Yeah, the puffers need to be alone. They don't play nice. :P 5 gallon is min. Sparkling Gouramis are gorgeous and so are Celestial Pearl Danios (you can also find them under Galaxy Rasboras). I wanted both in my 16 when I was shopping but I couldn't find them locally. I hope you find what you're looking for! :D
So far my tentative stocking set up goes..
1 or 2 nerites (not sure which ones I want yet)
10-15 RCS.. I'm getting a good deal on 20 for $20 shipped from a friend
3-5 Sparkling gourami.. although they might eat the RCS
6 panda cories
6 or more danios.. I think I'm going to mix the CPDs and Long Fin Goldens because I think they're so pretty.
I'm still working out exactly how it's going to work. I think I might try out a few ghost shrimp in the tank with the gourami and if they get eaten I'll just put all the RCS in my female sorority because they don't bother shrimp.
Right now I've decided on Fluorite Black sand as the substrate, I'll also be getting some neutral colored river stones to use as accents and maybe tie some plants down with. I'm ordering the sand and the heater and filters next week. First I want to see if I can get the sand locally. I'm also going to try out Seachem Stablility to see if it helps my tank cycle faster.
I don't think I'll be able to get any of my fish locally. The petsmart here is disgusting. I looked at the LF danios and there were a bunch dead and the rest looked so bad. I pitched a fit to the manager. I'm going to check out my LFS and another that isn't too far away this week... if they're fish are decent I'll get them from there when the tank is ready to be stocked. I may even drive the 30mi to the nearest Petco and see what they have... I've never been to it before.
I'm hoping that by stuffing the tank with plants and cycling before hand that I'll be able to stock pretty quickly. With fall coming soon (although you couldn't tell it by the 90* weather) I don't want to risk dead fish.