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First off let me just say WOW, what a great site. So much useful information it is almost overwhelming.

So a little background….About 10 years ago when I lived at home my family had a couple fresh water tanks. We had a larger cichlid tank at the time and I really just liked how active and social the fish were. Now back then, I think my dad just filled the tank with whatever he could get his hands on. Now I am getting into the hobby myself and just got an empty 55 gallon tank. The tank has 2 150GPH powerheads and UGF, Aquaclear 110 hanging filter, and a fluval 405. The contents are basic gravel substrate, piles of lace rock, and just enough fake plants to hide the UGF tubes.

My first instinct was to fill the tank with gravel and lace rock, then over filter it and add some cichlids and probably plecos. Now in the past (before I even know of all these species and compatibility issues) we would have just gone to the local LFS and just got a group of 10-15 of the miscellaneous mixed cichlids. Now this was always the cheapest but eventually those fish would grow up, fight, and kill each other off until we had to flush the biggest one and start over.

I guess that leads into the need to only mix certain breeds/species. What other potential problems are out there from just 'buying in bulk" and getting mixed cichlids? It certainly is the cheapest way to do it.

If you recommend against that, then I guess I would lean toward whatever are the brightest/coolest looking cichlids. I know a 55 gallon isn’t too large so I would think I wouldn’t want any that grow larger than ~4 inches. Blues and reds and yellows all should look great in my tank that is mainly brown/grey rocks/gravel.

I've taken a look at the cookie cutter options and they aren’t bad. I guess my biggest problem is identifying each one and knowing what species or lake/country they come from and what is most compatible with each either.

I know these are real beginner questions that have been asked before. I don’t expect an essay reply, but I have been overwhelmed trying to put together a consensus from multiple posts. Are there any beginner guides or threads already setup that I could get linked to? Or maybe some basic info on telling the species/sexes apart or a rating scale for aggressiveness? I don’t plan to breed them.

I guess I will stop my questions there. I am happy to be a new member and I am anxiously waiting for the tank to be up a running for a few days before I go purchase some cichlids!

Thanks
Cory
 

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Welcome! I wish I had found this site a long time ago.

Give this a browse:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/c ... er_55g.phf

Read up cycling the tank, too. It will take more than a few days. I like UG filters myself, but only if you can take the rocks out regularly and vacuum it well. If I had your setup, I'd ditch it and fill the tank with play sand - they'll have fun digging it up and sifting through it.

Good luck!
 
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