Severums - how many are recommended?

LT Connell

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 23, 2018
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Florida
Hello all! I was hoping other Severum keepers can provide some information as to how many severums can safely be housed together? By safely, I mean, will they get along with each other? Or are they best kept singly?

We lost our full grown Turquoise Severum yesterday (I'm heartbroken), but we currently have a small one growing out in a 75g. He's about 2".

The plan will be to eventually move the Red Spot in the 75 over to the 300g tank (where the other one was); however, I read somewhere that they need to be kept in groups. I had never heard that before and The Turquoise seemed happy enough by himself.

Thoughts?
 

tlindsey

Silver Tier VIP
MFK Member
Aug 6, 2011
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Ohio
Hello all! I was hoping other Severum keepers can provide some information as to how many severums can safely be housed together? By safely, I mean, will they get along with each other? Or are they best kept singly?

We lost our full grown Turquoise Severum yesterday (I'm heartbroken), but we currently have a small one growing out in a 75g. He's about 2".

The plan will be to eventually move the Red Spot in the 75 over to the 300g tank (where the other one was); however, I read somewhere that they need to be kept in groups. I had never heard that before and The Turquoise seemed happy enough by himself.

Thoughts?
Is the small Severum the only fish in the 75 gallon?
 

tlindsey

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Aug 6, 2011
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No, he is not. It's mostly got smaller fish (tetras) and a single keyhole cichlid (we had 3, but 2 died). It also has 4 small loaches (Zebras).
What's the dimensions of the 300 gallon? I suggest getting 3 to 4 more around the same size and grow them out in the 300 gallon.
 

D.harper603

Feeder Fish
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Jan 10, 2020
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I have 3 in a 90 gallon that i got at about 1 inch and have all been together with no problems. I plan to move them into a 180 that i am setting up. I am considering adding 3 more at some point
 
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ryansmith83

Redtail Catfish
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May 2, 2008
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Heros are best in singles or in groups of four at minimum but preferably six.

I have been working with Heros for about sixteen years, breeding every described (except H. spurius) and undescribed species I can get my hands on. They are one of the most versatile and compatible SA cichlids you can keep. However, being cichlids, they do have moderate levels of conspecific aggression. This is especially bad in a few instances:

- During "teenage years" at 3 - 4".
- Introducing new Heros into the territory of an existing Heros
- Keeping them in tanks that are too small
- Trying to keep pairs alone with no other fish

I've found that, like discus, trying to keep 2 or 3 Heros together is usually a recipe for disaster. One dominant fish will usually emerge and mercilessly harass the other two, or two will pair off and gang up on the third. Getting at least four will balance out their aggression a bit and spread it around so that no single fish gets too beat up.

I like 75 gallon tanks as grow-outs. I usually keep 4 - 6 in a tank that size until they're maybe 4" or so, then upgrade them into my 6' community tanks. On rare occasion you might be able to keep a small group in a 75 for life but that would depend on their adult size and their temperament. For instance, H. severus and H. liberifer easily get to 11" or more, and a 75 would be too small for them. My giant H. severus pairs took over 220 gallon tanks and destroyed their conspecifics, shredding fins and scales. But something like rotkeil which are often smaller may do okay in a tank that size.

Personally, I think you can add three more little ones with your current fish and that size tank will be adequate for at least 6 - 8 months as they grow. Just keep up with water changes. Then you can move them all to your 300 gallon if you have space.

Another tip: if you want relative peace among them in the big tank, keep all males. Having a mix of males and females will usually lead to pairing which could lead to war in your tank as the pair defends a territory, and I've learned more than once that several single females will typically either pair together and wreak havoc like a male/female pairing or they'll hate one another and fight constantly.
 

neutrino

Potamotrygon
MFK Member
Jan 22, 2013
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They do not need to be kept in groups at all. Singles typically do just fine, including as juvies, as long as the other species in the tank are compatible in terms of size, temperament, and water conditions. You can also keep them in (compatible) pairs and some types do just fine in groups, I've done groups of 6 or 8 adults, 4 shorter term, and large groups of juveniles growing out-- as in a dozen, dozens, or more. What works varies in terms of keeping them together can vary according to species or variety. I totally agree on tank size; I've seen people try and keep pairs in tanks too small or singles with other fish in tanks too small-- it can make them aggressive.

I agree on rotkeils in a 75, you can keep singles or a pair (with a few tankmates) or several juveniles to sub-adults that way ime. I'd consider some types to be too large growing to keep in a 75 as adults.

(I've kept them a long time also, 25 years, but I haven't kept as many types as Ryan has.)
 

neutrino

Potamotrygon
MFK Member
Jan 22, 2013
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...Some people will almost certainly say you can't keep a pair in a 75 with other fish. That's certainly true of some types and perhaps some pairs, but I did it with rokteil pairs at a time when I had so many rotkeils some were in 6 ft tanks and some in a 75.
 
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LT Connell

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 23, 2018
43
13
13
Florida
Heros are best in singles or in groups of four at minimum but preferably six.

I have been working with Heros for about sixteen years, breeding every described (except H. spurius) and undescribed species I can get my hands on. They are one of the most versatile and compatible SA cichlids you can keep. However, being cichlids, they do have moderate levels of conspecific aggression. This is especially bad in a few instances:

- During "teenage years" at 3 - 4".
- Introducing new Heros into the territory of an existing Heros
- Keeping them in tanks that are too small
- Trying to keep pairs alone with no other fish

I've found that, like discus, trying to keep 2 or 3 Heros together is usually a recipe for disaster. One dominant fish will usually emerge and mercilessly harass the other two, or two will pair off and gang up on the third. Getting at least four will balance out their aggression a bit and spread it around so that no single fish gets too beat up.

I like 75 gallon tanks as grow-outs. I usually keep 4 - 6 in a tank that size until they're maybe 4" or so, then upgrade them into my 6' community tanks. On rare occasion you might be able to keep a small group in a 75 for life but that would depend on their adult size and their temperament. For instance, H. severus and H. liberifer easily get to 11" or more, and a 75 would be too small for them. My giant H. severus pairs took over 220 gallon tanks and destroyed their conspecifics, shredding fins and scales. But something like rotkeil which are often smaller may do okay in a tank that size.

Personally, I think you can add three more little ones with your current fish and that size tank will be adequate for at least 6 - 8 months as they grow. Just keep up with water changes. Then you can move them all to your 300 gallon if you have space.

Another tip: if you want relative peace among them in the big tank, keep all males. Having a mix of males and females will usually lead to pairing which could lead to war in your tank as the pair defends a territory, and I've learned more than once that several single females will typically either pair together and wreak havoc like a male/female pairing or they'll hate one another and fight constantly.
Ryan, After researching on my own and your response - I think we will just keep the Red Spot that is growing out singly. The last thing I want in my 300g is aggression. Current stock is extremely peaceful, with the occasional bickering between the three Rainbow Cichlids and they only fight with each other LOL. The Turquoise that just passed was a beast (9") and I can't even imagine the damage that a fish that size could do to a smaller fish if they were protecting their young.
 

LT Connell

Black Skirt Tetra
Original poster
MFK Member
Apr 23, 2018
43
13
13
Florida
They do not need to be kept in groups at all. Singles typically do just fine, including as juvies, as long as the other species in the tank are compatible in terms of size, temperament, and water conditions. You can also keep them in (compatible) pairs and some types do just fine in groups, I've done groups of 6 or 8 adults, 4 shorter term, and large groups of juveniles growing out-- as in a dozen, dozens, or more. What works varies in terms of keeping them together can vary according to species or variety. I totally agree on tank size; I've seen people try and keep pairs in tanks too small or singles with other fish in tanks too small-- it can make them aggressive.

I agree on rotkeils in a 75, you can keep singles or a pair (with a few tankmates) or several juveniles to sub-adults that way ime. I'd consider some types to be too large growing to keep in a 75 as adults.

(I've kept them a long time also, 25 years, but I haven't kept as many types as Ryan has.)
Neutrino, I'll just keep him in the 75 until he gets a little bigger and let him go solo. Right now he would be lost in the big tank (possibly fish food for the BGK), plus he's hanging with a tiny keyhole in the 75.
 
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