This site is awesome! :thumbsup: And sorry about the long post, but I figure the more info the better.
So here's a brief history of my tank. For about 7 years I had an aggressive/cichlid tank. Over the last year or so life started getting in the way and I started somewhat neglecting the tank. For about a year I was down to just my Jack Dempsey and a Silver Dollar (which I had to move to a 30gallon due to space) - both of which were at least 7 years old. About 6 weeks ago I moved. I lost the Dempsey about a week before the move, and decided that I would change the tank over from an aggressive, plastic plant tank to a planted community tank.
So when I moved I changed out 75% of the gravel for sand (left some of the old gravel at the very bottom for bacteria), re-scaped everything and added plants. Was very nice but of course my plants weren't thriving in my low-tech tank (a 30 gallon).
My plants: Melon Sword, Telanthera, Egerias Najas, Crypt Wendtii, Dwarf Hairgrass, Rotala, and a Crinum (calimastratum). Also have some java moss growing on a rock and some driftwood.
The changeover put me into a mini-cycle which lasted about 2.5 weeks. after that I added even more plants, and changed my lighting to a NovaExtreme t5HO fixture with a 10,000k light and a pink "plant grow" light. For CO2 all I had at the time was excel. I also was using Flourish once a week, and have flourish tabs in the sand.
Well this caused a crazy algae outbreak (not surprisingly). I'm somewhat new to all of this (really only ever had green spot algae before) so I'm not sure what it all is - can add photos later if necessary. The first thing that I noticed was that my Sword leaves were quickly (like in the coarse of a coupla days) covered in a thin layer of black - it didn't look fuzzy or have any strands, just a black layer covering the leaves. My MTSnails, Amano shrimp, and Ottos show a little interest, but didn't put much of a dent in it.
Then shortly after I started noticing little "tufts" of algae growing on the moss and my Egerias. Then the glass started growing a layer of Brown slime (which the ottos really love, but can't keep up with).
SO doing some more research I came to the realization that I had to add CO2. I set up a DIY yeast system with a drop checker, and soon had my drop checker turn green, and the plants started growing faster (the egerias in particular is taking over!). I cleaned as much of the algae as I could, thinking maybe this would do it for me. I also upped my Flourish to 2x a week (including a slightly larger dose after my weekly 30% water change). I have stopped using Excel as the Egerias did NOT like it.
But the algae is coming back. I was never able to get the black completely off the sword leaves, though I was able to scrape/rub some off. The plant is doing well and had a BUNCH of new leaves coming... should I just prune the covered ones? No other plants have this black coating, but the brown algae on the glass is coming black quickly. I thought this was Diatom, but also thought that was a low-light algae?
Anyway I'm kinda stumped and could use some advice. Thanks very much (especially if you read all of that!) for any suggestions.