How Long Is the Mating Period for a Severum?

If you keep two or more severums (Heros severus), you may be interested in breeding them. The good news is that they're fairly easy to breed, but the bad news is that it can take a while for them to pair off. They don't have a specific mating period, or breeding season; they can spawn at any time of year, given the correct conditions.

Meet the Severum

Severums are types of cichlid that originate from South America, where they live in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. These large fish can grow up to 12 inches long, although aquarium specimens rarely grow over 10 inches. They come in two main color morphs: green and gold. Green kinds are usually drab olive in color, with gold or orange markings. Gold severums can vary in color from cream to a true gold. Specimens that are well cared for can live in excess of 10 years.

Conditions for Breeding

While severums don't have a specific mating period, you do need to foster the right conditions for them to breed. First of all, a male and female need to pair up. They will do this in their own time, or they may not pair up at all. Patience on your part is important. A male and female are more likely to form a pair if they are raised together from a juvenile age. The pH level in their tank should be lowered slightly to between 6.0 and 6.2, the temperature should be a little warmer than usual -- between 81 and 86 degree Fahrenheit -- and the hardness should be between 2 and 6 degrees. They'll need a flat surface, preferably a rock, to spawn on.

Mating Process

Once a pair of severums have bonded, it won't be long until they begin their mating process. Technically, they don't physically mate, they spawn, which is a form of external fertilization. Before spawning, the male and female will clear their chosen spawning site, usually a flat rock, of any debris. Then they will begin to engage in pairing behaviors, like tail-slapping or lip-locking. Finally the female will lay her eggs on the rock and the male will release sperm onto them to fertilize them.

Hatching and Beyond

If all goes well, the fertilized eggs will hatch within three to five days. The problem is that severums don't always make the best parents. While some pairs will effort to raise their young, others will eat their eggs and fry. This problem is more common with younger parents. It's up to you whether to risk it or scoop out some of the eggs, place them in a separate tank and raise the fry yourself. Those parents who don't eat their fry will usually move them to a pit made in the substrate and defend them vehemently, until the offspring are ready to fend for themselves.