Terrance: I'm definitely going with a HOB, not a canister. If I do go planted, I'll be trying some of the species that other DP owners have claimed to be easy to care for. Java fern/moss, anubias, water wisteria, etc. I do like the idea of being a little gardener for a few months while I wait for inhabitants. Something about live plants just feels better.
JRC3: Thanks for showing me that thread with the pictures! Are those all artificial plants? They look nice!
I can see what you mean about the pool filter sand, but I don't like the look of the black sand. http://www.caribsea.com/pages/products/super_nat.html
Would you say that the Torpedo Beach on this website looks darker than the pool filter sand? If it would improve the overall colors of the tank and the DPs' colors, it would be worth the extra cash in my eyes.