South American Cichlids • Snacking Severum?

Discussion regarding only South American Cichlid species. (Oscars, Geophagines, Discus, Apistogramma, Green Terrors, Angels, Severums, Pikes, etc.)

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Snacking Severum?

Postby Ento_man » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:54 am

Okay, a quick background first. I kept a Green Severum years ago and loved it. He coexisted fine in a 55 gal tank with a variety of Columbian Blue tetras, Bleeding Hearts, Black Skirts, Black Neons, and few swordtails and about a half dozen cory cats. He grew to hearty 9 inches but eventually succumbed to hole-in-the-head that just didn't seem to respond to treatment. So while I've kept and bred cichlids for nearly 30 years, that's my only experience with Severums. Basically a chill cichlid that couldn't be bothered to hunt down even the black neons.

Recently I got the Severum bug again when Petsmart had a (at least what they called) Turquoise Severum at a nice 3" size for only $10. I had a an 'oddball' tank that I felt he'd fit in well resulting in the impulse buy. It had a 2.5" electric blue acara, a fiesty 3" angel, 4 BATs, 3 corys, an almost 2" Microglanis iheringi, an old 2.5" bleeding heart tetra that outlived his schoolmates, a few leftover black neons, a rogue swordtail, and 2 leftover tiger barbs from another tank (I know ... not the best mix, hence 'oddball' tank). I introduced the Severum to the tank and all went well, save for some posturing between it and the EBA.

Well, now, only about 6 weeks later, the Severum is just under 4". During that time, I decided to add a trio of platies (they were a buck each, why not). All of them were plenty larger than the Severum's mouth. And he showed no interest in them at all. However, one by one they disappeared. No corpses or remains, just gone. I thought surely the Severum couldn't have eaten them, after all, I saw him struggle with a large rigid flake for crying out loud (and the pellets I toss in there are a mouthful for him). I suspected the EBA, even though his mouth wasn't large enough to eat full grown platies either, so I moved him to another tank. I thought that solved it, since no more fish went missing including the swordtail which wasn't much bigger than the missing platies.

So fast forward to this past week. I added a half dozen Black Skirt tetras. Everything seemed to go just fine. The Severum looked at them and quickly moved on, never showing another moment's interest in them. They did just fine together ... until three days ago. For the last three mornings, I've awaken to find one less Black Skirt than the night before. The only possible culprit would seem to be the Severum, and yet, even while the Black Skirts were on the smaller side, they were much too large to fit in the Severum's mouth whole. The only way he could've eaten them would be to kill them and tear them apart during the night, leaving no evidence. But unless that little bumblebee cat has a go-go-gadget mouth, the only suspect would be the Severum. And yet, during the day he could not possibly be more apathetic toward the remaining Black Skirt tetras (not to mention the much smaller Black Neons, who are still just fine and uneaten).

I've always heard the rule of thumb is that smaller tankmates are fine with Severums as long as they're too big to fit in their mouth. But the only way mine is eating the Black Skirts is in piecemeal fashion. Are Severums known to hunt at night and simply eat the meal by tearing it up? Anyone have this happen with larger tetras like Black Skirts? I was under the impression they simply wouldn't bother to eat something too big to gulp.

Also, side note: I put a romaine leaf in the tank at least once a week because the Severum and BATs love it. The Severum though, does this sort of "happy dance" whenever I do. He rocks in a back and forth manner as he swims around the leaf just before tearing off some bites. When he's done, back to normal. I've never seen something like that before. Thought it was interesting.
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:28 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

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Re: Snacking Severum?

Postby Vociferus » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:47 pm

Wow that's quite the story. I have 2 Severums in with white skirt tetras (which I don't like but they were too aggressive in my other tanks) and some Columbian tetras and haven't had a single issue. Is there any chance they got sick? I could see their bodies getting eaten then even by the other fish, but like you said I've not heard of a Severum hunting like that, but then again this is only my second time keeping them.
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:13 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Snacking Severum?

Postby Cyphro » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:06 pm

It's just impossible for a severum to catch a healthy black skirt tetra. I had a colony of 30 of them in a very aggressive tank and they very seldom had losses.

Very few fish have that kind of speed and dexterity to gobble them down at will, and definitely not a peaceful, clumsy fish with small mouth like that.

You are probably having some kind of disease/stress deaths and then the bodies eaten off. Pretty common if you grab some cheap fish from a typical pet store.
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:54 pm
Location: Merica

Re: Snacking Severum?

Postby harsmann » Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:01 pm

I got a tale of hunting severums to tell.

Two years ago I added six severums (H. efasciatus) to my tank which, at the time, held 12-14 rummy nose tetras, some silver tip tetras, some corys, gouramis and cupidos, and a knife fish. The severums (wild caught) were 2" at the time.

Over the next 8 months all the tetras vanished without a trace. Some times a single one would be missing, sometimes 2-3 vanished over a night. The last two rummies lasted for 2 months. During the same time all gouramis and cupidos died as well, but the knifefish remains in fine condition and all corys are accounted for. The severums may have grown to 4" while this all happened.

A year ago (so one year after first getting the severums), I tried my luck with a school of neon tetras. It took the severums less than two minutes to hunt them all down. and shortly after that I bought nine BATs who are still all doing fine.

Some thoughts: The schools of fish I lost initially may have succumbed to stress and bad health (after a previous period of less than optimal water hygiene), although the missing bodies remain a mystery. Also, I didn't loose any corys doing the period. Also, I have seen my severums hunt, but those neon tetras probably were snack size and they didn't touch the BATs, which must be similar in size to the black skirts mentioned, and probably to tall in the body to swallow in any case (but they haven't even tried).

Lovely fish, severums :)
140 gallon - 6 severum Rotkeil and some corys
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 10:54 am
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

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