What are Heros? Well, Marvel and DC may have a differing opinion, but fish geeks are pretty united in the belief that Heros is a genus of amazing South American Cichlids known more commonly as Serverums. The Redneck Severums are not endemic to the rural United States, instead hailing from the uppermost reaches of the Amazon Basin in Peru. All the other Severums can come from nearly every where in the Amazon Basin.
The Redneck Severum, is no exception to all these rules, and it is sometimes, though less hilariously, called the “Red Shoulder Severum.” Another interesting tidbit is that as of this writing, the Redneck Severum hasn't been identified as its own species yet. It is often sold as Heros rotkeil, but this name has not yet been adopted, by regulatory bodies or the scientific community. Currently, most in North America refer to this fish as a color form of Hero efasciatus, a well loved cichlid of many color forms and names: Red Spotted Severum, Green Severum, Golden Severum and both Hero and Banded Cichlid. As there is some doubt about its classification, we reference it as Heros sp.
Redneck Severums are a low maintenance fish. As omnivores they will eat just about anything you throw at them. A varied diet will help them achieve their peak coloration and vigor; here we feed them a mix of foods, starting with a high quality pellet, some of which should is for herbivores. We supplement this with thawed foods like blood worms, which they relish. There is a downside to this totally accepting diet, (at least for planted tank usages) in that there is a good chance that your Redneck Severums will consume soft leaved plants. For those of you dead set on getting some plants in there anway, we suggest hardy floating plants like Hornwort, whose growth rate can keep up with some nibbling, and also help dim the aquarium. Some individuals will ignore harder plants like Anubias and Java Fern / Moss as well (though this does not mean they won't uproot them!) As these fish come from deeper, slower moving waters, we suggest a display that mimics this. Low to moderate light, soft substrate and driftwood with some scattered rock makes an amazing display.
Like most amazonian fish, these fish do best in soft, slightly acidic water; think of pH between 6 and 7 with up to 8 degrees of hardness. Redneck Severum do well in groups, though during spawning, pairs can become territorial. They also do well with other fish of similar temperaments. Good tankmates would include large Tetras, other South American Cichlids, Plecos, etc. The only caveat here is that Redneck Severums will likely get six to eight inches long at adulthood. The wild record is a hair over 12 inches long, though this size is extremely uncommon, even in the wild, and unheard of in captivity. That being said, eight inches long is a good size, and so a larger tank will be required to house a group of these fish. If you aren't looking for a school, we still suggest keeping at least two, as they will readily reproduce, are good parents, and the fry are large enough to take powdered food almost immediately. There are reports of this fish (and indeed other Severums) becoming aggressive later in life, a problem none of our team has personally had. Nearly all of these reports are fish that are kept singly.
Redneck Severums are peaceful (almost always, except when they have littles to defend) as far as cichlids go. They make very hardy, engaging pets, that readily breed in the home aquarium. On top of all this, they are gorgeous. What's not to love? If you've always wanted a Severum, but are also looking for something a little different, maybe a pair of Redneck Severums is for you! Contact your LFS about getting you a couple from Aquatropic today!