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Melt down

Hello Folks:
     I have been suffering with a major problem - leaves are melting.  The
plants have stopped growing and the tank was only set up last Christmas (8
months old now).  I changed the type of lighting I had from Halogen back to
my florescent fixture after it was fixed.  The halogens were too intense and
bright but the plants grew and so did a thick layer of algea, despite my
hanging them about a footand half above the water.  Would merely changing
from 200 watts of light to the more normal 72 watts of florescent cause the
leaves to melt?  The halogens were an emergency set-up (2 months) until I
could replace the ballast in my florescent fixture.  
     Also, I want to buy test kits to help me with balancing the aquarium
environment.  These kits for various chemicals are quite pricey.  What would
be a good start up in terms of the most important.  I have kits that test
for ammonia, nitrate and nitrite.  I have a meter for testing pH and another
kit for water hardness - KH and GH.  What might help in dealing with my leaf
melt and cessation of growth in the tank?  For a while, my nitrates had gone
up too high and stressed the Discus in the tank.  Finally after I added more
plants to deal with the nitrates the tank is testing at a safe level.  
     I have had to treat the discus for illness and wonder if the
metroniazole or the flubenzadole contributed to my problems.
     I need some help here.  Thanks

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