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a couple of years ago I went completely overboard and got the
big Eheim/Wet-Dry-Thermal with heater.
An awesome machine !
Every 10-15 seconds it will pulse and sent out a stream of heated,
oxygen rich water into the tank. I use Siporax as the filter medium
and have a sponge on the filter intake. The filter maintenance is once,
maybe twice a year and the Eheim runs on my 120 G.with
pressurized CO2 !
A complete "Overkill" on filtration for a planted tank !
But I like it.....

Your Questions...
a) I would remove the UGF plates, I can't see no advantages.
    You even would win more space to fill up with gravel and create
    therefore a much larger aerobic/anaerobic area.
b) If you put the emphasis on plants in your upcoming tank,
    IMHO-Wet-Dry filtration is not necessary.
    You have better choices, go with a simple canister filter - or -
     if you're good-go without filtration.(But you still need movement
of the
     water column !)
c)  On my wet-dry tank, I run a 10 pound bottle to my welding supply
     every 4 month !
     That fact is able to support the theory <Wet-Dry - more CO2>
     Compare to my other tanks, where a 10 pound bottle last me at least
9 month
     to a year !

George Booth had asked the list, maybe a year ago, to report CO2
on Wet-Dry Filtration, maybe I missed his postings ?
Or check his web site and the archives of the list on this issue.
Comes up every now and then !

Oh and I forgot,
yes the Eheim will pull in room - air through a 3rd tube, installed
above the
tank water level !
The canister is completely sealed.

No algae through oxygen enriched water and CO2 in this tank.