So, here is the journey!:
Petsmart special, 36 gallon bow with stand. My wife likes the way it looks, and I get to have a tank in the livingroom, win-win!
The other stuff:
Fluval 406 canister - on sale at Amazon, have to keep the flow reduced to about 2/3's but lots of room for media! Using everything they sent stock plus a bunch of plastic pot scrubbies and a Purigen packet. There is plenty on empty space if you only use the stock media - and I swear I could hear the ceramics clunking around in there (put them in bags and stuff a scrubbie in each compartment to hold them in place) Replaced the intake tube with black plastic to make as inconspicuous as possible against the black background. Haven't come up with anything for the outflow yet.
Jager 125 watt heater from Drs Foster & Smith - on sale and everyone seemed to think are reliable and built like a tank.
Finnex Fugeray 30 inch LED light - which I promptly hacked down to 28" so it can fit under the stock hood, details here
Sponge pre-filter to protect the shrimp I plan on keeping.
Eco-Complete for the substrate - seems safe for a beginner and it's black. Considered dirt with blasting sand cap, maybe another time.
No Co2, but dosing with Metricide about 2ml every 3 days (less than half the Excel dosage of 3.6ml every day or every other day)
some root tabs and very basic ferts (tetra FloraPride) at water change (so far)