Excellent advice for everyone, and probably the best route for @kellyboy47 to go down.Hi Kelly!
As I read through the thread, I started to think that if we change our goals it may align with everything you want: long lighting period (I deduced this), low maintenance. I am thinking we go low tech?
I have a tank upstairs that is right beside a window. I use no light (only take advantage of sunlight) and have several floating plants, in particular duckweed, to help with nutrient uptake. It has no plants (but I have ran low tech in the past) as my wife wanted the plastic ones with blue rocks .
Diana Walstad's < Ecology of the planted tank > could be an approach that you take.
The issue I think is that the strategy that people take to achieve 'show' tanks is:
1) expensive (there is no denying that the upfront cost of CO2 etc is not cheap - even with DIY everything).
2) requires meticulous cleaning, especially on start up - which means changing water.
3) requires CO2 injection.
Dennis Wong achieves a < nice low tech tank > but I bet he doesn't fertilize the water column and has nutrient rich and appropriate substrate.
In every case, it requires a restart - as the low-tech approach with minimal water changes will need a substrate to keep it balanced.
Except the case below:
Or, you find a way to lean out you fertilization to match the 3ppm of CO2 that you have. This will require intensive water changing and cleaning up front - so you will have to remove most of the waste from your tank, clean it intensely, remove dying plants, remove algae, rub all of the leaves, clean your filter, THEN dose minimal amounts. This will work by forcing a different nutrient (not CO2) to stop the assembly line of Liebig's law of the minimum - without running it out of course so riding a nice line - (the easiest one to use here is phosphate as it is more mobile within the plant vs. the water column, so the plant can stock up on phosphates from the WC while algae ... at least this is what I have gathered from reading - no formal link here). The goal becomes SLOW, healthy growth. You shouldn't have to trim for months.
These are simply my thoughts .