polli Lambert, 1958
his 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
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.
This factsheet 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.
"Baensch & 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 now."
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 !
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 picture below.
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.
They certainly 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 diet.
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 spawning habits.
Acknowledgment: Steven Grant for supplying updates for
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..
(Microsynodontis sp. 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
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 Cichlids.
Not known. Females are rounder in the body
Will take most prepared aquarium foods such
as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, tablet food and sunken flake.
Dr: An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes, 1989.
Micro = small; Syn = together; odontis
= teeth.(fused tooth plates).
polli : In honour of Dr.Max
Grant, Steven; A pictorial guide to Microsynodontis
Top picture: Steven
Middle picture: Allan James @
Bottom picture: ©