Name: Heros severus
Origin: Amazon Basin
We have a huge gold severum - it has grown quite rapidly and is beautiful! The only trouble is, if it doesn't get fed twice a day, like when we go on vacation, other smaller fish mysteriously disappear. We are almost sure it is the severum eating them, although the people at the fish store say not. We have even taped up the back of the tank, so they can't jump out. The severum is a very lovely fish, just put it with larger fish that it cannot eat or never make it miss a meal!
I have been keeping Severums for the last 3 years and I can tell they are addictive: Cheap, mysterious, large, and peaceful. I have 3 Gold Severums, 6 Brown Severums of ranging sizes, (4 fully grown and others growing). They definately live with silver dollars, blue acaras, silver sharks, and unicorn cichlids. The 20cm severum never attempted to eat my 2cm severum, and I only feed them once a day at night. I guess it's on how they're trained!
I kept a large green Severum (female) for many years. Unfortunately it recently passed to the big tank in the sky. I really liked this fish but unlike most books and the opinions of other aquarists this one was an extremely aggressive fish. While still only approx. 3 inches long I caught it in the act of eating a lemon tetra. It destroyed all plantlife with a vengence. It reached approx. 8 inches and the only thing I could keep with it was a big Pterygoplichythius multiradiatus which it still attempted to bully. But don't let this put you off, these are great fish that are extremely attentive to what's going on outside the tank.
Although the Severum is naturally found in the soft acid-neutral waters of South America, this water chemistry is not essential for its well being. I have breed two pairs of Severums in different tanks (48" x 15" x18" and 60" x 16" x 20") and in both cases the water chemistry was hardly ideal. Our local tap water runs out at medium hard pH 8.0 - 8.3 and even with a considerable amount of peat inside a power filter the pH never fell below 7.9! Yet with the right temperature 81 F, good filtration (over zealous) and flat boulders, bogwood and java ferns my Sevs breed and produce well enough.
General: I have 5 Green Severums in a 260 L planted tank. They are hardy and I would recommend them for a beginner, as long as the tank is big enough, and properly maintained. They are very responsive to movement outside of the tank and are constantly taking a nip at my hand when moving decorations or adding plants. Care has to be taken in terms of ornaments/accessories placed inside the tank as the fish are sometimes nervous and injuries are possible. Injuries heal quickly as long as the aquarium is properly maintained. They are relatively peaceful fish and thus far made no attempts to catch the Dianos which will easily fit into any of their mouths. Occasionally the biggest Severum (male of 18 cm) uprooted plants prior to breeding and while preparing to lay eggs, but no plants were eaten. I feed them a variety of food. They can easily be handfed and I normally feed them just before sunset.
Breeding: The first two I bought about 18 months ago and they have subsequently spawned four times, each time shortly after a 20% water change and a slight increase in water temperature (28°C). Prior to laying eggs, the male and female spent days moving substrate and preparing the surface of a ceramic tile. The laying of eggs is a time consuming process and took about 6 hours for roughly 500 eggs. Eggs hatch after 3 to 5 days and fry will be free swimming in about 10 days. Both male and female were very territorial and turned out to be attentive parents. They defended the eggs and their young viciously from other tank inhabitants, and took turns in feeding. Once the fry becomes free swimming both parents had an endless task of fetching stray fry. I removed about 50 of the first free swimming fry with and placed them in a breeding tank as the Talking Cats (even though well fed) soon realized that there is a variation to their normal diet.
I have had a Severum for about four months now and as others have mentioned they are addictive. Their personalities are quite unique to the specific fish. It is my first and is a community tank. The only problems I have had is that the Severum will occasionally chase the Mollie but never hurts her. Also, whenever I add fish to the tank, usually 2 maybe 3 at a time, one of them will get attacked, usually the smallest. Sometimes he kills them sometimes not. My best guess is that he is showing the new guys that he is the boss. In the future a target will be included with any additions.