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Severum Cichlid (Gold Severum) Care & Breeding Guide

Severum cichlids are among the most vibrant variations of cichlid species that are great for keeping in a home tank. Their plenty of body colors and nice nature adds more fun to your aquarium.

Severum cichlids, a member of the Heros genus, are easy to recognize with their laterally compressed structure and a popular golden-yellow color. These types of cichlids are slightly aggressive and best cared for in a 50-gallon tank with slightly acidic and soft water.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate
AppearanceOriginally, these fish come with a greenish-colored body and a yellow-golden-hued belly.
Life Expectancy6-10 years
Tank Size50-100 gallons
Tank EnvironmentSoft, acidic water with sand substrate
Tank MatesSemi-aggressive

Severum cichlids usually fall under the genus “Heros.” They are native to South America and primarily found in lakes, rivers, and folded areas. What is more interesting about these cichlids is that they eat fruits available in their habitat.

These are very popular with their high-bodied and laterally compressed structure with pointed anal and dorsal fins. This species of cichlid is usually moderate in length and size. They are neither too small nor too big.



The original type of severum cichlids comes with a greenish-hued body and a yellowish-golden-colored belly. The juvenile fish usually display 8 dark and black vertical stripes along their sides, known as bands.

As these cichlids tend to mature, the dark bands present on the side of their body disappear. Owing to these bands, this particular fish also derived its name as the banded cichlid.

Nevertheless, besides the original color morph, nowadays, they come in various other colors obtained through tank breeding. You can easily get green, golden, brown, turquoise, and red ones.


Severum cichlids are neither too big nor too small. They come in moderate size. These cichlids tend to grow up to 8-inches in length subject to a proper level of care and diet.

Behavior & Temperament

Severum cichlids are usually semi-aggressive by nature. But their aggressiveness is very much dependent on their personality.

Some of these cichlids will not at all share their tank with any other fish. On the contrary, a few well-behaved ones are very much compatible in a community tank.

Also, some are known to be gentle giants as they will eat any small fish that fits their mouths.


Severum cichlids are pretty hardy, and they will easily live more than 5 years, giving you the best value for your money. Also, some of them can live up to 10 years if they receive proper pampering and frequent water changes.

Banded severum cichlid

Tank Requirements

Severum cichlid tank requirements and decoration are entirely dependent upon the personality of the fish. If the fish is pretty aggressive or territorial by nature, you need to pick a larger aquarium.

This species of cichlids are moderately larger. Thus, it is better to pick a larger tank for them. A bigger tank will offer them enough space to roam around or play, which is essential for their care.

The tank decoration needs to be top-notch for your cichlids. The bottom area of the tank must include hardy plants. Make sure the plants are deeply rooted, as they love to dig the substrate.

You also need to add some rocks and caves in the tank to give them enough places to hide and build their territory. Driftwood is a good option for your aquarium, as it will offer your cichlids a proper spot for resting.

The tank water temperature needs to be moderate. To maintain suitable water parameters, it is better to keep the pH range slightly acidic or neutral. These cichlids usually prefer soft water; thus, the hardness range needs to be well-controlled.

Tank Setup

The tank setup for your severum cichlid is not at all an arduous task to do. However, it needs to be appropriately done to maintain your fish’ good health in the aquarium.

So, here is how the tank setup should be like:

They are large, it is better to give them sufficient space in the tank. If you are thinking of keeping one specimen or a pair, put them in a 50-gallon tank. However, during breeding, keep your fish in a tank having a capacity of 100 gallons.

In the case of substrate requirements, you can add sand to the bottom of the aquarium. The sand substrate will be smooth enough for these cichlids to dig in.

Keep the hardness range of the tank water between 4-6 dGH.

The water temperature of the aquarium should be maintained between 74-84 ℉.

Slightly brackish water is suitable for your cichlids.

The water movement should be moderate enough.

Maintain the tank water’s pH level between 6-6.5 as they usually prefer slightly acidic and soft water.

For the aquarium, it is better to maintain low or subdued lighting.

Tank Mates

Now, are you wondering whom you should keep with your Severum cichlids? Well, these fish are best kept with tank mates having the same size and temperament. Also, it is better not to house them with any aggressive fish.

But if you still want to keep them with other aggressive, semi-aggressive, large-aggressive, or predatory fish, then you need to monitor them continuously.

However, unlike their other cousins, these fish will not impose the trouble of aggression in your tank due to their less aggressive nature. But it is essential to offer them a proper amount of space to roam around peacefully without bothering others.

You can easily house them with the same species of cichlids. You can either keep them in pairs or pet them with others of the same species if you have a large tank.

In case you are housing them with any peaceful fish, you need to monitor their behavior continuously. Also, severum cichlids can easily make other small fish their meal. So, do not add tiny fish to the tank.

Nevertheless, here are a few suitable tank mates that you can house:

  • Flag cichlid
  • Blue acara
  • Pearl cichlid
  • Angelfish
  • Catfish species
  • Barbs
  • Sharks
  • Loaches
  • Characins
  • Silver dollars
  • Similar-sized gouramis
Group of severums

Food & Diet

Before you offer any food to your severum cichlids, you need to know their food habits properly. This species of cichlids are usually omnivorous by nature. Thus, feeding them will not be challenging for you, as they are not picky eaters.

You can easily feed them with foods like pellets, flakes, frozen or dried worms. To offer some variety in their diet, you can provide them with vegetables too. They will easily eat cucumber, blanched zucchini, etc.

They also prefer stick foods that are usually fed to large cichlids. In case of a meaty diet, you can feed them mealworms, bloodworms, earthworms, and marine crustaceans. However, make sure not to offer them beef heart or liver, as such foods can make them fall ill.

So, are you wondering how often you must feed your cichlids? Well, it is better to give them 2-5 meals a day in smaller amounts. Offering them food in large quantities will only disrupt the water quality.

Also, making them one day fast in a week will benefit their health and growth much more effectively. Adding vitamins and supplements to their food will offer them enhanced nutrition.

Severum Cichlid Care

Severum cichlids need a moderate level of care in an aquarium. You need to ensure that the tank water is properly clean. So, it is crucial to facilitate regular maintenance of the aquarium.

Over time, the tank accumulates decomposing organic matter, phosphates, nitrates, etc. Also, the hardness range of the water tends to increase due to evaporation. And these things can harm the health or well-being.

It is better to replace 10-20% of the water weekly to keep a healthy balance in the tank water. Also, you can use an algae magnet or scraper to keep the viewing panes of the aquarium clear from algae build-ups.

Apart from that, you need to ensure that the tank water has a proper oxygenation rate. Maintaining an adequate amount of oxygen in the tank helps your severum cichlids to have a bright color.

Nevertheless, this species of cichlids are more susceptible to infections or other fish diseases. One of the prevalent diseases noticed in them is ICH. To treat it, you need to elevate the tank water temperature up to 86 ℉ for a few days.

Also, they are too sensitive to medications. Thus, before giving them any medicine, make sure you are doing your proper research.

Besides, a poor diet or lack of vitamins can also make these cichlids unhealthy and sick. Thus, it is better to maintain a healthy balance in their diet and offer them nutritious food at all times.

Breeding Guidelines

Severum cichlids are usually open breeders. During their breeding process, both the parents take care of their fries.

They do not pair up like other fish. So, keep 6-8 young sexually mature ones for breeding and let them pick their partners on their own.

Nevertheless, to stimulate these fish for breeding, you need to keep the tank water softer than usual. Particularly for spawning, these cichlids prefer warmer and more acidic water. Also, this condition of tank water allows their eggs to develop properly.

For proper breeding, maintain 50 ppm of hardness in the water, along with a pH level of less than 6. Also, the water temperature needs to lie between 78.8-80.6 ℉.

According to some aquarists, adding a few live feeder crickets to the tank will help you condition your fish well for spawning. The male cichlids darken and become intense with their colors during breeding. They will lock their lips and waggle their tails right before spawning.

Now to facilitate easy breeding, it is better to pick a bare bottom tank with an airstone. Adding a heater and performing several water changes will help you to achieve success.

Severum cichlids usually prefer flat or round rocks and woods for spawning. The females lay up to 1000 eggs on the rocks, depending on their age and size.

After this, the male fish fertilize the eggs, and both the parents become protective enough, safeguarding the developing eggs. Soon after the eggs hatch, the parent fish will take them inside their mouths. As the fries become free swimmers, their parents will allow them to swim and hunt for food.

During this time, you can offer the fries with freshly hatched brine shrimps, crushed flakes, or pellet foods. You can also provide them with micro worms or daphnia.

Interesting Facts

Do you know some interesting facts about severum cichlids that many people aren’t even aware of? So, are you excited to learn those fun facts? Well, then check out below.

They have close cousins that share many similarities. Their other cousins are Heros Efasciatus and Heros Liberifer.

They are also available in a plethora of color varieties like the red, green, yellow, and golden ones.

They are widely sold as Hero cichlids, striped cichlids, convict fish, sedate cichlids, etc.

Usually, the males are larger, and they come with pointed dorsal and cloacal fins. Also, some of them come with markings in their gill area.

Females are smaller in size with lesser markings in their dorsal area.

Where to Buy?

Are you thinking of adding some bright yellow-colored fish to your nicely decorated tank? Then, opt for severum cichlids from any of your nearby fish stores.

They are readily available in any regular aquarist shop. You can also easily find them from a hobbyist store. An online store can be another good place to find moderately priced juveniles for your tank.

Wrapping Up

Severum cichlids are not too difficult to care for. They are the most popular type of cichlids that require a moderate level of care when kept in an aquarium. Thus, they are moderately appropriate for fish keepers with all levels of experience.

But for beginners, it can be slightly challenging to understand the water changing frequency and other requirements of the fish. Also, if you want to spawn them in your tank, it is better to have a minimal level of experience with cichlid breeding in home tanks.

So, if you are confident enough in taking good care of these cichlids in the tank, then get them today and enjoy their colorful vibes in your home.