Thought I'd get some of my thoughts down on planted tanks.
Since last time I've changed my mind (big surprise) and decided to go for a 20g planted tank with a pair or trio of honey gouramis and as many harlequin rasboras as the tank can support. I can try my best to get a peaceful betta but it's still a gamble that it won't turn out to be a murder fish and go Liam Neeson on a school of whatever microrasbora I've decided to stock the tank with. And even if it starts peaceful... there's always a chance that something will snap in its fishy brain and it will decide that it not only wants to be the hawttest fish in the tank, it wants to be the ONLY fish in the tank. No thanks. Honey gouramis and harlequins are both said to be gentle fish. Also I like the "feelers" on the gourami, and the harlequins are classic fish often recommended without reservation for the beginner hobbyist.
Also, paradoxically (or not?) larger tanks are easier to maintain than smaller tanks, which are more prone to chemical fluctuations and accidents.
I also plan on using the Walstad soil + sand cap method and buying my tank bits separately rather than in a kit. Tank hood LEDs aren't generally strong enough to grow plants... but sunlight is! In seventh grade I maintained a perfectly OK tank for a science class with hornwort, water hyacinth, and one feeder goldfish. Admittedly the goldfish never got a water change (I was doing it wrong :( ) but he survived until he was moved to a low-light location, at which point the plants died and the fish was soon to follow. This is relevant because sunlight is said to cause algae growth but I never experienced it in my tank. As long as I can get some fast-growing floating plants established I will be able to outcompete algae.
In other news.
The profs have delivered "glowing" praise of my thesis draft, so full steam ahead until it's all done, I guess. I must be nearly almost done now.
The new geocaching.com map shows sad faces for my DNFS so that is nice.