Originally Posted by jaysee
I'm not saying that the tank is perfect - I'm just pointing out that African tanks are different.
Different as it may be, there is a fine line between stocking to reduce aggression and simply overstocking to a point that it actually increases the stress level. African tanks are indeed very different from your average community aquarium and thus must be handled with different techniques.
You should stock a cichlid aquarium to a certain degree that it reduces aggression as well as maintains an adequate stress level. Many aquarium hobbyist do not consider the stress on a fish when choosing tank mates nor when deciding how many fish to put in the aquarium. The display aquarium in the original post IS overstocked to a horrible degree, it doesn't matter how you try to justify it. But it's a display aquarium, so it's not intended to be a long term home for the fish but rather a short term "Flashy" attraction for the booth/store, hence the reason it is grossly overstocked.
Long term those fish would all develop health issues and would have reduced life-spans because of how the tank is designed, but again, it's a display aquarium so the health of the fish is not an issue as it is not intended to be their long term "home".
When keeping african cichlids for a long term in a suitable home aquarium, you should overstock to a smaller, less disgusting degree. This will help your fish live a normal life-span and you will be able to maintain the aquarium much better with this method. Obviously it is next to impossible to tell you what a "General" rule of thumb is because all cichlids are different and all have their own personalities and attributes (size, attitude, etc). Most cichlids are very hardy and will adjust to the tank as needed, but in order for them to live a healthy and normal life, you will need to stock the tank adequately.
I am not here to disagree nor agree with any beliefs that are posted in this thread, I am simply posting what I have learned from keeping african cichlids myself and this is how I portray the type of habitat they should be maintained in, you are welcome to disagree if you feel differently.
Hope this helps~