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Spotted Severum

(Heros notatus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 12"
• Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-84° F, KH 4-10, pH 5.5-7.0
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon Basin, Rio Negro, Brazil   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Severum   • Aquarium Type: New World Cichlid / Community Aquariums

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Species Information

Spotted Severum native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) are native to the blackwater streams and tributaries of Rio Negro basin and surrounding areas of northern Brazil. Their native river habitat is considered a blackwater biotope, as the aquatic environment in these areas has water that is stained brown from tree root and decaying leaf matter, along with filtered lighting due to the sun being heavily blocked by the thick jungle canopy. While the rivers and larger tributaries often have fast flowing waters, Spotted Severum are usually found living on marginal areas of the water ways in and amongst submerged tree root and dense aquatic vegetation.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Spotted Severum in the home aquarium.

The Spotted Severum can be considered a community Cichlid species, as the combination of their mild temperament and larger size allows them to be kept with a wide variety of Cichlid species and even larger community fish species such as barbs, larger characins and larger sharks and loaches. They can also hold their own with semi-aggressive to aggressive Cichlid species like Oscars, Jack Dempsey, Pike Cichlids and other similar larger predators.

Keep in mind that the Spotted Severum despite having a good temperament, will eat smaller fish that they can fit in their mouth and will be seen as food themselves by very large predators like large Snakehead, Arapaima or even very large Peacock Bass.

An aquarium of around 50 gallons should be considered a minimum size aquarium for Spotted Severum, with a pair of Severum needing an aquarium closer to 75 gallons, or if multiple tank mates are added. They ideally prefer a fine sand or small smooth gravel substrate as they will scoop sand with their mouths looking for food items. They will also greatly prefer a tank with plenty of structures for shelter, like driftwood, rocky piles, rock formations, cave-like structures and either live or fake plants. Live plants are greatly appreciated, but do not always last long unless a prolific species is used (Anacharis, Cabomba, Hornwort); although omnivorous they have a sweet tooth for live plants and vegetables.

High quality biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration is recommended, as they are Cichlids who with thick bodies and larger food consumption, will put out a fair amount of waste products into the water. They prefer water that is slightly acidic and soft, with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 and a hardness of up to 10°H.

Lighting intensity is not an issue; however, to best replicate their native environment some areas of shade or diffused lighting will be appreciated. This can be achieved through floating plants, thick vegetation or larger rocky cave structures.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Spotted Severum and provide a healthy diet.

Spotted Severum are omnivorous, who eat a variety of foods including: insects, small crustaceans and vegetable matter present in their 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. They will also do very well with quality stable pellet or stick foods designed for Cichlids and omnivores. It is best to feed between one to three times daily an amount of food they will consume within a few minutes.

Breeding Information

How to successfully breed Spotted Severum in the aquarium environment.

As the Spotted Severum is not seen for sale nearly as much other Severum species, it is believed that they are not being successfully bred in large numbers with commercial fish breeders. Most specimens commonly found within the trade are imported wild caught specimens or juvenile specimens from boutique or hobbyist breeders.

Hobbyists looking to breed Spotted Severum (Heros notatus) will most likely find the most difficult aspect being the acquisition of a group of individuals, from which over time a mating pair can emerge. Beyond establishing a mating pair, providing a proper habitat and maintaining water conditions conducive to stimulating breeding, other aspects of breeding should be fairly common to other Severum species.

In general breeding Severum is not overly difficult, but they can often take quite a while to pair up. The parents will look for a cave or 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-dugout pit area in the substrate. The fry will be free-swimming within a week and then able to accept finely crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp.

As with other Severum species, it may take a while for the breeding pair to get it right 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.

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