Aquaclear, definitely. You get more bang for your buck. I have the aquaclear 50 running on my 26 and a 20 on one of my 10's. They work amazingly. Would never trade it for anything.
If it were me I would go with
a school of panda or dwarf cories.
and I've been dying to get a sunfish, so I'm going to suggest some of those :)
As for plants:
Regular hairgrass and vallisneria as background plants
blyxa japonica *sp* as foreground or dwarf baby tears :)
crypt petchii as fore/mid ground
Stems of stargras, wisteria, rotala wahlichii, ludwigia
maybe some more crypts or swords
You could also think about getting some riccia to put around some rocks in the foreground, some driftwood with christmass moss and anubias tied to it :)