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phosphates off the scale

i converted an old 90 gal. salt water aquarium into a fresh water plant tank and have had nothing but problems.
i cleaned everything real well, installed a laterite substrate,
220 w compact flourescent, co2 tank w/ reactor, some tetras and a few easy growing plants. during the first week of the co2, i came in one morning to find the fish sucking air on the surface. i areated the water and lost half of the fish. i turned down the co2 to 1 bubble/sec. after about a month the ugly brown algae took hold. i can't get rid of it!
the ph of the tap water is approx 8.
gh & kh are within range.
no sign of amonia.
phosphates are off the chart!!
i performed daily water changes and could not affect the phosphate levels. i changed all of the pipes to the eheim cannister filter thinking there might be phosphate residues
coming from the old filter. btw... the filter is charcoal. is that a problem? i found that some of the lost fish had been sucked into the cannister. i cleaned it out again and put in new charcoal. i add pmdd daily. no change in the algae.
i'm ready to throw everything away and start over.
ken shaffer - atlanta

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