Red Shoulder Severum (Heros sp. rotkeil) for Sale: Size, Tank, Care, Types, Breeding

Red Shoulder SeverumHeros sp. rotkeil cichlids, commonly known as Rotkeil cichlids or Red Shoulder Severums, are a beautiful and captivating species among the diverse family of cichlids. What sets them apart from other cichlids is their distinctive coloration and intricate pattern. These fish are renowned for the vibrant red hues that adorn their lower body and extend into their dorsal fin, which resembles a "rotkeil," meaning "red wedge" in German. This striking feature gives them their common name and makes them a visually stunning addition to any freshwater aquarium.

Originating primarily from the warm, slow-moving waters of Venezuela and some parts of Colombia in South America, Rotkeil cichlids are well-suited to tropical aquariums. They are typically found in calm streams, rivers, and lagoons, where they inhabit submerged tree roots and rocky formations. Understanding their natural habitat is crucial for creating a suitable environment in captivity.

Rotkeil cichlids are known for their relatively peaceful temperament compared to other cichlid species, making them an excellent choice for aquarists looking to keep cichlids without dealing with extreme aggression. However, as with all cichlids, they may become territorial, especially during the breeding season, so providing hiding spots and a spacious tank is essential.

In terms of care, maintaining stable water conditions, including water temperature, pH levels, and water hardness, is paramount to their well-being. These fish thrive in water temperatures ranging from 72-82°F and prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels.

In this comprehensive guide to Rotkeil cichlids, we will explore various aspects of their care, including tank setup, feeding habits, breeding techniques, and potential tankmates. Whether you're a seasoned aquarist or a newcomer to the hobby, Heros sp. rotkeil cichlids offer a rewarding and visually stunning experience in the world of freshwater aquariums.

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Common names

Some common names used for Heros sp. rotkeil include rotkeil severum, spiked severum, and wedge-tail cichlid.


The name "rotkeil" derives from the German words "rot" meaning red and "keil" meaning wedge, referring to the red wedge-like coloration on the caudal fin.


Heros sp. rotkeil is classified in the family Cichlidae and genus Heros but has not been assigned a definitive species name yet.


Endemic to Atlantic slope rivers in Costa Rica, including the Sixaola, Telire and Matina River drainages.


Found in warm, moving waters with rock and gravel substrates, often near submerged roots and branches.

Maximum Standard Length

Can reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in the wild. In aquariums, they grow to about 6-7 inches (15-18 cm).

Aquarium Size

Require a minimum 55 gallon tank with open swimming space and plenty of rockwork.


Perform 30-40% weekly water changes and use strong filtration capable of 4-5 tank turnovers per hour. Ensure water is well-oxygenated.

Water Conditions

Ideal water has a pH of 6.5-7.5, temperature of 72-82°F, and hardness of 8-15 dGH.


Feed a varied diet including commercial cichlid pellets, flakes, frozen and live foods.

Behavior and Compatibility

Males are aggressive to each other but may tolerate similarly sized cichlids like firemouths. Avoid fin-nipping fish.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males grow larger and develop pointed dorsal, ventral and anal fins. Females show orange bellies when gravid.


Breeding pairs form monogamous bonds. Spawning occurs in caves or on flat stones. Parents care for eggs and fry.

Endangered List

Not currently on the IUCN Red List or listed as endangered.