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I do the typical tests of NO3, PO4, GH, KH, TDS... my pH is monitored by a controller and calibrate ever ~4 weeks or so.

What I have found is consistency is the key to avoiding the algae and having healthy tank. When I test I am not as worried about specific numbers (it can be hard to tell) rather the general range of the NO3 and PO4. Just the other day I noticed some extra GDA early in the week after my water change. I tested my PO4 and it was a might lighter color that I wanted. This gave me the opportunity to add a bump of PO4 midweek, and then adjust my dosing for the next water change.

If you feel you need to make a change, find the one factor that you want to adjust for that week or two and watch what happens. If you maintenance is consistent, and you only change one factor at a time, you can better hone in on effects. I know there are way of experimenting with multiple factors, but is is extremely hard to isolate them in a planted tank (IME), so one factor, patience, and watching for changes has worked for me.

I do weekly 70% or so water changes. I am a firm believer that if you want a high powered tank that the clean conditions are going to be absolutely key.

The other thing you can do if using your incoming tap water, besides testing it, is look at the city water report. This, although a snapshot in time, will give you an idea of what the water is like.
 
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