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Well, first and foremost, a 55 gallon aquarium will weigh alot. Make sure you have an adequate fixture to stand it on. Not any old dresser will always work. Each gallon of water is approximately 8 pounds, so take that as a factor, because if you don't invest money in a proper stand, you'll be investing money in a new dresser and a new tank, lest you give up the hobby from sheer frustration.
Second, as said, the hood is very important, especially with cichlids. Cichlids are one of the more active species of fish you can get, and they do like to jump, as well as flail things around.
Third, a 55 gallon tank can be satisfied by a hang-on filter, although I would always recommend a canister filter. Keep in mind, cichlids are very messy eaters, alot get very large and produce a lot of waste. I know it seems unnecessary, but when dealing with cichlids I like to try to aim twice as high, meaning for a 55 gallon tank, I'd personally use a 110 gallon capable filter, if it's a hang-on. If you decide to go the canister filter route, I have a Fluval 404 filter with the media being, in order from bottom to top, pre-filter, bio-max, clear-max, carbon (With the appropriate sized water polishing pads set on top of the carbon). Maybe I'm just lucky, but my water has been crystal clear for a month now, the PH has remained neutral, and it lessens the ammount of water changes I have to do. Although I have a 75 gallon tank, that just means your 55 will be a little cleaner. ;)
Make sure you let your water cycle with the filter running for about a month (Give or take, depending on the hardness of the fish). Or, if you're impatient like I am, there's a handy chemical found at LFS' called TLC. The label bills that this product will cycle your aquarium in 3-7 days, but I'd wait 2 weeks to be safe. For 55 gallons you'll need about 2.5 ounces, most measuring cups have the ounce option on the side, to make this an easy task. Just make sure it's a brand new measuring cup, rinsed out.
A lot of cichlids can harvest a lot of power and aggression, so make sure when choosing a filter, you get one with a very sturdy glass, or risk a cichlid such as an Oscar smashing it, dispersing shards of glass and chemicals into the water, potentially electrocuting the fish, and more importantly you.
With a 55 gallon tank, your options are limited, I'd recommend African cichlids, preferably dwarfs. If you want new world (South/Central American) cichlids, try to pace yourself. A 55 gallon tank is only a foot wide, so the fish would need to be able to comfortably turn around to live happily. I like Firemouths personally. Other popular choices are Parrots or to go for a solo tank. You can get away with a Jack Dempsey, Green Terror, or other cichlids that max out around 8-10 inches, but I wouldn't go for more than one. An Oscar can live in your tank for a long time, but not forever. But there are SO many varieties of cichlids to choose from, so do some research and, again, pace yourself.
If you knew all or alot of this information, my apologies, but just trying to help. Best of luck to you, and enjoy this marvelous species. :)