Yeh I checked out some extra info on the carbon today. I made the assumption (always a mistake) that if it came already inside the filter, as it does with the Emperor Bio-wheel cartridges, that it would be cool. Obviously not.
As far as my water goes...Ammonia/Nitrite = 0 Nitrate around 5ppm. PH is a little higher than I want at 7.6. My tap water is 7.0. I believe the cause was a few rocks that I was using to form a cave for my catfish. Again I assumed (stupid) that since the clerk at my LFS said they wouldn't affect anything that they wouldn't. Won't be making that mistake again. I just removed them yesterday. I'm also adding a DIY co2 system soon to pump in some more CO2 for my java ferns which are doing miserably as you can tell from the photos. Currently I'm just using a cheap co2 system where you drop the tab in the cup and it bubbles up co2. As cost is an issue I believe the DIY system is my best bet. Obviously I'll have to play around with it to hit that right balance. We are using several different fertilizers at the moment, though at reduced dosages. Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel, as well as API Leaf Zone. We're playing around with the quantities of each to see what works best. We also have Flourish Iron but I'm nervous about dumping a concentrated shot of iron in the water considering all the other fertilizers also contain iron. We have allowed the back walls of our tank to grow a pretty good amount of green algae for our snails, rainbow shark, and oto's but my fear is that if we dump in too many nutrients that the algae will completely take off and quickly cover the whole tank.
My light fixture holds 2 65 Watt Dual 6700K White/10000K White compact bulbs. I'm currently only using 1 at a time until I get that extra co2 pumping. Even then I may only need the one but we'll see. Water temp averages around 77. Fortunately only Hell is hotter than Texas so my tank doesn't even need the heaters right now, but they are in place for our 3 days of winter. Our AC keeps the water temp pretty stable. KH is relatively high (which may also be affecting my ability to alter my PH) at 15 dkh while my GH is pretty neutral on the soft side at 7dh. I'm trying to shy away from any chemicals that artifically raise or lower any of my water parameters (other than the tap conditioner) so I'm hoping the removal of those rocks and the additional co2 will reduce my PH and not greatly affect my KH. I really don't want to spend the money on RO if I can avoid it.
So, if you were only looking for the short version
AMMONIA/NITRITE = 0 NITRATE = 5ppm PH = 7.6 KH = 15 GH = 7