Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Red Spotted Severum

Red Spotted Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Severum (Heros efasciatus) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as Green Severum, Red Spotted Severum, Golden Severum, Hero Cichlid, and Banded Cichlid are found throughout the main channel of the Amazon, the rio Solimoes, and rio Xingu in South America.

Often confused with Heros severus, (previously known as Cichlasoma severum) Severum are a favorite South American cichlid kept by many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

Severum are found in calm, deeper, slower moving rivers and tributaries, as well as tannin stained floodplain lakes, usually around submerged branches and tree roots.   They prefer dimly lit waters.

Wild Severum, the Green variety, are one of the most peaceful of the larger South American cichlids and except during the breeding season, usually do not bother their tank mates.

Green Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Green Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Green Severum have a laterally compressed, oval shaped, beautiful bright green spotted body with dark light vertical bands and bright red eyes.   During the breeding season, Green Severum develop bright red orange bellies, anal and pelvic fins.   Males are larger, exhibit worm like markings on their gill covers, develop extended dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins, and often develop a nuchal hump.

The Golden Severum is a distinct captive bred color morph of the Green Severum.   They lack the faint black bands of Green Severum and are a bright yellow color throughout the body.   The dorsal and caudal fins are slightly whiter with yellow speckles.

The Red Spotted Severum is a selectively bred color variant of the Gold Severum, with dark red spots covering the entire body, sometimes into the fins.   They are native to lakes and tributaries of the Amazon Basin.

The Redheaded Severum is one of the more beautiful severums that grow to 8 inches and live up to 10 years.  Redheaded Severum are closely related to Green Severum with some of the same markings, but is colored a bright red over the face, back, shoulder, cheeks areas, anal, and dorsal fins.   Adult male Redheaded Severum have extended dorsal and anal fins, with females being more rounded.

Although Severum can be housed in a large community aquarium with other relative peaceful species of same size, they do best in a black water biotope setup in a tank of at least 60 gallon capacity with a sand or fine gravel substrate, a few river rocks arranged into caves, several pieces of driftwood or bogwood branches, and some Indian Almond Leaves on the bottom of the tank.

Except during the spawn, Severum are relatively peaceful for their size, however, when housed in a single species tank, they may develop a mean streak. This can be prevented by keeping them with several conspecifics.

Although aquatic plants are not necessary, they can be included for aesthetics.   Floating plants are recommended to diffuse overhead lighting.

Severum require clean water to thrive, so a good filtration system and regular water changes are essential to their well being.

Severum are substrate or cave spawners that are relatively easy to breed in an aquarium environment.   They require clean water and should be fed live or frozen bloodworms, chopped redworms, or tubifex to induce spawning. The best way to develop a breeding pair is to keep several juveniles in a large tank until a pair forms.

Severum are mouth brooders and spawning occurs on a flat stone, a piece of slate, the outside of a clay flowerpot, or similar smooth surface. The fish are excellent parents and both male and female will guard the eggs until they hatch, and then mouth brood the fry.

Severum fry are relatively large and are able to eat newly hatched brine shrimp or commercial powdered food as soon as they are free swimming.

Severum are omnivorous and in their natural habitat prey on small fish, insects, small crustaceans, worms, and vegetable matter.   In an aquarium environment they are not fussy eaters and will accept live, frozen, or freeze whole foods, such as blood worms, small red worms, tubifex, small shrimp, etc. as well as floating cichlid sticks or flakes.   Some vegetable matter should also be included in their diet such as shelled frozen peas, blanched spinach, dried Spirulina, etc.

The Green and Gold Severum are the most commonly sold species available to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.   Redheaded and Red Spotted Severum are less common and demand a higher price online and from specialty fish shops.

Because of their large adult size, it is recommended that they be housed in the largest tank available regardless of their purchase size of 2″ to 6″.

Red Spotted Severum (Heros efasciatus)

Red Spotted Severum (Heros efasciatus)







Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-84°F, 1-8°H, pH 5.5-7.2
Max. Size: 12 ″
Color Form: Green, Red, Yellow
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Single species tank
Origin: South America
Family: Cichlidae
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

One Response to “Severum (Heros efasciatus)”


  1. […] kept in a community tank environment with other peaceful South American cichlids like Jurpari, Severums, Uarus, and larger cyprinids, characins, catfish, and […]

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