Heros Severus
The Green Severum

A long-time hobby staple, the Severum is a laterally compressed cichlid with many physical similarities to the King of the Hobby, the Discus. We’re dealing with a little more attitude in terms of the Severum (which can be good or bad, you can keep them with other boisterous cichlids), but a lot less water maintenance.


The Green Severum is beautiful fish, which when not stressed possesses a freckled green body covered with seven black bands. With age, all but the last of these bands (the one closest to the tail) will disappear, which is also the appearance taken on by stressed juvenile and adolescent Severum. There is also a Gold Severum commonly available which is very popular and less aggressive than the Green Severum. I can testify to their meekness, I tried one of these out in an all cichlid tank similar to the one in which I keep my 3 ½-inch Green Severum, and it was pestered until its death three weeks later. There just didn’t seem to be much fight in this fish. Just when I thought it had fell into a routine where the attacks had subsided, I woke up one morning and found the fish dead.

I have had better luck with Green Severum. I have two, in separate tanks, that were purchased from the same tank two and a half years ago. A bit of information that may or may not be pertinent, but advice I followed upon buying my Severum, so I’ll swear to it: Pick out fish with red eyes, they seem to be the stronger, more aggressive fish in a school of young Severum. I have two strong, healthy fish, so when the time comes for me to find more Severum, I’ll be looking for the red eyes.

The bigger of my two fish is a 5 ½-inch specimen kept in a 65-gallon tank with a 6-inch Oscar, 6-inch Pike, and three 4-inch Pimelodus pictus catfish. The other fish is only 3 ½-inches long and is kept in a 30-gallon long tank with a 5-inch Pike, a 4 ½-inch Gold Acara, a 6+-inch Whiptail Cat, and a 3 ½ inch Geophagus surinamensis (who may soon need to move to calmer surroundings!). When I purchased the Severum each was under an inch and the size difference was truly negligible, though slightly noticeable. At that time the smaller of the Severum was the more aggressive and it was that little fishes attack’s which led to me splitting the pair. As the larger fish grew he also became much more territorial.