wonderfully coloured Synodontis comes from
Zaire, Africa, and the original specimen was caught
in the Stanley Pool (now Malebo Pool) near the capital
city of Kinshasa.
can vary from species to species and there was a subspecies
named S.angelicus zonatus POLL, 1933, found
in the Lukula River in Kantanga which had more stripes
than spots but is now classified as a colour variation
from another population. Juveniles of this species
also show a few stripes on the body and can have some
beautiful colour markings as seen in the picture below.
They tend to lose some of this beauty as they grow
older but can still be a very impressive looking Synodontis.
It is not too
aggressive in the aquarium but this could vary from
individual to individual, but like most Synodontis
it can get quite territorial especially with its own
kind. I find it to be a trial and error in keeping
Syno's together, some get on fine, while others
will not tolerate a certain species/individual, so
watch for a few days when introducing, and have another
tank ready if you are spotting problems.
It is quite a
nocturnal fish as Syno's go so provide caves and or
pipework and keep the water clean.
Above can be seen
a juvenile still sporting a stripe. It will lose this
as it progresses into adulthood.
This fish used
to be quite expensive a few years ago and it was prohibited
to export them at one point, but it is quite affordable
and readily available now.
The genus Synodontis
sports three pairs of barbels 1pair: maxillary, 1
pair: outer mandibular and one pair of inner mandibular
barbels that are branched (filaments). There are only
three species that have filaments on their maxillary
barbels as well as the mandibular, and they are, S.
Catfish, Polka-Dot Catfish.
Synodontis angelicus zonatus
basin. Type locality: Léopoldville,
1/7; Anal 4/7-8; Maxillary barbels not feathered,
somewhat longer than the head. Humeral process longer
than broad, pointed. Dorsal fin spine smooth anteriorly
(occasionally two or three serrations at the point),
a large number of small serrations posteriorly and
ends in a small filament. Pectoral fin-spines strongly
toothed on both sides. Lobes of caudal drawn out to
points, the upper usually the longer.
Colouration of larger specimens
(9-18cm): grey to dark violet with numerous reddish-yellow
to dark brown-red, uniformly distributed, sharp-edged,
large round blotches on the head, flanks, adipose
fin and partly running together on the belly. The
blotches on the flanks are usually edged with dark
violet. Dorsal, caudal, anal and ventral fins dark
violet with brownish blotches and transverse bars.
Young fishes (4-9cm) are extraordinarily beautifully
coloured: the round blotches stand out shining white
on a red-violet ground.
Care & Compatibility
As this Synodontis gets
quite big and quarrelsome its tankmates have to be
of the larger variety such as Congo tetras or other
mid-sized characins and barbs.
This species is
reported, being bred by hormone injection, where the
sexes are differentiated by the female having a fuller
body than the male, but I would ascertain that the
papilla in both sexes would show a difference. According
to Brichard, 1978, a female can lay between 3,000
and 4,000 eggs.
In its natural habitat it feeds
on insect larvae, shrimp, fry of other species and
plant debris. The adults will eat a wide variety of
foods in the aquarium and that is the key to keeping
Syno's fit and healthy, a wide varied diet.
They will take flake, tablet food, prawns, shrimps
and frozen bloodworm.
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile
(Cuvier 1816). angelicus: Heavenly,
devine, (young fish are unusually beautifully coloured).
Freshwater fishes of the World Vol.1 1973. Catfish Association Great Britain Vol.1 1983.