Severum Cichlid - Profile

Scientific Name(s)
: Heros severus
Common Name(s)
: Green/Red/Gold Severum, Hero Cichlid
: Cichlidae
Species Type
: South American Cichlids
Maximum Size
: 8 inches
Life Span
: 10 years
Natural Habitat
: South America
Minimum Tank Size
: 50 gallons
Tank Region
: All over
Possible Tank Mates
: Firemouth, Green Terror, Salvini, Texas, Blood Parrots 
: 72°F – 84°F
pH Range
: 5.1  - 6.5
: 3° - 10°

Description: Severum Cichlids are South American Cichlids from the northern Amazon region of Brazil. They are known by the scientific name Heros severus and also by the name Cichlasoma severum. Their common names include the Banded Cichlid, Hero Cichlid  and the Severum. They have a body shape similar to a discus. There are two main color variations gold and green, the Gold Severum having been developed from the Green Severum. The Gold Severum has been been bred to a pale yellow iridescent color without the original distinctive dark bands. The Green Severum has a greenish body with several horizontal bands on its body.
Breeding Information: Severums are more difficult to breed than most New World Cichlids, because they do not form pairs as readily and the males are difficult to distinguish from the females. Like most cichlids they spawn on clean horizontal surfaces and are very good parents. 

Sexing Information: Difficult to determine via appearance

Diet: Omnivorous - Does well with flake foods, blood worms, brine shrimp and cichlid sticks. 

Temperament: Peaceful but may eat small fish.

Common Diseases: HITH - Hole in the head disease

General Information: The Green Severum is very popular as its one of the most peaceful, larger cichlids in the hobby and generally don't bother their tank mates. Green Severums are native to lakes and tributaries of the Amazon Basin in South America. Though not the true mouthbrooding "Severum" species (Heros Severus), Green Severums are very attractive and grow larger than their mouthbrooding relatives; not to mention their remarkable breeding colors of intensely bright orange-red on their bellies, anal fins, and pelvic fins in addition to their bright red eyes and beautiful green bodies with faint vertical bands. Males have extended anal, dorsal, and pelvic fins as well as worm-like markings on their faces and operculum. There are two distinct color morphs of the species that have identical needs and feeding habits, Green and Gold. Due to their popularity and successful breeding, the Green Severum is always available via local retailers and online vendors.

Green Severums require an aquarium of 55 gallons for a pair and the aquarium should be larger (75-90 gallons) if multiple tank mates are added. They should be provided with a fine sand to smooth gravel substrate and a few structures for shelter (driftwood, rocks, and vegetation) and at least one cave. Live plants are greatly appreciated, but don't always last long unless a prolific species is used (Anacharis, Cabomba, Hornwort); although omnivorous they have a "sweet tooth" for live plants and vegetables. High quality biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is recommended (they are cichlids after all) as well as slightly acidic and soft water. 

Lighting intensity isn't an issue, but some areas of shade are always appreciated (floating plants are great for this as well as caves). Green Severums are relatively peaceful Cichlids and usually only become territorial or aggressive when breeding, but it always depends on the individual; they will defend themselves in regards to more aggressive cichlids bullying them. They can be successful within a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums. Tank mates should be chosen carefully and regardless of a community, species-specific, or cichlid setup, their tank mates should always be comparable in size (Plecos, Geophagus and Parrot Cichlids could be good choices).

Green Severums are omnivores and eat insects, small crustaceans and vegetable matter in natural habitat. They have a tendency to prefer a lot of vegetable matter and will accept peas, lettuce, chopped zucchini, and chopped cucumber; they should also be supplemented with a variety of meaty and vitamin enriched foods such as live, frozen or freeze-dried ghost shrimp, bloodworms, mealworms, earthworms, crickets, and nutritional cichlid and algae (Spirulina) based pellets. Feed once or twice daily.

Breeding Green Severums is not very difficult, but they can often take quite a while to pair up. The parents will clean off a flat rock surface or section of driftwood and the female will lay between 200-800 eggs; the male will fertilize them and then the female will tend to the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. The eggs will hatch in 3-5 days and the fry will be relocated to a pre-dug pit in the substrate. The fry will be free-swimming within a week and then able to accept crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp. It has been reported that Green Severums can take an extremely long time to get it right when breeding and it's common for the parents to eat the fry at various stages for the first dozen or so attempts. They will eventually sort things out and get it right, but the fry could also be removed and raised if continuous failed attempts are excessive.

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