I have the canister but the tank is not setup yet as I am moving up the hill as soon as the house is finished.
i don't use carbon. Like what Meenu said, it's more of a personnel choice. For media I have decided on putting Biomax in the bottom basket and the middle basket with a fine filter pad on the top of the biomax to trap fine particles, for the top I am going to use the Pre-filter to catch larger particles.
For maint. it depends on how stocked the tank is & with what, not overfeeding, keeping up on water changes, gravel vac, stuff like that. IMO I too have to learn how long it can go without having to be rinsed. With my HOB ACs I rinse them about every 2-3 weeks.