Lol, you're very welcome Fin Fancier--I wasn't going to give up! And just a tip, my 6500K CFL bulbs are actually just Philips brand I ordered from HomeDepot.com (of course they don't stock this item in-store that would be too convenient :p). They come in 4-packs, and my 13 watt ones were like, $8-9/4-pack maybe? Considering a basically identical bulb (13w, 6500K, CFL that fits average screw-in sockets) on Amazon is at least that much for one bulb, I think its a pretty good deal. Since I was paying for shipping anyway and have multiple tanks that these work in, I went ahead and ordered two 4-packs. I wasn't able to find these specific bulbs on Amazon, but I'm pretty sure I found other CFLs that came in various wattages and had between 5500K-6500K light depending on which brand, for pretty similar prices.
The bulb that came with my 2.5g minibow was just a small incandescent, and it produced the same effect as that on the right side of your tank lol. I knew it needed to be upgraded for plants, but didn't realize what a drastic difference there was until a got my Marineland Eclipse 5g Hex in the mail not too long afterwards and set it up. They actually do come with a 10W 6500K CFL, and after actually comparing the tanks and seeing how badly the incandescent one appeared, it hurt me to look at it after that until my new bulbs arrived lol.
Looks like we have quite a few of the same plants too, and actually the algae doesn't look all that bad to me in the pics at least. How quickly is it growing--like when you clean it all off how long before it comes back?
I'm going to use the Aqueon for now (obvs, since its what I have lol), but tonight I started actually researching fertilizers in planted tanks to hopefully get at least a basic understanding of the various macro and micro nutrients typically used, their main functions, percentages recommended based on specific setups and plants (theres actually an online "calculator" for this apparently where you enter your specific tank info and it provides you with the numbers so I'll just bookmark that :p), etc. I was looking at homemade fertilizer "recipes", methods, suggestions and all that good stuff and it didn't take long for me to decide that while I can definitely see the benefits both economically and as far as it truly being customized to your tank, I don't think I'm *quite* at that level yet lol. They made a pretty valid point though about how when you buy liquid ferts you're basically paying for a bottle of water with some fertilizers added. And yes, the label on my Aqueon fert bottle confirms that its 98.5% water. And its not like thats surprising or anything, especially not with products specifically manufactured for the pet trade, but still. I can definitely see now why its so much more economical to buy it as a powder and mix it yourself. This site seems to be a popular one for ordering the products needed to make your own ferts (plus they have pre-made ones that I'm more interested in at this point haha): http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/index.asp
Flourish brand ferts are the ones I'm seeing most recommend as far as commercial liquid ferts, which wasn't really a surprise. Someone needs to have like....a 75% off sale on all their products....with free shipping :p