Your internet guide to
all things catfish

Synodontis bastiani  Daget, 1948

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 euberneensis.

The Ivory Synodontis comes to us from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Here it is found in riverine habitats.

Synodontis bastiani

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 tank companions.

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 formed.

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.

Synodontis bastiani

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.

Synodontis: Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816)

Photo Credits
Top image  © Hippocampus Bildarchiv
Bottom image: David Marshall 
Factsheet 113

Synodontis eburneensis, Synodontis dageti    
Common Name:
Ivory Synodontis
Africa: Sassandra, Bandama and Bia basins (Côte d'Ivoire), also from the Comoe and Agnébi Rivers. Type locality: Côte d’Ivoire: Bouaflé.
20cm. (8ins)
22-26°C (72-79°F)     
6.5 - 8.0
If you found this page helpful you can help keep ScotCat running by making a small donation, Thanks. 

Donate towards my web hosting bill!


Print Friendly and PDF







































                                                                                                                                               Factsheet 113= updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top