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New and and need help with PH/GH/CO2

Hello all,

I'm new and am looking for advice on several  basics that I don't yet 
understand. I've had tanks for years, always had some live plants but now 
want to concentrate on the plants as I find them so beautiful.

I have a 55 gal tank planted fairly heavily, although the crypts are taking 
over and I haven't had much luck with the faster growing plants.  I have 
community  fish, mostly cardinals, tetras and some algae eating creatures. I 
went through a tremendous amount of hair algae (for about 7 months, lost most 
all of my faster growing plants and lowered the light to help control algae). 
Then I fought with cyanobacteria for several months. I am now algae free will 
be increasing the light again. I'm going to be removing a lot of the crypts 
to make room for other plants, the idea being to get more faster growing ones 
which may help me prevent algae taking over the tank.  What is a good source 
of plant material?

I set up a DIY yeast mixture for CO2 5 days ago. Although its bubbling its 
clear to me that I need a reactor, membrane, diffuser or something along that 
line as I can see I'm losing most all of my CO2 that's bubbling up out of the 
tank.  I'm lost when it comes to which device to use to diffuse the CO2 into 
the tank more efficiently. I'd like something that I can use with my DIY 
yeast system, but that would also work if I upgrade to a real CO2 system. 

My water chemistry is a major problem from what I've been reading.  My pH is 
8.5, GH is 9 and KH is 10 (if my test kit is correct). My understanding is 
that these values are too high and I'm not sure what to do to correct it.  If 
I'm understanding the info I've read this values make little CO2 available to 
the plants. This is well water I'm using. I'm not really into using chemicals 
to change the water values, is it my only hope?

As you can tell I'm not a scientist, and I know all these questions are 
probably old hat to most of you.  I would really appreciate some wisdom from 
those who can push me in the right direction.

Thank you,
Sue Wild

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