factsheet for February 2014 centres on one of my favourite
catfish families, Mochokidae, and of course the Synodontis
genera. They are very interesting catfishes and one
of the more impressive and long known species is the
"One-Spot Synodontis" Synodontis notatus.
This is one of
three similar species which include S.
congicus and S.
nummifer. What are
the differences between these three?. 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 although the common name of "One-spot
Synodontis" for S. notatus does point
to the vast majority of specimens. The main criteria
for the 2 species is the length of their maxillary
barbels (pertaining to the upper jaw). S. congicus
has short maxillary 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 and blunter snout. Another very important
feature is the adipose 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.
but not as large.
The other species,
Synodontis nummifer 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.
congicus (note the short maxillary barbels)
of this species have very large spots (either one
or two on each side) but with maturity the spots do
not grow with the body so are smaller in adults.
Congo basin. Type locality: Riv.
Oubangui à Bangui.
Snout pointed andstraight.
The upper head profileisstraight
in lateral view. Maxillary barbels long and extending
to far behind the operculum, adipose fin small and
set far back.
Ground colour is grey/brown
to olive on the dorsum with a gold sheen to the operculum
area in healthy specimens. The underside is whitish.
There is usually one black spot, eye sized and posterier
to the dorsal, but sometimes they are two in some
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, frozen mosquito larvae and bloodworm.
Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the
rayed dorsal fin.
Caudal fin:The tail. Dorsal fin: The primary
rayed fin(s) on top of the body. Operculum: The bony covering of the
gills of fishes. Dorsum: The upper (dorsal) surface
of the head or body. Maxillary barbels: Pertaining to
the upper jaw (maxillary barbels). Pectoral fin:The paired fins just behind the head.
From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos,
meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced
lower jaw teeth. notatus: Marked, ( with
a spot, usually).
L. 2008 The
catfishes of Africa. A handbook for identification
and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S. GmbH, Germany.