Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Nitrate can be anywhere from about 5 to 20, and it is OK for the plants. For more delicate fish, aim for under 10 ppm from fish food sources.
Phosphate ought to show on the test, but at low levels.
Lights: See if you can find PAR information about each light that you are trying.
Plants (including algae) use a lot of certain wavelengths, and almost none of other wavelengths.
Before PAR info was widely available Kelvin (K) value was the guide:
Almost anywhere in the 6,000 seemed to grow plants the best, and 6,500 - 6,700 was optimum. 10,000 has too much blue, not enough red wavelengths. On a small tank (under 20 gallons), (before PAR) the aim was for over 2 watts per gallon, and 3-5 wpg was better. These numbers were for T-8 and especially T-12 bulbs with pretty bad reflectors.
Are you adding any carbon? Excel? pressurized? DIY?