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I've currently got 3 freshwater community tanks that have been up and running. Luckily I just had another 50gal end up in my possession (48 x ~18 x ~13) . I was going to go for a 4th freshwater community, but realized I'm cutting off a whole section of my LFS and think I'm going to go with cichlids. I've started cycling the tank for about 5 days. I used some established tank filters to introduce bacteria and I'm using eco-complete complete planted aquarium for my substrate with one lonely sword plant from an established tank. I have more decor soaking and getting ready to be introduced.

I've been spending a lot of time reading and everyone seems to say something completely different to start off. After spending 2.5 months or so getting my 37 cycled, I've started out the entire tanks with RO water (which is in this 50). I've been able to "starter fish" cycle. but I've read different opinions with a cichlid tank. Some say fishless cycle, others say put some cheap fish that will soon be sacrificed. I'm wondering which is preferred?

Also I've read to stock the tank rapidly (and to overstock, rather than the 1" to 1 gallon rule) because of territorial issues.

I guess to put it more specifically, have I gone to far in the setup intending it to be a freshwater community to change my intent for it to be a cichlid tank? If not, what is the best step to take next? to allow cycling with or without fish? and if with, should i use fish that will end up being cichlid food or start off the bat with cichlids (and if so, how many, and at what rate?)

Thanks for any guidance.
 

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welcome to CF-I vote fishless cycle,I would start with water straight from the tap,do you know your ph ,kh out of your tap?I would say that would be a good starting point
 

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I find there is too much thought that cichlids are not normal fish. They are just fish and as such can be treated the same. For cycling the tank, do it the way you would normally do it. Your chose and the fish breathe pretty much the same! The chose of fish and how to add them is more a matter of size and what fish you want to add. That is where cichlids can begin to be different than what I often term "wimp" fish. They do tend to be bigger and tougher! If you get full grown tough guys, there may be more trouble when you put them in a tank. If you get small, young fish, they may grow into tough guys but it gives you time to learn about them before they start problems. I get small (i.e. cheaper) fish in groups and let them grow together and find little problems that I can't shift and change to keep under control.
I like to start slow when going into unknown areas and then learn as I go. Cichlids will give you far more indications that they need change than the fish you have had. They fight and claw to stay alive rather than just one day all being dead. Enjoy the trip!
 

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what kind of cichlid tank are you looking at doing? From my understanding you overstock an african tank and understock a SA/CA tank. With it being a 50 gal you and having plants you can do a small community cichlid tank with rams or kribs.
 
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