My husband and I started keeping cichlids about 2 months ago, have learned a lot so far, and I'm really pleased with the huge variety of resources and groups that are out there, including this local group! I haven't gotten the opportunity to make it to a meeting yet but am looking forward to doing so and seeing what it's all about.
I'll be honest that the fish tank was my husband's idea, but I am now totally crazy about our little cichlid crew. They have so much personality; they can be funny, neurotic, they are always "starving" and they are some busy, busy fish.
To be honest, the more I read, we made a few missteps which I hope/think are probably little and will work out in the end, but we're also trying to plan which of them we want to work on and how.
The first of those is that our tank probably isn't big enough! We got a 36 bow and currently we have all juvie: 4 yellow labs, a red zebra, an electric blue ahli, and a c. borleyi in it. I know the borleyi will get pretty big for that tank, so our longer term plan is to get a larger one (90gal tall is what the hubby has been researching, he's in charge of hardware!) that we can move him into as he grows to full size. So we'll probably be in the market for some stocking tips on that one when the time comes! (Want some longer track record of success with our current group first though.)
Speaking of that, I can see we have just gotten into some very addictive territory. We had our first tank for not very long when suddenly there was talk of a second!
The tank is very full of rock and (fake) plants and all the territories are well staked out in terms of who hides where when the big obtrusive humans are changing the water.
And the second mistake, as far as I can tell, was not knowing when we were buying that the ahli and the borleyi are haps! Bad me, I got caught up in the chicken and egg of not knowing what the store would have to know what to research, and I did it in the wrong order. So far, we have not had any problems with them at all. The haps are big enough that they don't get bothered or chased at all.
So that is a long introduction. I'm happy to meet more hobbyists and always happy to hear hints/suggestions if it will make my cichlids happier fishes!