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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thank you for the add. I read some articles in here and have a few questions. Most of my life growing up I have had an aquarium even did saltwalter reef tanks. I haven't had a tank in over ten years and I see a lot has changed. I am considering setup up either a 42 bow only because its free, or I would buy a straight 75 gallon. I want to do a cichlid tank but I want to stay with the smaller family's like Dwarfs, Rams, I even like some from Lake malawi. I know some species may not get along so I'm looking for some guidance.

Also on the setup I was going to do one of those 3d backs resin backs?
Then rocks & cichild substrate
I was think of of under substrate heating?
Eheim Canister filter?
Do you need a power heads for flow or just use dual spray bars?
Led lighting?
Anything else anyone would recommend would be great. I wanna do it right the first time..I know this is a lot of questions but your input is great appreciated...

Super Moderator
8,311 Posts
Hi and Welcome to C-F!!!

The 42G bowfront tank should be good for fish other than Lake Malawi or fish that get larger than 4 inches. Can you post the dimensions of the tank or the brand so I can look it up?

3D backgrounds can look great but depending on the thickness may take up too much floor space.

Rocks are often a great addition and how many you need will depend on the species you will be keeping. You don't need a dedicated cichlid substrate, a cheap option would be to use pool filter sand though it does limit the color options to either white or tan depending on the brand.

Under substrate heating has fallen out of favor over the years, you would be better served with either a submersible heater or an inline model that can connect to your canister filter. The only one I know of is the Hydor ETH heater that comes in either 200W with a 1/2" diameter barb fitting or 300W either a 1/2" or 5/8" diameter barb fitting (depending on model).

Eheim filter would be a good choice, I like the Classic series models rather than the fancier electronic ones. You could also choose a Fluval model or one of the SunSun or similar models that are popular. Check out some posts from members that have a preference for brands and models or even the Product Reviews section of the forum for comparison.

Power heads, circulators and the like are not a necessity but some people like them. Often tank circulation can be done well with just the positioning of the spray bar or outlet from the canister filter.

LED lighting is often discussed but again a personal preference, check some of the topics in the Equipment forum for ideas and hopefully pics.

I would also purchase an aquarium test kit that tests pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate such as the API Master Kit and also buy the GH (hardness) and KH (alkalinity) tests separately. The GH and KH tests will help determine which species will do well in your tap water without having to artificially raise or lower through the use of buffers.

Whichever tank you decide to use, check out the Fishless Cycling link in my signature on how to cycle the tank prior to getting fish. I prefer to use that method to cycle a tank instead of using over the counter type bacteria starter cultures.
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