Heros Efasciatus (Red Spotted Severum)

heros efasciatus

The Heros efasciatus, red spotted severum, or just severum as it’s commonly known, is an attractive freshwater fish from South America that makes a great addition to many aquariums. With its wide variety of colors and unique size and shape, it makes an excellent choice for both the beginner and expert aquarist.

Heros efasciatus is also known as the zebra hero, and is one of the moat popular aquarium species to own. Their unique-looking zebra pattern makes them stand out in any tank, and they are very active and playful fish who love to interact with their owners.

The red spotted severum is an omnivorous fish native to the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America. It has become popular as an aquarium fish due to its attractive colors and relatively easy care requirements.

If you’re thinking about getting your first severum, read on to learn all about their care requirements and see if this might be the right fish for you!

Origin and description

heros efasciatus

Heros efasciatus, or more commonly known as severum, is a medium-sized South American cichlid. They tend to grow a bit larger than their relative, Hero managuense. Severums can reach up to 10 (25 cm) when in optimal conditions and have an adult life span of roughly 10 years if cared for properly.

This species is moderately easy to care for given proper water parameters, diet, and tank mates. When given these factors they will thrive in captivity. The only real challenge with keeping the red spotted severum is sexing them; males have longer fins and slimmer bellies than females do. Sexing severums isn’t particularly difficult, though: all you need is a magnifying glass.

Heros severus (Banded Cichlid)

Species profile

heros efasciatus

Where do severums come from?

Heros efasciatus can be found in shallow-water habitats that range from 20 to 50 meters in depth. These fish are found along coral reefs, but they are able to tolerate other bottom structures such as rubble, rock, and sandy bottoms.

They have very limited distribution. It is believed that they were more common once upon a time when there was less destruction of their natural habitat. They can be found in only a few locations around the world today. These include Australia, Micronesia, and Indonesia.

The species has been introduced into other areas in an attempt to increase its population size, but so far these attempts haven’t worked well enough for them to thrive outside of where they originally came from.

Severum fish size

Heros efasciatus can reach an adult size of approximately 10 inches. Males are smaller than females, and generally, live to be around six years old. Heros efasciatus are skittish by nature, as is typical for most species.

Heros efasciatus tank size

30 gallons, or 180 litres. A larger tank is preferable to a smaller one, but 30 gallons should be adequate for up to three efasciatus. If you are only going to have a single efasciatus in your aquarium, it is recommended that you use a 50-gallon tank or larger. This species of coral reef fish will grow quickly and should be kept in as large an environment as possible.

Red spotted severum tank set up

Severums are a popular fish because of their large size, brilliant colors, and beautiful markings. These are very hardy fish that can survive in many different conditions and water temperatures, but they still need special care and attention to thrive. Here’s how to keep your severum healthy for years to come. First, make sure you’re giving it plenty of room to swim.

Green Tiger Barb (Puntius Tetrazona)

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for one adult fish, but more space will be necessary if you plan on getting multiple fish or putting other species in with it. Set up your aquarium well before adding any fish so things have time to cycle and reach an optimal balance.

This means there should be an abundance of live plants for hiding places and cover as well as lots of driftwood or rocks for them to explore as they grow larger. For lighting needs, go with either high-output fluorescent bulbs or compact fluorescents depending on how much room you have; natural sunlight is best if possible though, so leave your room windows uncovered during daylight hours.

In addition to letting light in, leaving your tanks uncovered allows some fresh air circulation, which is important for keeping dissolved oxygen levels high. All tropical freshwater fish must have highly oxygenated water!

If nitrates start building up due to overstocking or a lack of appropriate filtration, oxygen levels can drop quickly and cause stress or even death among relatively hardy species like severums.

Heros efasciatus tank mates

Unless you’re keeping them in a species-only aquarium, it’s best to avoid mixing Heros efasciatus with larger or aggressive tank mates. In general, they do best in tanks full of peaceful community fish. Some species—such as clownfish and gobies—are compatible with Heros efasciatus, provided that there is plenty of rockwork for them to hide behind when danger arises.

Severum breeding

heros efasciatus

There are several considerations to take into account when breeding Heros efasciatus. They are a tiny and delicate species, so finding a mate is no easy task. Unlike other types of fish that may spawn at random in an aquarium, Heros efasciatus require attention from a suitably sized member of their own species in order to reproduce.

If a male finds a female that is suitable for mating, he will approach her with caution and attempt to court her. If she accepts his advances they will begin to swim together which allows them to perform certain ritualistic movements required for reproduction. When ready, they will place themselves belly to belly whereupon one or both will release their eggs and sperm into a current created by their bodies as they swirl around each other.

Heros notatus (Spotted Severum)

In favorable conditions (lots of food, clean water) it is not uncommon for 500+ eggs to be produced by a single pair every spawning session; however, 10 to 100 eggs per spawning session seems more common with amateur breeders.

Due to tiny eggs sizes (between 1mm – 2mm), predation by small crustaceans such as Daphnia sp can result in extremely low hatch rates; it’s, therefore, wise practice to remove infusoria from your pond prior to introducing your fingerlings.

Are red spotted severum aggressive or peaceful?

They are usually peaceful. Although they can be aggressive if their habitat is threatened or if they feel threatened by another species.

Heros efasciatus care

heros efasciatus

Heros efasciatus are easy to care for, with a few caveats. The water should be kept soft and acidic, with a pH of 6.5 or lower and a hardness of at least 3 dGH (about 10 to 15 degrees dH). A temperature of 23 degrees C is ideal.

They are very sensitive to chemicals such as chloramine, so be sure to change the water regularly. Water flow can also be an issue, and they will refuse food if they don’t feel secure in their environment.

Red spotted severum diet

Contrary to what its name might suggest, heros efasciatus eat small crustaceans and worms. Specifically, it loves mosquito larvae. You can find these in any aquarium store (usually sold under brand names like AquaBabies).

It’s also important that you provide your fish with a supply of fresh vegetables. They love leafy greens like kale and spinach—although they might not eat much of it at first, so don’t give up if your fish doesn’t seem interested at first!

Water parameters

Like most fish, Heros efasciatus will not tolerate even small levels of ammonia. Ammonia and nitrite should be maintained at zero; nitrate may be as high as 40 ppm. As always, regular water changes are necessary to maintain optimal water quality. Water changes will also replenish trace elements needed by freshwater fish.

Neolamprologus brichardi (Lyretail Cichlid)

A schedule of 10% weekly water changes is recommended (more or less depending on stocking density). This is best done by draining a third of tank volume, refilling with tap or RO/DI water, adding any chemicals that might be needed (e.g., Kalkwasser), then topping off.

Red spotted severum ifespan

The expected lifespan is 5 to 10 years with proper care. This fish can live longer in captivity than in its natural habitat.

Parasites and diseases

Hero efasciatus are susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases, including mycobacteriosis, ichthyophthirius (also known as ich or white spot disease), gill rot, and fungal infections. Just like with humans, good health starts from within.


Heros efasciatus is preyed upon by several predators in their natural habitat. Examples of common predators include other invertebrates, such as octopuses and sea stars.

Do red spotted severum make good pets?

Heros efasciatus make excellent pets, as long as you provide adequate space for them to roam and offer them a variety of food. They are social creatures that enjoy interacting with humans, making them great for homes with children who want to interact with their pets.