is one of three poorly documented pygmy Synodontis,
the other two being M.lamberti and M.batesii.
The members of this genus are sometimes confused with
another small member of the Mochokidae family, namely
Mochokielia paynei, but paynei has a
forked tail whereas members of Microsynodontis
possess a rounded caudal and do not have branched
maxillary barbels like M. paynei.
The genus Microsynodontis
have a rounded caudal, small eyes and have 3 pairs
of barbels, one pair of maxillary and 2 pair of mandibular,
the latter having thick branches. The dorsal has one
hard ray and 6 soft and a long low adipose fin.
has been updated (Dec.2002) owing to further information
kindly furnished by Steven Grant a catfish enthusiast
and author here in the U.K. in a study that he has
carried out on the genus Microsynodontis. This
is a quote taken from this very article on the genus
Microsynodontis by Steven.
& Fischer (1998) appears to show M. polli
on page 357 (incorrectly identified as batesii),
although Heok Hee (Ichthyologist-Ed) says that the
fish in Baensch & Fischer probably originates
from the Zaire River near Kinshasa in the Democratic
republic of the Congo, and at the moment he is not
sure if this fish is a separate species from the true
polli which originates from the Gbin River,
Guinea, which is a considerable distance away. My
photograph of polli (top picture-Ed) may also
be the Zaire variant. When it was small it had no
or only very minute markings on the body. The fish
is now approx. 4 cm SL and the markings are more distinct
The mystery that
I find with this species is the collection points/names
that they are being sold at here in the U.K., and
I believe in the U.S. as well. They are being traded
as Synodontis sp.'nyong', nyong being a river
in the African state of Cameroon, but as Steve states,
M.Polli does not come from Cameroon, Microsynodontis
batessi (bottom picture) does and is probably
the species concerned.
The picture below
shows a specimen sold as M. polli in the trade
and at the moment it is being captioned as Microsynodontis
sp. polli. There is now ongoing work on this
genus being carried out by Heok Hee Ng a Singaporean
Ichthyologist working in the U.S. and so this factsheet
may even change again in the not too distant future.
(2011) The above specimen is still not been classified
to species and is now known for the time being as
Microsynodontis sp. 1. or Microsynodontis
sp. 'Nigeria' along with the other species in the
The first time
that I kept this species a few years ago, I did not
keep them very long and I thought that they were just
one of those species that are hard to keep. I came
across them again in 1998 in a small shop in the Scottish
borders and was wary of buying them until the proprietor
explained that they kept them in alkaline water, and
they were very happy. So I bought 5, took them home
and they settled fine in a livebearer tank which was
just over the p.H. of 7.
like their food and seem to scurry along the bottom
at breaknet speed, between the caves and pots that
I have set up for them, looking for any morsels of
food at feeding time. They do seem to relish frozen
bloodworm and they can get quite rotund with this
This species seems
to be very slow growing and I think in the future
could be a candidate for a spawning success, once
a little more information is forthcoming about their
Acknowledgment: Steven Grant for supplying
updates for this factsheet.
Synodontis, Pretty Woman Pygmy Synodontis
Gbin River, upper Niger in Guinea. Reported from Saint
Rounded caudal, small eyes
and have 3 pairs of barbels, one pair of maxillary
and 2 pair of mandibular, the latter having thick
branches. The dorsal has one hard ray and 6 soft and
a long low adipose fin.
polli) Brown body colouration with 3 indiscriminate
broken yellow/white bands circling body. Two yellow/white
bands run from eye to snout. One yellow/white band
runs from between dorsal insertion and eye, over
top of head and round body. One runs around body
just before insertion of adipose fin and the third
broken line is just situated behind adipose fin.
Caudal and adipose fin have markings. Dorsal and
anal fin have colouration at the base of soft rays
and colour in the first hard ray of the dorsal.
Care & Compatibility
No problem in a community tank
as long as the water parameters are adhered to and
it is not housed with boisterous species such as larger
Females are rounder in the
body than males.
Will take most prepared aquarium
foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, tablet
food and sunken flake.
Micro = small; Syn = together; odontis
= teeth.(fused tooth plates). polli: In honour
of Dr.Max Poll, ichthyologist.
E. Warren Dr: An Atlas of Freshwater and
Marine Catfishes, 1989. Grant, Steven; A pictorial guide
to Microsynodontis catfish, Planetcatfish.com.