RE:lighting thru the side wall

Shane, I have to assume your tank has some lighting now.
Lets assume it's a 4 foot flourescent. If so upgrade it to
a full spectrum tube and plant low light plants anywhere you
want in the tank. Anubius, Java fern and even many crypts
will do fine with that type of light. They will grow slow,
but they should grow if their other requirments are met.
Look for a full spectrum with high lumens. Vita-Lite makes
a power twist bulb which is basically about 58 inches long
twisted down to 48. More lumens per inch
Also the light thru the side might get to annoying to look