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yellow water and fertilizers

First, I want to thank everyone on the list for all the great suggestions. I've had a 20gal planted tank for about 7 years, and for most of that time it has done amazingly well with no CO2 and only very sporadic fertilizing.  I've just gotten a great deal on a 68gal which I am planning to set up as a planted tank as well.  In preparation, or rather, in training, for that, I've started adding CO2 to my smaller tank and have been very diligent with testing the water, adding fertilizers, etc. I'm hoping that I can really get the hang of a successful plant tank before I move to the bigger size.  I've been reading the emails on this list for about a month now, and have learned more than I have learned in the 7 years I've been tinkering.  So, thanks again.
Now, for my questions:
- I've just put a piece of driftwood in my tank - for aesthetic as well as water-softening reasons.  I'm assuming that this is what is making my water look yellow.  Is there any way to remove this color?  If I use charcoal, will this strip my water of other useful things?
- My nitrate levels are 5-10 ppm.  Is this too low for healthy plants?  I'm asking because I got a big growth spurt from everything when I put the CO2 on - about a month ago - but now it seems as if things are slowing down again, and my red plants are not so red anymore.  Is it possible that with the added CO2 my plants are using more nutrients than I am supplying?  I'm adding Seachem Flourish and Trace according to the directions.  Maybe more Phosphate?  Maybe more Iron? So far no algae and for that I am very thankful ( and probably lucky!)
- When I set up the tank 7 years ago, I put laterite on the bottom and then gravel on top.  Is it worth going through the trouble of making little laterite balls to replenish my substrate as the LFS guy suggested?  Could this be the cause of my not-so-great growth, or should the Seachem be providing all the iron I need?

That's all the questions I can think of now.  Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

- Jennifer, in Texas

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