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.
Was always known in the
early years of the hobby as Hemisynodontis membranaceus
with the monotypic genera by Bleeker in 1862 but it
is now being excepted as Synodontis (Lévèque
et al., 1992, Willoughby 1994 and Danke et al., 1999).
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.
membranaceeus 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 feed.
membranaceus- showing barbels
Above can be seen
the impressive looking barbels on this species
bearing a black membrane.
Chad, Niger (including the Bénoué) Senegal,
Gambia and Volta basins; also the Nile in northern
Africa. Type locality: Fl. Nil (Egypte).
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
Care and Compatibility
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 it eating in its inverted position.
but the females are somewhat fatter and bigger than
The usual feeding for Synodontis
species, being good quality flake food, tablet food,
frozen bloodworm, shrimp and prawns. In its natural
habitat it feeds on plankton and detritus. May also
feed on surface insects, chironomid larvae, benthic
crustaceans, and mollusks.
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile
(Cuvier 1816). membranaceus : Refers
to the presence of a membrane on the barbels of this
Northern Area Catfish Group; Information
Sheet 01. 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.