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Hi All!

I'm new to these forums but not to fishies. I recently have lost my 30gallon Gourami tank to a heater malfunction. I was at the LFS and was setting the 30gallon to be a community fish tank of sorts. While I was there my wife purchased me a 55gallon. With some new kind of L.E.D. Hood,it Has this "lunar" setting where it goes from white to blue LED, Its cool stuff. It also came with , Umm ... A penguin Power Filter 350 bio wheel thing ... Never heard of it. As well as a heater .... It came with out a package. So I have no idea what it is other then that. The substrate is just black gravel sized rocks. and there's absolutely nothing else in it.

I'm writing to a few forums at the same time so I'll explain what I'm after now. I want to set up a devoted Cichlid tank. I want to base everything that goes in it around the Cichlids. I want there to be as many as possible. but not over crowded.... I want it to be a paradise for them. I see a ton of Cichlids in the LFS but I know they get big, I also had thought about maybe a plant or two for them but the guy there said they eat them. I want there to be rocky back round cliff like if possible so they can hide.

My questions are as follows.

1: if I want Cichlids, Whats the best way to figure out what to put in. I know there are many kinds.
2: What kind of rocks would fit the Cichlids best.
3: Is there any plants that can go with them or is that to be determined later once I know more of the fish I'm putting in.
4: Pretty much any information you think would be helpful towards setting up a 55gallon Cichlid tank based on Black gravel bottom and an empty tank.
 

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1. Check our library's 55 gallon cookie cutter set ups. That is a great place to start as you are learn their names and details.

2. Depends on the origins- mbuna would like any kind of rocks with lots of caves, peacocks and Haps like few if any rocks, central and south American cichlids would do better with driftwood.

3. Most plants go with CA/SA cichlids, tougher with Africans but anubias and java ferns do well.

4. If you want Africans (mbuna especially), ditch the gravel and get sand. Pool filter sand is really cheap and requires little cleaning before going in the tank. Also, keep your penguin HoB but pick up a canister to better filter. Rena, Fluval, and Eheim are all good choices.
 

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honestly for a beginner into cichlids id stick to some of the more readily available types. depending on your area there is quite a few that will fill out a 55 gallon tank very nicely. personally id go with maybe a mbuna setup, or a tang setup (ie shellies, julies, calvus, etc). i just recently start a brichardi colony myself. its turning out to be fun to watch. takes awhile for em to get spawning but once they do its very fun to watch. these are all just my suggestions feel free to continue posting for more info. i second joes plant reccomends. also the cheap sand alternative is much better in the long run. sure it sucks cleaning it and prepping it. but when its cheap who cares if you suck a little up. just go get more for 10$ :p
 

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The choices for me were dictated by testing my tap water. It was right for African without doing anything but getting rid of the chlorine. I would suggest testing your tap water be your first step. Determining your hardness and PH can narrow your options, if you don't want to complicate things.
 

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I'd second what piper said.
Fish do best within certain water parameters. I really like South American dwarf cichlids, however my tapwater has a carbonate hardness greater than 20 and a PH of 8.5. Pretty much rules them out.
So it is tangs for me. Get the water tested, there will be cichlids that perfectly suits your tap water. This makes water changes so much easier also.
 
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