Exploring the Enigmatic Red Severum: A Jewel of Freshwater Aquaria

Exploring the Enigmatic Red Severum: A Jewel of Freshwater Aquaria

Posted by Max Gandara on on 2nd Apr 2024

In the captivating world of freshwater aquariums, few fish command attention quite like the Red Severum (Heros efasciatus). Renowned for its striking coloration, peaceful demeanor, and distinctive personality, the Red Severum has become a prized addition to aquarium collections worldwide. In this detailed article, we embark on a journey into the fascinating world of the Red Severum, exploring its characteristics, care requirements, breeding behavior, and enduring allure in the aquatic hobby.

Appearance and Identification

The Red Severum, also known as the Red Spotted Severum, is a striking variant of the Severum species characterized by its vibrant red coloration and distinctive markings. Unlike other Severum variants, which often display green or gold hues, the Red Severum exhibits a rich, fiery red coloration with contrasting black spots or markings scattered across its body. These spots add depth and visual interest to the fish's appearance, creating a mesmerizing display in the aquarium.

In addition to its striking coloration, the Red Severum features a sleek, oval-shaped body and elongated fins, giving it a graceful and elegant silhouette. Adult specimens can reach lengths of up to 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters), making them a substantial presence in medium to large aquarium setups.

Natural Habitat

Originating from the freshwater rivers and streams of South America, particularly in the Amazon basin, the Red Severum inhabits warm, slow-moving waters with ample vegetation and hiding places. In its natural habitat, it can be found among submerged roots, fallen branches, and dense aquatic plants, where it seeks shelter and forages for food.

Water parameters in the native range of the Red Severum typically include temperatures between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), pH levels around 6.0 to 7.5, and moderate hardness. Aquarists seeking to replicate their natural environment should aim for similar conditions in their aquariums, along with ample hiding places and a sandy substrate.

Aquarium Care

Keeping Red Severums in captivity requires careful attention to their habitat and dietary needs. Here are some essential care guidelines:

  1. Tank Size: Provide a spacious aquarium with ample swimming space and hiding places. A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended for a pair of Red Severums, although larger tanks are preferred for larger groups or community setups.
  2. Water Parameters: Maintain stable water conditions with temperatures between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), pH levels between 6.0 to 7.5, and moderate hardness. Regular water changes and proper filtration are essential for maintaining water quality and oxygenation.
  3. Substrate and Decor: Use a sandy substrate or fine gravel to mimic the natural habitat of the Red Severum. Provide plenty of hiding places with driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a naturalistic environment and reduce stress. Avoid sharp decorations or abrasive substrates that could injure the fish.
  4. Diet: Red Severums are omnivorous and will readily accept a variety of foods. Offer a balanced diet consisting of high-quality pellets, flakes, and occasional treats such as frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and small insects. Feed them small portions multiple times a day to ensure optimal nutrition and growth.
  5. Compatibility: Red Severums are generally peaceful and can be kept with a variety of tankmates, including other similarly sized and temperamented species such as other Severum variants, angelfish, tetras, and peaceful bottom-dwellers. Avoid housing them with aggressive or predatory species that may harass or intimidate them.

Breeding Behavior

Breeding Red Severums in captivity is possible with the right conditions and care. To encourage spawning behavior, provide a separate breeding tank with soft, slightly acidic water and plenty of flat surfaces for the fish to deposit their eggs. Males and females will engage in courtship behavior, with the male displaying vibrant colors and courtship dances to attract the female.

Once spawning occurs, the female will deposit her eggs on the substrate or on flat surfaces such as rocks or plant leaves, where the male will fertilize them. The parents will guard and care for the eggs until they hatch, typically within 3 to 5 days. After hatching, the fry can be fed specialized fry foods or powdered foods until they are large enough to consume larger fare.


In the captivating realm of freshwater aquaria, the Red Severum stands as a majestic symbol of beauty, elegance, and grace. With its striking coloration, peaceful demeanor, and distinctive personality, this species continues to captivate and inspire aquarists of all levels of experience. By providing proper care, attention, and appreciation for these magnificent fish, enthusiasts can experience the timeless allure and splendor of the Red Severum in their own aquatic kingdoms.