You can see the progress from a small half-wall to a built-in stand/cabinet.
Filtration is done with a Magnum 350, Lifegard FB300 (Fluidized Bed), and an Emperor 280 Bio Wheel. No under gravel filter is used. There are many arguments on either side of the fence regarding undergravel filter use, and I have used one in the past with no problems. However I decided not to use one on this setup since I am using live plants.
I now have one Moonlight Gourami, one Blue Gourami, two small Cory cats, 7 Black Tetras and a male and female Betta. The Tetras pick on each other, the Gouramis pick on each other, and the Bettas keep to themselves. I also have two live Amazon Sword plants and they seem to be doing well - there is new growth which is of course a good sign. I only have two 20W flourescent bulbs in the hood, which equates to about .9 watts/gallon. This is less than the typically recommended 2 to 3 watts/gallon, but things seem to be growing sufficiently. I am using well water, so perhaps the natural minerals and trace elements make up for the lower watts/gallon ratio.
There is also a wealth of info on the internet about aquarium setup and maintenance, and some good places to start are the links below...