I hear ya!For leaving the lights off, do i need to completely block the tank from ALL light or just leave the tank lights off?
I may be able to get a better filter and/or UV sterilizer for my birthday or christmas coming up. Otherwise, I am just a flat broke unemployed college student in a bad economy.
Turn the tank lights off and make sure there is no other intense lighting (ie sunlight). Ordinary room lighting for short periods of time is OK.
Your tank should clear up but you will notice a slight setback in your plants.
It's quite possible the algae bloom will return, in which case you will have to spend a lot of time tinkering with the lights/fertilizers/CO2 etc. I'm sure you will find a lot of people who will tell you what worked for them but that may not work for you. I cannot give you advice since this is not a really scientific process.
This is just my opinion, but if you really want to have a "tank of the month" quality aquarium, you are going to spend big bucks! Otherwise you'll probably have to live with periodic algae breakouts.
Here is something to think about. Say to yourself, when I'm finally out there working and making the big bucks, I want to have the tank I always dreamed about. I guarantee, if you do this, you will have that tank.