Severum Tank Mates – 15 Great Choices (With Pictures)

Thank you for visiting! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon and other stores/partners are affiliate links Aquarium Store Depot earns a commission if you make a purchase.

Are you looking for some fishy friends for your severum cichlids? Finding the right tank mates is essential for maintaining a peaceful community, and fortunately, there are many great options for these relatively peaceful fish!

In this guide, I’ll introduce 15 of the best severum tank mates and a call out few species you should avoid, so let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • Severums are fairly peaceful cichlids that can be kept with a variety of other tropical fish species.
  • The best severum cichlid tank mates are other medium to large fish that prefer a similar water temperature and parameters.
  • The severum cichlid is omnivorous, so they are not safe to keep with nano fish like neon tetras.
  • Severums will also eat live plants and invertebrates like shrimp.

The Top 15 Severum Tank Mates

Are you ready to meet 15 suitable tank mates for your severum cichlid? Read on to find the perfect match for your severum community!

1. Other Severums


Before we start getting into other species, let’s discuss the option of keeping multiple severums together in the same tank. Now, these fish don’t need to be kept in schools, and you can keep just a single fish, but many aquarists have kept them together without trouble.

Of course, severums are large fish, so you’ll probably need a tank that holds a few hundred gallons to keep a group into adulthood. Housing four or more fish together may also help to limit aggression.

They can be semi-aggressive toward each other, so it’s a good idea to buy them young and add them to the tank at the same time. Choosing individuals of different breeds may also help to prevent aggression, although you’ll probably want to prevent them from hybridizing if you are considering breeding them.

2. Silver Dollars

Spotted Silver Dollar
  • Scientific name: Metynnis argenteus
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 75 gallons
  • pH: 6-7
  • Temperature: 75-82°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The silver dollar is a peaceful South American schooling fish with an accurate name. These rounded fish are mostly silvery in color, although they may have some orange color on their anal fins.

Silver dollars tend to hang out in the middle and upper layers of the tank where their high activity levels add a lot of movement. However, these fish do best in groups of about 5 or more, so you’ll need a large aquarium to house them with your severums.

3. Oscars

Albino Oscar
  • Scientific name: Astronotus ocellatus
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 10-14 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 75+ gallons
  • pH: 6-7.5
  • Temperature: 68-82°F
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Oscars can make great severum tank mates, although a lot depends on their individual personalities. Like the severum cichlid, these large South American cichlids are available in several awesome color patterns, and they generally get along well with tank mates that are too large to fit in their mouths!

Oscars are pretty easy to care for, although they are carnivorous fish that need a balanced diet that includes some meaty foods like earthworms. These fish also grow even larger than the severum cichlid, so this pairing will not work in anything less than a 75-gallon tank.

4. Dension Barbs

Dennison Barb
  • Scientific name: Sahyadria denisonii
  • Origin: India
  • Adult size: 4 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • pH: 6.8-7.8
  • Temperature: 60-77°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The denison barb (also known as the roseline shark) is a great choice for aquarists who want a colorful active tank mate for their severum cichlid.

However, these fish prefer cooler water temperatures than many other tropical species, so you’d need to maintain your water temperatures around the mid-70s Fahrenheit to keep everyone comfortable. Denison barbs do best in a large school, so buy a group of at least 6 individuals.

5. Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami Fish
  • Scientific name: Trichpodus leerii
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Adult size: 4-5 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 30-40 gallons
  • pH: 6-7
  • Temperature: 75-82°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The pearl gourami is a peaceful, docile fish that enjoys similar water conditions to the severum cichlid. These tropical fish do well in community tanks, although you should keep four or more in the same tank.

These gouramis have a reddish body covered in beautiful pearly spots and a dark horizontal line from their eye to their tail. There pelvic fins are modified into interesting feelers that they move around to explore their environment, making this a fascinating fish to watch.

6. Medium to large plecos

Bristle Nose Pleco
  • Scientific name: Hypostomus spp., Parancistrus spp., Ancistrus sp. etc.
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 4 – 12 inches
  • Minimum tank size: Species-dependent, medium-sized species will thrive in a 55-gallon+ aquarium
  • pH: Neutral to slightly basic conditions are suitable for many species
  • Temperature: 75-80°F is suitable for many species
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful but can be territorial toward their own kind

Plecostomus catfish are laid-back bottom feeders that spend most of their time hanging out on the bottom of the tank or sucking onto rocks and driftwood. These cleaner fish are not aggressive, although they can hold their own against more boisterous tank mates.

Many species will make excellent tank mates for severums, although it’s important to research their needs carefully before you buy. Some pleco species grow surprisingly large, while others require strong water flow or high temperatures

Check out my guide to 15 pleco fish species to learn about some of the best types in the hobby!

7. Angelfish

Platinum Angelfish
  • Scientific name: Pterophyllum spp.
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons
  • pH: 6-7
  • Temperature: 75-82 °F
  • Temperament: Generally peaceful

Known for their distinctive body shape, freshwater angelfish are incredibly popular in the aquarium hobby. These medium-sized South American cichlids are good tank mates for severums and many other peaceful community fish.

Angelfish are available in a few different species, including the larger altum angelfish (Pterophyllum altum) and the rarer Leopold’s angelfish (P. leopoldi). The regular freshwater angelfish (P. scalare) is also available in many stunning color morphs.

8. Blue Gourami

Blue Gourami Fish
  • Scientific name: Trichopodus trichopterus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Adult size: 5-6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 35 gallons
  • pH: 6-8
  • Temperature: 75-86°F
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

The blue gourami (also known as the three-spot gourami) is one of the most beautiful gourami species in the hobby, and it can make a good tank mate for severum cichlids.

However, blue gouramis are also one of the more aggressive gouramis, so you’ll need to consider the safety of any other tank mates you might want to keep.

9. Geophagus

  • Scientific name: Geophagus spp.
  • Origin: Amazon River Basin, South America
  • Adult size: 5-12 inches
  • Minimum tank size: Species dependent, 55 gallons for smaller species
  • pH: Species dependent, slightly acidic to slightly basic
  • Temperature: Species dependent, generally upper 70s and lower 80s Fahrenheit
  • Temperament: Peaceful and social

Geophagus cichlids are also known as earth-eaters for their habit of searching for sucking in sand in search of food. This diverse group of South American cichlids includes many species that will work with severums, although it’s important to research the specific water parameter and tank size needs of each type before adding it to your tank.

It’s also important to house these fish in an aquarium with a sandy substrate to allow for natural foraging behaviors. The various geophagus cichlids inhabit diverse habitats, including still waters and fast-flowing rivers, so select species that will enjoy the same conditions as your severum cichlid.

10. Larger Rainbowfish

  • Scientific name: Melanotaenia spp., Glossolepis etc.
  • Origin: Southeast Asia and Australasia
  • Adult size: 4-6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • pH: 7-8
  • Temperature: 74-78°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Larger rainbowfish species, like the boesemani and red rainbowfish, can make excellent tank mates for severum cichlids, especially if you are looking for large and colorful species that swim actively in the open water.

However, it’s important to consider their water chemistry preferences when housing them with severum cichlids and South American species. These peaceful fish prefer temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit and neutral to slightly basic water chemistry, so they have a fairly narrow parameter overlap with severums.

11. Uaru Cichlid

Uaru Cichlid
  • Scientific name: Uaru amphiacanthoides
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 10-12 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 75 gallons
  • pH: 6-7
  • Temperature: 82-86°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Uaru is a large South American cichlid with attractive but neutral body colors. They are identified by the large black blotch on either side of their body and by their bright red or yellow eyes.

Uaru cichlids are very peaceful and make excellent severum cichlid tank mates, although they require pretty warm water. A tropical aquarium with temperatures in the lower 80s Fahrenheit will be ideal for this tank mate combination.

12. Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gourami
  • Scientific name: Helostoma temminkii
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Adult size: 8-10 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons
  • pH: 6-8
  • Temperature: 72-86°F
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

The kissing gourami is a fascinating freshwater species known for its habit of locking lips with its own kind. These filter-feeding fish are fairly peaceful, and their specialized diet means they can be kept with much smaller tank mates.

13. Electric Blue Acara

Electric Blue Acara
  • Scientific name: Most likely to be a hybrid
  • Origin: South American ancestry
  • Adult size: 6-7 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons
  • pH: 6-7
  • Temperature: 74-82°F
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

The electric blue acara is a stunning South American cichlid that is most likely to be a hybrid of two or more wild species. These medium-sized freshwater fish are excellent tankmates for severums because they show little aggression and thrive in the same water conditions.

14. Salvini Cichlid

  • Scientific name: Cichlasoma salvini
  • Origin: Central America from Mexico to Belize
  • Adult size: Up to 6 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons
  • pH: 6.5-8
  • Temperature: 72-79°F
  • Temperament: Aggressive

The Salvini cichlid is one of the most gorgeous cichlid species in the aquarium world. Unfortunately, they tend to show aggressive breeding behavior, although large severums can generally hold their own against these stunning fish if you provide a suitable environment.

You can minimize aggressive behavior by keeping a single fish (salvini cichlid pairs can be highly aggressive), providing plenty of space in a large aquarium, and by providing plenty of caves and other hiding spots. Keep an eye on their behavior and be prepared to rehome them if you notice serious aggressive behavior.

15. Bolivian Rams

Bolivan Ram Cichlid
  • Scientific name: Mikrogeophagus altispinosus
  • Origin: South America
  • Adult size: 3 inches
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • pH: 6-7.5
  • Temperature: 75-82°F
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Bolivian rams are beautiful severum cichlid companions for more experienced fishkeepers. Just keep in mind that rams are dwarf cichlids, so it may be risky to add young specimens to a tank with full-grown severums that are large enough to swallow them!

Bolivian rams are generally very peaceful and tend to hang out at the bottom of the tank. These fish can also be kept in aquariums as small as 30 gallons, so it is possible to house several individuals in a larger tank.

Fish To Avoid

While severums get along with many other freshwater fish species, there are a few species that you should definitely avoid. Here are four tank mates that are not recommended for adult severum cichlids:

1. Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami in Aquarium

Large gouramis, like the pearl and kissing gouramis, are appropriate tank mates for severums, but smaller species, like honey and dwarf gouramis, are riskier. I would avoid keeping dwarf gouramis with larger cichlid species.

2. Smaller Tetras

Black Neon Tetra

Some fish keepers have success keeping severums with larger-bodied species like the black skirt tetra, although small schooling fish are generally not a good idea. You should definitely avoid small species like neon and ember tetras.

3. Highly aggressive fish


Despite their size, severum cichlids can be vulnerable to attacks from aggressive fish. It’s best to avoid highly aggressive species like wolf cichlids, although some fishkeepers have success with aggressive species like Jack Dempseys and the blood parrot cichlid.

Be prepared to rehome any fish that don’t get along with your severums as fights and aggressive behaviors can result in serious injuries for one or both fish.

4. African Cichlids

Mbuna Cichlids

It’s generally a bad idea to mix African cichlids with severums. Rift Valley cichlids from East Africa require really hard, basic water to survive, while severums prefer neutral or even slightly acidic conditions.

Aggression and compatibility can also be a problem, so if you do try this pairing, stick to more peaceful species like electric yellow labs.

Care Basics

Also known as banded cichlids or ‘poor man’s discus,’ the severum cichlid (Heros sp.) is a large but peaceful South American fish from the cichlid family. There are many different varieties in the aquarium trade, including the green severum, the gold severum, and various other species in the Heros genus.

Severums can grow to about a foot long out in the wild, but they usually max out at less than ten inches in the home aquarium. They are easy to care for, although they require a large aquarium of at least 55 gallons.


Severums are omnivorous fish that require a varied diet. High-quality pellets are a good staple diet but you should include frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and plant matter like blanched vegetables to keep your fish healthy and encourage breeding behavior.

Recommended Water Parameters

  • Temperature: 75-84°F
  • pH: 6-7.5
  • Water hardness: 4-6dH

There’s much more to learn about severum cichlid care! Go ahead and check out my in-depth severum cichlid care guide for much more on these awesome fish.

Community Aquarium Setup Tips

Aquarium Size

A 55-gallon tank is suitable for growing out young fish or keeping a single severum cichlid. However, larger fish will do better in a 75-gallon tank, and you’ll need even more space if you’re adding a few tank mates.

Great Beginner SW Tank
Aqueon 60 Gallon Breeder

This new 60 gallon breeder by Aqueon has the length and width of a 75 gallon tank, but at a shorter height. This is the most economical and effective 4 foot gallon tank for the saltwater hobby now.

Buy on Petco

A 125+ gallon setup should provide adequate space for a severum cichlid community with a few other medium/large fish, although a bigger tank is always better!

Decor and Planting

The ideal layout for the severum cichlid includes plenty of driftwood over a sandy substrate. Unfortunately, these omnivorous cichlids will eat live plants, so it’s generally not a good idea to keep these partly vegetarian fish in planted tanks. However, you could try some tough species like Java fern if you’re not too worried about them getting chewed on.

Characteristics of Suitable Companion species

This species can be housed with many other medium to large freshwater aquarium fish. However, it’s important to select tank mates that thrive in the same water conditions as the severum cichlid.

Severums are not particularly aggressive, although they can hold their own with slightly more aggressive and boisterous species. Small, slow-moving fish are a risky choice because severums are omnivorous.


How big of a tank do Severums need?

The minimum tank size for severum cichlids is 55 gallons. However, breeding pairs will require a 75-gallon tank, and you may need to go even larger when keeping multiple fish or adding a few medium to large tank mates.

Are Severums aggressive?

Severums are relatively peaceful cichlids, making them an excellent choice for a larger community tank. However, some species are more aggressive than others and each specimen has its own personality.

They may also become aggressive when breeding, so these fish are generally classified as semi-aggressive.

Will Severums eat neon tetras?

Severums are omnivorous and generally feed on plant material and invertebrates. However, a larger specimen will feed on other fish if they are slow enough to catch and small enough to swallow. Keeping the severum cichlid with neon tetras and other small schooling species is not recommended.

Can you keep a single Severum?

Severums can be kept on their own or in small groups. Some sources indicate that single fish may become more aggressive without the company of their own kind, although many aquarists have no problems keeping these fish on their own.

Can a severum live with African cichlids?

Severums are not ideal tank mates for African cichlids from Lake Malawi, Victoria, and Tanganyika. Those fish are adapted to water with high pH and mineral content, whereas severums prefer soft water with a pH closer to neutral.

South and Central American cichlid species or West African cichlids like the kribensis are usually a better match on water parameters.

Final Thoughts

Careful consideration is necessary when choosing tank mates for freshwater fish – especially when cichlids are involved. Fortunately, the severum cichlid is a gentle giant of the fish keeping world, suitable for many different freshwater tank mates. I hope this guide to the 15 best severum cichlid tank mates has helped you narrow down your options and find the perfect companions for your severum!

Do you keep severums? Share your favorite tank mates in the comments below!

Leave a Comment


Aquarium Water For Plants - Healthy For Them Or Not?
Do you love aquariums and gardening? These two hobbies go hand in hand probably more than you realize. In fact, aquarium water is one of the best natural fertilizers for houseplants and outdoor plants due to its nutrient content. Before you put your water change waste down the drain, consider watering your plants at the same time!
Severum Tank Mates - 15 Great Choices (With Pictures)
Are you looking for some fishy friends for your severum cichlids? Finding the right tank mates is essential for maintaining a peaceful community, and fortunately, there are many great options for these relatively peaceful fish!
Fish Tank Filter Not Working? Here's Why...
Aquarium filters are essential in this hobby, so when they stop working, you can expect some problems! But what should you do if your filter malfunctions? Well, don't rush off to buy a new one too soon because there's a good chance you can fix it yourself!