My 20 gallon tank is 6 months old. I haven't had too many problems with it, just a few diatoms 2 months into cycling it. I added 4 Serpae tetras, a Golden algae eater, 2 shrimp and an Assassin snail over a period of 5 months (Assassin to control the smaller snails).
I gradually added various plants, but they have all, except for a few, slowly died, turning brown then black. The plants surviving do grow and have roots, but they look weak and scraggly. I have an Anubis which is hanging on and Java moss (which brought the snails, thanks to the store). I had a Japanese lily which I found beautiful when it was healthy but had to remove it, as it developed spindly growth and plenty of water roots, even though it was planted in the substrate.
The fish are doing well but the plants always look yellowing, transparent and have a weird crunchy feeling to them. I have a fine, natural gravel substrate of 2 inches and add liquid plant food twice a month. I do regular water changes and trim the growth, removing dead leaves. The little white snails don't seem to eat the plants but rather the algae. I was giving my tank 10-12 hours of light a day but reduced it to 8-10 hrs given that I started to have fine hair-like algae growth on the plants, appearing to strangle them.
I've had my parameters regularly tested at the fish store and all is in the norm. The water has a pH of 7.5. I originally had bogwood in it to reduce the pH but it turned the water a dark brown in spite of regularly changing the carbon filter, so I removed the wood. I have since added 2 clown loaches to control the snails, but my biggest concern are the plants! Any ideas would be greatly welcome as to the mystery of:
What could be wrong with my plants? They all tend to look mummified and sickly.