of plant mass, a regular water change schedule, and a modest fish load are all good starts to keeping a successful low tech tank. I think you'll be fine when those vals take off. I know mine have to be helping with the waste load.

What kind of floaters are those? I know floaters help because they grow quickly. I have some frogbit if you want some. I also may be able to throw in some dwarf sag which would help fill in the bottom of your tank. It won't be much, but 6 months from now (if you do your part!) it will be a large mass.
 
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