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Cookie Cutter Setup for 55-gallons
(48x13x20 in / 122x33x51 cm)
by the CF Moderators
55 gallons is perhaps the most popular aquarium size, particularly among beginners. These tanks are economical. They are "large" aquariums with a thrilling length of four feet. 55-gallon aquariums also offer seemingly endless possibilities. There are so many different fishes that would work in a 55-gallon aquarium that it opens the door to so many fishes and new experiences within the world of cichlids. Below you will find some suggested stocking combinations, but by no means is this list exhaustive.

The following combinations are many and varied; therefore, it does not make sense to comment categorically here on substrate or decorations. Please research each setup's specific requirements. Items to consider are diet, substrate, plants, rocks, and caves. A reliable heater, preferably 200W, is always an important consideration.

There are many effective methods for filtering a 55-gallon aquarium. Wet/Dry filters, such as the Tidepool I, are excellent filters. They are not as popular as other methods however due to the extra work required to get them plumbed and fitted to the aquarium. One of the most popular and effective methods for filtration is to use a canister filter in addition to either a Hang-On-Back (HOB) filter or a submersible sponge filter. Suggested canister filters include Eheim 2026, Eheim 2213, Fluval 303, Magnum 350, and Filstar XP2. Companion HOB filters include Emperor 400 and Aquaclear 500. There are many submersible pumps which could be attached to a sponge. These can be used to create additional water movement and extra polishing. Each of these methods would benefit from at least one airstone.

Tanganyika Community Aquariums

    •  Cyprichromis leptosoma - 12
Select 1 pair from each group (max of 2 pairs):
    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps
    •  Neolamprologus leleupi or cylindricus
    •  Julidochromis or Chalinochromis
    •  Telmatochromis vittatus, bifrenatus or        brichardi

    •  Neolamprologus brichardi complex - pair

    •  Cyprichromis leptosoma - 12 (non-jumbos)
    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps
    •  Neolamprologus buescheri - 2
    •  Shell dweller pair of choice -
         'Lamprologus' (Shellies) brevis,
         multifasciatus (group), meleagris,
         ornatipinnis, ocellatus, speciosus,
         similis (group), Neolamprologus signatus

Tanganyikan Sand-Sifter Setup:

    •  Xenotilapia papilio or flavipinnis - 6
    •  Paracyprichromis brieni or nigripinnis - 8
    •  Altolamprologus calvus or compressiceps - pair
    •  Cyprichromis leptosoma - 12
    •  Phyllonemus typus - 4

Lake Malawi Haplochromine Aquarium

    Select up to 3 groups (Only 1 male for each group     is preferred. 9 fish total for the tank):
    •  Any Copadichromis species (except for larger     species i.e. borleyi, jacksoni, etc.)
    •  Any Protomelas species (except for larger     species, i.e.     taeniolatus, spilonotus, sp. "Mbenji     Thick Lip", etc.)
    •  Any Aulonocara species (no jacobfreibergi)
    •  Any Placidochromis species (except for milomo)
    •  Otopharynx lithobates
    •  Any Nyassachromis species

Smaller, Less Aggressive Mbuna Aquarium

    Select any 3 species (max 12 fishes):
    •  Pseudotropheus saulosi
    •  Pseudotropheus sp. "Acei"
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Hongi"
    •  Labidochromis caeruleus
    •  Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt"
    •  Labidochromis chisimulae
    •  Iodotropheus sprengerae
    •  Cynotilapia zebroides
    Do not mix any Labidochromis species.
    Choose only one blue barred species.

Larger, More Aggressive Mbuna Aquarium

    Select any 2 groups (max 10 fishes):
    •  Labeotropheus trewavasae
    •  Melanochromis johanni
    •  Tropheops tropheops
    •  Pseudotropheus elongatus
    •  Metriaclima pyrsonotos

South American Aquarium

    Select only one group from the following:
    •  Laetacara dorsigera - 5
    •  Gymnogeophagus meridionalis - 5
    •  Aequidens pulcher - 1 pair


    •  Nematobrycon palmeri "Emperor Tetra" - 6
    •  Ancistrus temminckii "Bristlenose Pleco" - 2

    •  Cleithracara maronii - 4
    •  Mesonauta festivus - 1 pair
    •  Pterophyllum scalare - 1 pair
    •  Baryancistrus sp. "Gold Nugget" - 2

    •  Pterophyllum scalare - 4
    •  Mikrogeophagus ramirezi or altispinosa - 4
    •  Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis "Lemon Tetra"- 8
    •  Otocinclus affinis or vittatus - 2
    •  Corydoras myersi - 5

Central American Aquarium

    Select only one species combo from the following:
    •  'Cichlasoma' octofasciatum - 1 pair
    •  Archocentrus nanoluteus - 2 pairs
    •  Neetroplus nematopus - 4 to 6
    •  Thorichthys aureus - 4

    •  'Cichlasoma' salvini - 1 pair
    •  Archocentrus nigrofasciatus - 1 pair

West African Aquarium

    Select 2 pairs from the following:
    •  Thysochromis ansorgei
    •  Nanochromis transvestitus, nudiceps , or parilus
    •  Pelvicachromis taeniatus or pulcher
    •  Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi
    •  Anomalochromis thomasi
    •  Steatocranus casuarius
    •  Synodontis nigreventris

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