Beginner friendly suggestion
-Any big ole gourami
-Corydoras on the bottom, maybe even a few different species
-pick your favorite flavor of tetra( though I suggest white clouds because they are bulletproof)
-shrimp and snails
-dwarf cichlid breeder
1male and a **** ton of females
Looking for a challenge?
Some kind of pufferfish, amazons (I think?) can be kept in groups and potentially maintained in a community can’t stress enough how important research and prep would be here.
Also something I’ve seen suggested a lot on YouTube for a really simple planted tank is to just fill it with neon tetras you could start with forty and maybe even add more depending on your filter.
It really does look awesome even though I agree it sounds like a boring idea.
I’ve at least attempted some version of all my suggestions before, with the exception of the neon tetra tank. never in a 40 gallon though (29g is my largest tank size)