Sunday, July 23, 2006


Data Sheet

Scientific Name: Heros Severum, Cicilasoma Severum
Other Name:Band Cichlid
Family: Cichlidae
Origin:South America
Adult Size:10 inches (26-27 cm)
Social:Shy fish (for cichlids)
Lifespan:10 years
Tank Level: middle and bottom levels

Minimum Tank Size:55 gallons
Diet:Omnivore / Vegetarians
Breeding:Egg layer
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.5
Temperature: 73-80 F (23-27 C)
Tank setup: Places with rocks for hiding.
Sexing: Adult males have longer, more pointed fins. The female has a dark patch on the dorsal fin above the second-last band. Females are also generally paler in colour and don't tend to have the blue squiggles on the head.


Severums have an oval-shaped, laterally compressed body, similar though stockier and more elongated than a Discus. They have large red eyes and a small, pointed mouth. The body colour starts off as golden olive green, which darkens to a deep teal green when breeding. Maroon and electric blue squiggles can often be found in the cheeks and face.

One of the most distinctive features of this fish is that the forehead forms a smooth curve from the snout into the body to the dorsal fin, mirrored ventrally along the chin and belly. But the most striking feature of this fish is the seven to eight faint vertical black bands mark the body.


Severums are widespread throughout the northern Amazon Basin and Guyana. In their natural habitat, they can be found in sections of deep, calm water with submerged trees or in close contact with the island-like rafts of vegetation that are found in some rivers.

The tank should contain rocks and other hiding places, as this is a shy fish and appreciate places to hide. Clean water is essential for good health and growth, and as like all cichlids, good filtration is important. Severums do like to have cover in their tanks which can pose a bit of a problem as they will tend to munch on any live plants in the tank. A cave of some kind is also appreciated, as Severums like to have somewhere to retreat to when the mood strikes them.

Mixing with other fishes:

Despite its size, this is a fairly peaceful, shy and inoffensive cichlid. They could be kept with other fishes of similar size, habits and temperament. Severums can usually hold their own in a rowdy cichlid tank as long as shelter is provided.

Nippy, boisterous and overly aggressive tank mates should be avoided - as should very small fish. Severums have been known to prey on smaller fishes.

During breeding time, Severums tends to be highly territorial but as long as there is sufficient space there is rarely serious damage inflicted.


Severums have strong vegetarian tendencies, but are not fussy about what they eat. Severums natural food is much like any other cichlid their size from South American. It mainly consists of insects, small crustaceans and some vegetable matter. They do well on a varied diet, including crickets, earthworms, mealworms, good quality pellets and home-made food. They will readily accept frozen foods (bloodworm), flake foods or small pellets. They relish live black worms and will also eat vegetables such as shelled green peas and blanched lettuce.


Severums form strong pair bonds and are an open substrate spawner, although they do not seem to pair as readily as other South American cichlids. This is because Severums can be choosy about their partner, often engaging in lip-locking activities to see if their mate is "worthy". Even at a young age, juveniles have been known spar. Severums prefer to lay their eggs on a pre-cleaned vertical or diagonally sloping surface. During breeding the pair will become highly territorial and chase tank mates away from the spawning site.

Breeding pairs are best developed through the raising of six or eight young together. Even at relatively young, small size Severums may be sexed by the absence of markings on the gill covers and smaller body size of females. Pairs should be either housed with other Severums (in a large enough system for two or more territories) or isolated.

The female may lay up to 1000 adhesive eggs. Like all Cichlids, both parents guard the eggs and the fries. When the fries hatched, they are moved to a pit that has been dug in the gravel. It is not uncommon for young pairs to have several failures before their fries are successfully raised.

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References Cited:

1. Heros Severum (Heckel, 1840), [Online], Available
2. Tracy, Severum [Online], Available
3. The poor man's discus - Cichlasoma Severum [Online], Available,%20Severums.htm

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