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Synodontis eupterus Boulenger, 1901 

his is one of my favourite Syno's and I have had this specimen in the following photograph for about 10 years, from a striped juvenile in 1992 to around the 7" SL. mark now

Synodontis eupterus

When young, these fish are sold here in the U.K. as Synodontis 'network' and are quite common. They have a striped pattern when youngsters but gradually lose this trait, and this disappears to be replaced by spots over the top half of the body.


The first thing you do notice as adults is of course the magnificent dorsal fin with each ray extending into long filaments which can vary in different individuals, hence the common name of 'feather fin' catfish. You can see this trait in the second photograph.

The only aggression that I have witnessed with this species is when I introduced a Hemisynodontis membranaceus to his 6' 0" tank ( its a male) and all hell broke loose. I then moved him to another tank which included a Synodontis greshofi and they get on just fine. I think with most Synodontis you have to watch them, and who you put in to their quarters with them, as some can be more aggressive than others. These fish can be territorial, so give them caves to make them feel more secure in their surroundings.

Synodontis eupterus

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. flavitaeniatiatus.

Synodontis euptera is one of these Syno's which can become quite tame and can appear to the front of the tank at all times of the day looking for food and just showing to the rest of the tank inhabitants that he/she is boss. The colouration is not startling but never the less it is an impressive fish which I think, being a bit bias, the vast majority of the Synodontis genus are anyway.

I have a friend who has been keeping around 14 of these fish together in a 4' x 2' x 2' tank for the last 5 years and trying to breed them. He has had eggs of them only once, but they didn't amount to anything. He finds them quite aggressive, especially a big female who has killed fish that he has introduced to the tank. I think this is the exception to the rule as his fish are in a so called breeding colony, and would view introduced fish as a threat to their territories.

Dorsal 1/8; Pectoral 1/9; Mandibular teeth;40-56. Mandibular barbels reaching the base of the pectoral fin. Large sail-like dorsal.

Darkish brown/grey body and dotted all over with small black spots, ventral parts lighter. Head and upper half of body and adipose fin spotted (spots vary from fish to fish). Remaining fins are liberally covered with black spots. In young specimens the caudal fin is striped and, as the fish matures, the stripes seperate forming spots.


Can sometimes be quarrelsome depending on the individual fish so would be better in a larger tank with other fish such as larger barbs and tetras such as the "Congo Tetra". Will try and establish itself as the boss of the tank, then once the hierarchy is sorted out things should settle down. Make sure there are plenty of hiding places for this fish so it does not feel under threat from the other tankmates.

Not reported but would be a prime candidate for hormone production, if that is not being done already. Sexing can be quite easy in well fed individuals as the females can get quite heavy while the males stay comparatively slim. You can sex them of course by the genital papilla which drops down in the male to a point while the females are blunt.

The adults will eat a wide variety of foods and that is the key to keeping Syno's fit and healthy, a wide varied diet. They will take flake, tablet food, prawns, shrimps and frozen bloodworm.

Synodontis: Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816).
eupterus : Good fins.

Holden, M. & Reed, W., West African Freshwater Fish
Poll, Max., Revision Des Synodontis Africains (Family Mochokidae)
Northern Area Catfish Group; Information Sheet 46.

Photo Credits
Top Image:        Allan James @ ScotCat      
Bottom Image : Wayford Pence.  
Factsheet 016

Synodontis macrepipterus
Common Name:
Feather-Fin Catfish
Africa: White Nile, Chad, Volta and Niger basins including the Bénoué  
16.5cm. (6½ins)
22-26°C (71-78°F)
6.2 - 7.5
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                                                                                                           Factsheet 16 = updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top