his month (May 2008) we head of to the African
family, Mockokidae, and to one of my favourite genera, the Syno's
and to its most common member, the spotted catfish, Synodontis
nigrita, or as it is sometimes known as the "false upside
down catfish" owing to the mix up, when youngsters, to the
much smaller and true "upside down cat" Synodontis
This species is being sold as the all
comprising name of "spotted catfish" or in some cases
which can look similar when young but have more of a reticulated/striated
pattern. When youngsters (see bottom pic.) their bodies are
adorned with spots including all fins and as they grow into
adulthood they begin to lose this trait and (as above) take
on a change in colour and markings from a light coloured fish
with spots to a dark brown with less spots. There are always
spots that adorn the fins especially the adipose fin.
D1/7; A4/8-9. Maxillary barbels longer than
the head, not branched, without tubercles and with a distinct blackish
basel membrane. Dorsal spine not serrate on anterior edge. Caudal
fin forked with upper lobe longer than the lower. Humeral process
keeled and sharply pointed.
The holotype speciman resides in
the Muséum National d' Histoire Naturelle de Paris and
is a poor quality speciman although you can just see the spots
in the adipose fin which may have pointed to a spotted body.
Another Syno which is alike is the Brown-spotted
Syno, Synodontis robbianus,
the difference is that robbianus seems to keep its
spots into adulthood and attains a smaller size at 13cm. (5ins).
The adipose fin is also larger in robbiana and does
not have the upper lobe longer then the bottom, but the two
can be quite difficult to tell apart.
Can be found in large lakes and waterways and are widespread
on the African continent.
Brownish, lighter on the belly. All fins with
spots which are arranged as a band on the caudal fin.
Fine as juveniles but with most larger
Syno's will get a little teritorial going into adulthood. A 4ft
tank or above with larger tankmates such as Rasboras, African
tetras or Cichlids will do fine.
In their natural habitat they are nonguarders
of their eggs and as substratum egg scatterers they will scatter
them in open water. Not bred in aquarium so far but some have
turned up as hybrids, crossed with other Syno species in Eastern
As with most of the Synodontis genus
they will accept a wide range of foods and can be fed on a good
quality flake, tablet, pelet and frozen foods such as bloodworm.
|Not apparent but the females
will be deeper bodied than the
| Holotype: The
specimen on which the description of a new species is based.
Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Dorsal: is defined
as being top or above.
Bony extension of the pectoral girdle.
name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816)
Stiassny, LJ Melanie; Teugels, G.
Guy; Hopkins, D. Carl; The
Fresh and Brackish Fishes of Lower Guinea, West-Central
Africa. Vol.1 p739-40
Sterba, Günther; Freshwater
Fishes of the World vol.1 t.f.h. p408-9
[programmer] and M.H. Sabaj
[editor], 2006. ACSImagebase: A digital archive of catfish
images compiled by participants in the All Catfish Species
Inventory. [WWW image Database] URL http://acsi.acnatsci.org/base
National d' Histoire Naturelle de Paris
Synodontis ornatus, S. fascipinna
Chad, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Casamance, Geba, Kolente and Volta
basins; coastal rivers from Ghana to Nigeria, Nile basin;
including the Bénoué
|21-26°C (69 -79°F)
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