Clown Catfish although it grows large
is, in my book, the original gentle giant. It does
well in an aquarium environment but do bear in mind
that if you have purchased it as a juvenile and it
is placed in a small tank you will certainly have
to move it, as it grows, to a larger tank for the
benefit of the fish itself, and of course the enjoyment
of its owner.
Talking of enjoyment,
you will need to be patient as this fish is extremely
nocturnal as an adult and is one of the shyest Syno's
around. Regular contributor to the monthly factsheets,
Linday Dobree-Carey, tells me that her decorus
(Charlie) shares its home, a plastic pipe, with one
of three large Clown Loaches (Botia macracantha)
and they follow each other around which she thinks
makes Charlie feel more secure.
The unusual trait
of this Synodontis is the long extension of
the dorsal fin which can reach as far back as its
caudal fin and along with its attractive body colouration
makes it one of the most popular catfish of the genus,
The image below
shows Lindsay's pair of clowns! Clown Catfish to the
top and the Clown Loach on the bottom bunk. Lindsay
explains her feeding routine below.
Catfish and Clown Loach
night I have a Moonglow lamp which cuts
in for a few hours in the evening and this gives Charlie
a chance to pop out and do the rounds without him
being disturbed by the bright light. Even so, I tend
to feed them about 10.00 pm and they have cottoned
onto the feed time and Charlie is looking
out of his pipe any time from 9.30 onwards, any other
time you wouldn't think he was there, unless you occasionally
look at the end of the pipe
The image above
shows the ramifications (filaments) on the maxillary
as well as the mandibular barbels which is unusual
in the Synodontis genus.
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.
clarias, S. decorusand
Thanks to Lindsay Dobree-Carey for her input and photos
and also to Czech aquarist Jiri Pistil for his photograph
of the head area and barbels.
labeo, Synodontis vittatus
Rep.of the Congo. Congo
basin except Luapula River system.
and body compressed. Three pairs of barbels, maxillary
barbels with a small membrane at the base and small
slender ramifications larger than on maxillary barbels.
Dorsal fin spine smooth anteriorly and posteriorly
occasionally with between 2-5 serrations at the filament.
Pectoral fin spine smooth on outer edge, inner edge
serrated, but not at the base, and ends in a short
filament. Caudal fin deeply forked with each lobe
forming a point. Head shield pitted.
Base colour creamy white with
large black spots and blotches scattered over body.
Ventral region white. Dorsal, caudal, anal and ventral
fins with black transverse bands.
Care & Compatibility
You will have to choose its
tankmates carefully as small characins will be viewed
as lunch to an adult decorus on its night-time
foraging but a good addition
to a large community tank.
on the breeding of this species but males are reported
to be smaller and darker coloured than the females.
In their native habitat they
live on invertebrates, small fishes and crustaceans.In
the aquarium they will take a wide range of foods
bearing in mind that it might be better to feed at
night to make sure that they get their fair share
in a community tank. They will accept live food, frozen
food (bloodworm) tablet foods and a good quality flake
Association of Great Britain; Volume 1. Dobree-Carey,
Lindsay. pers. comm.
Riehl, R. and H.A. Baensch 1991 Aquarien
Atlas. Band. 1. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur-
und Heimtierkunde, Germany. 992 p. Sands,
David; Back to Nature Guide to Catfishes. 1996.
p. 62-63. 128 p.