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Plants for the convicts??

Hi everybody,

Here is Anton from Houston TX and this is my first post... I need some input
from the experienced people on this list.... The problem is, I have this
little "aqua-prison":  a 55 gal tank with 8 baby convict cichlids (about 1.5
inch) and i was wondering, what would be the best plants for these fishies...
I have never had cichlids before (except the angels, and they were relatively
well behaved) So I knew to expect some bad behavior from these guys... But
they turned out to be really something!!  They are very funny, playful,
curious and smart... BUT ... it took them just ONE night to completely chew
up (!) a huge 1 ft. saggittaria (?) (not sure it was saggitaria, collected it
in a local swamp). They also uprooted the other one and nibbled at its roots
so now its almost rootless...  They ignore other plants so far (i guess this
one was the tastiest) but who knows what they decide to do next... 

So what plants should I use: something that grows faster than they can eat
it? Something very tough with well developed root system that is harder 
to dig out? Something that does not taste so good? :) Any suggestions? 

Also, when I set up this tank I was hoping to get by without any filter at
all, but now when I look at these scoundrels' :) eating habits - playing
games with food and throwing things around - it seems i will need one... So
what is the best type to use for my case: 55 gal, mostly for mechanical
filtration, because for biological i have alot of plants (so far.... not all
eaten up yet! :) Would the canister type be the best choice, and if yes, what
size and by which manufacturer?? 

Thanks for any help!