Great points. The background does look bad in photos, not too bad to the naked eye. Is matte black a pretty standard background?
The thing in the corner is just a powerhead with a foam filter and a rigged up "spray bar" made from some vinyl tubing. Temporary solution to some bad circulation in that heavily planted corner. (Trying not to spend any more cash on filters etc right now.) No CO2 reactor at this point,( trying to stay simple, low maintenance).
I wasn't even thinking of those two things when I posted, I guess I developed a blind spot, after seeing that stuff everyday.