Thinking about a 75 Gallon African Lake Build


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Lancaster, CA
I keep toying with the idea of getting a 75 gallon set up for one (or all three) of the big-three African lakes. I haven't decided whether I want to go with a single lake, combine the two Rift Lakes, or combine all three. I have a few general questions, in a random order, so here goes...

I don't want to place the tank directly on the stand, as I don't trust mass-manufacturing, so I plan on placing foam sheet insulation between the stand and the tank. Would 1/2 inch thickness be enough, or should I go for 1 inch?

What's out there for a general clean up crew?
  • Snails? Are there any other than Nerites, that are native to Africa, and the lakes in particular? Would Nerites (or any snail) be a good choice to add with cichlids, or would they just become food?
  • Catfish? What generally stays around 4-5 inches? So far I've only found synodontis catfish types. Are there any others I can research?
  • What else is there for general cleanup?
Are there any other fishes that are compatible that aren't cichlids?

I have a brown thumb, so the only plants I would attempt are column feeders like the Java Fern (I know, not from Africa) and Anubias (from West Africa). They're the only ones I can keep alive, and I don't want to go Co2. I will probably go with rooting some sweet potatoes, pothos, or something similar, from the top of the tank.

I plan on having a Tidal 110 HOB and an ATI Hydro #5 Pro sponge filter powered with a smallish (175 gpm) powerhead for filtration, the Aquasky 48" - 60" LED Light, and either black or white sand for substrate, haven't decided yet :)

Any suggestions and comments are welcome :)

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