Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Severum Cichlid Compatibility

Related Articles: Severums, Red Devils, Texas Cichlids, Firemouths, Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in GeneralCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Related FAQs: Severums in General, Severum Identification, Severum Behavior, Severum Selection, Severum Systems, Severum Feeding, Severum Disease, Severum Reproduction, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World,


Bullied gold Severum    7/30/13
Hello. I have a 110 gallon tank with 3 silver dollars, 3 angelfish, 1firemouth, 1 female convict, and 2 Severums (1 gold and 1 wild). The problem is that the green Severum goes after the gold one whenever the gold one is near him.
<Mmm; happens>
The gold one is now hiding in the corner of the tank with plants and stays still whenever the green one gets close. All fish are
around 3 1/2 inches (except silver dollars). Lots of pots, rock houses, and a castle so there's plenty of territories for them to claim. The green one doesn't damage the gold one. But I am concerned at the gold one constantly having to hide. My question is should I buy another gold Severum so they both get bullied and the stress gets taken off? Thank you
<Best to first try isolating the bully for a few days. The best tool here is a large plastic (floating) colander... Yes; a pasta strainer... use two nets, to catch the wild-type Severum and place in "jail"... move whatever ornaments about in the tank... And hopefully a new social/dominance dynamic will be forged. Bob Fenner>

aggressive green Severum- 10/25/09
Hello, I just added a green Severum to my community tank (100 gallon) and he has started to torment my frontosa which is the same size and was the tank bully.
<Can, does happen. Frontosa cichlids are peaceful, somewhat gregarious (or rather, haremic) cichlids that are best kept on their own in groups of one male, multiple females. They are easily bullied.>
Is this because of the African/American incompatibility?
<Not sure their "place of origin" is a factor, although it's fair to say that the two fish have very different water chemistry requirements, so wouldn't normally be kept together.>
He isn't bothering the venustus at all.
Also I plan on getting a larger tank to accommodate all my growing fish and was wondering what would be an appropriate size. Here is the rundown of what is currently in the tank:
1 ghost knife
1 Ropefish
1 pictus catfish
1 clown loach
2 angel fish
1 venustus
1 green Severum
1 frontosa
1 blood parrot (didn't know about how they were made until later on)
1 gold nugget Pleco
2 needle nose gar
2 hujeta gar
So far they have been getting along perfectly fine for about 4 months. they are all small, between 3 inches for the cichlids and 6 inches for the gars.
any advice/suggestions would be helpful.
thank you in advance.
<You will need a GIGANTIC aquarium to keep these fish together, and even then, some will end up us food for some of the other. Needlenose Gar (by which I assume you mean Lepisosteus osseus) reaches some three feet in length in captivity. There is another fish erroneously called a "gar", Xenentodon cancila, but correctly called a Freshwater Needlefish. It's smaller, to around 12 inches in length. But even so, it's likely to view the Ctenolucius hujeta as food: these Pike Characins only get to about 8 inches in length, if that. So, while a bigger tank, around the 200 gallon mark, would be sensible for a community of big fish, you still need to thin out your livestock a bit. You would also be wise reviewing water chemistry requirements for the fish you have, and concentrating on a selection of the fish you have that share the same requirements. Then there are social behaviour requirements. One Clown Loach? How cruel! Likewise, one Ropefish!
Yikes. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: aggressive green Severum  10/27/09
thank you for the prompt reply Neale, I was aware of the water chemistry issue with the frontosa but apparently it was born and raised in captivity and is used to 7-7.5 ph water (just going by what the LFS says).
<And the LFS is talking nonsense. While hard water at pH 7.5 won't do any harm, at lower pH and hardness levels, you aren't doing your Frontosa cichlids any favours. Yes, they're bred in captivity, but they're no more bred for soft/neutral water conditions than goldfish have been bred to live in marine reef tanks. The breeders will be spawning them in hard, alkaline water conditions, and so there's no selection pressure for tolerance of different water conditions. So just as with any Tanganyikan fish, you'll want something around pH 7.5 to 8, hardness 15 degrees dH upwards for these so-ugly-they're-gorgeous fish.>
the needle nose gar are indeed Xenentodon cancila, I should have been clearer about that, and the idea that they may grow up to eat the hujetas is worrisome since they are all schooling together at the moment.
<Interestingly, these needle-shaped fish often school together. My own Hujeta schooled with Hemirhamphodon halfbeaks (while the Hujeta were young, at least). And different shaped halfbeaks sometimes school together, though they just as often fought. So to a degree, they probably accept fish of similar size and shape as their own kind, assuming overall behaviour is similar. But I'd not rely on that happy coincidence to keep fish of very different size together. While it is true that Xenentodon (apparently) feeds primarily on crustaceans in the wild, not fish as often supposed, they certainly will eat small fish if the aquarist is unwise enough to put small fish in the tank with them.>
I plan on getting a 240 gallon aquarium in the next year and am hoping that the extra space will be enough to grow them all to their full potential, I didn't know a lot about Ropefish or clown loaches, and after a bit of research I will definitely be returning the Ropefish and getting a friend or friends for the loach. thank you for all the advice and any other thoughts comments or constructive criticisms would be appreciated.
<Clown Loaches don't normally get to their full size of some 30 cm/12 inches, but in captivity you can reasonably expect them to reach 20 cm/8 inches within a few years. They're best kept in groups, I'd say at least three specimens, and they are certainly fish that fall into the "more the merrier" category.>
<Likewise, cheers, Neale.>  

Severum question, comp., beh.     1/3/08 We currently own a 55 gallon tank that holds a 3 year old cat fish, 2 year old Pleco, 2 year old red parrot fish, and a pair of yellow Severums (bought together two years ago when they were about 2 inches big. We also bought another male Severum who was rather young about a year and a half ago. All of our fish have lived together in the same tank, and we actually transferred them in buckets from Florida to Michigan when we moved last year. <Bet that was fun!> The younger Severum is the now the size of the larger adults (about 6-7 inches long), and a problem has arisen. The two males (our males have more defined orange tracks on their noses) are constantly picking on the female (who lacks any orange spots on her nose-so we are guessing she has been a female). <Certainly females tend to be smaller and have fewer markings, but this isn't a sure-fire thing. Part of the problem is commercial Severums are hybrids of at least two different Heros species, and so the colour markings on any one fish will not match perfectly those of wild-type examples of the two parent species. Two fish that "bond" are likely to be a pair, and the only sure-fire way to sex them is to look at the shape of the genital papillae; the female's will be short and stubby, and males narrower and often a bit pointy. Do also look at the dorsal/anal fins (the ends are longer and more pointy on males) and the abdomen (fuller and more rounded on females).> Neither one of them has tried mating before, even though they are mature, but it doesn't seem like that is what is happening. <Cichlids generally will attempt to mate, and Severums can be quite aggressive when this happens.> They chase her around the tank and pick at her, never each other or any of the other fish. She hides in our fake plants most of the time now, and only comes out when it is time to eat, or the males are resting. We can't figure out why after all this time there is a problem in our tank. We don't want to see her die, but she is getting attacked. Do you have any idea of what is going on here, and how we can help her out. Any info you have would be great. Thanks <Does sound as if you have a pair planning on mating. They will like need to be moved to their own tank if you want to rear the fry. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Fight 11/28/07 Hello Crew, I currently have 55g tank with 2 red parrots, 2 Severums and Pleco. My larger parrot is becoming extremely aggressive and I feel like my Severums under big stress all the time. I tried to add few danios(4) as a dither fish, but all cichlids just ignoring them (probably because of their small size). Could it be helpful to add few rainbows fish or giant danios? Do I have space for them? Should I decrease temperature( I have 80F. Little high, but my Severums get ich easily)? Thank you, Mark <Hello Mark. Cichlids are territorial, and there's nothing much you can do about it. While people like to sell Blood Red Parrots as "easy fish" that are "fun to keep" the sheer fact of the matter is that they are hybrid Central American cichlids, and Central American cichlids are renowned for their territoriality and aggression. Even a male Convict cichlid can monopolise a 55 gallon tank if he wants to. Severums are on the mild end of the aggression range outside of spawning, and in all honesty don't make good companions for Central American cichlids. In any case, adding dither fish (like Danios) won't make a blind bit of difference. Dither fish make cichlids feel more secure from predators. They do nothing to alter their territorial behaviour. Lowering the temperature will simply make the fish more prone to disease: cichlids like warm water. You're just in the classic situation: territorial male cichlids do not tolerate tankmates they consider threats. There's no obvious solution beyond re-homing some of the fish if you find the aggressive male is stressing or damaging its tankmates. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Cichlid Fight 11/28/07 Neale, Thanks for your quick respond. I do understand that nothing much I can do. But I think my larger parrot behavior little weird. He never bothers smaller parrot. I'd say it is backwards. My small parrot hiding all day in the cave and bites big one when he comes to close to him. Big parrot very loyal to small parrot and never answer back But he hates my Severums, especially smaller one. I love my Severums, but I don't want to get rid of my parrots because they are my first cichlids. I think I 'd leave everything the way how it is now. Thank you again, Mark <Hello Mark. Male territorial cichlids are most aggressive towards other cichlids they view as potential threats. If the smaller Parrot is a female, it is entirely likely the larger Parrot will tolerate her. But the Severums are not potential mates, so will be viewed different. The major problem with Parrots is they are hybrids. Hybrid fish are EXTREMELY unpredictable in terms of behaviour. So it's impossible to say exactly how things will turn out. The average Blood Parrot is too scrawny to win in a fight against a full-grown territory-holding Severum, but Severums aren't all that aggressive outside of breeding, and are easily bullied by smaller, more snappy fish. As you say, one option is to wait and see what happens. But if you find split fins and scratch-marks on the jaws, that means there's fighting, and you *will* have to separate them. Anything else will be unfair. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids fight, neotropicals   11/1/07 Hi crew, I have 55 g tank with 5 fish in it: 2 parrots (about 4 in and 2 in), 2 Severums (about 3 in and 2.5 in) and Pleco (about 4 in). My smaller parrot and smaller Severum are fighting all the time. So far no damage. <Yet. Your specimens are mere babies.> Should I worry what's going to happen in future? <Yes. Parrot Cichlids are "crippled" thanks to the way they have been bred, and come off worse in fights with stronger, more belligerent cichlid species. Severums tend to be fairly mild, and these fish might settle down. But a Severum is a big, strong fish and when aroused can be quite formidable. So definitely keep an eye on things.> Is my tank overstocked? <Technically, no, it's fine. But the problem with cichlids is that a territorial male cichlid of really anything other than a dwarf variety will view a 55 gallon tank as its home. In the wild, something like a Severum will be holding a patch of space about 1 metre in diameter. Only the largest home aquaria provide that sort of space, so in most cases we are imposing on the tolerance of the territory-holding cichlid. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. A lot of it comes down to the personality of the fish involved, but things like line-of-sight and decoration matter too. A tank with a lot of hiding places and plastic plants to obscure the vision of each fish will be quieter than an open tank where all the fish can see each other all the time.> Any suggestion? <For now, keep an eye on things. Use plastic plants, flower pots, rocky caves, bogwood, etc to create a complex environment that allows each fish to define its territory without being on top of another fish. Look out for early signs of serious aggression: missing scales, torn fins, scratches on the mouth from wrestling. One other thing is food: go easy on the live food, and don't use feeder fish (if you use them at all). There's some anecdotal evidence that live foods (especially feeder fish) seem to bring out latent aggression more than things like pellets and vegetable foods. Possibly an abundance of live food in the wild is the trigger for the start of the breeding season, so by providing too-rich a diet in the aquarium we are telling the male fish to become more territorial.> Thank you for your help. Mark <Good luck, Neale>

Gold Oscar and banded severums... Mis-mixed Cichlid "system"  5/17/07 Hi guys... <Sujay> keep referring to your site whenever i have any trouble with my fish.... i must say that you guys do a really wonderful job and sometimes i just end up spending loads of time because its so interesting reading. <Me too!> Fortunately (touch wood) till now i haven't really ever had a problem so big that i needed to write in.... unfortunately, there is always a first time, i guess.... I recently got myself a 450 litre tank, (which i think would translate to approximately about a 100 gallons or more though i am not too sure of the conversion)... <Easy to do on the Net...> and have been procuring fish to fill the tank with... <I don't "like" the wording here... nor the implied philosophy> yesterday i got myself a "golden Oscar".... am not too sure of the species <All Oscars are the same species, Astronotus ocellatus, http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3612&genusname=Astronotus&speciesname=ocellatus> since i have never seen one of these before, not even on the internet... its been about 24 hrs since i have him, and initially he was shy and hiding, but now he's quite active... he's about 7" long including fins and has started chasing the smaller tiger barbs in my tank... <These last will be consumed... these fishes are NOT compatible> as a matter of fact, 2 have gone missing since last night, but i could credit that to my other fish- 2 5" firemouths or the jaguar.... <...> he seems pretty active... sometimes he's shy, which i think is normal for Oscars, especially since he's new, but he swims about when he feels like and like i said he's started making a dash a the smaller fish... they're too fast for him but i don't know how his predatory habits are with the light out... the problem is that firstly, he hasn't eaten much since i have gotten him... maybe i shouldn't worry since he came in last evening only, but its been three meal times (!?!)... <Not to worry. Not atypical behavior for a newly introduced Cichlid> he comes up looks at the food and then wont eat....i feed them quite a variety- from flakes to blood worms to tetra vegetable  flakes as well as tetra bits and smaller pellets and stick food... usually mix them up and feed it to the fish- holistic diet.... but he doesn't want anything.... <Try worms of some size, insect larvae... eventually will eat all types of foods> today i noticed that he's picking up a sort of whitish film/ coating on the centre of the surface of his eyes... <Likely consequent from netting, moving... Do you have appreciable nitrogenous waste present?> the right side is worse than the left... he's got big froggy eyes and they show out against it... i did not notice this earlier (maybe cos i wasn't paying attention)... i don't know if this is related to his not eating... both of these are causing concern to me... please advise <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwenvdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above> Along with the Oscar i have 2 banded severums as well... they came a day before him... they're always lying around and their colours keep changing depending on when you seem them... <You should now and get in the habit of reading re the issues of Compatibility and Systems for the livestock you have, and are considering purchasing... Likely the Severums and Firemouths will suffer from being mixed with the Jaguar and Oscar...> they range from grey to white and when they are white one can see redness on their bodies... the tank has a good number of plants <These also will go> and rocks and its not always easy to keep an eye on them.... but both the severums seem to be very shy.... <Is their nature> initially they were okay, hiding behind leaves... though sometimes they would suddenly swim the length of the entire tank... today though one of them has been lying on his side forever.... he came up when the food was "served" but i didn't really notice him eat anything... and he' gone back to lying on his side.... he doesn't breathe labouredly and once in a while when you see them swimming you think they are perfectly fine... am bit confused... i have 2 gold severums, and i am aware that these are generally shy fish, but i have never seen fish behave this way before.... its quite confusing and i don't know if there is reason to panic or not...!! please advise warm regards Sujay <I advise you to get/read a few books on Cichlid husbandry... And to investigate before buying... You've already set yourself up for trouble here. Bob Fenner> Re: gold Oscar and banded severums... Reading/using WWM   5/18/07 Hi Bob... <Sujay> thanks for the advice and the prompt response. <Welcome> I guess you are right regarding "mis-mixed cichlid system"... Have tried to read as much as i can before i bought/ buy my fish... most of it is off the net and i haven't yet found a very holistic and informed approach i can adopt... <The Net... isn't "quite there" re many topics as yet...> also, since its the first time i am keeping fish/ cichlids i want to observe and make judgments first-hand as much as possible... <A very hard way to learn... especially for your livestock> my jaguar is way smaller than the others, almost half the size of the severums and around a third of the size of the Oscars... honestly, the most aggressive fish i have in the tank right now are the firemouths and they haven't really attacked anyone as yet, though they do keep chasing the others once in a while... <Only a matter of time here> My Oscar has become quite active... initially i never really fancied these fish much but the more i notice him the more interesting he seems... the severums disturb no one and no one disturbs them... but one of them still keeps lying around all the time and the red rash on his side wont go... is this a normal coloration?!! <Mmm, no... is a stress response...> The red rash looks like clay off a tennis clay court which is smeared over one side of him... have never seen the other side honestly... The white on the Oscar's eye remains... its not grown anymore, but neither has it decreased... <Read on WWM re...> I am wondering whether i should medicate the fish with salt? Also, since i buy stuff from the pet store, i don't knew what the medication i buy contains... I buy this brand called "rid all"... i don't know if you guys use the same thing there... and you products called "general aid", "anti-ich", anti-anchor worm... but i don't know which of these are effective against either bacteria, fungus, protozoa or something specific like this... Please advise again warm regards.... Sujay <Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM... There is too much to relate to you (in time) in this going back and forth fashion. BobF>

Gold Severum question Hey there;     I've got a 55 gallon established tank, with lots of different tetras, two rainbowfish, a Gourami and a platy. Recently, we added five fish, one being a gold Severum -- I didn't realize it was a cichlid. A few days later, we lost an otherwise healthy platy. The next day, one of our blue skirt tetras was missing half his tail. While I haven't seen the Severum going at the other fish, is he probably the culprit? He doesn't seem overly aggressive, but I don't want to lose any more fish. My local fish store know about as much as I do (not a ton!), and they aren't a whole lot of help. Thanks. Thanks, Casey ***Hey Casey, How large is this Severum? I have to say that in my experience with this fish, they are far from aggressive in most situations. Males will chase other males, but often leave other fish alone. However, there are exceptions and this doesn't mean he's not the cause of your particular problem. The best advice I can give you right now is just keep an eye on him, since you didn't tell me what the other five fish were! :) Could it be one of them? Severums are pretty sedate as far as cichlids go, and they're not fast swimmers so chasing another fish down isn't their specialty. You should keep in mind though, that they do get large, big enough to eat a neon. I would consider a 90 gallon tank the minimum size for this fish long term.  

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: