Severum Cichlid: Care, Size, Tank Mates, Food & Varieties


Common Name(s)Severum Cichlid
Scientific NameHeros severus
OriginSouth America
Temperature79-81°F (26-27°C)
Size8 inches
Minimum Tank Size45 gallons
Food & Dietomnivorous diet
LifespanUp to 10 years
Water pH6.0-6.5
Tank MatesAngelfish, Oscar, Blood Parrot Cichlid, Hoplo Catfish, Gouramis, and Black Skirt Tetra
BreedingBreeding pair will spawn on hard surface such as rocks
DiseaseMay be suseptible to Ich.
Severum Cichlid
Severum Cichlid (Heros severus)

Severum Cichlids is a freshwater fish also known as Severums, Banded Cichlids, and Poor Man’s Discus. In the aquarium trade, “Severum Cichlid” widely refers to fish in the genus Heros. Therefore, Heros severus, Heros efasciatus, and Heros liberifer are all considered Severus Cichlids.

Severum Cichlids are attractive, serene, and active. As it grows, its attractiveness grows more intense. They are easy to breed and will live for many years with proper care. They are one of the most colorful cichlid species that are suitable for keeping in a home aquarium. Their colorful body and pleasant personalities makes them a popular aquarium fish.

Severum Cichlid Care

Severum Cichlids are hardy fish that are easy to care of. In the wild, they adapt to harsh conditions that would be considered less than ideal or even harmful to other fish. These robust characteristics can be seen in an tank bred specimen as well.

While they are hardy, proper tank setup and regular maintenance is required. Providing good care will keep the fish healthy and less vulnerable to disease.

Severum Cichlid Temperature

Maintaining proper temperatures is important for tropical fish, and this is especially true for cichlids.

Severum Cichlids will survive in a temperature range of 75-84°F (24-29°C).

The optimum temperature range for Severum Cichlids is 79-81°F (26-27°C). They are most likely to breed at this temperature range.

Severum Cichlid Water pH

The optimum pH range for a Severum Cichlid tank is 6.0-6.5. The water is considered mildly acidic at this pH range.

In addition to setting up the tank for this water pH, it is also important to maintain it. Fluctuating pH can be stressful to the fish.

Severum Cichlid Size

The maximum size of a Severum Cichlid is approximately 8 inches.

Severum Cichlid Tank Size

Severum Cichlid require a minimum size of 45 gallons. If you want to keep a community of fish, you’ll need a bigger tank. Large aquariums give the active Severum Cichlid the area it needs to swim around in.

Severum Cichlid Food & Diet

Severum Cichlids are omnivores that feed on a variety of foods such as pellets, flakes, freeze-dried worms, and vegetables. Cucumbers and zucchini can be fed regularly. They are known to eat certain fruits in the wild as well.

Severum Cichlid Lifespan

Severum Cichlid has an average lifespan of approximately 5 years. However, they are known to live up to 10 years with proper care.

Severum Cichlid Care and Breeding: A Large Center Piece Fish!

Severum Cichlid Tank Mates

Tank mates for Severum Cichlids should be selected with careful consideration. Large fish that are aggressive should generally be avoided as tank mates since they pose a threat to your Severum Cichlid. Significantly smaller fish and small invertebrates should generally be avoided as tank mates also. Small crabs, shrimp, and snails in the tank can easily become food for Severums.

While tank mates should be selected with careful consideration, it is possible to find plenty of compatible tank mates for them. Severum Cichlids are not very aggressive fish, at least in comparison to many other cichlid species. Other than their aggressive behavior during spawning, they are reasonably calm and docile.

Examples of compatible tank mates for Severum Cichlid are Angelfish, Oscar, Blood Parrot Cichlid, Hoplo Catfish, Gouramis, and Black Skirt Tetra.

Severum Cichlid and Oscar

Severum Cichlid is a relatively peaceful fish who prefers to be alone. On the other hand, Oscar fish are the opposite. Oscars can be abrasive and even possessive at times. However, since Severum Cichlid are large enough to defend against an Oscar’s aggressive behavior, they two species may be compatible as tank mates.

Severum Cichlid and Angelfish

If you want to keep Angelfish and Severums together, you’ll need at least a 55 gallon aquarium because they can be aggressive towards each other. After all, they are both cichlids. If the tank is too small, the Angelfish may be overwhelmed by the larger Severum.

Severum Cichlid and Jack Dempsey

Severum Cichlid and Jack Dempsey may be compatible as tank mates.

Jack Dempseys are named after the great boxer Jack Dempsey, who was famous for his aggressive, hard-hitting style of combat. Likewise, Jack Dempsey in an aquarium is also aggressive and tank mates should be considered with care. However, they aren’t incompatible with all fish.

Since Severums and Jack Dempseys are similar in size, they may be able to coexist in the same tank. Since they are cichlids, a certain level of aggression is expected. There may be some chasing and nipping involved.

Severum Cichlid and Green Terror

Severum Cichlid and Green Terror Cichlid may be compatible as tank mates.

While Green Terror may be more aggressive than Severums, they share a similar temperament and size. Their needs in terms of water parameters are very similar as well. Therefore, they are compatible as tank mates in that sense.

Regarding the aggressive behaviors, it is important to remember that each fish is different. Some Severum and Green Terror may get along, while others may not. It is important to provide adequate space to increase the chance of them successfully coexisting. It is also important to have a backup plan, just in case the fish do not get along.

Severum Cichlid Tank Setup

Tank setups for Severum Cichlid does not need to be complicated. However, there is a few things to keep in mind in order to keep the fish healthy.

Adequate tank size is an important factor to consider when setting up a Severum Cichlid tank. While a 55 gallon tank is the minimum tank size, a larger tank would be better. If multiple fish are being kept, a 100 gallon tank would be more ideal. Especially during mating season, they can become territorial and the tank may suddenly appear smaller.

Regarding the aquarium substrate, sand is recommended for Severum Cichlids. They like to dig, and the smooth sand substrate will allow them to do that.

These fish also prefer low light settings, since they usually dwell in these shaded environments.

Severum Cichlid Breeding

In order to breed Severum Cichlids, a breeding pair must be formed. The easiest way to create breeding pairs is to buy a group of juveniles, and let them pair up on their own.

Once a breeding pair is identified, they can be encouraged to breed by isolating the pair for approximately 2 weeks. The breeding pair can be placed in a single tank, but they should be separated by a divider. They should be able to see each other, but not touch each other. During this isolation period, they can be conditioned for breeding with a high-protein diet. After the 2 weeks, the divider can be removed to allow them to spawn.

Slight softer and more acidic waters tend to encourage breeding behavior. The temperature should be raised to approximately 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Severum Cichlid Growth Rate

Severum Cichlid aren’t the fastest growing fish. There are other cichlids that will grow faster.

Juvenile Severum Cichlid can grow approximately half an inch a month during its peak. As they mature and reach a certain size, their growth rate will decline. Within the first 2 years, they will reach full size, or at least very close to it. Since these fish aren’t skinny fish, a lot of their growth can be seen in the their thickness as they mature.

Factors that affect their growth rate include water parameters, diet, exposure to stress, and tank size. These environmental factors often play a significant role in their growth.

Severum Cichlid Disease

Like any freshwater fish, Severum Cichlid are susceptible to infections and diseases.

The most prevalent of disease is Ich, also known as white spot disease. Ich can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated early. With a combination of medication and increased temperature, the fish has a good chance of recovery if the issue is addressed early on.

Where can I find Severum Cichlid for sale?

Severum Cichlid are available in both local fish stores and online retailers. The average price of a Severum Cichlid is $8. However, not all types of Severum Cichlids are readily available. Some rare varieties will only be available from online retailer. In fact, some of the rarest varieties may not be available for sale at all.

Severum Cichlids Colors and Varieties

There are many different types of Severum Cichlids. Since the term “Severum Cichlids” in the aquarium trade loosely refers to all fish in the genus Heros, all of the following fish species are considered Severum Cichlids:

  • Heros efasciatus
  • Heros liberifer
  • Heros notatus
  • Heros severus
  • Heros spurius

Among these species, Heros efasciatus is the most common in the aquarium trade. Many variants have been discovered and developed from Heros efasciatus and other species. These variants include Gold Severum, Red Severum, Blue Severum, Green Severum, and Red Shoulder Severum. While there are many variants, which species the fish belongs to can be unclear at times. In fact, the exact species for some variants remain unspecified. There are variants that have been re-classified very recently as well.

Green Severum Cichlid

Green Severums are one of the most common variant of all severums. They have a greenish body with several horizontal bands. They are most closely related to the wild-type variant.

Many color variants have been bred from Green Severums, including the Gold Severums. It should be noted that Green Severums can have both the green and gold gene. However, since the gold gene is recessive, the gold color will not show unless the fish possess two copies of the gold gene.

Gold Severum Cichlid

Gold Severum Cichlids are very popular in the aquarium hobby. Gold Severums were developed from Green Severums. While the Green Severums have the dark bands, Gold Severums do not have them. They’ve been bred in captivity for a long time, and they are not difficult to care for. They can be considered semi-aggressive fish, but they are generally peaceful fish. As with all Severums, a varied diet would benefit these fish.

Red Severum Cichlid

Red Severum Cichlid, also known as Red-Spotted Severums, are native to the northern areas of the Amazon river. They are a color variant developed from Gold Severums. They’re bred in captivity to enhance the red color of the fish. Many consider the red-spotted severums as one of the most attractive severums. In fact, the bright orange-red hue on their belly, pelvic, and anal fins is why most enthusiasts breed them. Their brilliantly crimson eyes are very attractive as well.

Blue Severum Cichlid

Blue Severum Cichlid are found in the Amazon basin near Iquitos, a city in northern Peru. Blue Severums lives in the slow-moving portions of rivers that are densely vegetated. There is an abundance of submerged tree roots in the water as well. They usually stay away from strong currents and feed on the vegetation. In planted aquarium, they will eat a lot of the soft leaved plants. However, that’s not the only thing that they eat. They are omnivorous and it is important to feed them a varied diet.

Red Shoulder Severum Cichlid

Red Shoulder Severum Cichlid, also known as Rotkeil Severum Cichlid, is naturally occurring variant of the species Heros efasciatus. This variant have become popular in the aquarium hobby due to the vibrant red color on its shoulder and orange eyes. They are native to the Amazon Basin. More specifically, they can be found near Iquitos, a city in northern Peru. The locals refer to these fish as “corbata,” which translated to necktie. Therefore, while it is a less common name, they are referred to as Necktie Severums as well.

While this variant has been captive bred for many years, many of the fish with the most vibrant coloration are the wild-caught specimens.

Black Severum Cichlid

There isn’t a recognized variant called a “Black Severum Cichlid” at this time.

However, like many cichlid species, Severums change color in response to various factors including their environment. A severum can darken in color, or even become black, when exposed to stress.

This stress can be caused by various factors including other tank mates, poor water quality, lack of dither fish. The presence of dither fish such as a school of Cardinal Tetra can help a shy fish feel safe.

Female Severums can darken to an almost black color during breeding. This is called a “breeding dress.” This indicates that the fish is getting ready to lay eggs. This color change during breeding can be seen in Severums, as well as many other cichlid species.

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With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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