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Synodontis petricola  Matthes, 1959

Image contributors to this species:

Graham Burnside (4) Danny Blundell (4) Hippocampus Bildarchiv (2) Frants Lehmann (1 Stamp)

ScotCat Sources:

Factsheet Article Article Etymology = Genus Etymology = species

Other Sources:

Fishbase  Google Search  All Catfish Species Inventory

Relevant Information:

It is very similar to the other popular Syno from the same Lake, the 'Cuckoo Cat', Synodontis multipunctatus but petricola has white edgings to all its fins, especially the leading ray to the dorsal, whereas Synodontis multpunctata has the rear end of the dorsal fin, white only and has larger eyes. The closest relation, in colour pattern anyway, is Synodontis polli, but the spots on its body are larger and tend to be more irregularly rounded and it usually has a darker body colour and a longer snout. The make-up of the teeth on these two species also tells them apart, S. petricola: 31-32, S. polli: 36-43. You don't tend to see S. polli ( not in the U.K. anyway ) very often, so mistakes are few and far between. Another close relative is Synodontis dhonti, Synodontis dhonti, but only the juveniles of this species have spots and not when adult. A more recent noticeable similarity from the paper by Wright, JJ and LM Page (2006) is the look-a-like Synodontis lucipinnis which grows smaller has larger spots on the head and differs from S. petricola by the absence of a pore beneath the humeral process which is present in S. petricola. These two species can be difficult to tell apart, especially as juveniles. Aquarium care: Keeping Synodontis petricola as with the other Lake species tends to be a little diverse from your run-of-the-mill Syno's as water parameters are different with the p.H. tending to be on the alkaline side, and they are best housed in a large tank ( 3ft or over ) with Cichlids from the Rift Valley Lakes with a coral substrate, or tufta rock, to keep the p.H. up if you are in a soft water area. The most success with this species usually lies with Rift Valley Cichlid enthusiasts who add this Syno to their collection for something different. Diet: In their native habitat they live on a crustacean diet of snails as do other Lake Tanganyika catfish and will do well in the aquarium on a diet of frozen foods such as shrimp, brineshrimp and mysis. They will also accept tablet foods and a good quality flake food. 

Common Name:

Pygmy Catfish


Synodontis multimaculatus


Mochokidae blycipitidae


Africa: Lake Tanganyika


11.5cm. (4½ins)


22-25°C (71-77°F)


7.5 -9.0.


Wright, JJ and LM Page (2006) Taxonomic revision of Lake Taganyikan Synodontis (Siluriformes: Mochokidae). Florida Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull. 46(4):99-154.
Seegers, L. 2008 The catfishes of Africa. A handbook for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S. GmbH, Germany. 604 p.
ScotCat Factsheet no. 46. April 2000.



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