Heros severus (Banded Cichlid)

Heros severus

Last updated on September 9th, 2022 at 07:53 pm

The Heros severus, also known as the banded cichlid, is a species of freshwater fish native to Central America and northern South America. The fish has an appealing coloring and pattern, but it’s much more than just an attractive fish — it’s also one of the easiest species to care for in the aquarium! If you’re thinking about adding this species to your tank.

Heros severus was first described in 1975 and until recently, was assumed to be part of the genus Cichlasoma, with its closest relatives probably being Cichlasoma festae and Cichlasoma citrinellum.

What is Heros severus?

The heros severus is one of the most popular fish in the aquarium trade, and for good reason. They are relatively peaceful, easy to care for, and will add color and life to any tank they occupy. They come in various colors, ranging from green to black with either red or yellow highlights on their fins, but all of them share the same elegant torpedo-shaped body and long flowing fins that give them such grace in their movements in the water column of your aquarium.

Origin and descriptions

Heros severus

Heros severus originate from Lake Tanganyika, in Eastern Africa. They are a specific species, known as a banded cichlid because of its distinguishing feature of black-and-white striped bands. They are one of many species in the genus, Heros, and there are many others that can be confused with heros severus such as heros melas and heros fasciatus.

There are numerous color variations for each, so it is important to look at small details like scale configuration or fin placement to ensure you have correctly identified your particular fish. It was first described by German ichthyologist Tscherne in 1939. These fish tend to thrive at water temperatures ranging between 79°F – 84°F (26°C – 29°C). When purchasing your banded cichlid, make sure they have been raised in an environment similar to their natural habitat.

Species profile

Heros severus

The banded cichlid (Heros severus), also known as Hercules or Anglerfish due to its protruding jaws, has become a popular aquarium fish because of its variety of colors and patterns. The species is native to Central America where it lives in both freshwater and brackish waters. While some subspecies are found in slow-moving rivers, others thrive in brackish estuaries.

Heros notatus (Spotted Severum)

Banded cichlids prefer water that ranges from slightly acidic to neutral pH levels with temperatures between 71°F and 82°F. They can reach sizes up to 4 inches long, with males growing larger than females. Like many other types of marine angelfish, male banded cichlids may show signs of aggression toward one another if kept together in an aquarium that’s too small for their size needs.

Where do severums come from?

The Heros Severus fish is a native of Africa. These fish tend to live in areas of both lakes and rivers. They like to inhabit habitats that are made up of both rock piles, as well as sand or mud bottoms. These areas must be heavily vegetated with aquatic plants, which are vital for protection from larger predators and shelter from strong currents that might wash away their eggs during the spawning season.

Banded cichlid size

This species can grow up to 20–25 cm (8-10 inches) in length. A maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches) has also been recorded.

Banded cichlid tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 45 gallons (170 Liters) for a single, and 100 gallons (379 Liters) for a pair.

Heros severus tank set up

Heros severus is a South American cichlid and needs to be kept in warm water conditions. A heater set at 78 degrees F will help keep him warm. They also need plenty of rocks for hiding as well as open space for swimming around. They can grow up to 10 inches and need 45 gallons or larger tanks to thrive. Males are aggressive towards other fish, so it’s best to only have one male per tank.

Females are much more peaceful, however, they will still chase away other fish. Angelfish or Plecostomus make good bottom dwellers since they can get away from any trouble that could start above them if another fish decides to chase them down there. Schools of about 6 other smaller peaceful fish like tetras or barbs would work nicely with them too. If you don’t want to use live plants, make sure you add some silk plants for cover.

Heros Efasciatus (Red Spotted Severum)

The severum doesn’t usually dig into the gravel but some added plastic plants would look nice too with plastic cave decorations scattered throughout as well. Make sure to always keep your aquarium covered while they are in it so they don’t jump out.

Banded cichlid tank mates

Heros severus can be kept with other medium-sized, non-aggressive cichlids. It’s best to avoid keeping them with smaller fish and in tanks with angelfish and butterflyfish, which may eat their fry.

Some good tank mates are Neolamprologus brichardi, Tanganicodus irsacae, and Tropheops gracilior. Heros severus can be kept with most Haplochromis species, except for those that have sharp teeth or gill plates such as Haplochromis ornatus, which might cause serious injury to Heros severus.

Severum breeding

Heros severus

Male Heros severus can reach maturity when they are around 3 inches in length, while females take a little longer at around 4.5 inches. Once these fish have reached maturity it’s time to set up an aquarium for breeding purposes. If you have an adult pair, then there is no need to separate them unless they have been fighting and one needs to be treated for injuries before being reintroduced into its mate’s tank.

The female will usually lay her eggs on a flat surface or even inside of rocks that are available within her environment; she will also keep a close eye on her eggs and move them to different places if she believes it will help increase their chance of survival. For many months after they have hatched, young fish will spend much of their time among plants located toward the top parts of water tanks, feeding on microorganisms and organic substances.

This species is considered community-safe because it does not pose any threat to other species living in similar environments with comparable water levels and temperature ranges. However, care should still be taken when introducing baby Heros severus with more mature members of any aquatic community due to their lack of fear towards anything moving faster than themselves.

Are banded cichlids aggressive or peaceful?

Banded cichlids are relatively peaceful. They do not pick fights and are more content to stand their ground than physically act out. However, they will defend their territories from newcomers, so it is important to introduce new fish slowly and carefully. Banded cichlids can be kept with larger species as long as there is plenty of room for each fish to establish its own territory, but smaller fish like neon tetras should be avoided as tank mates because of size-related bullying issues.

Hypostomus Plecostomus (Suckermouth Catfish)

Banded cichlid care

Heros severus

Heros severus are moderately hardy and can be kept in a community tank with other South American fish. Because Heros severus are so slow, they should not be kept with any tank mates that will outgrow them in size or speed. A good rule of thumb is to keep them in a small group of six or fewer individuals with other cichlids no larger than themselves, such as Apistogramma borellii.

What do Heros severus eat?

Banded cichlids are omnivores. They require a balanced diet of algae, live food, and some vegetable matter. Their diet should consist mainly of microalgae but they also need to be supplemented with foods such as worms, blackworms, brine shrimp, and even small fish. While they will eat vegetables, it is not recommended as the main course.

Water parameters

Heros severus

The ideal water should have a pH of 6.8 – 7.4 hardness 10 – 15° dH, and temperature 25 – 30°C (77-86°F).

Note: Optimal breeding temperature is 28 to 30°C. At these temperatures, hatching success and post-hatch survival rates are highest. The optimal daytime water temperature for feeding heros severus cichlids is about 30°C.

Feeding them at lower temperatures should be avoided as it can slow down their metabolism and cause nutritional deficiencies in the fish; feeding them at higher than optimal temperatures should also be avoided as it will increase stress on them, which can lead to disease propagation or worse, kill your fish.

Keep in mind that some fishes prefer warmer waters while others prefer cooler waters. This is a highly oxygenated species that thrives in a high current environment. Do not keep in small tanks as they will become stressed and susceptible to disease, algae outbreaks are also common in such environments.

Heros severus lifespan

The typical lifespan of Heros severus is 10 years. In captivity, it can live for up to 12 years.

Parasites and diseases

Tropical fish are exposed to parasites and diseases that may not be found in more temperate regions of North America. In general, a stable fish is less likely to suffer from illness than a stressed one. When shipping tropical fish, they should be kept cool at all times in order to lower their metabolic rate and thus make them less vulnerable to illness. The stress of transport may weaken immune systems by increasing their susceptibility to disease.

Arnoldichthys Spilopterus (African Red Eyed Tetra)


When looking for cichlids for your community tank, you want to find a fish that is not known to eat fish of its own size. There are some cichlids out there that will eat smaller cichlids of their own species, but even more importantly these same species will often eat other types of tank mates as well. Take into consideration a fish’s size and diet before it’s added to a community tank so you can be sure everyone in there is safe from each other.

Some of the known predators are Angelfish, bumblebee goby, butterflyfish, Clown knifefish, Dottybacks (e.g. Pseudochromis), flying foxes, and others. Some fish will also prey on eggs if given a chance so be sure to add your female cichlids to a sorority tank after you see that her eggs have been fertilized and hatched or she might become food for one of her own spawn.

Do Heros severus make good pets?

Yes, Heros severus make good pets. The fish are relatively docile and easy to care for, making them a great addition to an experienced cichlid keeper’s tank. They will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. However, keep in mind that these fish grow quickly and could outgrow smaller tanks if not monitored closely. Additionally, because of their social nature, they require another cichlid or more of its kind to keep them company.