Synodontis species can be easily mixed up with
Synodontis nigrita, but the main difference
is the body colour with nigrita having a grey/black
colouration and robbianus being more of a brown
colour. There is also a difference in the shape of
the humeral process ( the part of the head shield
that projects back just above the pectoral fins),
S. robbianus is that bit longer and ends in
a point while S. nigrita also ends in a point
but is shorter and sweeps up in a curve on the bottom
nigrita has a slightly different body shape being
more square shaped than S. robbianus and
also grows larger at 17.5cm. Both species are spotted
over most of the body although there are specimens
that have very few spots. The fins also carry spots.
To confuse matters more S. robbianus is also
similar to S. obesus but the latter has a
smaller adipose fin and shorter maxillary barbels
than the former. In young fish the dorsal and caudal
fins are striped, the stripes break up to form spots
as the fish matures.
Is this a community
Synodontis?. Indeed it is and can be kept
with most species. It does not seem to be too territorial
and is very hardy as I have proved when I found my
newly acquired specimen, bought a good many years
ago, on the floor of my fishhouse when I opened up
one morning. I don't know how long it had been
lying there but when I popped it back into its tank
again it contracted over the next few days, velvet
disease. I treated it as per instructions and I still
have it 10 years later.
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.
Niger and Cross River (Old Calabar) in Nigeria.
Skin of flanks non villeuses.
Humeral process pointed. Mouth twice as wide than
long, premaxillary teeth in a strip. Eye
relatively large and the snout short.
Ground colour of head and body,
brown, lighter towards belly region. Dark spots on
the body mostly confined to the upper parts, (the
amount can vary). Pectoral, ventral and anal fins
dark brown. Dorsal and caudal fins spotted, adipose
fin the same colour as the body.
Care & Compatibility
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.
Not known, but
the females are deeper bodied than the males.
Will take most prepared aquarium
foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp,
prawns, tablet food, flake food and pellets. A wide
varied diet will provide a healthy specimen for many
From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos,
meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced
lower jaw teeth.
David. Catfishes of the World, Vol 2 Mochokidae. Baensch, H.A. and R. Riehl 1985 Aquarien
atlas. Band 2. Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und
Heimtierkunde GmbH, Melle, Germany. 1216 p.