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Synodontis alberti  Schilthuis, 1891

ne of the most recognisable and popular members of the Synodontis genera is "Alberts Synodontis" or "Bigeye Squeaker", Synodontis alberti, recognisable of course by its huge eyes, long maxillary barbels the large adipose fin and its almost straight dorsal.


Synodontis alberti


Synodontis alberti


It is listed in the IUCN Red list of threatened species as of least concern. It is widespread or without major threats throughout the Central Africa assessment region.


Synodontis alberti - close up of mouth and barbels


Synodontis alberti - close up of mouth and barbels
Synodontis alberti -showing the large eye
Synodontis alberti -showing the large eye


Synodontis alberti tends not to swim or feed upside down as with some other species in this genera. Hinged teeth in the lower jaw are used as rasps to remove algae.


Eye large, 3 to 3½ in length of head. Maxillary barbels simple, reaching caudal peduncle or caudal fin. Mandibular barbels with slender barbels, outer mandibular barbels 1.2/3 to 2 times length of head, inner mandibular barbels half as long as outer. Dorsal fin spine almost straight, as long, or longer than head, anterior edge smooth, posterior edge feebly serrated. Pectoral fin spine as long as, or a little shorter than head, strongly serrated on both sides. Caudal fin deeply forked, upper and lower lobes may be produced into filaments. Ventral fin not quite reaching to anal fin.

Body olive to brown, spotted with dark brown. Caudal, dorsal and anal fins with numerous small spots arranged in series. The colour pattern is variable, in some specimens the dark spots on the body predominate, making the olive base colour appear as reticulations.

Aquarium Care
Provide plenty of hiding places such as caves and root work with plants also an advantage with a sandy or fine gravel substrate.



Nice temperament and will do well in the larger community tank alongside surface schooling fish as the exploration around the tank feeling with its maxilaary barbels may upset other lower tankmates. This is a somewhat timid and nocturnal species and as such should not be housed with aggressive fish such as large Cichlids.



Not recorded

Sexual Differences

It is likely that the sexes can be externally differentiated by females having a proportionately wider and deeper body than the males. There may also be differences in the vent area.



Can be fed a varied diet of good quality flake, tablet food, pellets, worm foods and frozen food such as bloodworm. Will benefit also to a vegetable diet such as cucumber and courgette (zucchini).

Glossary of Terms

Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Anal fin: The median, unpaired, ventrally located fin that lies behind the anus, usually on the posterior half of the fish.
Caudal fin: The tail.
Caudal peduncle: The narrow part of a fish's body to which the caudal or tail fin is attached.
Dorsal: The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body.
Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary barbels)
Mandibular barbels:
Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels)

Pectoral fin: The paired fins just behind the head.
Ventral fin: The paired fins, between the pectorals and the anal fins.


Synodontis: Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816)
: Probably named for Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria.


Gosse, J.-P., 1986. Mochokidae. p. 105-152. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels, MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 2.
Poll, M., 1971. Révision des Synodontis africains (famille Mochocidae). Ann. Mus. R. Afr. Centr., Sci. Zool., 191:1-497.
Riehl, R. and H.A. Baensch, 1987. Aquarien Atlas. Band. 1. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur-und Heimtierkunde, Germany. 992 p.
Moelants, T. 2010. Synodontis alberti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T183031A8035608. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T183031A8035608.en.

Photo Credits

© Allan James @ ScotCat
Danny Blundell @ The Danny Blundell Photo Gallery

Factsheet 262

Common Name:
Alberts Synodontis, Bigeye Squeaker
Africa: Central Dem Rep. Congo. Type locality: Kinshasa, Stanley Pool.
14cm. (5½ins)
23-27°C (73-81°F)
6.0 - 8.0
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