Red Spotted Severum Aquarium Care, Feeding and Native Habitat Information
The Red Spotted Severum is a color variant of the Gold Severum, where they are selectively bred to augment the red coloration present on the fish. All color variants of Severum are very popular as they are one of the few larger and peaceful cichlids in the hobby and generally do not bother their tank mates. Red Spotted Severums are native to lakes and tributaries of the Amazon Basin in South America. Though not the true mouthbrooding Severum species (Heros Severus), Red Spotted Severums are very attractive and grow larger than their mouthbrooding relatives; not to mention their remarkable breeding colors of intensely bright orange-red on their bellies, anal fins, and pelvic fins in addition to their bright red eyes and beautiful green bodies with faint vertical bands. Males have extended anal, dorsal, and pelvic fins as well as worm-like markings on their faces and operculum. Due to their popularity and successful breeding, the Red Spotted Severum are typically available via local retailers and online vendors.
Red Spotted Severums require an aquarium of 55 gallons for a single specimen, with a pair requiring 75-90 gallons. They should be provided with a fine sand to smooth gravel substrate and a few structures for shelter (driftwood, rocks, and vegetation) and at least one cave. Live plants are greatly appreciated, but do not always last long unless a prolific species is used (Anacharis, Cabomba, Hornwort); although omnivorous they have may pick at live plants and vegetables. High quality biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is recommended in order to handle the higher bio-load of larger Cichlid species; as well as, slightly acidic and soft water. Lighting intensity is not an issue, but some areas of shade are always appreciated (floating plants are great for this as well as caves). Red Spotted Severums are relatively peaceful Cichlids and usually only become territorial or aggressive when breeding, but it always depends on the individual; they will defend themselves in regards to more aggressive cichlids bullying them. They can be successful within a community environment, but are more commonly kept in species or biotope-specific aquariums. Tank mates should be chosen carefully and regardless of a community, species-specific, or Cichlid setup, their tank mates should always be comparable in size (Plecos, Geophagus and Parrot Cichlids could be good choices).
Red Spotted Severums are omnivores and eat insects, small crustaceans and vegetable matter in natural habitat. They have a tendency to prefer a lot of vegetable matter and will accept peas, lettuce, chopped zucchini, and chopped cucumber; they should also be supplemented with a variety of meaty and vitamin enriched foods such as live, frozen or freeze-dried ghost shrimp, bloodworms, mealworms, earthworms, crickets, and nutritional cichlid and algae (Spirulina) based pellets. Feed once or twice daily.
Breeding Red Spotted Severums is not very difficult, but they can often take quite a while to pair up. The parents will clean off a flat rock surface or section of driftwood and the female will lay between 200-800 eggs; the male will fertilize them and then the female will tend to the eggs while the male patrols the perimeter. The eggs will hatch in 3-5 days and the fry will be relocated to a pre-dug pit in the substrate. The fry will be free-swimming within a week and then able to accept crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp. It has been reported that Red Spotted Severums can take an extremely long time to get it right when breeding and it is common for the parents to eat the fry at various stages for the first dozen or so attempts. They will eventually sort things out and get it right, but the fry could also be removed and raised if continuous failed attempts are excessive.