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plant trouble

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Hi everyone. This is my first post but been reading threads here for about 5 months and finally have found a great lfs. I cannot grow any plants. I mainly have gals that have been reduced to nothing. I have no ammonia no nitrites. My nitrates don't ever get to over 40 ppm in a weeks time(with weekly 40% water change). Ph is 7. I have a 55 gallon with 2 54 watt HO T5's. Been dosing flourish and excel for 2 weeks. I don't know what else to do. Wasn't planning on co2 until I got some plants started. Please help and thank u in advance for any advice
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I know the drop checker isn't the most precise measuring tool...but I have found it to be most useful. It's cheap and does the job with accurate test solution. It's been very useful for me to keep a consistent amount of co2 in my tank. After a few weeks, I became very good at looking at the shade of green and knowing where the sweet spot was for my plants and fish. Lime green is the most my fish can handle...and my plants do well.
 
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