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Synodontis pleurops  Boulenger, 1897    

l' Bug Eyes would be an apt nickname for this member of the Mochokidae genera and is very much a favourite among Synodontis fanciers. So for ScotCat's 250th factsheet (April 2017) I am indulging in one of my favourite catfish families. This species along with quite a few of this genera have been brought into the country as juveniles with captive breeding occurring on commercial fish farms via the use of hormone injections but the one pictured below is the real deal and was photographed (and bought I may add) in Aqualife, a fish store in the north of England well known for its rare catfish exibits.



Synodontis pleurops


Synodontis pleurops - adult colouration



S. pleurops is nocturnal and will hide during the day so plenty of hiding places would benefit this species with plants and rockwork. Although it can grow to 23cm. (9ins) standard length it is very much a peaceful species. A tank over 36in(90cm) would suffice for this Syno if kept singularly but if kept with con specifics a larger tank that would benefit its final adult size would be best.


Synodontis pleurops = the down turned short snout mouth


Synodontis pleurops - the down turned short snout indicative of its preference for scraping algae from rocks.


Synodontis pleurops - juvenile colouration

Synodontis pleurops - juvenile colouration






Deep body. Eyes very large, lateral, and sited far apart on the broad head. The short snout is down-curved. Pectoral spine not serrated on the outside. Anal fin with extended rays.

Brown mottling to body and brown edgings stripes to the caudal fin lobes. Very pretty species when juvenile but takes on more of a drab appearance when growing into adulthood.

Aquarium Care

As for the vast majority of Synodontis species in that it is peaceful and can be housed with other non-aggresive species in a medium to large tank. Keep the water changes up to keep your species in good condition. Provide a slight water current with soft acid to neutral p.H. water.



Any larger Characins and peaceful Cichlids.


Winkelman (2001) succeeded in breeding this species and the parents turned almost white in courtship and laid hundreds of non-adhesive sinking eggs. (Seegers, L. 2008 The catfishes of Africa). There is no parental care. Distinct pairing during breeding.

Sexual Differences

It is likely that the sexes can be externally differentiated by females having a proportionately wider and deeper body than the males. There may also be differences in the vent area.



Will take most prepared aquarium foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp, prawns, insect larvae, tablet food, snails, a good quality flake food and pellets but would need some vegetable matter in its diet such as cucumber, algae tablets, vegetable flakes and mashed peas. A wide varied diet will provide a healthy specimen for many years.

Glossary of Terms

Anal fin: The median, unpaired, ventrally located fin that lies behind the anus, usually on the posterior half of the fish.
Caudal fin: The tail.
Pectorals: The paired fins just behind the head.


Synodontis: From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos, meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth.


Poll, M., 1971. Révision des Synodontis africains (famille Mochocidae). Ann. Mus. R. Afr. Centr., Sci. Zool., 191:1-497.
Seegers, L. 2008 The catfishes of Africa. A handbook for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S. GmbH, Germany. 604 p.

Photo Credits

© Allan James @ ScotCat

©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv

Factsheet 250

Common Name:
Bug-Eyed Synodontis
Africa: Congo basin except Luapula system and Lower Congo. Type locality: Stanley Falls, upper Congo.
23cm. (9ins)
22-26°C (71 -79°F)
6.0 - 7.0.
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