Peter, as far a new person, I do not suggest they use high light. Nor CO2 even............it depends on the goals...........
Low light+ CO2 is generally a good mix of good growth and ease of care and gardening, non CO2 tanks are not the best for gardening aspects.
"I certainly do not think I am an expert on planted tanks (well may be in growing algae ...... no wont go that way) but I have read a lot of articles on growing algae, I mean plants, and there seem to be lots of different experts who produce great tanks but do it differently!"
No, they don't actually.
In each and every case they address the plant's needs for a give level of light and growth rate. The rate might change, but not the focus.
With a non CO2 lower light tank, fish waste alone can supply most of the needs of the plants.
If you increase the demands of the nutrients by adding more light=> this increases the CO2 demand, adding that increases the nutrient demand and that increases the growth rate.
You can add nutrients a number of ways but the inputs always balance with the outputs.
The rates of growth might change or be different, but not what goes in/out.
This also applies ot reef and macro algae marine systems, non CO2 and CO2 enriched tanks.
This is a myth that each method is "radically different", rather than are much closer than anyone has ever suggested beside myself.
This might bother some people, but that's normal for me
But I see much more similar observations and methods and when I test this notion, I find I am able to predict things accurately.
This also occurs at the lake/pond level. It is not just planted tanks with CO2.
"Tom, in his previous article indicates that excess nutrients are unimportant, while others suggest balencing Nitrates and Phosphates, while other suggest limiting certain nutrients etc."
They are wrong. If they were right, where is my algae? Where is my poor plant growth? Have they actually tried it and tested in a controlled manner?
Answer: no. If they had, they overlooked something and did not explore both sides of the coin, so that's their bad. If you do not try to achieve more than you have already mastered, you will not grow.
Some might prefer a lean plant look............these are generally folks with a lot of experience, that have grown into this hobby with a set of thoughts that believe excess is bad.
You can walk close to this edge and get burnt or simply not worry about it.
Many still will lower the nutrients down for a temporary showing, then later raise them back up. This works with some species for red color.
"I have come to the (uneducated) conclusion that once you have a tank which is going well and the plants are being driven hard then you can throw most things into it and it will take it all."
Lakes, ponds as well.
" On the other hand if you have a tank that has not taken off yet and you do the same ....... have a green and slimy day.... Recognising the difference is the first step to having a good planted tank."
Seeing why a tank did not take off is more important. Where there enough plants? Good CO2 etc?
There are very explainable reasons for failures.
Many folks have done plenty of that
Experience is good to learn from, as long as it's not your own.
"Finally, I suspect that what ever it is that actually stops algae growing is as yet not fully recognised, there is something associated with plant growth that stops algae growth, but thats just a gut feeling."
NH4 competition, plants are already large sized "adults", algal spores are like tiny babies, they gain much more from NH4 than NO3, therefore they do not bloom unless there's enough NH4 present.
Don't believe it? Add some NH4 to your tank and see.
Next try the sasme thing ona tank packed with plants also and add NO3, then keep adding it till you hit 30-50ppm.
Then you'll see the NH4/NO3 issue.
You can add carbon to remove any alleopathic chemicals that might supress algae, you still have the supression(actually even better since the carbon removes NH4, you guessed it!)