ve never forgotten the first time I viewed a documentary
on the Okavango Delta in Botswana and the Hippos gliding
through the papyrus grass channels. It was a fascinating
program on this World Heritage Site and I often wondered
what catfishes reside in this environment. So we have
20 species of catfish with 8 of them belonging to
the Synodontis genera.
One of them is
the Blackspotted squeaker Synodontis nigromaculatus,
where its most southerly limit is the Okavango Delta.
It can be found in the papyrus and reed fringes along
river channels and around perennial lagoons. Its range
is quite vast with the type locality being in northeastern
Zambia over 1000km (650 miles) away. It can also be
found in the southernmost end of Lake Tanganyika in
In Lake Bangweula
its main diet is chironomid larvae with also weeds
and other vegetable matter taken so for feeding in
captivity this is a good guide to its dietary needs.
Below is an image of the Lake with vegetation being
abundant in the swamps. Its feeding habits in the
Okavango Delta are similar with their stomach contents
also containing the larvae and eggs of the local Cichlid
of Bangweulu lake, northeastern Zambia
Distrbution:Lake Bangwelo, Chobe River and the Okavango
Delta in Botswana. Type
Lake Bangwelo in Zambia.
S. nigromaculatus is reported to be widely
distributed and being possibly closely related to
the ancestor of the Lake Tanganyika species flock
(Seegers, Lothar Dr. 2008).
zambezensis, S. melanostictus, S. colyeri.
Luapula System, Moero, Bangwelo, Lake Tanganyika,
upper Kasai, upper Zambezi, Okovango, Cunene and Limpopo.
Also present in the Zambian Congo. Type locality:
D 1, 7; A iv-vi, 7-9. Body
deep. Head bony with a triangular humeral process
located behind the gill opening and pointing backwards.
Mouth ventral, snout short, barbels long and slender,
with maxillary barbels having filamentosus branches.
Dorsal fin tall, dorsal and pectoral fins with a hardened,
serrated spine, Caudal fin forked.
Body yellowish/olive, with
all fins covered in small black spots and sometimes
forming vermiculate streaks.
Care & Compatibility
Does not seem to be problomatic
in its care. Good community catfish in a larger setup
but as with all Syno's will
need their own space, meaning their own bit of bogwood,
PVC pipe or rockwork to reduce the territorial behaviour
of this genus. Tankmates
should be large enough not to become harassed by this
species, such as small tetras.
In its natural
habitat it breeds in the rainy summer and flood season
and lays its green eggs on to plants where they are
left to their own devices.
Will take most prepared aquarium
foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp,
prawns, tablet food, a good quality flake food, pellets
and a bit of veggy food such as cucumber now and again. A
wide varied diet will provide a healthy specimen for
Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the
rayed dorsal fin. Anal fin: The median, unpaired, ventrally
located fin that lies behind the anus, usually on
the posterior half of the fish. Caudal fin: The tail. Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s)
on top of the body. Humeral process: Bony extension of
the pectoral girdle. Maxillary: Pertaining to the upper
jaw (maxillary barbels). Pectoral fins: The paired fins just
behind the head.
From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos,
meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced
lower jaw teeth. nigromaculatus: Black spots.
M., Merron, G., Skelton, P., Fishes
of the Okavango Delta & Chobe River, Botswana.
Struik Nature, 2018. Encyclopædia Britannica.
Map. P. B. N. Jackson.
The Fishes of Northern Rhodesia, A Checklist of Indigenous
Species. 1961. The Government Printer, Lusaka. 140
Révision Des Synodontis Africains (Famille
Mochocidae) [Revision of the African Genus Synodontis
(Family Mochokidae). 523 p. Seegers,
L. 2008 The catfishes of Africa. A handbook
for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag
A.C.S. GmbH, Germany. 604 p.
1993 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of
southern Africa. Southern Book Publishers. 388 p. www.britannica.com
First & Second images:Author
Other images: www.britannica.com Map:www.britannica.com.
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