Some background info.
Let's start with some honesty; I love my tank, but it has been a seriously long time since I've done ANYTHING but throw in food and top off water, (like, 10 months at least, maybe longer) but with good reason! In that time I've taken some ridiculously hard pre - med classes, my wife is now pregnant (30 weeks a long yesterday), & I studied for and took the MCAT, took a work trip to China, & other assorted things. I've had only two casualties, both over 8 months ago. My GBR had hole in the head and i had a mysterious Julii Cory death. I have a TON of plants. Several riparium plants that are doing well. (Mangrove, another I can't remember, a Pothos vine, & spider house plant) All of the plants have done extremely well, & have had a lot to filter.
While I was in China, the power went out at my house, & my old penn plax canister died. So my wife didn't know what to do, so my tank was without a filter and only an air pump for a week. When I returned, I decided I should probably up my game and fix it up before the baby comes. I just bought a sunsun 302. I put that together last night, it took a while, needless to say, and cleaning out the Penn Plax filter was one of the most disgusting things I have ever done. Needless to say I will NEVER go that long without cleaning a filter ever again. I think part of the issue is while I was in China it was stagnant, so I imagine there was a lot of anaerobic bacteria growth in there.
More importantly, the Sunsun filter is great, it has really cleaned up the tank pretty quickly and it looks great. I have floss in the top tray, Scour pads in the middle and seachem matrix in the bottom. I primed it with aquarium water and some lava rock from inside the tank. Anyway, I will take some more pics later of how much better it looks, but let me know if you guys have any suggestions or comments!
Here are some pics from before cleaning it up.