Hemisynodontis membranaceus (Geoffrey-St.Hilaire,
his Mochokid is instantly recognisable by
the very large maxillary barbels bearing a black membrane, from
which its scientific name is derived, refering to the presence of
a membrane on the barbels of this Synodontis.
In its native habitat this Syno spends
a good bit of its time inverted at the water surface scooping
up zooplankton and phyloplankton with its maxillary barbels, but
in captivity it doesn't seem to do this as much as the food is
probably readily available at all depths.
The genus Hemisynodontis is Monotypic
(contains only one species) and there is a school of thought
from some authors that it should be reclassified into the Synodontis
genus. The main difference between the two genera of Hemisynodontis
and Synodontis is the number of gill rakers. The Synodontis
genus has between 7-33 and our Factsheet for this month, Hemisynodontis,
has 59-65. That is a big difference along with the mandibular teeth
with Synodontis 6-90, versus Hemisynodontis 8-16.
not a colourful fish by any means with its grey/brown body colour
and somewhat darker belly region, but it does have a charm all of
its own when you see it out cruising the tank looking for its next
Above can be seen the impressive looking barbels
on this species bearing a black membrane
Mandibular Teeth; 8-18,
usually 9-14. Wide membrane bordering the edge of the maxillary
barbel, which is the one originating from the upper jaw. Body with
large adipose fin is short and deep. Caudal fin forked. Gill rakers
Ground colour of head; dark grey. Dorsal region and flanks; light
to dark grey. Ventral region; dark grey to black. Dorsal and adipose
fins; light to dark grey. Maxillary barbels; with a wide black membrane
along their whole length. Mandibular barbels; with small black membranes
on the ends.
Juvenile: As per the adult but with ill defined blotches
on the body and with round dark spots on the rayed fins which form
a more or less regular transverse series.
It is a peaceful and hardy fish even though
it does grow quite big, but I have found that it really is a gentle
giant. Do give it a decent size tank and I would suggest a 4ft being
the minimum with an aquascape consisting of rockwork or pipes for
it to retire too, and large plants such as Giant Valis (Vallisneria
gigantea) that grow partly along the water surface, and then
you could witness this Synodontis eating in its
Not recorded, but the females are somewhat
fatter and bigger than the males.
The usual feeding for Synodontis species,
being good quality flake food, tablet food, frozen bloodworm, shrimp
Northern Area Catfish Group; Information
Hemi = half; Syn = together; odon, odontos
membranaceus : Refers to the
presence of a membrane on the barbels of this Hemisynodontis.
Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater and marine
catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA). 784 p.
Synodontis guentheri, Synodontis membranceus.
Niger (including the Bénoué) Senegal, Gambia and
Volta basins; also the Nile in northern Africa.
| 6.5 - 7.5
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