I appreciate the feedback, this is my first planted tank and still learning. I've read a lot of mixed things about nitrates being between 20-40ppm as the target to shoot for but I guess it's tank specific for what should be your guide.
I think it has a lot to do (with higher nitrate levels- above 20 ppm) with if you are high-tech or low-tech. Not sure if you are high or low tech? In low-tech set-ups where growth is slower your plants dont take up organics in the water as quickly and efficiently as in high tech set-ups with rapid growing stem plants.
Personally, in my low-tech aquariums, I never let my nitrates get above 15 ppm for long-term health of my fish. But, all my fish are South American/African Congo River or tributaries of- with soft, acidic waters of low dissolved organics.