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balancing fish and plants

Hello All-

I have been trying to learn how to run a planted aquarium.  I am a long
time community tank keeper, but this is new.  And most of what I am
learning is good for plants is just anathema to a fish-only keeper. 
Remove charcoal?  Are you NUTS?  That is my gut reaction.  But I did it.
And I have been adding fertilizer, and I even dug up the bottom of an
established tank and put in laterite and profile.  And I have tried to
turn off the air, but that is one step farther than I can make myself go
without panic attacks.    

My problem is that in the last day, I have lost 5 fish, for no apparent
reason, and its after doing all the plant required things, and I can't
get over the feeling its BECAUSE of the fertilizer, the lack of air, the
odd things I have done! (like take out that charcoal)  

A small angel just sank, and died.  A dojo (probably not the usual
inhabitant for a plant tank, but remember, this tank started life as a
community tank) suddenly met his demise.  One minute, fine.  The next,
he's on his side with wilted barbles, pink gills, one eye filmed over
with an opaque coating, the other eye swollen and puffy, and unable to
open all the way.  This, shortly after I bring home and deploy Tetra
Initial Sticks.  So I stand there, and my guts roll, and I'm so
suspicious that he got right into the tetra sticks, and one burned him.
And I lost a dwarf neon rainbow just as suddenly.  One half of its head
turned sulfur yellow.  No fuzz or deteriorating tissue.  Just all normal
color in that area gone.  And then I feel convinced that it HAD to be
because I turned off the air, and he had a stroke.  (don't laugh!)  

What I need is reassurance that the fish are capable of being in there
without charcoal, lots of air movement, fertilizer, etc.  My instincts
shriek against adding co2, lemme tell ya!  I just can't seem to unlearn
all the old ways of fishkeeping. The old ideas are just confusing the
new ones I am learning.  

Any advice? 

Thank you-