If you’re new to fish keeping, especially cichlids, don’t be fooled by all the photos you see of people’s tanks and filtration systems with lots of complicated looking equipment and plumbing. None of that is necessary to be a successful hobbyist. Nor do you need the latest and greatest equipment. I’m not disparaging those who utilize them. However, complex or even sophisticated equipment won’t make you any more successful keeping fish if success is measured by the quality of the environment that you maintain. You can have great water quality and be quite successful using very basic equipment.
The hobby isn’t really that complicated, and newbies shouldn’t feel compelled to have complex set-ups to succeed. Most of the time, all you really need is a sponge filter and a heater. Much of what you should use depends on what you want to accomplish. It’s the same as buying a car. At the end of the day, every car will get you from point A to point B. If your only goal is transportation to and from, then don’t worry about the sophistication level of the car. Assuming you’re following the law, the exotic sports car won’t accomplish anything more than the baseline minivan or four door sedan. All of them will get you where you want to go. Sure, not all brands are equally reliable, efficient, comfortable, fun, etc. However, that’s a post for another day.
It’s okay to keep it simple. In fact, more often than not simple is better.