Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Long Island, NY
I have a similar set-up to you - I have a 29 gallon tank. I originally got 8 tiger barbs. I don't know why you say they're not so great - I think they're awesome. They school, but it's more like the school of hard knocks. they don't just boringly move around the tank - they swim in formation and every once in a while chase each other than resume formation. they may be terrors in small numbers, but with a larger number they work great and leave most other inhabitants alone.
I then picked up a RTBS - he would hang out in his cave and every once in a while pop out to chase a couple of barbs. unfortunately, i had to remove his cave after i realized that the sandstone was contributing signifcantly to my brown algae problems (so stupid). he now hides between the heater and the glass and i think is now pretty much a weenie.
I then picked up an SAE to help w/ the algae. i figured my RTBS was now a wimp so wouldn't bother him. it's working great. when the barbs decide to hassle the SAE, he uses his higher speed to great effect and takes the fight to them!
so i've pretty much kept is as a S.E. Asian biotope
what are lionhead cichlids? how big do they get? i try to keep loosely to the 1" of fish per gallon rule. w/ 8 tiger barbs, once full-size you've got about 18 inches. figure a full-size RTBS @ 6 inches and you're up to 24". Since you theoretically only have 6 inches left, I say forget about the cichlids, and get some danios for the top. plenty of movement, and plenty fast to stay away from any bullies