been doing it "wrong" successfully for several years now. it's a cheap set up and easy to run and keep up. i do a 25% water change every 2 to 3 weeks and change out the carbon.. if the phosphates start to climb i run some phosban.
the canister has some ceramic pellets in one chamber, carbon in another and the top one has a course grain sponge. dumping the cansister and cleaning the sponge with saltwater is a must. the also has 5 or 6 power heads. that helps a great deal.
every few days i blow the rocks down, i don't over feed, just a couple fish and 6 hour light window plus an hour of moon lighting on both sides.
during a family crisis the tank ran for 6 months without a water change and nothing happened.
a diamond head goby really helps with keeping the sand clean as well.
it's a very natural tank with lots of cool macros and other filter feeders growing. even got some small clams popping up as well.
stocking the tank with coral that likes or can live with less then perfect water is also very important.
the one bug that i don't like is those ribbed hoses. after turning the canister back on it shots gunk back into the tank that was trapped in the hose. i keep forgetting to pulling the hi pressure side out of the tank and flush it before putting it in the water.