Synonyms: Acara spuria, Astronotus severus, Cichlasoma severum, C. severus, Heros efasciatus, H. spurius
Physical description: An oval-shaped, laterally compressed cichlid with large red eyes, and a small mouth. The body coloring depends on the geographic population The most common has an olive green back with gold-green flanks. The belly and lower parts are a deep brick red. Seven to eight stripes, although often barely visible, mark the body. These are more prominent on juvenile fish, although some adults may retain a similar patter.
Size/Length: To 12" (30 cm)
Similar species: Heros appendiculatus is a variant that has been elevated to the species level. It is from Peru.
Habitat: Can be found in lakes and standing water or slow-moving water with heavy vegetation. South America; Amazon Basin north to the Orinoco Basin.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 36" (90 cm) or 35 gallons (132 L) is sufficient for fish to 6" (15 cm). Provide hiding places and retreats with driftwood, roots, and rocks. Have well-planted areas and a partial cover of floating plants. Use fine gravel as a substrate.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.5 (7.0), 4-15 (10) dH, 75-84°F (24-29°C).
Social behavior: A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with other non-aggressive, medium to large sized fish. However, Severum can usually hold their own in a rowdy cichlid tank as long as shelter is provided. The Severum can be kept in a pair or is a group. During spawning the pair may become aggressive towards all other fish. Pairing is often difficult as a male can be abusive towards the female. Try using several females with one male if a problem arises. Pairs form nuclear families.
Suggested companions: Catfish (Armored, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Doradids), Cichlids (Angelfish, Festivum, some Cichlasomines, Acaras, Eartheaters), Characins (Silver Dollars, Leporinus, Anostomus)
FOOD: Live; Tubifex , insect larvae, crustaceans; large flakes; pellets; vegetable matter.
SEX: Sexual distinction is difficult. The pectoral and anal fins of the male are more pointed than those of the female. Males also have 'worm-like' markings on their head, while female only have spots.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a pH of 6.0-6.5, a water hardness of 2-6 dH, and a warmer water temperature of 81-86°F (27-30°C). An open breeder that will lay up to 1,000, depending on the size of the female, eggs on previously cleaned rocks. The fry hatch in 2-4 days and are free-swimming 3-4 days later. Sometimes the larvae are moved to pits by the parents. They are carefully guarded by the parents, although the male tends mostly to the duty of defending the territory. Start feeding with small live foods and later with powdered flake foods. The fry begin to take the normal shape of the Severum after a period of three to four weeks.
Breeding potential: 6. Breeding the Severum is not difficult.
Remarks: There are several different color variations available, including the "Gold," Green, Brown, and "Peruvian Green" strains. The Severum is hardy after the initial acclimation period, when it may have some problems. After a period of time, Severums may become friendly towards their owner and may take foods from the fish keeper's hand.
Difficulty of care: 4. Live foods should be included in the diet of this hardy, but peaceful, cichlid.
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