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Concrete Problem?

Heres a strange one I don't think anyone has covered. I have a 29 gallon
that I am trying to grow different varieties of Vallisnaria in-Jungle,
corkscrew, italian, crystal. I have a couple of plastic faux *walls*,
about 3 inches high, a slight arc to them that I have buried in the sand
with minimal exposure, to keep the runners from invading each other, to
keep the different vals seperated.

I also have 2 that were made by a pet shop owner maybe 20-30 years
ago-they are different kinds of stones held together by *concrete* of some
sort, in a wider arc that I am also using as a seperator, they are buried 

Well-I had this set up, it seemed to be doing pretty well until about a
year ago. All of my mollies died, as did my SAEs, one at a time. The
plants also died away, and I really wasn't able to re-establish plants

The tank had a continual low-grade ammonia problem. As I had used Tetra
Hylenia-D whe I set it up I thought it might be residual from that. Anyway
last week I tore the whole thing down, started over, a new peat substrate
covered with new sand and these two sets of seperators. I've used peat and
sand together in my other tanks with no problem.

Well-all of the vals I bought are dying back-they look terrible. I have a
low grade ammonia reading. The only thing that could be causing problems
are these seperators, but why? Could the concrete or whatever the bonding
agent for the stones is be causing problems? Why ammonia?

One more thing-when I broke this tank down-I had an amazon sword in it
that was growing-but it had next to no root system. My experience with
amazon swords is that they are all over the substrate with their roots.

Anyway-any ideas on this strange situation would be welcome. 

       Gerry Skau
       ANS BigDial Engineering

       All the world's a stage, but the play is badly cast.
         - Oscar Wilde