Can I chime in first?
I think a Surface skimmer helps a lot. Well I am still new here but I can at least see there is a difference in the water surface when there is a surface skimmer present or not.
When I run my tank without the surface skimmer, I can see from under a water through the lighting a thin film on the water surface. This film kind of breaks off at the place where the powerhead is pointed to the surface blowing upwards.
If I use a surface skimmer, no such film exist AT ALL. The surface is crystal clear. Well I am not sure if it helps with aeration but I think cleaner surface do help a little bit. And those surface skimmers are not expensive at all. You can easily hook them up with a small HOB
filter just to skim the surface but you can also adjust them to do some under surface filtering as well.
Just my opinion though.