11-02-2011, 11:01 PM
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Hi fin pleco.. those grow 18"? Thats too big for a 55g. Not mention it's very likely they will attack and kill the cichlids on occasion.
There really isn't a way to layer the malawi's. They stay near hiding spots. If you make caves all the way up they will use the whole tank. If theres only spots on the bottom, they will rarely go higher. You could try a mix mbuna/hap tank with caves all the way up on the sides, and the mbuna's would go back and forth, with an open space in the middle for the haps but it would be difficult to pull off in a 55.
As to substrate, it has to be gravel. If you go with the aforementioned mix hap/mbuna you would have sand in the middle with the open space for the haps.
Your filtration would likely have to double at least, probably more. The malawi's, being from a lake, dont like a strong current but you have to overstock to reduce aggresion and therefore keep a good filtration.