120 gallon Severum Cichlid Aquarium

Nick72

Well the 120g finally arrived today and I added 60Kg of rocks.

Guess I’ll be washing 60kg of sand over the weekend. :)

The LFS tell me they have taken stock of the Severum I ordered. They ended up with 1x Red Spotted, 2x Red Shoulder and 2x Green Severum, so that’s decided then, this will be a single species aquarium.


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JuiceKong

Going to be watching this one!
 

SamMe

Can't wait to see the finished tank!
 

TClare

All lovely fish, but be aware that they might hybridize. And there may not be room for all of them when they are fully grown, especially if a pair forms.
 

RonP

I have a pair of red spotted severums that are silver dollar size rn...Will be watching your posts for info.
Good luck!
 

86 ssinit

Good looking tank and nice choice of fish!
 

Linda1234

What are the habits of severum when in a group? Are they better behaving than angelfishes ?
 

TClare

What are the habits of severum when in a group? Are they better behaving than angelfishes ?
In general they are more peaceful in my experience, and get on well in a group (when not breeding), and don't bicker as much as angels, though I have heard of some individuals being particularly aggressive. Even when breeding they are generally not that bad in a big enough aquarium (Laetacaras are worse, haha). I only have one at the moment, who is very calm even with eggs, but a long time ago I had several and didn't have any major issues with aggression, though I separated the pair that formed from the rest.
 

Nick72

All lovely fish, but be aware that they might hybridize. And there may not be room for all of them when they are fully grown, especially if a pair forms.

Thanks, I’m not planning on breading them, but I’m prepared to give some back to the LFS if there is too much aggression.

If I end up with a mating pair I’ll simply turn this into a community tank with 2x Severum, but I’m hoping they will get along, in which case I may look at a bigger tank in the future.


I have a pair of red spotted severums that are silver dollar size rn...Will be watching your posts for info.
Good luck!

Thank you, how long have you had yours?

Are they m/f or two males / females? If you can tell at this stage?

Any noticeable aggression?
 

RonP

I am not certain...I've had them several weeks. I originally had 3 these 2 paired off then I gave the third back to fish store..they are currently alone in 55g...I am shortly acquiring a 120g..bit delayed, as I have to be away from home for radiation
treatments. By Sep.15th I'll be back home and will start up the new tank, and get it cycled. I am hopeful they are male/female. They will be alone in the 120.
Absolutely no aggression since I removed the 3rd one. They are together constantly. The one left out did do some chasing of this pair before being removed.
I don't think aggression is a big problem with Severums. I had 2 gold and 2 green in a 75g tank 30 years ago. They were serene and peaceful..but did not breed. They were very friendly taking worm snacks from my hand.
 

PeterFishKeepin

ill be following this build, can i ask you what the dimentions of the tank are??
 

Nick72

ill be following this build, can i ask you what the dimentions of the tank are??

it’s 4ft x 2ft x 2ft
Turns out that 40Kg of sand was enough for a good three to four inches of sand.


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I won’t be needing the final two bags.
 

Nick72

So the cycling fun begins.

The aquarium water has turned into a slightly cloudy yellow / green, caused by the 150g of lizard terrarium soil I placed in the FX6.

The King Prawn in the tank has ripened to a bright orange and the living room now stinks of prawns.


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I’ve fitted the auto-doser but won’t start using it until the plants go in and the lights go on, once I have a minimum cycle established.


49A93A36-B0A7-44C5-A392-B1DA0ABBAAA0.jpegIn addition to the soil I’mi using two types of bottled bacteria to kick start the cycle. I’ve used MicroBacter7 previously to great success, so hopefully it will work again this time.

Ammonia 0.5
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5ppm (equivalent to my tap water)
 

Linda1234

So the cycling fun begins.

The aquarium water has turned into a slightly cloudy yellow / green, caused by the 150g of lizard terrarium soil I placed in the FX6.

The King Prawn in the tank has ripened to a bright orange and the living room now stinks of prawns.


70429079-8DA8-4623-8318-67F740398DEE.jpeg

I’ve fitted the auto-doser but won’t start using it until the plants go in and the lights go on, once I have a minimum cycle established.


49A93A36-B0A7-44C5-A392-B1DA0ABBAAA0.jpegIn addition to the soil I’mi using two types of bottled bacteria to kick start the cycle. I’ve used MicroBacter7 previously to great success, so hopefully it will work again this time.

Ammonia 0.5
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 5ppm (equivalent to my tap water)
One headache with the fx6 is you will have trouble reaching the drain at the bottom which is needed when you want to do maint. I suppose you probably have enough slack in the hoses to slide it out of the cabinet and then deal with it - but at least with my 120 (same size as your) I found the hoses didn't have enough slack and i have to use the drain hose to alleviate pressure to open it.
 

Nick72

One headache with the fx6 is you will have trouble reaching the drain at the bottom which is needed when you want to do maint. I suppose you probably have enough slack in the hoses to slide it out of the cabinet and then deal with it - but at least with my 120 (same size as your) I found the hoses didn't have enough slack and i have to use the drain hose to alleviate pressure to open it.

The drain hole valve looks a little flimsy and I suspect it’s a likely failure point, and as I have decided to place the FX6 in a tub I have essentially restricted myself from using the drain plug.

There is no slack at all in my pipe work, and as I’m adding bottled bacteria directly to the canisters daily at the moment, I’ve gotten used to removing the hoses in situ.

It’s a little bit messy, but not too bad really.
 

Nick72

72hrs into the Prawn & Lizard soil cycle and the cloudiness has pretty much gone.

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The yellow hue remains but I’ve now removed the soil from the canister assuming I’ve had any potential benefit by now. Interestingly most of the soil remained within the fine mesh filter bag on removal.

Ammonia = 1ppm
Nitrite = 0ppm
Nitrate = 5ppm (equivalent to tap)

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While not overpowering, the smell of prawn had become significant and the arrival of some large floating pellets meant I could remove the prawn from the tank and replace it with a filter bag of pellets.


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Still a long way to go on the cycle, but the LFS sent me a photo of my Severum in one of their holding tanks.


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So there’s something to look forward to :)
 

86 ssinit

Interesting thread and nice group of fish. It’s great that your pet store is holding them for you.

Why the reptile soil? Was it used soil?

The fx6 why do you have the intake and return on the same side?
 

Nick72

Interesting thread and nice group of fish. It’s great that your pet store is holding them for you.

Why the reptile soil? Was it used soil?

The fx6 why do you have the intake and return on the same side?

Thanks. I’ve got a good relationship with the LFS and they are happy to hold the Severum until my tanks cycled.

I figured the lizard tank soil might help kickstart the cycle. The lizard tank has been empty for about 4 months, but used to home a Leopard Gecko. I knew the soil to be 100% organic and to contain a range of biologicals including any missed lizard faeces, mealworm, leaf litter, wood lice, etc..

I don’t know if it did any good, no sign of a cycle so far, but I thought it worth a try.

As for the FX6, I think the hoses look a little bit tidier together on one side and as you need the water to circulate around the entire tank I don’t see the need to point the intake towards the return.

I had a Fluval 407 set up in this manner on a previous tank with CO2 and could see it gave me a very nice circulation pattern.

There’s no CO2 in this tank and not much else to give an indication, but once it’s planted the occasional loose leaf will tell me if the circulation is okay.
 

TClare

What plants are you thinking of using? Most places tell you that severums are totally incompatible with live plants but I disagree with this. Mine (along with my 2 Uarus) will occasionally nibble Vallisneria but not enough to destroy it and they don't touch water lettuce. Before I moved my severum to a bigger tank I also had java ferns and she did not eat those either. I have even occasionally floated offcuts of Cabomba and Hygrophila in the tank and they were not touched, though I suspect they wouldn't last long planted. I did try planting some Heteranthera that I had spare but that was soon eaten. I have read that hornwort is unpalatable as well as being quick growing, but I have not found any for sale, otherwise I would try it. My severum, Uarus and Mesonauta all love eating lettuce leaves and the severum likes peas. I also give them a variety of food for herbivorous cichlids and Bugbites spriulina flakes.
 

Nick72

What plants are you thinking of using? Most places tell you that severums are totally incompatible with live plants but I disagree with this. Mine (along with my 2 Uarus) will occasionally nibble Vallisneria but not enough to destroy it and they don't touch water lettuce. Before I moved my severum to a bigger tank I also had java ferns and she did not eat those either. I have even occasionally floated offcuts of Cabomba and Hygrophila in the tank and they were not touched, though I suspect they wouldn't last long planted. I did try planting some Heteranthera that I had spare but that was soon eaten. I have read that hornwort is unpalatable as well as being quick growing, but I have not found any for sale, otherwise I would try it. My severum, Uarus and Mesonauta all love eating lettuce leaves and the severum likes peas. I also give them a variety of food for herbivorous cichlids and Bugbites spriulina flakes.

I’m planning on Java Fern and several species of Anubias (Round, Broadleaf, Nana-Petite). The plan is to have a fairly high volume of these robust low tech plants and try to get them established before the small Severum grow large enough to do much damage.

I’m also hoping to convince the Severum that regularly offered lettuce and cucumber taste nicer than the live plants.

I’m understand this could go horribly wrong but I don’t mind trying. It’s good to hear you’ve been successful with a variety of plants, so maybe it will work out.
 

TClare

Good, hopefully it will work out. It may be a good idea to include some faster growing plats as well, I think Vals should be good. Just in case they decide to munch on the Anubias, which would grow back very slowly I think. I have not tried Anubias as they are expensive here and don't grow well for me. Certainly including vegetarian food in the diet that is more appealing to them should help.
 

Nick72

The 120g has been cycling for a week now.

The water is really starting to clear up, and I put a spare lighting system on it today. It’s designed for a 3ft tank, but should work fine for the low light plants I’m planning to add.


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The cycle has been very disappointing so far. While I’ve maintained Ammonia of 1ppm all week it’s still reading Nitrite 0, Nitrates 5 (same as the tap).


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I was really hoping to have seen some progress by now.

Should I raise the Ammonia?
 

Nick72

The 120g has now cycled, so I introduced the five baby Severum.

Here’s some first day photos (the quality’s not great as there’s lots of sun glare and the tank is in clearing up a bacterial bloom)

1x Red Spotted
2x Red Shouldered
2x Green


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A201

I like the hardscape. I think a fitted piece of black foam poster board taped to the back of the tank would make things pop, really bringing out the Severums color.
 

TClare

I thought you were going to add plants - it would have been better to get them established first?
 

Nick72

I thought you were going to add plants - it would have been better to get them established first?

I looked into getting a chiller as I don’t want to grow plants again with tank temperatures constantly between 29-31c.

In the end I decided not to proceed with the chiller and for now that means no plants.

I’m quite happy without plants for now. I may change my mind, but right now I’m not planning to make any further changes to this setup.
 

Nick72

I wanted to give the Severum some settling in time before making any comments about their nature / behaviour, but it’s been over three weeks now and some clear patterns are forming.

The first thing I noticed is just how skittish and shy these fish are. Not that they panic or dart about (they don’t), but that they are still extremely weary whenever I approach the tank, or even sit within 6 feet of the tank.

They spend most of their time in and around the rocks and make considerable effort not to spend much time out in the open.

This has become the most common view of the 120g:

A9B6AF52-E28B-46BD-9A0F-326F5ADD0820.jpeg

I’m aware that my decision to go with hard scape only means I’m not offering any surface plant cover, but I’ve turned the lights down to just 14% and hoped they would appreciate the low light if not actual shade.

Their skittish nature is further compounded by some mild aggression.

They quickly found a hierarchy which pretty much runs largest to smallest. Fortunately the #1 Red Spotted is unchallenged and does not take part in any aggression, but the #2 Green Severum has decided he owns the entire tank and will chase the other smaller Green Severum and the two Red Shouldered whenever he has line of sight.

I’ve only observed 5-10 second chases which stop as soon as line of sight is broken by the rocks, and the aggression is shared around not being focused on a single fish, so no one is coming to any physical harm, but it has lead to #3, #4 and #5 hiding 100% of the time.

Here’s a rare sighting of #4:

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i would consider removing #2, but I’ve seen enough evidence of a firm hierarchy between #3, #4 and #5 to be fairly sure #3 would just step into #2’s role if he were removed.

All five were initially eating well, although they can be nervous of taking food from the surface, but as the dominance of #2 continues to press #3, #4 and #5 into longer periods of hiding, they are also now missing out on their share of the food.

#3 is just about keeping up at 2.5inches compared to #1 pushing 5 inches and #2 pushing four, but #4 and #5 are still between 1.25 to 1.5 inches.

The aggression is actually pretty mild, but the smaller Severum don’t appear to be coping well with it, which is a concern.

I’m hoping I can feed them all up and they may become more confident when they’ve put on some size and weight.

They are great looking fish, so it would be nice to see them a bit more relaxed.
 

TClare

It might help if you add at least some floating plants and some dither fish such as one of the larger tetra species. Maybe add more hard scape like some branches that reach the top or nearly so that feel more secure.
 

A201

Be a good idea to tape a piece of black foam board to the back of the tank.
Elevating the hardscape with driftwood would help too.
Feed floating pellets to the eager feeders. While distracted, feed the shy eaters sinking pellets.
 

Nick72

It might help if you add at least some floating plants and some dither fish such as one of the larger tetra species. Maybe add more hard scape like some branches that reach the top or nearly so that feel more secure.

Be a good idea to tape a piece of black foam board to the back of the tank.
Elevating the hardscape with driftwood would help too.
Feed floating pellets to the eager feeders. While distracted, feed the shy eaters sinking pellets.

Thanks.

I’m happy to add some driftwood if it would help.

Do you really think dither fish would make the difference?

I’ve read Tiger Barbs can work with Severum as long as it’s a fair sized school of Tigers, and I’ve always wanted an excuse for a dozen Green Tiger Barbs.

Do you have any experience with this combination?
 

TClare

No I have not tried tiger barbs, they might be Ok. I have diamond and bentosi tetras with my severum and other larger cichlids.
 

MacZ

The first thing I noticed is just how skittish and shy these fish are. Not that they panic or dart about (they don’t), but that they are still extremely weary whenever I approach the tank, or even sit within 6 feet of the tank.

They spend most of their time in and around the rocks and make considerable effort not to spend much time out in the open.
Sorry, I'll be blunt:
The tank makes me sad. It's barren, brightly lit and just not suitable for juveniles of this species, which would usually live among riparian vegetation, driftwood branches and under the leaves of lotus.

The behaviour is due to the tank's lack of decoration and cover and bright light.

Add a good amount of driftwood (whole branches), leaf litter, and floating plants and dial down the light intensity to 50%. THEN the fish will come out more and show natural behaviour.

But the way the tank is right now - I see stress related diseases just around the corner, waiting. And once that cycle starts it will not be stopped that easily.

The combination with tiger barbs would be not very helpful. Especially as the tank is even less suitable for these. They will likely stress out and pick off each other quite quickly.
Instead some open water tetras like Hyphessobrycon anisitsi, Hemiodopsis sp., Iguanodectes sp. or smaller Leporinus would be very much more suitable.

So in short:
- add cover
- lower lights
- enrich the environment
- add SUITABLE dither fish

Good luck.
It's time to act. Now or you can fry the fish for dinner in a few months.
 

Nick72

Thanks MacZ

I’ll take the advice given.

I’ll look into some floater plants.

I’ll add driftwood.

The lights are already at 14% it’s very low light.

I’ll research the Tetra’s you mentioned and check local availability.

I appreciate the advice.
 

Nick72

I bought all the floaters my LFS had yesterday, it wasn’t much, but it’s a start:

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I think it might be Salvinia Cucullata? With a couple of small pieces of Frogbit.

I also bought a significant amount of Malaysia Driftwood (Mangrove) that is currently soaking in a tub in the garden.

Finally I added 15x Tiger Barbs as dither fish:

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The impact has been amazing! The aggression between the Severum has almost completely stopped and they are using much more of the tank:


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I’m delighted, and thanks again to TClare A201 and MacZ for the advice.

I do have a potential issue with two of the Tiger Barbs, but I’ll start a separate thread about that.
 

TClare

Good, it will be a lot better for them with more wood and those plants will probably cover the top very soon..
 

MacZ

I'm curious how long it will take until the barbs kill each other off. And whether you introduced something with them you don't want in your tank.
And I hope you didn't pay too much for the plants, half of them are already about to die off.

Put the wood in now, if need be weigh it down.
 

86 ssinit

Lol well your seeing results all ready. I’ve got no idea why your barbs will be killing each other off? Maybe some sort of German ritual :eek: :D. I’ve always read they’re best kept in groups like you have. Yes your severums look good now. When you put in the wood it will look even better.
Only thing I will offer is it’s best to qt new fish. You never know what’s up with them. They could be sick and you don’t want your fish to get sick. Many don’t but being you know your lfs well all should be ok. But there’s nothing worse than adding a sick fish and your tank gets sick. A 10or20g makes a great qt tank.
 

Nick72

Lol well your seeing results all ready. I’ve got no idea why your barbs will be killing each other off? Maybe some sort of German ritual :eek: :D. I’ve always read they’re best kept in groups like you have. Yes your severums look good now. When you put in the wood it will look even better.
Only thing I will offer is it’s best to qt new fish. You never know what’s up with them. They could be sick and you don’t want your fish to get sick. Many don’t but being you know your lfs well all should be ok. But there’s nothing worse than adding a sick fish and your tank gets sick. A 10or20g makes a great qt tank.

Thanks 86 ssinit ,

I know I should have quarantined, but I don’t have the setup for it, and I was in a rush to do something to help my miserable Severum.

My haste may well come back and bite me. Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime I’ll check the wood in the tub tomorrow. If it’s not leaching too much I’ll consider putting it in the tank.
 

SamMe

Unless your concern is for the visual the tannins from the wood will create in your tank water, the wood should be ok to add. The tannins won't hurt the fish and eventually will lighten with water changes.
 

TClare

Unless your concern is for the visual the tannins from the wood will create in your tank water, the wood should be ok to add. The tannins won't hurt the fish and eventually will lighten with water changes.
The tannins will be beneficial anyway for their antibacterial properties and for helping to make the tank darker, as it still looks quite bare and bright. I was also thinking to put the wood in straight away would be best.

If you look on YouTube you will find some films of severums in the wild and you will see they are always in quite dark, shady places, under and around submerged logs etc. so trying to recreate this as much as possible will help them to feel secure and will be less stressful for the barbs as well.
 

Coradee

Thread has been tidied up some posts removed, others edited.
Lets keep it civil please we will not tolerate personal attacks, if you feel someone is being rude or disrespectful then use the report button & let the mods deal with it do not address it yourself.
As I’ve said several times before if you’ve nothing nice to say then say nothing, move on to another thread,
 

Nick72

If the epoxy doesn’t age nicely with algae I will pull it out and age / colour it myself, but at least I’ve made some progress.

I may add a little more wood at some point but this will be the main piece.

Okay, somebody stop me I’m getting carried away :)
 

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SamMe

The fish don't seem to mind..... ;)
 

Nick72

Well that was short lived…the #2 Severum has scaled up his aggression to #3, #4 and #5 again.

I guess he only stopped to appraise the new situation with added decor and Tiger barbs. Now he’s used to it he is back to his old ways.

I’m also seeing similar aggression from #3 directed at #4 and #5 now that he is starting to out sized them.

In the meantime I started to hear a regularly and loud clicking / tapping noise coming from the tank this afternoon. It sounded mechanical but on investigation turns out to be #1 and #2 going to town on the new floating plants.

I sat and watched them both eating away at the floaters for a good 45 minutes until they finally decided they’d had enough.

I’m not sure if the Salvinia and Frogbit will be able to survive and multiply with their roots being cut back by the Severum. If not I might have to consider the floaters as a consumable and top them up regularly.

[edit] five minute break and they’re back at the floaters and eating away again
 

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Itiwhetu

I love Severums, this was my Severum tank they community spawned for years,
 

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TClare

Hmm I am not sure what you can do about the aggression, other than adding more structure and hiding places, or removing the offending or target fish, depending how things are. My severum is incredibly peaceful. About the floating plants, I have not tried those two species, I have loads of water lettuce and neither my severum or the Uarus eat it. I have to clear some out each week. I do frequently give them lettuce leaves to eat, as well as some flake food containing Spirulina and Chlorella and granule and pellet foods made for Malawi cichlids. Maybe this helps to avoid the plants being eaten, as Severums do need quite a high proportion of vegetable food.
 

SamMe

Well that was short lived…the #2 Severum has scaled up his aggression to #3, #4 and #5 again.

I guess he only stopped to appraise the new situation with added decor and Tiger barbs. Now he’s used to it he is back to his old ways.

I’m also seeing similar aggression from #3 directed at #4 and #5 now that he is starting to out sized them.

In the meantime I started to hear a regularly and loud clicking / tapping noise coming from the tank this afternoon. It sounded mechanical but on investigation turns out to be #1 and #2 going to town on the new floating plants.

I sat and watched them both eating away at the floaters for a good 45 minutes until they finally decided they’d had e

Well that was short lived…the #2 Severum has scaled up his aggression to #3, #4 and #5 again.

I guess he only stopped to appraise the new situation with added decor and Tiger barbs. Now he’s used to it he is back to his old ways.

I’m also seeing similar aggression from #3 directed at #4 and #5 now that he is starting to out sized them.

In the meantime I started to hear a regularly and loud clicking / tapping noise coming from the tank this afternoon. It sounded mechanical but on investigation turns out to be #1 and #2 going to town on the new floating plants.

I sat and watched them both eating away at the floaters for a good 45 minutes until they finally decided they’d had enough.

I’m not sure if the Salvinia and Frogbit will be able to survive and multiply with their roots being cut back by the Severum. If not I might have to consider the floaters as a consumable and top them up regularly.

[edit] five minute break and they’re back at the floaters and eating away again
On the bright side.........while they're munching on your plants, they aren't chasing anyone, lol.:D
 

Nick72

Hmm I am not sure what you can do about the aggression, other than adding more structure and hiding places, or removing the offending or target fish, depending how things are. My severum is incredibly peaceful. About the floating plants, I have not tried those two species, I have loads of water lettuce and neither my severum or the Uarus eat it. I have to clear some out each week. I do frequently give them lettuce leaves to eat, as well as some flake food containing Spirulina and Chlorella and granule and pellet foods made for Malawi cichlids. Maybe this helps to avoid the plants being eaten, as Severums do need quite a high proportion of vegetable food.

Thanks TClare

None of the Severum are showing any signs of injury from the aggression and I noticed that as #3 has got bigger he is hiding less and seems less concerned by #2’s aggression, so hopefully the aggression will taper off as each of the Severum put on size and weight.

It’s too early to say whether my floaters can grow and multiply faster than the Severum can eat them, so I’ll keep an eye on it for now, and actually I don’t mind them eating the floaters if it’s good for their diet and overall health.

I’ll try water lettuce if my current floaters don’t survive.
 

TClare

Yes you may find the severums sort themselves out and establish a kind of hierarchy within the group that will allow them to coexist. Just make sure that no one individual is getting injured or too stressed.

And for sure the plants are providing some environmental enrichment and taking their minds off fighting!
 

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MartinXIX

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