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>> Sounds like marl. Your tank is CO2 limited.
>> DIY yeast CO2,you are CO2 limited.
> I know the best solution would be a canister CO2 system, but I just can't
> afford that right now. It is the first thing on list of big stuff to buy for
> that tank, but gotta get my husband working again first!

A bullwhip is quite effective:)

> Is there a way to
> get more of the CO2 being produced by the yeast bottles (they bubble away
> into the tank pretty strongly, but I guess most of it is being gassed out?)
> into the water?

Sure. More effective dissolving or more CO2 bottles, better current pattern.
Place the bubbles into the suction side of a powerhead. Make sure not to
have a flexible DIY bottle(glass or rigid juice bottles are good for this).
Or you can get a CO2 reactor of mine:-) They work great and you can upgrade
to a CO2 gas tank later and use it for that also.
>> A few of these will produce marl, the vals in particular. This can get
>> tossed around all over everything. Marl is carbonate deposits/encrustation.
>> Your plants are using the hard water(KH => HCO3--> CO2 + OH) to get at the
>> CO2. That leaves the OH- left which raises the pH. At the surface of the
>> leaf, the amount of OH's can get pretty high, enough to precipitate out
>> carbonates if the plant is growing fast. Chara, Potamogeton and vals tend
> to
>> particularly good at production of marl. This process can remove KH to the
>> point of making things unstable if you do not do many regular water
> changes.
> We do have fairly hard water here. But the KH in all the tanks stays quite
> stable.

It would take a few weeks/months to knock it down if you did not do water
changes to have this effect.
>> Like I said , CO2 limited. BTW, O.00ppm NO3 and PO4 are not good. Shoot for
>> 5-10ppm of NO3 and .4-5.ppm of PO4 and a CO2 level of 20ppm-30ppm.
> I had cut back on the amount of nitrate of soda I had been adding to the
> tank, because I was afraid that was possibly causing the problem. I'll bump
> it back up again. How do I get the PO4 up?

Try feeding fish more for now. After you deal with the CO2, try adding
potassium nitrate, not nitrate of soda. The extra K will help. PO4 is a ways
off till you address these issues first. KH2PO4 and H3PO4 work for PO4.
Consider getting : KNO3, K2SO4 and KH2PO4 and then whatever trace mix you
want(Flourish, TMG, Sera, dry mixes, hydroponics mixes etc). This will give
you pretty complete control over nutrients. Light, CO2 and nutrients and the
rest is herbivores, maintenance, pruning etc.
Tom Barr