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Fluval recommends putting them at opposite ends of the tank. And I definitely recommend a spraybar, the increased surface agitation is greatly beneficial.

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So on the same end would be a circular motion where opposite ends would be more of a run way flow. I love the ideas of a spray bar but war to avoid the bulky look on a open top tank
I don't think it would look very bulky, depending on the positioning of it. If you place it at one end of the tank, running front to back so that it sprays the length of the tank, I think that would minimize its profile and make it less noticeable.

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Sounds like you might have just needed a stronger filter for how long the tank was
I was (and still am) running a fluval fx5 on a 6ft, 125 gallon tank. Not to certain that this was the issue.

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