Air pumps and plants:
Air stone seem just fine as well as a typical Hydro-sponge filter with air power pump.
So far so good.
I have success with planted tanks running anything from Anubias plant filled scapes of pea puffers with a Hydro-sponge (powered by only air) to peninsula aquarium builds housing more random plants.
The main thing I learned, is to make good water currents that moved surface scum.
Even if it is a little power head on the bottom shooting up in the center as a pond would works great (protect the intake longterm with a coarse to medium sponge) .
The use of a proper tip or nozzle from the powerhead water pump will gently move the water from center-bottom UP to surface then outer tank glass and create a everlasting tumble that goes DOWN the glass back to center bottom and back Up to surface.
A nice "roll" effect if done by a central Hydro-sponge too.
It lifts the plant leaves in the current and keeps the plants cleaner, much cleaner.
Low water movement lead toward dirty plant leaves for me.
Clean water surfaces seems to lead toward good things most of the time for me.
I like to run anything from Danner AP2, AP-3 or AP-4 air pumps (ap4 $16), Fluval Q1 or Q2, Eheim 400, and shove air stones down the Hydro-sponges to force them to make small bubbles that are quiet.
Big glubby bubbles can work too. It's a sound thing.
Adjustable air pumps are nice.
You can learn to "tune them" to the stone or sponge filter for a great performance.
Some threaded plastic air stones are out there too. They have little grooves for air flow and work well. Stone seems the most quiet as for noise output in combination with a glass lid. The tank is almost dead silent if anyone travels down the silent air tank route.