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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Cichlids > Severum
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South america



Heros efasciatus


    One of my favorite cichlids the Severum is fairly peaceful for its size. Over the years different color varieties have been bred but its temperament remains the same. He grows quite large so a good sized aquarium is a must.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 12" (30cm)
    Tank: 48 inches, larger for adults
    Strata: Bottom, middle
    PH: 6.0 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 4.0 - 15.0
    Temperature: 75°F to 84°F (24-29°C)


    Order: Perciformes
    Suborder: Percoidei
    Family: Cichlidae
    Genera: Heros
Gold severum

Common name

    Severum, Gold Severum, Hero or banded Cichlid.

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Guyana and the Northern Amazon area.

General Body Form
    A rather round fish, not elongated very much, with strong Lateral compression. Small mouth and the nose and forehead are steep, much like the Discus. The soft part of the Dorsal and Anal fins are long and pointed and in the male the Anal fin reaches to the rounded edge of the Caudal (tail) fin. The Dorsal and Anal fins are shorter in the Female. The Ventral (side) fins in both sexes are elongated. The Severum can reach a size of almost eight inches.

    The coloration of the male and the female are basically the same, but the female is usually paler and lacks the pattern on the head. The general color in the wild form is variable but usually a Brownish to Greenish with some having a Brassy color. On the sides can be seen Eight or Nine Traverse bars, these bars are more pronounced on the young and by the time they reach maturity only the last one is still really visible, it ties together a large pale-edged Black spot on the soft rayed part of the Dorsal fin with a like spot on the Anal fin. Also on the sides each Scale seems to be marked with a Brown-Red dot giving the fish a beautiful sheen. The head of the males has a pattern of Red, Brown and Blue-Green markings. The Iris of the eyes is a distinctive Red. The Caudal fin is Yellow-Green to Gray-Green and sometimes there is a band across the base of the fin. The Ventral and Dorsal fins are dark in color and lighten to an Olive Green color in the soft areas. Now you can purchase a "Gold" version of the Severum, but in my opinion it can't compare to beauty of the wild form.

    The Severum tank should be fairly large, a standard 55 Gal is perfect and there must be places of refuge. These can be rock caves, large pieces of driftwood or even inverted flowerpots. Heros' like Most large species of Cichlids will dig up the substrate material, so it is best to have the plants in pots or securely fastened to the substrate. The severum like the Discus is a shy fish and should be kept with fish of similar habits. Water temperature should be between 72 and 79F. Feeding is no problem as they will accept flake, frozen and of course live. Basically the requirements of the Severum are typical of all cichlids, keeping in mind their similarity to the other large shy Cichlids.

    Sections of deep, calm water with submerged trees (flooded forest) in the Amazon river basin. See the Biotope page for information on setting up habitat.
young severum

    The Hero is a typical open breeder, which during breeding can turn from peaceful to aggressive and will dig up your plants. Breeding should be done in a separate tank set up just for them. The substrate should be a coarse sand or gravel and be dark in color the only plants should be the floating type. You should provide plenty of hiding places, like large half flower pots of some ceramic piping. The initial pairing off can be time consuming as they seem to be very selective in their partners. You will probably have to try several combinations before a suitable pair is formed. Once a pair is formed they will breed readily and practice intense brood protection on the fry for an extended period of time. The brood are quite large and it's not uncommon to have 1000 eggs or more in each spawn. Maintain good water quality and a temperature of at least 72°f at all times.


Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Jason Fritz
I am in love with Severum. I have 18 Total ( 7 Reds, 7 Golds, 3 Greens, and 1 Turquoise ). 4x55Gal Tanks and 1x165Gal. I have 2 Golds that are a mated pair after 3 years. They are now about 6"Male and 4" Female. They have laid eggs many times but I have only once had fry. At first I had thought the Male was sterile. I placed him in a large 165Gal tank with some others. He paired with a different female and I finally had a spawn. I separated this pair into a 55Gal and I have not had a successful spawn since. The eggs turn to fungus after 5 days. This was the same situation when the male was paired with the original female in the 55Gal Tank. My only successful spawn was in the 165Gal Community Tank. My other Severum seem too immature to pair; I have a second large Gold male 6" that is not interested in any of the other large Females. Severum definitely have a pecking order when in large groups. Aggression is mostly limited to breeding conflicts and territorial space (due to aquarium size). Good Tank Mates: Blue Acaras, Chocolates, Clown Loaches and Plecos. Bad Tank Mates: Oscars, JD's, Texas, Green Terrors, Red Devils and Midas were too aggressive in the large community tank even at 2 - 3". I already know that as my Fish mature, I will need to thin the school and likely trade some back to the Aq Store. The personality of this fish varies, however, for the most part, Severum are a terrific choice aquarium fish; Just plan ahead to have enough water to accommodate them.
From: Darren G
So the heros severum is a mouth brooder. Our aquarium bred "severums" are not severums they are a Heros Efaciatus and most of them are hybrids of other kinds of fish in the heros family. These fish have been bred in aquariums and farms for many many years. At first they did not know that there were more then one type of "severum" so they just let them spawn with each other. I just wanted to fix that our aquarium bred "severums" are not severums at all but Heros Efaciatus mutts. They are awesome fish and once you get one you want more so get ready to buy a 100 + gal l tank.
From: Darren G
My two green severums are going on 4 years old now, and are the center of attention in my 75 gallon. They are mild mannered with anything too large to swallow, including leporinus, angels and a black ghost knife. Even though they are both males, they share the tank quite peacefully with each other. The only fatalities have been a school of cardinal tetras (which disappeared as soon as the severums grew big enough to fit them in their mouths) and the plants. Even the java fern eventually lost the fight. All in all, when fully grown they are quite beautiful and absolutely not shy.
From: Jeff P
We have the green and gold in two separate tanks. Defensively aggressive towards other cichlids that encroach upon it but mostly mild mannered. The gold contributed significantly to the death of a large top feeder pink tailed chalceus, which it disliked from the moment it saw. The gold severum is missing pectoral fins, probably by mutation, and ability of movement appears to be slightly hampered but not significantly. The gold can actually be dissuaded from aggression or predatory habit by gently placing a fingertip on the tank. They'll eat more or less anything but a slice of cucumber seems to be the resounding favorite of both. Like some others said, this fish readily shows recognition of humans, whether as a food source or otherwise, and could more or less be described as a "ham", showing off and obstructing any other work or observation in the tank one is trying to accomplish. They seem to have a rather boisterous pattern of movement when satisfied or moved to a larger biotope. I warmed to both these specimens very quickly and would suggest the severum to anybody with the capacity and time.
From: Joel
I have a breeding pair in a mixed tank. I bought the pair when they were a couple of inches long and they have blossomed into a lovely but very aggressive pair. I moved them from a 4ft to a trigon 190 and since the move 2 months ago they have spawned twice. I have 6 serpae tetras, 6 black widows, a small plec, a rafael catfish, a small firemouth and a random parkinsons rainbow who seem to be OK and the severums have displayed incredible parenting or brooding behaviors, however I did have a 4" synspilium who iv had had to separate. There's no doubt that isolating the pair would make for a better brood however I believe that they are strong enough parents to see it through.
From: tash
I have 2 sevrums in my community tank the male is about 15cm and the female about 5cm and there completely fine with all their tankmates and not aggressive at all... in my community tank I have angels, gouramis, a kribensis pair and glass catfish and they have never attacked any of them.
From: Hop
Very peaceful for a cichlid, they make great rulers for community tanks. They grow very fast and are not picky at all about food. However they should be offered live foods as much as possible to keep them in tip top shape. Earthworms seem to be almost a perfect food for them. Good cichlid tankmates for severums are Jurapari's Festivums, and Keyholes. They also do fine with large characins such as silver dollars and many types of catfish. Keep them in a 70 gallon tank or larger as 55 gallon tanks are not wide enough for adult Severums.
From: Tim
Note: these guys are aggressive to each other. If you want more than 1 then get them both at the same time. Also, they will arrange the tank to their liking

From: _bambam
Severums are great! I have 3 in a 55 with 5 parrots and they have a blast. The minute anyone enters the room, all three severums will line up and greet them by swimming to the front of the tank. It's a great fish to have! :)
From: Travis Lovett
man, u people do not know this fish! the severum comes in 4 colors green, blue, gold and red gold. These fish are not aggressive with each other, unless there is 2 males in a tank or only 2 females. If u want a pleasant group then get 4 or more, in this case u will have a pecking order with a alpha male and female leading the group.
From: Purist
Severums are awesome they are too rough for angels, discus, and non-cichlids. Note to bam bam: Parrot cichlids (red devil/severum hybrids) have no place in an aquarium they are hideous mutants and breeding/buying them is a waste of time and money I cannot understand why these unfortunate freaks keep showing up in stores.....buying/breeding these hybrids gives a bad name to a great hobby..."my two cents"
From: Matthew
I bought one green severum by accident and have enjoyed her ever since. I've found her to be rather intelligent and as has been mentioned, will get to know and greet you. I have noticed the black stripes will appear and disappear at random, overall a great fish!







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