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Hey, I'm new to the hobby, this is my first ever planted tank. I've had it up and running about 6 months. Most of my plants seem to actually be doing surprisingly well. I have had a problem with a few specific plants, as well as with some fish, which I didnt expect. Was hoping the some people with experience would be willing to help me out.

My setup:
40G breeder
eheim 600
2 NO t5 bulbs
fluorite black sand substrate

Plants:
Crypt spiralis
Crypt balansae
Crineum natans
Crypt wendtii
Crypt parva
Anubias nana
nyphaea stellata
kleiner prinz sword

Plants I've had trouble with are java fern, bacopa caroliana, wisteria, vals.

I basically started out with vals and spiralis, the vals all died off, no big deal I just replaced them with more crypts, I like them better anyway. I also started off with some bacopa, thought they would be easy but they basically slowly rotted away. I think there might be a couple new leaves on it now but thats it.

I also bought some wisteria and java fern, figured those are two easy plants, no problem. But my wisteria looks like its withering away and rotting. Same with the java fern, I have about 6 plants in there maybe, the best ones just aren't growing at all, a few are turning brown.

Every other plant looks great to my novice eyes. So i'm not really sure whats going on with the others. Any suggestions?

The other problem I've been unable to solve is why I'm having a hard time with fish. My original intent was to have a huge school of rasboras, some ottos, and blue rams. I started off with a few rasboras, lost about half. I ended up replenishing plus some, the the majority died as well. The weird part is I couldn't find most of the bodies. They looked good and colorful, they were very active, they ate, but I'd wake up and be down a few fish. Some gave some warning, but most didn't. Ammonia and nitrite never registered, had some nitrates(maybe i over fertilized?), but I did some big water changes anyway. Didn't make any difference? I have just settled on some zebra danios at this point ,doing fine so far but I am very disappointed.

My pH is 7.6, which is the only thing I can think of that could possibly be too much for the rasboras, even though the majority of people thought I'd have no problems at all. I was too afraid to try another south American fish though I didn't want to kill any more.

I also stopped fertilizing, not sure exactly how long. The weird thing is with all the water changes and me no longer fertilizing I can't get my nitrates under 20ppm. Also, even with no fertilizer it hasn't looked like it's affected my plants yet at all.

I know this is a lot, and thank you in advance to anyone that has some advice and read my massive list of questions. I have some pictures of my tank here also if that may help.
 

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My only guess is you have high level of nitrates in your tap water. Hence your high readings with no ferts. As for your fish, perhaps there is a disease that kills some fish but the hardier ones survived. If it continues maybe dose some medications. I dunno how long the fish were in there before they died.
 
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