This month (November 2005) we welcome a
new contributor in David Marshall a keen Synodontis keeper
who is a member of English fish club, Ryedale Aquarist Society,
and also the editor of their newsletter, Ryedale Reporter. He
is a regular contributor to Aquarticles on the net. I now hand
you over to David on how to take care of the "Ivory Synodontis".
he scientific community currently recognises
this fish as Synodontis bastiani. In aquarist circles
we recognise this fish from its junior synonym name of Synodontis
The Ivory Synodontis comes to us from Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Here it is found in riverine habitats.
If purchasing a young Ivory Synodontis
find a full bodied fish as emaciated youngsters never regain the
habit to feed. Youngsters really know how to fend for themselves
and will feud not only with each other but with any other Synodontis
species housed within their aquarium. Be warned as their aggression
can hit times when it knows no bounds. At the juvenile stage they
like to hideaway among the décor emerging into the open
in hyperactive bursts that will see them 'spook' and bully small
As far as the U.K. goes these fish are relative newcomers to the
aquarium scene and thus have only been seen in any number since
the autumn of 2003. These fish tend to grow very quickly. In general
fast growing Synodontis have the shortest natural life
spans so we will wait and see what happens with these fish?
An aquarium of 48x12x12" allows enough room for movement
(my trio are housed in an aquarium 60x10x10"). These fish
are sold for Rift Valley communities but are not at home in the
hard water conditions found in such an aquarium and this affects
their eyes, which go extremely cloudy, very quickly. A pH of 7
and a high water temperature of 79 F suites them very well. As
long as regular water changes are maintained filtration can be
minimal. Décor of rounded pebbles and mopani wood with
a substrate of fine gravel. The skin of this specie is not as
strong as that of many other Synodontis so avoid using
sharp edged rocks etc. in your aquarium. Rough territories are
Please remember that the pectoral spines of this specie are extremely
sharp so we never catch an Ivory Synodontis in a net but lower
the water level and shepherd them into a plastic bowl. When removed
from water many Synodontis make squeaking noises but
I have never heard such sound coming from an Ivory Synodontis.
Written for the Ryedale Reporter, Ryedale
Aquarist Society, England
The caudal is deeply forked. The first ray
of the dorsal stands erect like a blade. The adipose is extremely
thick. A naturally streamlined fish built for speed. As maturity
is reached the body thickens, arches and looses the distinct dorsal
first ray. At this time great confusion arises with identification
as Synodontis bastiani now looks almost identical to its
Egyptian cousin Synodontis schall.
The background colour of this fish varies
greatly from an ivory colour to plain brown to lime green. Some
populations have a foreground of light spots. The gills are frilled
and to the right of this area is a large dark spot.
As they mature their behaviour becomes more
stable, particularly when kept as a trio or group, but they can
turn on the aggression, should the need or mood dictate. The mature
trio in my care live alongside Synodontis decorus, S.
schoutedeni, S. njassae, large Plecostomus, Raphael
catfish, large Botia species and a group of red parrot cichlids.
Perhaps the secret is to keep them in a fairly crowded aquarium?
I would definitely not trust them with smaller species.
This occurs during the West African rainy
season when large tracts of grassland become flooded. Scientific
research indicates that distinct pairing takes place. Dark coloured
eggs are scattered in open water and over the substrate. There is
no parental care of these eggs. As the eggs hatch the fry feed upon
abundant micro-organisms so that they grow quickly and put on enough
body fat that will enable a high number to survive when the dry
season begins and the waters thus recede back to their normal river
courses. As yet there are no reports of aquarium or commercial breeding
of the Ivory Synodontis.
Feeding causes no problems as large sized
flake foods, catfish pellets, prawns and pieces of Thai crabstick
are taken with great gusto. My trio have a strict pecking order
but all three make sure of getting plenty to eat.
Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier
Top image ©
Bottom image: David Marshall