Update....Member OVT came by today to pick up some rocks from me. He was very generous and gave me a 6 pack of Pyramid Apricot Ale which I am currently drinking. We were talking about various things but I told him how my Zoo Med 501 has reduced down to a trickle. I maintain the filter regularly but I don't know when the last time I cleaned the pipes. I lost my stock intake so I make a stainless steal tube. Between the tube and 45 degree elbows it comes with, it was horribly dirty. I think that the intake had about 1/2 or more crude in it than surface area so it was really clogged. I think I increased the flow by about 10X after cleaning, just on a guess. I figured it was a good time to take some pictures. I am also curious if the string type algae I have will subside.
I did try my Eheim 2234 on this tank and throttled down, it could work. However, it was an inch to tall to fit under what was a bedside table. I am glad I didn't change out the filters, even though the 2234 would provide much more biomedia, it would have been ugly in the room.
I think the tank looks pretty good right now but some plants have been recently trimmed so it's not at it's best. I am still really surprised how well it works with no CO2. I am thinking about using Excel in the near future to compare, however. I think Excel is too expensive to rely upon on even a nano but I am willing to give it another shot. Even though my plants can have decent color, given the circumstances, I want to test it out again. I do hope my string algae goes away too but my gut tells me it will thrive harder.
That said, here are some pics: