go get yourself a low tech plant pack to really kick off and populate the tank. If you need some plants, i can probably pull a package for you. What other tank inhabitants are there?
Starting a tank off with higher plant density mitigates problems with algae while providing a buffer for making minor environmental adjustments. Its like this... with a low population in town, its hard to plot trends based on limited demographics. same concept in our tanks. There are plants used to determine various indicators such as low co2, low ferts, insufficient light, etc... while algae could often indicate an imbalance or excess of one of the forementioned. Also use things that help properly scale the tank to create the perception of a much larger tank. Part of the experience in this hobby is also feeling your way through these factors as well as stylizing. I think there's been some pretty pointed and helpful posts to date on your thread. I would only increase the photo period if you see the plants having issues such as melting, leaves dropping or turning yellow. Otherwise having a longer period may bring you into fighting algae which is a larger challenge.