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Synodontis afrofischeri   Hilgendorf, 1888 

his Synodontis seems to appear with three different spellings, the above, afrofisheri and afro-fischeri but the above is the correct spelling. This is a peaceful and comparatively small species that would grace any community tank.
Named for Dr. G. A. Fischer the collector by Hilgendorf in 1888 in his paper "Fische aus dem Victoria-Nyanza (Ukerewe-See), gesammelt von dem verstorbenen Dr. G. A. Fischer. Sitzungsber. Ges. Naturf. Freunde Berlin 75-79"

Synodontis afrofischeri

A shipment of this species arrived in the U.K. in 1992 and I managed to purchase the individual in the picture above. Not knowing the age when bought I would guess that it would be about 8 years old now (1999) and near fully grown. It is tolerant of a wide spectrum of p.H. and hardness and even though this is not an upside-down catfish it likes to stand on its head or its tail and rest against the tank sides. You will see this Synodontis quite a lot during the day as it gets older, but less when as a youngster.

It is not a wonderfully coloured species but the brown and light marbled effect makes for an unusual adaptation in the Mochokidae family, and with these markings makes it an easy species to identify.

The 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. clarias, S. decorus and S. flavitaeniatus.

Dorsal spines (total): 1-1; Dorsal softrays (total): 7-7. 32-54 mandibular teeth. Maxillary barbels reaching almost to the origin of the pelvic fin in some specimens and to the tip of the humeral process in others. Outer mandibular barbels with slender branches, inner pair with shorter, but slender branches. Humeral process, sharp with straight upper edge. 40 to 66 teeth in lower jaw. Nostrils far apart and mouth narrow.

Marbled yellowish-brown (marbling is extremely variable, some individuals uniformly brown)

Synodontis afrofischeri is a very peacfull fish and a prime candidate for an average sized community tank.

Not known but is reported in the wild for females to lay from 200 to 15,000 eggs.

Will take most prepared aquarium foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp, prawns, tablet food and pellets. A wide varied diet will provide a healthy specimen for many years.

Synodontis: Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816)
afrofischeri: In honour of Dr. G. A. Fischer.


Sands, David. A Fishkeepers Guide to African & Asian Catfishes 1986.
Baench, Aquarium Atlas 2, 1993.

Photo Credits

© Allan James @ ScotCat
Factsheet 028

Synodontis atrofisheri
Common Name:
Fischer's Catfish
Africa: Lakes Victoria, Nabugabo, Kioga, Ihema; Nile, Kagera, Kingani Malagarasi Rivers, Piti River, Lake Rukwa basin. Type locality: Victoria-Nyanza (Ukerewe-See).
14cm ( 5½ins)
22-26c ( 72-80f ) 
6.2 - 7.5
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                                                                                                     Factsheet 28= updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top