his is one of
the smallest of the Lake Tanganyika Synodontis
and it also one of the prettiest from the Lake.
There are a few varieties with
small and large spots that abound in different parts
of the lake with trade names such as S. petricola
sp."Dwarf" and S. petricola sp."Large
The paper by Wright,
JJ and LM Page (2006) goes a long way to
sorting this out.
It is very similar
to the other popular Syno from the same Lake,
the 'Cuckoo Cat'.,Synodontis
multipunctatus but petricola
has white edgings to all its fins, especially the
leading ray to the dorsal, whereas Synodontis
multpunctatus has the rear end of the dorsal fin,
white only and has larger eyes. The closest relation,
in colour pattern anyway, is Synodontis polli,
but the spots on its body are larger and tend to be
more irregularly rounded and it usually has a darker
body colour and a longer snout. The make-up of the
teeth on these two species also tells them apart,
S. petricola: 31-32, S. polli: 36-43. You
don't tend to see S. polli very often, so mistakes
are few and far between. Another close relative is
Synodontis dhonti, but only the juveniles of
this species have spots and not when adult and it
will be very rare if we ever see this species due
to the ongoing unrest in the Congo.
A more recent
noticeable similarity from the paper by Wright,
JJ and LM Page (2006) is the look-a-like
grows smaller has larger spots on the head and differs
from S. petricola by the absence of a pore
beneath the humeral process which is present in S.
petricola. These two species can be difficult
to tell apart, especially as juveniles
6-7 weeks old
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.
aspect of identifying similar body pattern Synodontis,
and is often overlooked, is the shape of the humeral
process, the bony structure that adorns the head of
the Synodontis genus. Below are a few shapes
that could help you identify the Lake Tanganyika types.
petricola is quite
a peaceful species and will only eat or harass other
tankmates if they are much smaller than them as they
forage round the tank at night, and if you do see
them for sale, and you can match their water constraint,
snap them up because you won't be disappointed.
Teeth 31-32. Skin on head is
rough. Gill openings do not extend beyond the level
of the pectoral fin spine. Humeral process is triangular,
elongated and pointed.
Head and body brownish, slightly
lighter on the underside, the entire body and head
(including the adipose fin) is covered with numerous
blackish spots which are irregularly rounded, often
confluent, and are smaller on the head and sometimes
in the ventral region. Dorsal, pectoral, ventral and
anal fins dark from the base, with their edges whitish.
Caudal fin with a broad dark band in both lobes continuing
to the margins, above and below these bands is whitish.
Care and Compatibility
Keeping Synodontis petricola
as with the other Lake species tends to be a little
diverse from your run-of-the-mill Syno's as
water parameters are different with the p.H. tending
to be on the alkaline side, and they are best housed
in a large tank (3ft or over) with Cichlids from the
Rift Valley Lakes with a coral substrate, or tufta
rock, to keep the p.H. up if you are in a soft water
area. The most success with this species usually lies
with Rift Valley Cichlid enthusiasts who add this
Syno to their collection for something different.
In their native habitat they
live on a crustacean diet of snails as do other Lake
Tanganyika catfish and will do well in the aquarium
on a diet of frozen foods such as shrimp, brineshrimp
and mysis. They will also accept tablet foods and
a good quality flake food.
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile
(Cuvier 1816). petricola: A dweller among
H.A. and R. Riehl 1991 Aquarien atlas. Band.
3. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde,
Germany. 1104 p. Sands D; A Fishkeepers Guide to African
& Asian Catfishes. Seegers, Lothar; The Catfishes of
Africa. A handbook for identification and maintenance.
Tetra Verlag GmbH. 604p. Wright, JJ and
LM Page (2006)
Taxonomic revision of Lake Taganyikan Synodontis (Siluriformes:
Mochokidae). Florida Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull. 46(4):99-154.