There are too many variables to unpack in this request to give you a legitimate response.
So, let's see if we can refine this thing a bit with your priorities.
- Live plants?
- Structure. Do you want to furnish with a lot of rocks, bog wood and live/plastic plants? Or, a more open arrangement?
- How critical is adherence to the Central American biotope to your stocking choices? Unimportant? Are you okay with New World stocking choices, to include all of SA? Anything goes? I mean, if you want to set up an aquarium specific to an actual river in Honduras where wild HRPs have been collected (Rio Mongo), we can do that.
- Are the HRPs supposed to be the 'centerpiece' fish for the tank? Supporting cast? Do you want more Cichlids to go with the HRPs? More non-Cichlids? More, well.... everything?
So, c'mon back with more info to those questions above, and anything else you can think of that may help. And, we'll see if we can set up this 90 gallon aquarium as something you will enjoy, that has a good chance of long-term success.
Alright I admit that was a rather sparse description.
Here is a picture of the tank, might add another large piece of driftwood, but not sure yet. Right now there is just a few Anubius, I want live plants but not a jungle, I'm going to add a few more anubius, some mosses, and some AWF. I do not care about it being a Biotope, I originally did want it that way but my wife is firmly a one tank per house person so I don't want to limit what I do for now. I did pick up a bristlenose, RTS, and Firemouth the other day. So far the dominate HRP is still too dog and but everyone is getting along pretty good. I wanted to do a school of about 15 tiger barbs. I also was hoping for maybe a third Cichlid, either a Nicaraguan or cryptoheros myrnae.
All of the cichlids are only about 1" right now and I'm not able to sex them, if a breeding pair does form In hoping I have enough caves (there's 8 not including all that driftwood) for the others to shelter in but if not I'll just remove the pair, and I have a new home for them already lined up.
Oh wow.... that aquarium is, IMPRESSIVE.
So, a little feedback? And I only offer this (personal) input in regards to the perspective of 'what I would do'. Your aquarium and furnishings are already superior to most of the tanks we get a peek at around here....
- Furnishings. One very large piece of mountain Lace Rock, placed upright in there would be perfect. Also, I agree that the aquarium needs one more good-sized piece of Bog Wood. In this case, something with a long branch that extends all the way (beyond?) the surface of the aquarium.
- Plants. I would go with much more Anubias. Get with the specialty guys on-line that sell some of the more exotic species. They have some interesting varieties out there with very distinctive leaf shapes and sizes that look quite nice when set up with each other. Plus, don't underestimate those 'Javas' - both Fern and Moss. They grow fast, look great, and when really kicking - will help to eliminate algae (and Nitrates) from the water of your tank.
- Non-Cichlid Fish. I was going to recommend stocking with the common ol' Swordtail. In 'wild' coloration (silvery pink with interesting, colored stripes) those things are endemic to Honduras and really all of CA. Kind of a nuisance at times, when you're working an interesting spot and keep coming up with net full of swordtails.... Restricted mostly to the top of the tank, your HRPs will barely acknowledge the existence of those swordtails (But, will surely chow down on a LOT of live-bearer fry). You might wanna get another Bristlenose catfish in there. Or, you could try something a bit more unusual with a much larger-growing catfish in a Pterygoplichthys scrophus, the Rhino, Chocolate or so-called 'Alligator' Pleco. Those will eat just about ANYTHING (including algae) in the aquarium. But, they do have an annoying tendency to rasp Bog Wood, as well. Whew... Pleco poops everywhere!!!!
Cichlids. I would stock with one medium-sized, 'centerpiece' Cichlid. A male is preferred, to prevent potential spawning/hybrid problems with one of your HRPs. But, stocking with an individual female would not be a show-stopper. These species are all pretty different from the HRP.
- My first choice would be Astatheros robertsoni, the 'Blue Sifter, Robert's Cichlid. This species IS endemic to the Rio Mongo in Honduras, where HRPs are also found. And while a bit harder to find in the hobby, this relatively peaceful, larger growing Cichlid is well worth the effort in getting it, in my opinion.
- My second choice would be to stock with another, somewhat rare, larger-growing Cichlid, This one is the Peruvian Aequidens diadem, the Diadem Cichlid or Royal Acara. I have personal experience with this species, and can assure you - one won't disappoint. Growing to a similar adult size to the Blue Sifter, this is yet another relatively peaceful Cichlid that seems to do quite well as solitary individuals of their species in community tanks. (DO NOT attempt a pair! Carnage will definitely ensue....).
- My last choice is an old favorite you mentioned as well - that would be Hypsophryus nicaraguensis, Macaw or Nicaraguan Cichlid. Pretty easy to find in the hobby, this beautiful Cichlid should do well as an individual of it's species in your community tank.
You have the makings of a really nice, 'show-piece' aquarium. Anything set up with a 3-D background in it - is usually the starting point for something REALLY interesting. That is a nice job! And, please send some more info posts & pics of what you get and develop for this aquarium.
Thank you for the response, the background did take me a long time so I'm glad other people think it looks good, I tend to focus on all the mistake I see in it still. I added some close up pictures of the tank. The RTS I bought did die, but it didn't look very healthy so I don't think it was aggression. I think I'll get a second Firemouth and then get that Nicaraguan as my centerpiece. I'll still go with the Tiger Barbs but I do like the idea of some wild type sword tails as well. I do want another type of pleco as well, I want them rasping that wood to help process and soft spots or decaying wood, since that is a bunch of roots from some old bushes I dug out, soaked for a few months, and then used a wire brush attachment on my wireless drill to clean up all the decay. Once the driftwood is waterlogged again I'll rearrange it and take the big rock off it. One thing I do really want is something like an eel or Ropefish that can swim and curl through all those roots
Hmmmm... that background is gonna look TIGHT when you get some algae on it.
Something DIY? Nice!
Watch out in mixing any other non-Cichlids with the Tiger Barbs. In their way, those things are 'Tough Guys' also. And, while your Cichlids will pretty much ignore those live bearers, I can easily see a group of Tiger Barbs putting the absolute shredder on any Swordtails you stock in there with them - no problem.
NOTE: the same thing would happen in an aquarium if you stock with the native Honduran Tetra, the Astyanx fasciatus 'Mexicanus' , or 'Old Nasty'. Those large-growing Tetras must be stocked in numbers of 12 or more in six foot long tanks, or you'll quickly wind up with just one or two. And unfortunately, those vicious little thugs seem to find Swordtails (and other live bearers), just absolutely... delicious.
Otherwise, looking good! I really like your bottom substrate mix. That looks pretty authentic to me. Plus, for your 'root crawler' you could probably stock with a single, African Bichir in this tank. Those things can usually handle themselves pretty good around New World Cichlids that don't take pugnacity & aggression to extremes. Eels are hit or miss... and, I haven't had much luck in stocking with them, unfortunately.
Oh, and what the heck is an 'RTS'? :-?