decided this month to return to the African Continent
and to concentrate my thoughts on a member of the
Synodontis genus which has been misidentified
on a number of occasions in your local fish store.
The catfish in question is the "Congo Synodontis",
Synodontis congicus and its similarity to
another species from the same area, Synodontis
To start of with,
the number of spots on the two species of S. congicus
and S. notatus does not warrant any attention
as they do vary with my 4 species of S. congicus
showing 4 spots and 3 spots.The main criteria
for the 2 species is the length of their maxillary
barbels (pertaining to the upper jaw).S.
congicus has shortmaxillary barbels
reaching back to just after the insertion of the pectoral
fin whereas S. notatus has them longer, reaching
to nearly the end of the pectoral fins, which can
be seen in the accompanying line drawings. S.
congicus has also
a shorter snout.
very important feature is the adipse fin, S. notatus
being very small and S. congicus being the
larger of the two. S. congicus tends also
to have a larger eye much as in the vain of S.
pleuropsbut not as
species that I havent mentioned and is a bit rarer
in the hobby is Synodontis
nummifer which has
short barbels like S. congicus but has a
spotted head and pigment in the caudal fin. The thing
about all three of these species is that their humeral
process (Bony extension of the pectoral girdle) are
quite alike in that they are all blunt with S.
congicus being a little bit shorter and the head
shield being heavier, but this is not a good way to
identify these 3 species in that you may be looking
at juveniles and this method may not be fool proof.
Synodontis congicus is not too much of a
problem. They do like, as most Synodontis,
to be territorial but not as bad as S. notatus
which can be a bit disruptive when they get to adult
size. They will get on fine with each other if they
are introduced as juveniles or young adults. They
will have a few skirmishes, but nothing too drastic.
do tend to be quite shy but they will venture out
for food during the day and dart back into their hiding
places with their catch. As you have noted they are
much happier kept in a tank when they have choices
of shelter during the day, whether it is pipework,
branches/bogwood or stonework/slates.
Rep.of the Congo. Congo basin (except Lower Congo,
central basin, Luapula-Moero and High Katanga).
1/7 with a short filament. Adipose fin base 1/7. Shortmaxillary barbels reaching back to just after
the insertion of the pectoral fin. Large eye. Short
and rounded humeral process.
Light grey to silver
with one to four black spots
along midlateral line of body.
Care & Compatibility
Best suited to the larger aquarium.
A quite well behaved Synodontis if given
the room to grow and will not molest tankmates if
they are not too small.
No reports on
the breeding of this species.
Will eat a variety of foods
and as in most members of this genus they are not
a problem to feed. Tablet and pellet foods with a
good quality flake and frozen bloodworms.
Syn = together; odontis = teeth
(fused tooth plates). congicus: From the Congo.
Max; Revision Des Synodontis Africains (Famille
Mochokidae) 1971. Sands,
David. Catfishes of
the World, Vol 2 Mochokidae.