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Synodontis schoutedeni   (David, L. 1936) 

mainstay of the Synodontis side of the hobby, this is a gregarious fish which is well suited to a community tank of mid sized individuals and does well on a varied diet, so well in fact that it starts to resemble an implement that you hit with a No.1 wood, namely a golf ball!. I don't know why they enjoy their food so much but if there is a snack about, they won't be too far away.

Synodontis schoutedeni

There seems to be quite a few variations on the body pattern and colour of this species and one fish that it seems to get confused with, in colour pattern anyway, is S. aterrimus which is roughly half the size of S. schoutedeni.

Synodontis schoutedeni

The two pictures above show the different colour patterns in S.schoutedeni. There is also Synodontis greshoffi which is also very much alike but the marbled pattern is not so well defined in this species and has a duller pattern

Below is a comparison between Synodontis schoutedeni and S. aterrimus.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2
Synodontis aterrimus
Synodontis schoutedeni

The line drawing (fig1) on the left depicts S. aterrimus
The line drawing (fig2) on the right depicts S.schoutedeni

Note the difference in the maxillary (largest) barbels, the shape of the dorsal and also the shape of the humeral process (the long bony plate just behind the gill plates).

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. flavitaeniatus.

This is one of the few Synodontis to be able to swim upside-down and its body colouration continues around the body. It is particularly fond of flake food which can be fed first thing in the morning before lights on and it will feed, as mentioned, upside-down from the surface.
If kept with a number of the same individuals they can become very territorial so you should present them with plenty of caves such as large pipes or rockwork. All in all, a pretty patterned Synodontis which comes in periodically to the aquatic establishments and if you are keen on this family of catfish, snap them up.

Body; slightly compressed.
Barbels; three pairs. Maxillary reach to origin of ventral fins. Mandibulars with simple ramifications.
Dorsal fin; spine smooth anteriorly occasionally with 1-4 serrations at the tip. Posteriorly with very little serrations ending in a small filament.
Pectoral fin; spine finely serrated on the outer edge, heavily serrated on the middle of the inner edge decreasing in size towards each end with a smaller filament at the end.
Caudal fin; forked.

Ground colour cream with brown mauve marbled pattern on head, body and adipose fin. All other fins spotted. Maxillary barbels dark. Mandibular barbels white.

Good community catfish in a larger setup but as with all Syno's will need their own space, meaning their own bit of bogwood, PVC pipe or rockwork to reduce the territorial behaviour of this genus. Tankmates should be large enough not to become harassed by this species, such as small tetras.

Not reported but is probably being bred in Eastern Europe using hormone injections.

Will take most prepared aquarium foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp, prawns, tablet food, a good quality flake food, pellets and a bit of veggy food now and again. . A wide varied diet will provide a healthy (and fat !) specimen for many years.

Synodontis: Ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile (Cuvier 1816).
schoutedeni : In honour of Schouteden.

Poll, Max; Revision Des Synodontis Africains (Famille Mochokidae) 1971.
Northern Area Catfish Group; Information Sheet 10.

Photo Credits

©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv

Line Drawings from Poll, Max; Revision Des Synodontis Africains (Famille Mochokidae) 1971.    

Factsheet 058

Synodontis depauwi
Common Name:
Marbled Synodontis   
Democratic Republic of the Congo Africa: central Democratic Republic of the Congo.
16.5cm. (6¾ins)
22-26°C (71-79°F)
6.5 - 7.2.
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                                                                                                                                             Factsheet 58 = updated December 16, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top