The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Heros severus
Heros severus
(Banded Cichlid)

Copyright Info
Heros severus Heckel, 1840

Common name: Banded Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: Cichlasoma severum (Heckel 1840); severum, striped cichlid, sedate cichlid, deacon [juvenile], convict fish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to sunfishes and black basses (Lepomis and Micropterus; family Centrarchidae). Cichlids may be distinguished from centrarchids by a single nostril on each side of the head (vs. two in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (vs. continuous in centrarchids).

For distinguishing characteristics and figure, see Page and Burr (1991). Color photographs were given in Axelrod (1993). Kullander (2003) lists four species within the genus Heros.

Size: 20 cm SL (Kullander 2003).

Native Range: Tropical America. Upper Orinoco and Negro River basins in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela (Kullander 2003).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Heros severus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL198020222Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast
NV196319631Lake Mead

Table last updated 4/21/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Generally associated with aquatic vegetation; omnivorous, primarily consuming small benthic invertebrates and plant material (Lowe-McConnell 1969; Mérigoux et al. 1998).

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.

Status: Based on recent collections, this species is apparently established in Florida (Shafland et al. 2008; Nico, personal communication). Extirpated from Nevada (Courtenay and Deacon 1982, 1983; Deacon and Williams 1984; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). Contrary to statements that the species is possibly established (e.g., Courtenay and Hensley 1979; Page and Burr 1991), no additional Heros severus have been seen or taken at Rogers Spring since eradication efforts in 1963 (Courtenay and Deacon 1983).

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: The statement by Page and Burr (1991) that the species is "apparently established in Rogers Spring" appears erroneous. The rotenone treatment of Rogers Spring in 1963 was undertaken to rid the site of introduced species; until that time, it was not known that H. severus was even present (Hubbs and Deacon 1964). Concern has been expressed that if H. severus survived in Nevada, it, like other introduced species, would compete with local or native fish fauna and sport fish, and that if the cichlid became established in Lake Mead, it potentially would compete with native sunfish for spawning sites (Hubbs and Deacon 1964; Courtenay and Hensley 1979).

Voucher specimens: Florida (NCSM 28182; UF 100498); Nevada (UMMZ 189546).

References: (click for full references)

Axelrod, H.R. 1993. The most complete colored lexicon of cichlids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Bradley W.G. and J.E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1982. Status of introduced fishes in certain spring systems in southern Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 42(3):361-366.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1983. Fish introductions in the American southwest: a case history of Rogers Spring, Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 28:221-224.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I Report. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: status 1979. Report Submitted to National Fishery Research Laboratory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.

Deacon, J.E., and J.E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Hubbs, C., and J.E. Deacon. 1964. Additional introductions of tropical fishes into southern Nevada. Southwest Naturalist 9:249-251.

Kline, J.L., W.F. Loftus, K. Kotun, J.C. Trexler, J.S. Rehage, J.J. Lorenz, and M. Robinson. 2013. Recent fish introductions into Everglades National Park: an unforeseen consequence of water-management? Wetlands in press. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13157-012-0362-0

Kullander, S.O. 2003. Family Cichlidae (Cichlids). Pages 605-654 in Reis, R.E., S.O. Kullander, and C.J. Ferraris, Jr, eds. Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. EDIPUCRS. Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Lowe-McConnell, R.H. 1969. The cichlid fishes of Guyana, South America, with notes on their ecology and breeding behaviour. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 48(2):255-302.

Mérigoux, S., D. Ponton, and B. de Mérona. 1998. Fish richness and species-habitat relationships in two coastal streams of French Guiana, South America. Environmental Biology of Fishes 51:25-39.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Shafland, P.L. 1996. Exotic fishes of Florida – 1994. Reviews in Fisheries Science 4(2):101-122.

Shafland, P.L., K.B. Gestring, and M.S. Stanford. 2008. Florida's exotic freshwater fishes - 2007. Florida Scientist 71(3):220-245.

FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/6/2019

Peer Review Date: 7/24/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Heros severus Heckel, 1840: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=458, Revision Date: 5/6/2019, Peer Review Date: 7/24/2013, Access Date: 4/21/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/21/2024].

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