Severum Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Severum is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are relatively easy to care for and are very tolerant of different water conditions.

This fish is also known as the “banded fish” or “banded cichlid” due to the vertical stripes that run down its body.

The Severum is a peaceful fish that can be kept with other peaceful fish of a similar size. They are not known to be aggressive but may become territorial with other fish of the same species.

Species overview

Severums (Heros severus) are a type of cichlid that’s native to South America. They can be found in many different river systems throughout Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia.

Severums are a relatively large cichlid, reaching up to around 18 inches in length in the wild. In the aquarium, they are usually much smaller, only getting to be about half of that size.

These fish are mostly herbivorous, eating a diet of algae, plants, and fruits. However, they are known to eat the occasional insect or small fish as well.

Severums are generally considered to be a peaceful cichlid, but they can be quite territorial. They are known to dig a lot in the substrate and uproot plants, so having a tank that can accommodate this behavior is important.



Severums are a very popular freshwater fish that are easily recognizable thanks to their unique color patterns.

The base color of a Severum is green, but this can vary quite a bit from one fish to the next. The green can be anything from a light olive to a deep emerald.

This color is then accented by yellow, orange, or red patches that cover their body. The distribution of these colors can also vary a lot. Some fish will have large patches while others will have smaller spots.

The Severum also has a very distinct pattern on their face. They have a dark band that starts at the back of their eye and goes all the way to the base of their tail. This band is then accented by a light stripe that runs along the center of their body.

The fins on a Severum are very typical for a cichlid. They have a large dorsal fin that starts about two-thirds of the way back on their body. This fin is then matched by an anal fin of the same size.

Both of these fins have a very pointed look to them and are accented by a dark stripe that runs along the center. Their caudal fin is forked and their pectoral fins are large and webbed.


Severums are actually pretty long-lived fish and have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Of course, this can differ significantly based on the environment and care they receive.

For example, if a Severum is kept in a small tank then they’re much more likely to experience stress. This will lead to a number of health problems and a shortened lifespan.

Conversely, if they’re kept in a large tank with plenty of hiding spots and a good diet, they can easily live for over a decade.


The average Severum size is around 8 inches, but they can grow to be up to 12 inches long. These are some of the larger fish on this list, so make sure you have plenty of space for them in your aquarium.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a Severum is 50 gallons. If you want to keep more than one Severum, you’ll need at least an additional 20 gallons for each fish.

While 50 gallons is the minimum we recommend going for a larger tank if possible. These fish are relatively large and active so the more space you can give them the better.

Water Parameters

The Severum is a tropical freshwater fish that is native to South America. In the wild, they can be found in slow moving rivers and streams with plenty of vegetation.

To replicate their natural habitat, you will need to maintain consistent water parameters.

The most important thing to remember is that Severums are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Even a small change can result in stress which can lead to health problems.

To avoid this, you should test the water regularly and make gradual changes if needed. Sudden changes can be fatal to these fish.

Here are a few basic water parameters to help create a healthy Severum environment.

  • Water temperature: 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 4 to 10 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Severums are a very peaceful species of fish, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular. They can be kept with a wide variety of other fish without any problems.

When it comes to setting up the interior of their tank there are a few things you should keep in mind.

The first is that Severums are known to be fin nippers. This means that you should avoid keeping them with fish that have long, flowing fins (like bettas).

The second is that Severums love to hide. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but the most common is to include some driftwood and plants in their habitat.

We recommend using a soft, sandy substrate in their tank. This will make it more comfortable for them to dig (which they love to do).

As far as plants go, you have a few options. You can go with something that’s easy to care for like Hornwort or Java Moss. Or, you can choose something a little more difficult like Water Wisteria or Anubias.

Common Diseases

These fish are actually quite resilient to disease and sickness. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re completely immune.

The most common disease that affects Severums is, you guessed it, ich. Ich is a very common freshwater disease that is caused by a parasite.

This disease is characterized by the presence of white spots on the body of the fish. If left untreated, ich can be fatal.

The best way to prevent ich (and other diseases) is to maintain clean and stable water conditions in the tank. A well-maintained tank will go a long way in keeping your fish healthy and disease-free.

Behavior & Temperament

The Severum is a semi-aggressive cichlid that can get along with other fish—as long as those fish aren’t too small. If you put a Severum in a tank with fish that are half its size, the Severum will think of them as food.

These fish are also known to be nippy, so it’s best to avoid putting them in a tank with fish that have long fins (like angels or beta fish). The Severum will most likely nip at the fins, which can cause serious injury.

The good news is that Severums are relatively easy to care for and are very hardy fish. They’re also fun to watch because of their playful nature. They’re constantly swimming around and exploring their environment.

Tank Mates

Severums are cichlids, which means they’re related to some of the most aggressive fish in the freshwater world.

With that being said, not all cichlids are created equal. Some, like the severum, have a reputation for being relatively peaceful.

This is good news if you’re looking for compatible tank mates.

While they can get along with other fish, it’s important to remember that severums are still cichlids. They can be territorial at times and might not tolerate fish that are too similar in size or appearance.

The best tank mates for severums are fish that occupy different areas of the tank. This way, they’re less likely to run into each other and cause problems.

Some good severum tank mates include:


Severums are another type of fish that is relatively easy to breed in captivity. They don’t have too many specific requirements and will often breed without any intervention from the keeper.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to give them a helping hand.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons in size and contain plenty of hiding places. Severums like to have a lot of plants in their tank. So, make sure to add some live plants.

You don’t need to make any changes to the water temperature. Just keep it within the normal range for the species.

When ready, add two females for every male. Severums are pretty good at taking care of their young, so you don’t have to worry about them eating the eggs.

Once the eggs have been laid, they will hatch in about a week. You can then move the fry to a separate tank. Feed them baby brine shrimp and other small foods.


Severums are a great choice for beginner and experienced fishkeepers alike. They’re relatively easy to care for, and their peaceful nature makes them a great addition to community tanks.

We love their bright colors and patterns, and we think they’re a great option for anyone looking to add a little personality to their tank.

If you’re thinking about adding a Severum to your tank, we say go for it! We think you’ll be very happy with your decision.