I am been checking this forum for the past week and it seems like the members have a lot of valuable information! I have had the same 55 gallon tank for the past 15 years with one Penguin 330 filter that is also 15 years and a second 330 that is about 10 years old. I started out with SA Cichlids but about 10 years ago I started keeping African Cichlids. My Mbuna Cichlids, 15 fish in total, are all descendants of original fish I purchased. I have a coral sand substrate and lace rock that I arrange for caves. No plastic plants although I have been thinking of getting a few just to add something to the tank.
My fish are anywhere from 2" juveniles to 5" to 6" adults - on average the fish are at least 4". So they create a lot of waste. My goal over the next year to is to upgrade the tank's filtration and lighting. In the 330s, I only use polyfiber fill attached to original filter cartridge with rubber bands and I still use the biowheeels. I do a 50% water change every two week but it seems like the tank is clear for 3 or 4 days and then it starts to cloud up. I have been debating whether to upgrade to a cannister (or two) or try one of the newer HOB
filters like the Aquaclear filters that have the sponge filter and space for chemical and biological media of one's choice or even the Fluval C4. I have never used a cannister filter and I am somewhat nervous about it leaking in my living room with the Pergo flooring. I also think I need something to create a current to move the waste since it always seems to accumulate under the rocks.
For lighting I still have the original Marineland single fluorescent bulb fixtures, one for each side of the tank. The tanks is dark and I would really like to brighten up the tank and accentuate the colors of the fish.
Thank you for any advice you can provide.