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Welcome to Cichlid-forum!

I would do 12 cyps in a 48" tank.

I like the first option best...you can do either type of shellies.

With cyps you want open substrate for them to sleep.

If you prefer caudopunctatus to julidochromis, you can do either in the 1/2 rocky area but they both prefer one pair/tank and you should stock six and rehome any that the pair rejects. So plan to rehome 4.

Don't add cichlid salts or anything...your tap water parameters are fine.
 

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Yes to all. For the occies, stock six and rehome any that are rejected after a pair or pairs form.
 

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Best to add all fish at once, but if you have to space them out for some reason, don't wait too long after your cycle or you will lose bacteria.

For phases, put cyps in first then multipunctatus or caudopunctatus.

You always want a swath of open sand (six inches or more) between shellies and rock dwellers. This should be enough for cyps to sleep. They also like high caves or ledges. My 3D background worked for this, but some lean tall pieces of slate against the back for them.
 
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