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Heros (Cichlasoma) severus (Severum)

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Large, almost discus-like in shape with big eyes and long anal and dorsal fins. The wild-type fish is greenish-gold with a series of dark bands on the flanks including one distinctive band that runs from the dorsal fin across the caudal peduncle and onto the anal fin. The eyes are coppery red. In breeding condition colours intensify, the eyes become redder and an orangey area developing across the breast. Sexually mature males develop a characteristic pattern of worm-like markings on the face and also tend to have more elaborate finnage. Otherwise the two sexes are similar.

The 'green' form is similar but only the final band is well developed the remainder being limited to smaller blotches. The flanks are covered in dark squiggles.

An artificial 'gold' morph is plain yellow.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):

Essentially a peaceful omnivore. Wild fish feed principally on detritus, algae, fruits, seeds, and fragments of plants. They also eat insects and insect larvae. In the aquarium any mixture of green and meaty foods should work well.

In terms of social behaviour severums are peaceful outside of breeding, and can be compared with angelfish or festivum cichlids in this regard. Breeding pairs are intolerant and aggressive, perhaps surprisingly so given their placid temperament outside of spawning.

Severums are basically easy to keep and make a good 'first' cichlid, but they are prone to hole-in-the-head disease. This is caused in most instances by the fish being kept in water with high levels of nitrogenous wastes, including nitrate. Large, regular water changes (50% weekly) are essential when keeping this species.

Breeding is quite easy. Pairs guard a flat surface such as a rock. Up to 1000 eggs are laid. The fry hatch within 5 days, and once free swimming the fry can be reared on baby brine shrimp and liquid fry food.

Family Group: South and Central American Cichlids
Distribution South America: Amazon and Orinoco Rivers
Temperature 24-28 C
Size 20 cm
Water Parameters Adaptable, but soft and slightly acidic preferred
Water PH 6.0-7.5