I have read through them and have a good idea of what I'm going to do with the filter and lighting, but what do you recommend for media for the XP3? and would that cause too much circulation and movement for the angels? From what I was reading, basically all I would need to put in the XP3 would be Mechanical filtration???
The XP3 will be fine, as I said, I have one and I have the filter outflow aimed at the end wall so there is some current next to that end, since I have a few fish that like this, but in the remaining 4/5 of the tank it is minimal. And you can adjust the flow, I have it on full, so it could be even less if I needed it. But you do want the water to move throughout the tank.
For media, I bought the ceramic disks (called Pre-Filter), here's a link: http://www.fishsupply.com/sheg-1470.html
This goes in the bottom basket to remove the largest particulate matter as it enters the filter; all canisters usually have this, I have it in my Eheims too.
Second basket is Fluval Bio Max http://www.fishsupply.com/sheg-1456.html
, don't really need biological filtration but I've always had this sort of "rock" material and never any problems.
Then the various pads that come with the Rena.
The reason I use Fluval media now is the cost; it is half that for the Rena and Eheim. I use Fluval in my Eheim canisters too, when it is replaced which is several years. The ceramic disks never need replacing, they are just meant to trap large stuff. The pads and Bio Max I just rinse when they need it.
And thanks for the compliment on my aquaria. I think they show that simplicity works; understand the basics and keep it minimal.
On the dwarf cichlids, here thinking all South American species, most are similar if not identical in their requirements. I'm not aware of any that wouldn't get along with angels and characins. Main differences would be temperature, some do better warmer (82F +) than normal community temperature (77-79F) so that needs to be considered. Lots of wood and plants as iamntbatman mentioned allows for territorial separation as the males are territorial with their own species and other fish especially when spawning (which they will frequently) and having defined territories works well.