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new tank, pH mystery

I set up the new forty gal plant tank last week, with many scrawny
plants adn one five-inch bushynosed. The plants are not even established
yet and the plec still hides.

But---I put my pH around 6.8 to 7 at night and by the next night it is
up to 7.6 or over.  This is not good. I understand that plant activity
over the say can lower my pH, esp. in the Bay Area's soft water, but
this fast? With poor established plants? Well, the Am. Swords are
recovering in a hurry, but we're talking one to two inches tall so far.

Also the Java moss doesn't seem happy.

Temp:73 to 75

pH: all over the place

Light: 80 watts in the form of two Home Depot four foot plant lights set
directly on top of the glass tank cover, 10-14 hous a day

substrate: coarse sand?fine gravel (Monteray beach "sand") with
granualted laterite mixed in, some commercial plant food, with iron,
added to water column as a starting boost.

Is it time for CO2 already? 

Could it be too war or bright for the Java Moss?