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plant eating fish

I have a 30 Gallon Xtra high 24x24x12 with four Angels, about 30 Val
americana and 5 E.Blehri.  This tank is at work and is fed very sparingly
four times a week.  It is illuminated by 15watt bulbs x 3 for 45 watts.
The substrate is topsoil, worm poop and vermiculite covered in 3" of
gravel.  Two problems.  1) Some of the Vals are melting at the top.  2)
Something is eating the Swords.  I have seen the Angels nibbling at the
Vals where pieces are melting off which has lead me to theorize that they
are the culprit; causing damage to the vals that are then disintergrating
at the top as a result.  The holes in the E. Blehri are not deficiency
holes.  For algae control I feed very sparingly, and I have two Otto's in
the tank who get spirulina wafers weekly.  I don't fertilize in any way,
however in my newbie days I had this tank set up with 10 Gouramis, very
large gravel and nothing in the substrate and the plants did very well. I
use the same alkaline 4kh 7 gh water I always use with 10 gal water change
every two weeks.  I had expected the Vals to take over the tank by now.
This tank has been set up for 4-5 months.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Miles Morrissey   Easthampton, MA - USA
mmorriss at sophia_smith.edu