Skip to Content

Red-Spotted Severum: Complete Care Guide, Tank Mates

Red-Spotted Severum: Complete Care Guide, Tank Mates

So you want to jazz up your aquarium with colorful fish? Why not get yourself red spotted severums? In this article, we look at everything you need to know about these vibrant fish.

Did you know that a red spotted severums consume the first batch of eggs they lay? Well, now you know. This variant of the severum family hails from South America, mainly from Brazil and Guyana. They share the same qualities as the green and golden severum.

So, you want to know more about the fish? Tank mates? Care? Or perhaps their diet? Well, let’s find out below.

Quick facts

  • Scientific name: Heros Severus
  • Temperature: 24-29 C
  • Tank size: 50+ gallon
  • PH level: 6.0-7.0
  • Adult size: 12”
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Care level: easy

Red-spotted severums originate from northern Amazon regions in river basins such as Negro, Amazon, and Orinoco. They are primarily a color variant of the Gold Severum. They are bred in captivity to specifically elevate the red color found in the fish.

Red-spotted severum tend to grow larger than other severums and are very attractive. In fact, most hobbyists breed them because of their bright orange-red color found on their bellies, pelvic and anal fins. Not to mention their intensely bright-red eyes.

Tank setup

The minimum tank size required for these fish is a 50-gallon tank – single fish. However, a 100-gallon tank is required for a breeding pair or community tank. They prefer an aquarium with dense plant vegetation and lots of shelter spots. For this, driftwood, rocks, and caves will do since they mimic natural division in territories. Additionally, provide fine sand or smooth gravel substrate.

The tank water can either be fresh or brackish and they prefer moderate water movement with efficient filtration. Ensure that the live plants are not easily uprooted since the red spotted severum might dig or bite off small plants. So which plants should you provide your fish buddies?

Ideal plants for red spotted severum aquarium


This is a staple for most community tanks. It is adaptable to varied water conditions and is also referred to as the Brazilian Water Weed. Taking care of this plant is quite easy just like the fish. However, you should ensure that it does not outgrow the tank. In fact, you can grow it by floating or planting on the substrate.

The Anacharis plant can thrive in red-spotted severum aquariums since the water is between 24 and 29 C. besides, the plant can even grow in cooler waters.  Also, they can thrive in pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5 but prefer the hard side rather than the soft side. They do well in moderate to high light situations. A Low light aquarium is a No for this plant.


Cabomba aquarium plants are gradually becoming popular among red spotted severum hobbyists. Nowadays, most pet stores will refer to them as green Cabomba, Brazilian or Carolina Fanwort. The Green Cabomba is the most common while the Purple Cabomba is somewhat rare. This plant makes an excellent background plant.

Unfortunately, caring for this plant is not easy especially for the Purple Cabomba. As such, we would not recommend them for novice hobbyists. What makes them fragile plants? It is because of their lighting conditions.

Both the green and the purple Cabomba require more watts of light per gallon which is tricky for a novice to achieve. Additionally, the plant requires liquid fertilizer and CO2 supplements. All these requirements combined make it a difficult plant to care for.


Hornwort is a hardy aquarium plant that supplements red spotted severum tanks. It is tolerant of different water conditions and grows faster compared to the Cabomba and Anacharis. In fact, this plant produces chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.

So how does it look like? The hornwort does not have true roots. It depends on some of its leaves to support it. Additionally, it might grow hair-like roots to anchor itself. This plant can comfortably thrive in a red spotted severum aquarium since it requires a water temperature between 20-30 C and a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5.

red severum

Water conditions

For the Red Spotted Severum to thrive it ought to be kept under the following conditions:

Temperature: The water temperature should be between 24 and 29 C. this is will ensure optimal health plus vivid body and eye colors.

Water pH level: Red Spotted Severums do well in water between 6.5 and 7.5. However, they prefer slightly acidic water.

Aquarium care

Nobody wants to live in a dirty old room, and the same applies to red spotted severum. Since aquariums are enclosed habitats, they will require maintenance checks once in a while. As waste material, nitrates, ammonia, and phosphates build up in the water, it becomes hardy.

Fortunately, you can mitigate this by carrying out a weekly 20% water change. Additionally, you can add an algae scavenger to feed on the algae. Alternatively, use an algae scraper to remove it off the viewing panes.

Provide moderate lighting although this is not a big issue. And, don’t forget to provide shade in some spots; floating plants come in handy here.

Feeding and nutrition

What should you feed your red spotted severum?

Naturally, they are omnivores and will feed on a varied diet. As such, you can feed them with flakes, pellets, tablets and other processed foods. Also, small insects, larvae, small crustaceans will also make your fish happy.

Side note, do not forget to feed them some vegetables. In fact, they tend to prefer veggies to meaty diet. So, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce are a staple to them. Some of their preferred aquarium vegetation are the Canadian-water weed and Brazilian elodea which have a smooth inside that the fish love.

Supplement their food with vitamin-rich food such as frozen blood worms, brine shrimps, crickets and earthworms.

Some of the most preferred commercial feeds are:

  •    Aqueon cichlid food pellets
  •    New life spectrum cichlid formula
  •    Omega one super color cichlid pellets

How often should you feed them?

You should feed them at least once or twice per day. Feed them with enough food for a 3-5 minutes feast. They thrive well when fed small portions per day. Avoid overfeeding your fish. Feeding your severum fish more than enough is a remedy for an untidy tank since they are not dainty feeders.

Which are some of their social behaviors?

Red-spotted severums like to hang out with other fish of their same size and temperament. As such a community tank will do for your buddy. However, keep them with peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates.

And when you choose tank mates, ensure the aquarium is a 100+ gallon tank. A large aquarium with ample swimming space will significantly mitigate their aggressive behavior. Alternatively, you can keep them in a singular 45-gallon tank and they will do just fine.

Which are the most suitable tank mates?


  • Temperature: 24 – 26 C
  • PH level: 6.5 – 6.9
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Care level: easy
  • Lifespan: 10 years

Angelfish are some of the most common aquarium fish in the market. They are freshwater fish that originate from South America. They are carnivores and therefore do not compete for food with red spotted severum. These tropical fish can also live without other species of fish.

The female lays eggs which are later fertilized by the male. However, it is hard to distinguish between male and female angelfish. To get healthy angelfish you need to keep your water clean and feed them with the right kind of food. Feed them with cichlid flakes and pellets and supplement the diet with live foods like brine shrimps and mealworms.


  • Temperature: 22 – 28 C
  • Water pH level: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Size: 24”
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Care level: easy

Plecos are members of the catfish family. In fact, they are the most common and have over 150 species in total. Ranging from small, large, peaceful and aggressive Plecos. You should, however, keep the peaceful Plecos with red spotted severum.

Plecos are nocturnal, making them active in the night when the severum is resting. As such, they’ll have no contact. They are ideal tank cleaners since they feed on algae. You should, however, complement their diet with vitamin-rich foods.

The aquarium should have ample hiding places and plants where they can rest and hide. Consequently, you should purchase a 150-gallon tank to keep them together with the severum.

Horseface Loaches

  • Temperature: 25-28 C
  • Water pH level: 6.0-6.5
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Care level: intermediate

These are bottom-dwellers that tend to burrow into the substrate as they look for organisms to feed on. Its long snout that resembles the muzzle of a horse gave their name.

They are peaceful and live in harmony with other fish. Normally, these loaches will have black spots all over their yellow-brown bodies which are bright or dull depending on their origin.

Since they spend much of their time at the bottom, the substrate ought to be smooth. Therefore, sand or fine gravel is perfect for this fish. Also, ensure you grow floating plants or plant them in pots since the loaches might uproot them. Frequent water changes, moderate water movement, and moonlight are just the thing for these fish.


  • Temperature: 22-28 C
  • Water pH level: 6.5-8
  • Size: 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Care level: easy

Ropefish are a sight to behold as they swim in the tank. It’s such an uncommon fish that most hobbyists add them to their aquarium just for pomp. The large size of the red-spotted severum makes them ideal tank mates since ropefish tend to eat small fish.

In the wild, these “snake looking” fish can reach a maximum length of 20 inches but in an aquarium, they reach a maximum of 15 inches. As such anything, more than 50-gallon tank is ideal for these fish. Like the Plecos, they are active during the night.

Interestingly, this fish has lungs! Yes … lungs! Why? This is because oxygen levels in water tend to be low. As such, the fish often gets to the surface to breathe atmospheric air.

Brown Hoplos

  • Temperature: 18-29 C
  • Water pH level: 6.0-7.0
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Tank size: 10+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

These holpos are attractive and pleasing to watch as they swim. In fact, they resemble the corydoras catfish in many ways. These hoplos grow from 2 inches to 8 inches in four years.

As such, a 100+ gallon will be prudent if you desire to keep them together with the red spotted severum. You can keep your hoplos singly or in small groups.

They tend to go with all the decorations you introduce in the tank since they are very adventurous. In fact, they are not hiders and will often swim towards the front and center of the tank. You should also ensure the substrate is soft, colored and smooth to illuminate their color.

You can feed these fish with whatever you feed the severum. As such, pellets, flakes, wafers, food sticks and frozen or freeze dried brine shrimp and blood worms are a staple for these fish.

Breeding and Reproduction

For efficient breeding keep juvenile males and females in the same tank and let them select mates over time. By the 6th or 8th month, they’ll have matured and chosen their ideal partner which is subject to water conditions.

Once they choose a partner, the male severum tends to get aggressive towards other males and fish species in a bid to protect their territory.

As a precaution measure, remove the weak males and separate the pairs. At this point, the parents will clean a flat rock surface or dig gravel where they’ll place the hatchlings.

Maintain higher water temperature – 26-28 C – and keep the pH at around 6. An increase in temperature encourages spawning – jaw locking and fin slapping. The male will darken its color during breeding.  Also, ensure that both the female and the male are fed properly.

The female will then lay about 900 eggs which the male will fertilize thereafter. Later, the female will tend to the eggs while the male keeps an eye on the perimeter.

The eggs will hatch anywhere between 2 and 5 days depending on the water pH and temperature. The female will then move the eggs onto the cleaned rock surface or a hole they dug.

You can feed the fry with baby brine shrimp, micro worms, mini pellets or crushed pellets or flakes. The fry and parents can stay together for 2 months after which the fry are moved to a nursery tank.

Which are the most common infections?

Like any other freshwater fish, the red spotted severums are prone to infections and diseases. The most common infection among them is the freshwater Ich.

What is Ich?

It is a protozoan disease which is commonly referred to as white spot disease. It is common in aquariums due to the amount of stress involved. The most cause of this disease is a weakened immune system. The symptoms include white spots on the gills or body and irritation which causes the fish to rub on the decoration

You should raise the temperature of the water to about 30 C. also, they are prone to parasitic, fungal, bacterial and skin infections. To mitigate this, ensure your tank is always clean. Additionally, look for hole-in-the-head symptoms since this is another common infection among severums

Related Questions

Can severums live with tetras? Yes, they can live together so long as the severums are small. However, when the severum grow bigger than tetras, separate them since they will feed on the tetras.

What color are severum eggs? The fertilized eggs are usually light brown in color.

Can red spotted severum live alone? Yes, you can keep them alone, in a pair or with other tank mates. In fact, they tend to stay alone most of the time but gradually school to form small groups.

Are severum aggressive? Naturally, they are peaceful to semi-aggressive. Keep them in a clean and spacious tank to prevent them from getting aggressive.

What do you feed severums? They are omnivores, you can feed them with a varied diet. From veggies to meaty food.

How long does it take for severum eggs to hatch? 2-5 days depending on the water conditions.

How big do severum cichlids grow? They reach a maximum size of 8 inches.


Red-spotted severums are vivid fish that any hobbyist should introduce to his/her aquarium. They add pomp and color to your tank achieving that aesthetic touch complemented by live plants and tank mates.

Since they are hardy, they tend to tolerate slight water changes. As such sight aquarium mistakes will do no harm. Again, keep them in a clean tank and feed them appropriately.

Oh, did I mention they are the most expensive among severum cichlids?


Wednesday 22nd of April 2020

interesting read but you mention brackish conditions which is very unusual for south american cichlids. Also they are not mouthbrooders and look after their young pretty much as per angelfish as I have bred both. Just a few pointers for aquarists looking to keep these amazing fish.

Comments are closed.