API has a master test kit for about 20$, that will allow you to test PH, High range PH, Amonia, Nitrate and Nitrite. The fundamental perimeters of your tank. You can go in a little more and pick up a GH AND KH test kit for about 4$. Also, a phosphate test will also allow to see where thats at. From what i have read a high reading in phosphate will permit algae to bloom. Get the liquid kits. Much more accurate than those strips. Read up lots of forms about parameters and what certain readings mean. Also, how they correlate. I am also new to the planted aquarium hobby and i can tell you that I've read SO much these past couple months. I think i put more effort into learning about this hobby than school haha. I am also cycling soil and i do a daily water change.. I don't even test it because the last time i did my ammonia was though the roof. That was with me being lazy and trying to only do water changes every other day. I would get a kit, cut the light to 6 hours, up your c02 and do water changes more frequently. Test your water so you know what to adjust.