I just set up this cylindrical vase I bought at WINNERS (TJ MAX in the U.S.) it cost me under $10 and I filled it with MGO potting soil and Home Depot play sand. Very easy and great fun. The plants for now are hygrophila difformis and nomaphila stricta both of which I believe are robust enough to handle the access nutrients from the fresh MGO soil to start things off. What is the basic look your going for? Jungle? Or something clean and simple looking, like a small piece of drift wood and some anubias?
Yeah for sure. Keep it simple and don't spend any more money than absolutely necessary. Whatever hardy plants you have extra of would work great to start it off. If after that you fall in Iove with it you can scape it and acquire special plants as you go. Post some pics when it's all set up.
Here's an update. I added some jungle vals but the emerged growth is really what I'm pleased with. I have one male guppy that's been in there pretty much since the start. I'm just doing top ups now when the water gets to low. The trick with the dirt was doing a 90% water change every day for the first week do remove all the access nutrients from the water column. Can't wait to see your bowl Gil!
that's a good bowl to work with. be very careful with it because these particular ones can be fragile and cant take a lot of abuse from hitting the sides with substrate/rocks, and you cant put too much pressure on the sides. just be gentle with it in the setup phase.