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~Pooja Chakrabarty

Severum: Heros Severus

The severum is a very colorful cichlid from the North Amazon region. Unlike many other cichlid species, the severum is peaceful, and often shy. It is not a fish for a beginner but is a good natured and beautiful fish.

The Heros Severus, is also known as the Severum. This round, flat fish has a smallish mouth while its nose and forehead are rather steep (somewhat like the Discus). The male has longer dorsal and anal fins than the female. The male severum's anal fin often reaches to the round edge of its tail fin. The side fins are long in both the sexes. The severum usually grows to a length of about 8", but can at times become 12" in length.

A tank of 55 gallons having a temperature range of 75oF to 83oF, and a pH range between 6.0 and 7.5 would be ideal for a Severum. Severums are very sensitive to water quality, and hence, see to it that the water is absolutely free from ammonia and nitrites. The nitrate level should also be kept to a minimum. To achieve this, the water has to be changed regularly, and the tank must have an effective filter.

A young Severum would have about 8 or 9 black bars on its side, but all these, except one, fade with age

The aquarium should also have rocks, inverted flowerpots (to serve as caves), and driftwood, as these are territorial fish having a need for hiding places. Moreover, it is found in Guyana and in the Northern Amazon area, where there are quite a few submerged trees. Hence you can put in some plants, but do make sure that these are fixed firmly in the substrate as severums, who are great diggers, will dislodge them. A better idea would be to use floating plants. A dark colored coarse sand or gravel substrate can be placed in a severum aquarium.

Both sexes have similar coloration, but the male's colors are more eye-catching than the female's. The basic color usually ranges from brown to green. A young Severum would have about 8 or 9 black bars on its side, but all these, except one, fade with age. This last bar connects the black dot on the dorsal fin with the dot on the anal fin when the fish reaches maturity. The side scales usually have reddish-brown spots. The males also have red, blue and green markings on their head. The tail may be yellowish green or grayish green and occasionally there may be a band of color along the base of the tail. The ventral and dorsal fins are usually of a darker color.

They give no trouble as far as eating is concerned and you could feed them flakes, pellets, as well as frozen and live food.

[Permission for using the above picture has been given by Jeff Rapps of Tangled Up In Cichlids.]

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