02-24-2009, 08:34 AM
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In a 55 gal tank with Cichlids native to Lake Malawi your going to want your water parameters to be within the following: ph=7.8 - 8.6, hardness=hard water, and a temperature within 76-82 degrees F. These are general water perameters, but if you're sticking with African Cichlids all native to Lake Malawi, then these parameters will keep your fish thriving. Most tap water will fit these parameters, given you use a water conditioner to remove Chloromins and other potentially harmful chemicals. Just buy some water test strips at you local pet store/Walmart, and test your tap water to find out where you sit. You may not have to do anything to your water.
As far as the fish a concerned, a 55 gal tank is great for adding lava rock the whole length of the tank to add structure for your inhabitants to sort out and argue over territories. Some people are anal about avoiding all cichlid confrentation, but this aggression is a completely natural part of their existance. so don't be afraid to stock you tank with around 5-10 Cichlids. Just make sure you do some research on the specifc fish you intend to buy and avoid mixing fish that vary greatlly in adult size. Always judge your purchases buy adult sizes compared with your tank size, in other words 10, 10-12" fish in a 55 gal tank is ridiculous, but 10 4-6" fish is pretty reasonable. Have fun with it, and good luck.