his 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.
Body markings 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.
decorus and S.
angelicus was the original name for many years, but the gender
of the generic name has been declared feminine, so the name goes
back to the original of angelica.
Dorsal 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
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.
Sterba's Freshwater fishes of the World
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier
angelica : Heavenly, devine,
(young fish are unusually beautifully coloured.)
Catfish Association Great Britain Vol.1 1983
Allan James @
zonatus, Synodontis angelicus
Catfish, Polka-Dot Catfish
Congo basin. Type locality: Léopoldville,
| 6.5 - 7.5
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