I recently was able to get a wild group of Heros notatus, the Spotted Severum, from Guyana. I’ve never kept a Heros species before, so I was quite excited to give this South American heroine cichlid a try.
Heros notatus occurs in Brazil, French Guinea, and Guyana and has gained popularity in recent years as imports of this species have been more frequent. I could definitely see this species becoming more popular in the hobby as the fish is a beautiful olive color with orange-red fins and a bright red eye. Males also get a orange cheek and many bronze highlights along the body while females are less colorful. While both male and female have spots along the flank, leading to the name Spotted Severum, the spotting is much more pronounced on the males of this species. Males also have intense spotting and som squamation on the cheek which is much less and sometimes entirely absent on females.
A large male Heros notatus photographed at ACA 2012. One can see the nice spotting and bronze and orange highlights of this attractive species.
I’ve not found Heros notatus to be a difficult fish to keep. They are a little shy and take some time to acclimate to new conditions, but once they come around are quite a robust and easy to keep species. They are not fussy when it comes to water chemistry or diet and are easily weened onto prepared foods. Overall, it is a very peaceful and mild fish, with occasional squabbles occurring, but nothing that occurs in injury. I am able to maintain a breeding group of five in a 55 gallon. This species does need clean water, so 50% water changes a week is recommended.
The Heros notatus I got were decent size, around 3.5-4″. Overall this species can grow to 7-8″. I was quite surprised when they spawned as I didn’t quite think they were at maturity yet, but I was wrong. I was also surprised that they spawned in regular tap water! I was certain that I would have to lover the hardness to get them to spawn, but fortunately I didn’t have to play with the water chemistry.
Pair of Heros notatus (male in background) guarding fry.
While I decorated the tank with driftwood and plants (I know, I actually had a planted tank for once!) the Heros notatus where quite happy spawning on the flower pot. While these are young fish, they still had a fairly large spawn of over 100 eggs. I’ve found that Heros notatus are fairly reliable parents and even though this was the first spawn for these individuals they successfully raised their offspring to the free swimming stage and guarded them diligently against the other three Spotted Severum in the tank.
While the fry are tiny, they are capable of consuming baby brine shrimp on their first day free swimming and grow fairly quickly. At first, I was amazed of was how quickly this species spawns, but as my young fish have grown a bit, it became evident that it really wasn’t that quickly, I just had one male and he was switching females every two weeks! Talk about a lucky guy.
My male Heros notatus is living the dream as he is the lone male of my group of 5.
Overall, I would recommend you try Heros notatus if you see it for sale. If you’ve kept and enjoyed a Heros species before, this may be one you haven’t had a chance to keep yet and should give a try. I’m fairly sure this fish will see a rise in popularity in the near future as it is easy to keep and breed and is a nice mild mannered species that would mix well in a South American community tank.
Heros notatus female guarding fry.