Recently, every time I've tried to introduce fish into my 30 gallon setup, I've lost most of the new stock. Right now I have about 7 rummy nose tetras (originally introduced about 13 but they died off within a few days), 4 lampeye killies, 2 siamese algae eaters (originally 5), and 2 farlowellas (originally had others also) and 1 cardinal (lost the other 12!). At some point I had gouramis but they kicked the bucket after a few months. A few months later I added a different type of gourami--they died after a few days! So frustrating!!
I tried to put these fish in over the course of the last 6 months (not all at once). Tested the water at a local pet shop recently and they said the water is too hard at 7.8 (tests 0 for ammonia and everything else) A few months ago I believe my pH was around 7.6 with hardness at 300ppm. (They told me the tap water around here is a pH of 8.2 and according the city's water treatment website which I am now looking at, hardness is adjusted to 50ppm)
I'm beginning to think the crushed coral I put in the soil is driving the pH up. My plants are not doing fantastic either. Most leaves have yellowing tips and have developed some holes. Water sprite has died out quite a bit. Topping off with fresh water hasn't helped plant growth. I thought my plant problem was largely because of nitrate deficiency ( I didn't really have/and still don't have that many fish in the tank) so I thought it would be a good idea to add more fish. But I'm afraid to buy any new fish since they die within a few days in the tank. The local fish store owner says it would be crazy to put any more fish in there with such a high pH and that any extra ammonia would be deadly in this combo.
I'm not quite sure what to do here. Is it possible there is too much crushed coral in the soil? Does this mean I would have to take the whole setup apart and recreate it without the addition of any crushed coral? Its been very disappointing that I've lost a lot of fish...I haven't really had any other major problems.
I've attached two photos from a few weeks ago (probably right after some pruning) and a closeup of some of the leaves.
so disappointed that I might have to take it all apart. Did I make a mistake with the coral?