Also +1 on getting a tank over a bowl. As well as a heater. If you don't have a lot to spend or care about having anything super fancy, Petco sells kritter keepers that work just fine. The large (2.5g) size is just $13.
I have both males and females, and I really don't prefer one over the other. I love them all equally. :) And they require the same amount of care, so that's really up to you and what you want. As far as finnage, I too have fallen in love with plakats/halfmoon plakats. They come in so many different colors, it's easy to get mesmerized I think. XD I also have a halfmoon, and while he is stunning, I do worry about tail biting. Which you have to think about for any of the long finned varieties.
I would go to the store and look through them. Usually, as was mentioned, there's just one that will speak to you. :)