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If it dosen't impede the water flow in the filter you can put just about any filter media in the filter.
I'm not sure why you would think that other forms of filters would put in water on the floor because of a power outage. No properly installed non-leaking filter should do that.
The tank specs don't usually refer to the lighting system, look at the lighting system's specs for that. Many of the LED systems have adjustable brackets that sit on the outside edges of the tank and are adjustable as to the width they will fit. Some have options to hang them above the tank and come with kits for doing so.
The higher the lights are the wider their coverage and lower their brightness. You haven't mentioned whether you intend on a low maintenance or a high tech tank. I suspect your 36 g tank is 21" high which will itself limit the amount of light getting to the full depth of your tank. You haven't mentioned your intended plants but their light needs vary significantly too. Keep doing the research as you make these decisions.
 
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