Spawning Synodontis multipunctatus  with Haplochromis sauvagal

Harold & Derek Walker

ver the past few years Catfish have been becoming more and more popular. One of the reasons is there is more information being released on spawning these wonderful creatures. There are thousands of different species available throughout the hobby. Some of the more popular types come from Africa. Synodontis is one that is found in lakes and slow moving streams. Some Synodontis reach only a few inches in length, while others can exceed several feet. They are distinguished from each other by the shape of their mouth, the number of fin rays (anal and pectoral), teeth, eyes, color and so on.


Synodontis multipunctatus


Synodontis are onmivorous creatures. They feed on all sorts of meaty food as well as plant material. All of the Synodontis I have had readily accepted frozen food that I have offered. I also feed them some sort of spirulina or algae flake. Almost all of the species are said to be nocturnal, they hide by day and search for food at night. The ones I have will come out at daytime but any sudden movement and they will dart into a flower pot or anything to hide under.

These particular type of catfish are very hardy. They can withstand a wide range of water chemistry as long as any extremes are avoided. Some species can live in a ph level of 6.5 to 7.5 while the rift lake catfish need a ph level of 8.0 to 8.5. Temperature could be between 21 to 29 C. There are no special requirements for filtration as long as you do your water changes. Synodontis are fairly easy to keep, and make sure you have a tank sizable for the species that you want to keep.

The Synodontis multipunctatus are also known as Cuckoo Catfish. They received this name when it was discovered that they use mouth brooding cichlids as a host for their eggs to hatch. S. multipunctatus are fairly easy to spawn but it is hard to find fully mature adults to do so. We were able to acquire a trio of Multi's from Chad Christen. He has been spawning them for a while now and between reading different books, articles and picking Chad's brain, we also have been able to spawn them. Once we received our trio, we then placed them into a 90-gallon tank. We used Haplochromis sauvagel as the host fish, the tank set up was simple. We only put three Terre Cotta Caves in tank, the catfish took to them rather quickly. After a couple of weeks went by, the fish were now accustomed to their new home. We feed them heavy doses of meaty foods to condition the females to spawn and it also helps out the host fish. Without a good host fish, you will not get babies.The time was close as we noticed that the male Haplochromis sauvagel was trying to entice the females to breed. Once this happens, the male S. multi will patrol around and investigate the breeding attempts by the Haps. If it appears it is going to happen, the male will then go and get the female. At this time the female will exit her cave to take a quick look for herself, if she does not feel it is going to happen, she will go back into her cave to hide. If she feels like it is going to happen, the male will chase her around the tank until the host fish starts the spawning process. Just as the host female lay her eggs, the multi's will rush in often eating the Hap. Egg and at the same time releasing her eggs while the male fertilizes it. When this is done the female host will think it is her eggs, so she will pick it up to mouthbreed. This whole process can be lengthy because when the catfish come in the host male will often try to chase them away.

After the breeding has occurred the S. multipunctatus eggs will begin to hatch out in about 48 to 72 hours. Later the multi eggs develop quicker than that of the Haplochromis. After 72 hours, the Syno's are ready to eat. They will start eating the undeveloped Haplochromis eggs one by one and if they are not stripped by this point some will even turn on themselves. Our first spawn produced 14 Multi Fry. We feed them a wide variety of frozen Brine shrimp. We started with baby Brine but after a month we started to feed adult Brine and some chopped up bloodworms. They seem to always be hungry. Several feedings a day may be required to meet their needs. With a good diet and water changes our newly hatched Synodontis reached ½ inch in about 2 months. At this rate it won't be long before these guys are producing young for themselves.

Photo Credit: ©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv





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