Adding plants to a 29Gal aquarium

I have just set up a standard 29 Gal at home, someone at work gave it to me, fish and all.  
Although I had hoped to setup a plant/fish aquarium someday from scratch, the price was right.
With nothing more than :
standard flourescent light, outside filter,
RUGF powered with air stones (ack! there goes my CO2 - I learned something subscribing to this!)
Gravel Substrate 
can I start replacing those plastic plants with live ones?
What plants will I be successful with?
Where should I start upgrading to be 
successful w/ plants: filtration, lighting, substrate?
What are my limitations w/o upgrading equipment? ie. types of plants, limited growth etc.

I have wanted a lush, plant/fish aquarium since getting a copy of
'The Optimum Aquarium' translated from German, I do not recall the
authors name, it is at home.  Is this still a valid reference?

Any books that can be recommended?
Why are protein skimmers (so important for reef-keepers) never mentioned?

Thank you all, as I have learned much from reading this 
journal and have a long way to go.

Peter J. Kinslow
Englewood, Colorado USA
pkinslow at denadm_ms.ch2m.com