04-02-2014, 04:36 PM
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Sounds like a good tank with the plecs and cardinals, mabye also some tiger barbs or danios?If you really still want cichlids, In that size tank u can easily house a fire mouth cichlid for life, it would make a really nice showpiece. They grow to a maximum of 6in and are very peaceful compared to most cichlids. they are central american though, but SA and CA have similar requirements and stuff. You can pick up young firemouths quite cheaply, and every good pet store should have them. They will grow to their full size in a year, and are safe with pretty much any other reasonably peaceful fish that can't fit in their mouths. I would look into them, cheers mate.
PS. the pea gravel is fine, sand is just a recommendation, cichlids will be fine with almost any substrate