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My first tank was similar to yours, and I had problems growing some plants (namely floating plants). Similar to you, I thought that the problem was not enough light, but the real problem was that the tank was not balanced.

There are three things that you need to have in balance:
a) light,
b) CO2 and
c) nutrients.
If one is way off, algae may develop a lot. If the three are relatively balanced, algae will stay to a level you can tolerate, maybe hardly noticeable. Totally avoiding algae is a hard thing so you may consider it a part of your ecosystem.

Regarding light, I believe that less light is needed in some cases. You can start from tropica's guideline, that is 10-20lumen/litre for easy plants, 20-40 for medium and 40+ for difficult. Of course medium and difficult plants mean an increased need for CO2 and fertilizers (don't forget the balance mentioned above). Having no injected CO2 and no scheduled scheme of fertilization means you probably won't be able to grow difficult plans. That's a good thing because such a setup is expensive and needs a lot of your spare time. I'd go with easy plants, like anubias, microsorum mini or windelov, limnophilla sessiliflora, bacopa compact, marimo, salvinia natans (aka salvinia auriculata) and cryptocorynes. I'd buy a smart RGBW bulb for the desk lamp which would give me the ability to regulate light intensity and color temperature to my taste. In combination with a timer that would provide with total control over light.

I have been successful with the above in a 16lite (approx 4gal) NPT (Natural Planted Tank) also known as Walstad tank. You can check the El Natural subforum for more information.

Have fun!

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