The severum cichlid, also known as banded cichlid, heros efasciatus or gold severum, is a low-maintenance freshwater fish. It is peaceful, active, and gorgeous. Its beauty becomes more intense as it ages.

The severum cichlid is easy to breed and has a long lifespan; however, it must be well cared for like all fish species.

In our article, you will find information on caring for your fish, how to avoid stress, compatible tank mates, and many more. Read through to glean this knowledge.

Severum Cichlid Stats

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 12″ (30cm)
Tank: 48 inches, larger for adults
Strata: Bottom, middle
PH: 6.0 to 7.5
Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 4.0 – 15.0
Temperature: 75°F to 84°F (24-29°C)

 

Classification:

Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Percoidei
Family: Cichlidae
Genera: Heros

Species Profile

The Severum cichlid is a prevalent cichlid species that aquarists have bred for generations. It is native to South America and can be found in calm, slow-moving water bodies dip enough to swim. As the gold severum cichlid grows older, it becomes even more beautiful, with its goldish colors giving way to bright orange spots.

The banded Severum is generally peaceful and can live with several tank mates. However, their calm temperament gives way to a more territorial and aggressive display during the spawning season.

One of the many things that endear this cichlid species to aquarists is the ease of breeding and compatibility with other fish species.

– Appearance

The Severum cichlid can be identified by its uniquely compressed body and gold color. It has pointed anal and dorsal dins that are yellow. Their tails have a white base coloring with a speck of yellow on them; their eyes are also yellow. The fry has uniformly gold colors that become speckled with orange spots across a large part of its body and fins as it matures.

Severum cichlid is of different types. We have listed the classes and their colors:

  • The deacon severum is green in color with brown lines running down its entire length
  • The golden severum has a plain gold color that is sometimes peppered with dark stripes down its length
  • The red-spotted golden severum, on the other hand, is the most popular of them all. It has a gold base color with beautiful red dots over all its body

– How to Tell Male Apart From Female

The act of being able to differentiate between the sexes of a species is regarded as sexual dimorphism. In severum cichlids, the male is bigger and has markings on its gills. Usually, the male severum cichlid may develop a nuchal hump and extensions to its anal and dorsal fins. The extension of its dorsal and anal fin makes them look more pointed.

On the other hand, the female severum cichlid can be identified by the telltale dark spot on her dorsal fin and the lack of patterning on her head.

– Size

The gold cichlid fish can grow as big as 8 inches with proper care and nutrition. Of course, the quality of care given will determine if it grows longer than this estimated 8 inches or suffers from stunted growth.

Thus, you must hold it close to your heart that the care you show to your fish in terms of feeding, stress prevention, tank setup, etc., has a direct impact on the quality of life of your cichlid.

– Behavior and Compatibility

The yellow severum cichlid is peaceful except when it is spawning. Its mild manner makes it an excellent choice for other large, temperate fish species. It is not uncommon to find the severum cichlid deviating from the usual calm temperament and becoming aggressive.

However, the chance of that is considerably smaller when you raise them in groups of at least 5.

With this number, you also have to factor in the pool size. A small tank will only serve to breed aggression between the severum cichlids and other species.

– Lifespan

On average, severum cichlids live for five years. However, they have been known to live for as long as ten years with proper nutrition and care. Incredible, isn’t it?

Severum Cichlid Care


The quality of life your severum cichlid enjoys is a direct reflection of the care you give to it. When they are well looked after, severum cichlids are less susceptible to diseases and live longer than their average lifespan. However, how do you care for something when you lack the knowledge of what to do? That is what we strive to do; fill in the gaps for you.

In the section, you will learn all it takes to care for your cichlid. You will find it all here, from the tank set up to diet, tank mates, breeding, stress prevention, and disease prevention.

– Breeding

If you aim to breed these golden severum cichlids, then you should stock your pool with a group of juvenile fish from the very get-go. Doing this will take away the difficulty associated with getting them to pair up. In groups, these cichlids will begin to pair up on their own naturally. The mature severum cichlids take care of their young.

a) Conditioning the Severum Cichlid for Breeding

Once you have the breeding pairs, it is time to set up the breeding tank. The water should be softer than that in the standard tank. Asides from this, there are other changes you will need to make to the tank to present an optimal breeding environment for the severum cichlid. Let us look at these changes below.

  • Temperature – optimal severum cichlid temperature for breeding is between 78.8 and 80.6 ℉. The elevated temperature warms up the water and prepares the fish for breeding.
  • pH and Hardness – the water in the breeding tank should have a pH of not more than 6 to make the water more acidic for the eggs to develop correctly. The hardness should be maintained at 50 ppm (not too hard).
  • Feeding – The breeding pair should be fed with a diet of live feeder cricket to prepare them for spawning.
  • Tank Decoration – Flat rocks or round rocks should be placed at the bottom of the tank for the female to lay her eggs. You can also put artificial plants and stones in the tank; they serve the same purpose.

b) Severum Cichlid Mating

A breeding male begins to darken and intensify his colors; yes, this is a trusted way of knowing the male is ready. Once that happens, he begins to chase the female; once he has her, they lock lips and do some sort of tail slap before spawning. The female lays her eggs at the bottom of the tree roots or rocks in the tank; she can lay as many as a thousand eggs.

The male takes up the watch and defends both the breeding female and the eggs; he is very aggressive at this stage. The male fertilizes the eggs; in 3 days, the eggs hatch. Once the eggs are hatched, the parents take them into their mouths; yes, they are mouthbreeders. Some aquarists, at this stage, remove the eggs and incubate them; this results in a larger brood.

c) After Mating, What Next?

Once the eggs are free swimming, you can begin feeding them. Food like freshly hatched brine shrimp, pellet food, daphnia, and micro worms are recommended. It is essential that they are provided with high-quality food and that the feeding is done in small bits that they can finish in under 3 minutes.

The parent severum cichlid cares for the fry for up to 6 weeks until they are equipped to survive independently.

d) How Fast Does Severum Cichlid Grow?

Severum cichlids grow the fastest in their early years; this growth slows down as they become older. That means that in a little under two years, severum cichlids should have reached their maximum size. Of course, their growth rate is influenced by genetic factors and external factors like feeding and water condition.

e) Setting up a Tank

There are essential things to consider when setting up a tank for severum cichlid.

We have outlined them below:

  • Tank Size –Your minimum tank size should be 45 gallons. If you plan to raise a community of fishes (which is the recommended thing to do), you must arrange for a larger tank. Large tanks provide the very active severum cichlid with enough room to do their swimming business.
  • Substrate Type – Sand is the preferred substrate for severum cichlid. Therefore, you should design your fish tank in such a way that this critical substrate lies at the bottom.
  • Lighting – In their wild habitat, the severum cichlid is used to dim or shadowy waters. Therefore, your tank should mimic this low lighting condition.
  • Temperature – The average temperature range for raising severum cichlids is 75 – 85 ℉. Anything below or above this range will hurt your fish.
  • Breeding Temperature – The recommended temperature for breeding severum cichlid is 78.8 – 80.6℉.
  • Recommended pH Range – The recommended pH range for a severum cichlid tank is 6.0-6.5. At this pH, the water is slightly acidic and can support all their life processes. Take care to ensure that your pH levels remain constant because drastic changes in pH level can stress your fish significantly.
  • Recommended Hardness Range – 4 – 15 dGH
  • Brackish – Yes. You are free to put water that is slightly salty into your fish tank. It will not harm them.
  • Water Movement – Your tank should have moderate water movement.

– Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your severum cichlid, take care to choose those that share the same water parameters. You don’t want to trivialize their health and, consequently, the health of your severum.

Another thing to give thought to as the temperament of the intended tank mates. Fish species that are aggressive and large should not be raised in the same tank as the severum cichlid.

We have provided you with a list of compatible tank mates for your severum cichlid.

Follow this list, and your fish will be fine:

  • Loaches
  • Large characins, e.g., silver dollar fish
  • Pearl cichlid
  • Angelfish
  • Blood parrot cichlid
  • Black skirt tetra
  • Gouramis
  • Tiger barb
  • Catfish
  • Redtail black shark

Tank Mates to Avoid

Not all fish species are compatible with the severum cichlid. As a rule, you should avoid large, aggressive fish species because they pose a threat to your golden severum cichlid. Also, avoid crabs, shrimps, and snails.

It is advised that you do not add small peaceful tanks also to your severum cichlid tank as they may end up as dinner for your cichlid. You don’t want that now, do you?

– Diet

The severum cichlid is an omnivore and will accept almost any aquarium food you offer to them. Try to spice up their meals with a combination of high-quality herbivore and carnivore flakes.

A couple of things you can feed your severum cichlid have been listed out below:

  • Pellets
  • Flakes
  • Earthworms
  • Blood worms
  • Mealworms
  • Marine crustacean
  • White mosquito larvae
  • Vitamin enriched brine shrimp
  • Krill
  • Mysis
  • Chopped prawns
  • Green vegetables

Other food options include shelled frozen peas, dried spirulina, and blanched spinach. Avoid feeding your golden cichlid liver, or beef heart as they are difficult for its digestive system to process and can inevitably lead to illness.

How Often Should Severum Cichlid Be Fed?

Severum cichlid should be fed small portions of food 3-4 times a day instead of one large meal. Doing this helps prevent overfeeding, which can be pretty disastrous in severum cichlid. A one-day fast every week is also great for keeping this fish healthy.

– Dealing With Stress in this fish

Like humans, fishes can get stressed, and when they do, it can lead to serious health complications. It is important to avoid stressing your severum cichlid as much as you can. Sadly, it is not always possible. Thus, you must recognize when your severum cichlid is stressed.

  • Gasping at the Water Surface – One way to recognize that your fish is stressed is it gasping at the surface of the water. Often, it is a clear indication that the stress your fish experiences is brought on by poor water conditions. If you investigate, you discover that the oxygen levels in the water are low.
  • Appetite – When your fish suddenly loses appetite, it is not much of a jump to infer that your severum cichlid is stressed.
  • Disease – Severum cichlid, when stressed, will often come down with some form of freshwater disease. One of such diseases is Ich.
  • Strange Swimming Pattern – An odd swimming pattern is often a good indicator that your severum cichlid is stressed.

What to Do With a Stressed Severum Cichlid

Once you have identified that your fish is stressed, you must take the necessary steps to cure it from this stress.

That means that you must locate the source of the stress: water, disease, diet, chemicals, etc. Once you identify the exact cause of the stress, you can eliminate it.

– Common Diseases

Anything you add to your tank can result in a disease outbreak in the tank. Thus, you must be mindful of everything you add, not just the fish themselves but also the plants, decorations, and even substrate. To prevent bacteria from getting in, disinfect everything properly and quarantine each fish before adding them to your tank.

The fish disease can also result from poor hygiene, poor diet, overfeeding, poor water conditions, etc. Sharp changes in water conditions can also lead to stress which in turn exposes your fish to diseases.

We shall look at a few of the freshwater diseases that affect gold severum cichlid.

There are common diseases that affect freshwater fish. Some of these diseases are caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and a poor diet brings some on. Whatever it is, if there is a cure for it, you will find it in this section of our article.

  • Head and Lateral Line Erosion

The HLLE disease is also referred to as the hole in the head disease. It is common in fishes raised in tanks with poor water conditions. Severum cichlid suffering from this disease often look like they have pits or scavities on their head and face.

A common cause of this disease is poor sanitary conditions. Other causes include over filtration with harmful chemicals like activated carbon, poor diet, and vitamin deficiency. To treat this disease, isolate the fish and fix the water conditions and diet. You can supplement its omnivorous diet with vitamins C, D, phosphorus, and calcium.

  • Ich

Ich is a common disease that affects the skin and fins of freshwater fish. It is caused by a parasite and manifests as white spots on the head and body of the fish. It is highly contagious, but thankfully, you can treat it. Most treatments for Ich contain copper, as is it an effective active ingredient against this parasite.

Once you identify this disease in your fish, isolate the sick ones for immediate treatment. You can use Aquari-sol, copper, malachite green, etc., in the right amounts to treat the sick severum cichlid. However, you must remember to remove all the carbon filters from the tank to avoid activated carbon poisoning.

  • Swim Bladder Disease

As the name implies, the swim bladder disease is caused by damage to the fish’s swim bladder. The damage may be caused by physical trauma, poor nutrition, secondary diseases like cancer and tuberculosis, etc. Severum cichlid suffering from swim bladder disease have issues staying underwater. Thus, they can be found floating and displaying other strange swimming patterns.

Once you have identified the cause of the swim bladder disease, you can treat it quickly. If a poor diet causes it, we recommend that you switch to feeding the severum cichlid a more balanced diet. Take care to see that you do not overfeed the golden cichlid.

– How to Prevent Diseases

There are steps you can take to reduce the possibility of your severum cichlid getting sick. We have listed them below.

  • Buy only high-quality fish
  • Quarantine your new additions before putting them in your established tank
  • Avoid stressing the fish with sudden changes in the tank and aggressive tank mates
  • Take care to select only fish species that are compatible with the severum cichlid
  • Do not overfeed your cichlid
  • If there is a disease outbreak, quarantine the affected fish and disinfect the nets used in removing them
  • Do not transfer the water from the quarantine tank into the main tank
  • Avoid metals touching the water in the tank
  • Be careful when using antibiotics and copper treatments. Antibiotics can mess with the nitrifying bacteria in your tank. On the other hand, copper can kill the snails and plants in your tank if used in excess.

Conclusion

  • The Severum cichlid is a peaceful fish schooling fish
  • It has a beautiful golden color that adds vibrance to even the dullest of aquarium
  • In a single breeding session, the female lays about a thousand eggs and protects them until they are free swimming

The severum cichlid is a delightful fish to raise in your aquarium; it is easy to care for and can be handled by even beginners. They can last as long as ten years with proper care. We have given you a comprehensive guide on how to care for your severum; follow it.

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