For Greggz...you can point and laugh, I'm a big boy
Not laughing at all.
You've got some plants growing, and that is a good thing. And you are trying to improve, and that is a good thing too.
Full tank shots help. My first thought is that your tank is lightly planted with mostly low light plants. If you are not going to add CO2, I would try to get the light even lower, and just concentrate on those low light slow growers. Pleasing stems in a low light non CO2 is tricky. A few do it here, but not many.
And in my experience, most algae in non CO2 low tech tanks is one of two things. Too much light or dirty conditions.
Now as to conditions, I am trying to figure out why your nitrates rise so quickly? Doesn't look like a lot of fish load. Are you over feeding them? Are you cleaning filters regularly? Have you seen improvement since you upped water change volume? In general keeping the tank uber clean?
In the end much depends on how involved you want to get. Load up the tank with crypts/swords/anubias/ferns, use low light, keep tank clean, and it's pretty easy.
Bring stems into the picture, and it gets more complicated in a hurry. No way around it.