member of the Mochokidae family has been quite a popular
if not too attractive addition to the catfish fraternity
since 1973 when it had then been made the emblem of
the now deceased Catfish Association of Great Britain.
The original description
was Synodontis batensoda, namedby the
German Ichthyologist W.P.E.S Rüppell in 1832
in his paper "Continuation of the description
and figure of several new fish, in the Nile. p1-14
." It was known as this name until Bleeker
in 1862 erected a new genus, Brachysynodontis
for it. This was because of the differences between
the numbers of gill rakers and the absence of a gap
between the dorsal and adipose fin. This is still
an ongoing debate after it was moved back into the
Synodontis genera again.
its colour pattern suggests, it spends most of its
time in an inverted position. In the wild they congregate
in large shoals, feeding on phytoplankton, zooplankton
and detritus. It is speculated that one of the reasons
for the inverted swimming position is that when caught
in dry season pools it gives this species the opportunity
to exploit the low oxygen content to the full. They
are found in some of the largest rivers in Africa,
but migrate to areas where the pools and marshes occur.
I can only surmise that this is a pre-empt to spawning
for Synodontis batensoda.
common name of "Upsidedown catfish" may
confuse readers as the other Syno also with this name
is the smaller Synodontis
unlike S. batensoda spends most of its time
inverted under branches or logs whereas the latter
when dormant sits on the bottom of the aquarium.
The genus Synodontis sports three pairs of
barbels 1 pair: 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.
decorus and S.
Nile, Chad, Niger (including the Bénoué),
Senegal and Gambia basins.
Dorsal:1/7, Anal:5/7-9. Maxillary
barbels with a broad posterior membrane throughout
their length; mandibular barbels without membrane
and possessing slender ramifications. Shoulder-process
rectangular. Adipose fin very large. Dorsal fin spine
smooth anteriorly, occasionally with 3-4 serration's
at the tip, feebly serrated posteriorly ending in
a filament. Pectoral fin spine feebly serrated on
outer border strongly serrated on inner border. Caudal
fin forked, each lobe ending in a point. Head shield
pitted and granulated.
Adults are silver-green to
blue-grey, occasionally delicate redish-brown. Underside
blackish. Fins grey, partly with dark spots. Barbels
black.The young have large dark blotches on the flanks,
separated by an intervening pale network.
Care and Compatibility
Keeping S. batensoda
in the aquarium poses no problem as they are in my
experience an easy going Synodontis and can
be quite entertaining in their forages around the
tank swimming upside-down along the top of the tank
and then reverting to their bottom posture as they
glide along the bottom. I have found that they sometimes
can get bullied by the more aggressive members of
this family so as with all Syno'syou will
have to experiment to find the best solution for its
Omnivore, in its natural habitat
it feeds on plankton, algae and detritus. May also
feed on surface insects, chironomid larvae, benthic
crustaceans and mollusks. In the aquarium they will
take a wide range of foods. They will feed during
the day and accept live food, frozen food (bloodworm)
tablet and pellet foods and a good quality flake.
I have also witnessed my specimen gnawing away at
a piece of courgette (zucchini) which was left out
for my Ancistrus, so a little bit of greenery
now and again would also supplement their diet.
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile
(Cuvier 1816). batensoda: From Schal baten
soda, local name for this catfish in Cairo, Egypt,
meaning “the Schal [Arabic vernacular in Egypt
for squeaker catfishes in general] with the black