eupterus Boulenger, 1901
his is one of my favourite Syno's and I have
had this specimen in the following photograph for about 10 years,
from a striped juvenile in 1992 to around the 7" SL. mark now
When young, these fish are sold here in
the U.K. as Synodontis 'network' and are quite common.
They have a striped pattern when youngsters but gradually lose
this trait, and this disappears to be replaced by spots over the
top half of the body.
The first thing you do notice as adults
is of course the magnificent dorsal fin with each ray extending
into long filaments which can vary in different individuals, hence
the common name of 'feather fin' catfish. You can see this trait
in the second photograph.
The only aggression that I
have witnessed with this species is when I introduced a Hemisynodontis
membranaceus to his 6' 0" tank
( its a male) and all hell broke loose. I then moved him to another
tank which included a Synodontis greshofi and they
get on just fine. I think with most Synodontis you have
to watch them, and who you put in to their quarters with them,
as some can be more aggressive than others. These fish can be
territorial, so give them caves to make them feel more secure
in their surroundings.
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,
Synodontis euptera is one of these Syno's which can become
quite tame and can appear to the front of the tank at all times
of the day looking for food and just showing to the rest of the
tank inhabitants that he/she is boss. The colouration is not startling
but never the less it is an impressive fish which I think, being
a bit bias, the vast majority of the Synodontis genus are
I have a friend who has been keeping around 14 of these fish together
in a 4' x 2' x 2' tank for the last 5 years and trying to breed
them. He has had eggs of them only once, but they didn't amount
to anything. He finds them quite aggressive, especially a big female
who has killed fish that he has introduced to the tank. I think
this is the exception to the rule as his fish are in a so called
breeding colony, and would view introduced fish as a threat to their
Dorsal 1/8; Pectoral 1/9; Mandibular teeth;40-56.
Mandibular barbels reaching the base of the pectoral fin. Large
Darkish brown/grey body and dotted all over
with small black spots, ventral parts lighter. Head and upper half
of body and adipose fin spotted (spots vary from fish to fish).
Remaining fins are liberally covered with black spots. In young
specimens the caudal fin is striped and, as the fish matures, the
stripes seperate forming spots.
Can sometimes be quarrelsome depending
on the individual fish so would be better in a larger tank with
other fish such as larger barbs and tetras such as the "Congo
Tetra". Will try and establish itself as the boss of the
tank, then once the hierarchy is sorted out things should settle
down. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places for this fish
so it does not feel under threat from the other tankmates.
Not reported but would be a prime candidate
for hormone production, if that is not being done already. Sexing
can be quite easy in well fed individuals as the females can get
quite heavy while the males stay comparatively slim. You can sex
them of course by the genital papilla which drops down in the male
to a point while the females are blunt.
The adults will eat a wide variety of foods
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
Holden, M. & Reed, W., West African
Syn = together; odontis = teeth.(fused
eupterus : Good fins.
Poll, Max., Revision Des Synodontis Africains (Family Mochokidae)
Northern Area Catfish Group; Information Sheet 46.
Allan James @
Bottom Image : Wayford Pence.