Went with the long format for several reasons: already had a nice stand to go with it, didn't want to fiddle with constructing or purchasing a new top for it, and wanted to go natural. Hard to do lots of plants in a 55 on end because there's very little floor space to plant.
I did it the way I usually do naturals, and that is simple, inexpensive, effective, and with easy to find supplies. I get everything at Lowes. This tank is about 11 - 12 years old, so it's been through a lot of animals. Gotta take some time and work the tape residue off the outside upper bar, but the inside is great now after some serious scrubbing to get old water deposits off.
First, in goes the lava rock (two of the big bags). Probably a smidge too much lava, but more doesn't hurt and I didn't want leftovers, so it all went in. Plants get positioned at this stage as well. I'll never claim to have a green thumb, so I just sort of stick them in there however it looks good at the time. I'm not real picky. I stick a couple big ones in to take up the open air space, and then some ground cover plants and call it a day. I refuse to spend ridiculous amounts of $$$ on plants, so these are all ordinary normal plants. There are some pretty cool ones out there available, but boy are plants expensive these days. I was seeing a lot of neat $30 - $40 ones...for one plant!
Next goes one big bag of pea gravel, sorry, no pics of just that stage, but I'm sure you can see it in there...after the gravel goes dirt. There are lots of options here for the dirt, but I generally choose to use miracle gro organic (yes, it's safe for the cresteds).
Just a random pic. You can see adult female Jax (not fired up) hanging in the bottom right. At the last minute, I tossed in the two little pink plants. They were far too little to be planted down in the lava.
And I suppose it's high time I mention that I am a bad bad crested board MOD, because I am doing something highly frowned upon. This little dude was adopted some number of months ago (4 - 6ish?). He is a jeweled curly tailed lizard, and I'd been wanting one quite some time ago. Did a fair amount of research on them (what's available anyway - which isn't much) and then opted not to set up another whole tank and new pet. Then this guy was available for adoption at a petstore because he had no tail, so I brought him home and he had his own nice setup. Till dear Indy dropped the tank trying to lift it back onto the top of a cage rack. Shattered everywhere, lizard was ok, but he's been residing with this crested group every since. His tail is growing back great (slowly though it seems). So when they moved to the new tank tonight, he did as well.... here's a terrible pic of him, but he's not an easy fella to photograph because he's wicked fast.
This setup design is pretty low maintenance for me. Wipe down glass as needed, mist regularly, water the plants heavily (especially for the first month or so), and after that it does a darn good job of cleaning itself. Occasionally I get a wild hair to change it all and do a different type of setup, and man is it ever a PITA to haul all that rock out of the tank. So this'll be staying like this for awhile!
* And by the way, the "plant" on the far left is actually a dwarf hedge. We'll see how that works out.