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CATFISH



MOCHOCIDAE FAMILY
The Mochocidae or Naked Catfish Family includes some ten genera, including the well-known genus Synodontis, and 110 to 170 species. Mochocids are foundthroughout the lakes and rivers of Africa. This family is sometimes known as The Upside-down catfish family because of some fishes' tendency to swim or hoverbelly up.
SIZE : The Mochocidae Family includes medium to large fish, usually not more than 12" (30 cm).
S : The fish of this family usually swim in the lower levels.
TANK : The tank ranges in size depending on the size of the fish. For most, it should be at least 28" (70 cm) long or 20 gallons (75 L). The African riverMochocidae like a well-planted tank with floating plants and plenty of hiding places. Lake Mochocidae should be kept in a tank with rocky areas and caves forhiding. The substrate for both groups should be soft.
WATER : The catfish from the various rivers of Africa can tolerate a pH from 6-7.5. They like soft to medium water ranging from 4-15 dH, and require atemperature of 72-82F (22-28C). The Mochocidae catfish from the Great African lakes prefer more alkaline, harder water. Most can tolerate a pH rangingfrom 7.0-8.5 and a water hardness of 10-30 dH.
SB : Most of the species in the Mochocidae Family are peaceful and nocturnal. Although their evening behavior often prevents other fish from sleeping, these fishare recommended for most community tanks. These fish can be combined in a community tank with nearly all other fish. Some of the larger species may eatsmaller fish.
SC : Most Synodontis species can be kept with medium to large sized fish. Most species can be combined with African Rift cichlids, or West African cichlids andAfrican tetras.
FOOD : Live, dry, and frozen foods that reach the bottom. These fish should be fed in the evening.
B : Few fish in this family have been bred. Some species that have successfully bred, although it is usually difficult. For almost all species, the rainy seasonplays an important role in triggering spawning. There appears to be three main spawning method S : species that lay eggs that adhere to vegetation, species thatscatter their eggs, and species that practice the "Cuckoo" method of S. multipunctatus. Most species must be two or three years old before sexual maturity isreached.
BP : Difficult.
R : The fish in this family have three pair of barbels and in most cases, are scaleless, except for the head. These fish should be netted carefully, because mosthave small spines. Many species have the ability to emit squeaking noises when alarmed and appropriately are referred to as Squeakers in southern Africa. Afew species have the ability to discharge small electrical signals. Most species possess spines capable of inflicting wounds.
DC : Most fish of this family are hardy, but there are some exceptions.

High-fin Synodontis, Albert's Synodontis [
Synodontis alberti

SYN : None
PD : The High-fin Synodontis has a deep, stocky body. It has three pairs of barbels on its mouth. The body is gray to brown in color and covered in small darkspots. The fins also have spots. The dorsal stands is elongated and grows longer with age, as does the tail.
SIZE : To 6.5" (16 cm)
SS : Feather-fin Synodontis (Synodontis eupterus), Spotfin Synodontis (Synodontis robbianus), Large-blotched Synodontis (Synodontis robertsi)
HAB : Western Africa; Stanley Pool of the Zaire (Congo) River in Zaire.
S : bottom
TANK : A 32" (81 cm) or 30 gallon (114 l) tank is sufficient, although larger tanks are preferred. The tank should be well-planted with a cover of floatingplants to mute the lighting. Provide hiding places with rocks, caves, roots, and wood. Leave an open-swimming area. The substrate should be fine gravel orsand.
WATER : pH 6.9-8.5 (7.8), 12-30 dH (20), 77-82F (25-28C)
SB : A peaceful fish, recommended for a community tank. Does well with any sized companions over 2" (5 cm).
SC : Mormyrids, Congo Tetras, West African cichlids, Gouramis, larger barbs.
FOOD : Live; Tubifex , insect larvae , aquatic insects, crustaceans, earthworms; pellets; tablets; large flakes; algae
SEX : The body color of adult females fades to grayish brown. Males keep the spotted pattern.
B : Unsuccessful.
BP : 10. This Synodontis has not been bred in captivity.
R : This fish has the longest barbels of all of the Synodontis species. A diurnal fish.
DC : 2. A hardy catfish, whose diet should be occasionally supplemented with live foods.

Black Clown Catfish, Polka dot African Catfish, Angel Catfish, Angel Synodontis [
Synodontis angelicus

SYN : None
PD : A beautifully colored catfish. The back is slightly arched. It has large eyes and a large head. The Angel Catfish's mouth is located under the head and has threepairs of barbels. The body is black with white spots. The fins are white-striped and black. Different populations have slightly different spot patterns and color.
SIZE : To 10" (25 cm)
SS : S. angelicus zonatus
HAB : Western Africa; found in the Zaire (Congo) River watershed (countries of Cameroon , Congo, and Zaire), in rivers which flow into Stanley Pool.
S : bottom, middle
TANK : A 40" (122 cm) or 45-55 gallon (170-209 L) tank is suggested. Provide hiding places with driftwood, rocks, and roots. The substrate should be finegravel and algae growth should be encouraged. Use a powerful filter that produces strong current. Leave open areas for free-swimming. Use robust plants withlarge roots.
WATER : pH 6-7.5 (7.1); 4-15 dH (8); 75-82F (24-28C)
SB : Do not combine with fish that are under 2" in length, otherwise a good community fish. Often aggressive and territorial towards its own species.
SC : African tetras, larger barbs, West African cichlids, Mormyrids, Knifefish
FOOD : Live; Tubifex , insect larvae , crustaceans, earthworms, aquatic and terrestrial insects; vegetables; tablets; will graze algae. Feed at night or when lightsare off.
SEX : Males are smaller, more slender, and retain their beautiful spots. Mature females lose spots and become brownish-black color.
B : Unsuccessful
BP : 10. The Angel Catfish has not spawned in captivity.
R : The true S. angelicus catfish is usually hard to find and expensive, although a sub-species has been identified. S. angelicus zonatus is legally exported andcomes from the Lukulu River in Kantanga, Zaire. The Angel Catfish is sensitive to water pollutants, but especially nitrates.
DC : 5. A community catfish that is sensitive to water conditions, whose best coloration is displayed under favorable conditions.

Brichard's Synodontis, Banded Synodontis [
Synodontis brichardi

SYN : None
PD : The elongated body has a flat body profile. Three pairs of barbels are located on the mouth. Brichard's Synodontis has a unique, stream-lined body,uncharacteristic of other Synodontis species. The body color depends on the age of the fish. Juvenile fish have a brownish-black base body color with severalblurred, but straight white stripes. Mature fish have a dark black body color with distinct, white, curving markings. This pattern continues through the fish'sforked tail. The belly is light gray.
SIZE : To 8" (20 cm)
SS : Decorated Synodontis (S. decorus), White-Barred Synodontis (S. ornatipinnis)
HAB : Turbulent waters, especially in rapids and pools below water falls. Western Africa; Zaire (Congo) River .
S : bottom
TANK : A 40" (122 cm) or 45-55 gallon (170-209 L) tank is suggested. The tank should have a strong current and be well-aerated. Use a fine gravel bottomwith large stones scattered about. These fish occasionally dig, thus plants should be well-rooted or potted. Provide hiding places and open swimming areas.
WATER : pH 6.2-7.5 (6.9), dH 6-20 (10), 72-79F (22-26C)
SB : A slightly territorial fish that may chase small fish that rest on the bottom at night. Combine with medium to large fish. A diurnal catfish.
SC : Mormyrids, Congo Tetras, West African cichlids, Gouramis, larger barbs.
FOOD : Live; mosquito larvae, Tubifex , Brine Shrimp ; vegetables; spinach
SEX : Unknown
B : Unknown
BP : 10. Brichard's Synodontis has not been successfully bred in captivity.
R : The colors of this Synodontis become more intense with age. Brichard's Synodontis likes to attach itself to flat surfaces and move into the current,demonstrating its helpful adaptation to its natural environment. Perform frequent partial water changes.
DC : 4. A hardy catfish, whose diet must include live foods.

Feather-fin Catfish [
Synodontis eupterus

SYN : None
PD : The Feather-fin Catfish has a deep, stocky body. It has three pairs of barbels on its mouth. The body is light brown to dark gray in color and covered in smalldark spots. The fins also have spots and the tail is striped. The dorsal stands tall.
SIZE : To 6" (15 cm)
SS : High-fin Synodontis (Synodontis alberti), Spotfin Synodontis (Synodontis robbianus), Large-blotched Synodontis (Synodontis robertsi)
HAB : Central Africa; White Nile (Sudan) and the tributaries of Lake Chad (Chari and Yobe Rivers) in Niger and Chad.
S : bottom
TANK : 32" (80 cm) or 30 gallons (114 L). The tank lighting should be muted by a cover of floating plants. Thickets of plants and other hiding places areneeded, as are open swimming areas. Use a fine gravel bottom. WATER : pH 6.5-7.5 (7.0), 8-20 dH (14), 72-81F (22-27C)
SB : A peaceful fish, recommended for a community tank. Does well with any sized companions.
SC : Mormyrids, Congo Tetras, West African cichlids, Gouramis, larger barbs, Haplochromis, Butterfly fish
FOOD : Live; Tubifex , insect larvae , crustaceans, earthworms, aquatic and terrestrial insects; tablets.
SEX : Unknown
B : Unsuccessful in aquaria, although successful in Florida fish farm ponds using hormone injections.
BP : 10. This species has yet to spawn in aquaria.
R : This fish is sometimes sold as S. ornatus.
DC : 3. A hardy catfish whose diet should include live foods.

Cuckoo Catfish, Multi-spotted Synodontis [
Synodontis multipunctatus

SYN : None
PD : An elongated catfish whose body color is light beige to gray and belly is white. Large black spots cover the body. The head is dotted with small spots. Thedorsal fin is black as is the forked tail. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and has three pairs of barbels.
SIZE : Males to 8" (20 cm), females to 11" (28 cm). Males are not usually more than 5" in captivity, while females rarely grow larger than 8" (20 cm).
SS : Synodontis dhonti, Poll's Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis polli), Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis petricola). S. multipunctatus and S. petricola are verysimilar. They can be distinguished by S. multipunctatus' large eye diameter and larger spots on the body. S. petricola has a more consistent spot size. S. pollidiffers from S. petricola in having a darker body pattern. S. dhonti attains a larger size and loses its body spots with age.
HAB : Eastern Africa; rocky shores of Lake Tanganyika, at depths up to 65 feet. This fish is exported from the Burundi district.
S : bottom
TANK : A 30" (76 cm) or 20-30 gallon (76-114 l) tank is sufficient for fish to 4" (10 cm). Larger fish require a tank measuring at least 40" (102 cm) or45-55 gallons (170-209 L). The tank should have a rocky set-up with caves and plenty of other hiding places. Use fine gravel or sandy bottom.
WATER : The water should be clean and nitrate free with a pH of 7-8.5 (8.1), a water harness of 10-35 dH (16), and a water temperature of 75-82F(24-28C).
SB : A good community catfish. The cuckoo catfish can be kept in groups of 2-6 fish while they are young. Adults become solitary and should be kept singly, or ingroups of three or more.
SC : Rock dwelling, mouth brooding cichlids from Lake Malawi and Tanganyika; Rainbowfish; Livebearers
FOOD : Live; snails, crustaceans, insect larvae , Tubifex ; fish eggs; tablets; will occasionally graze algae
SEX : Females may be plumper during spawning season and are larger when mature.
B : The Cuckoo Catfish waits for a pair of cichlid mouth-brooders to spawn. The catfish drops her small eggs (measuring 1.5 to 2 mm in diameter) among thecichlid's eggs. The female cichlid picks them up, thinking they are her own eggs, and cares for them in her mouth. When the young catfish hatch, in the cichlid'smouth, they feed on the young cichlid's yolk sacs until the catfish can fend for themselves. Start feeding with Artemia nauplii.
BP : 8. This is one of few Synodontis that regularly spawns in captivity.
R : A hardy fish. No two catfish are said to have the same body coloration.
DC : 3. A hardy fish, that should occasionally be fed live foods.

Upside-down Catfish [
Synodontis nigriventris

SYN : None
PD : The Upside-down Catfish is scaleless and slightly laterally compressed. It has three pairs of barbels; one long pair on the upper jaw, and two smallfeathered ones on the lower. The adipose fin is long, while the caudal is forked. Most of the fins are flesh colored with brown spots. The body coloration is fleshybrown to light brown. The body is covered in black to brown patches that occur randomly on the body. The belly is darker than the back, giving the fish anunusual appearance. This pattern makes the Upside-down Catfish hard to detect from predators lurking above; birds, larger fish, and mammals.
SIZE : To 4" (10 cm)
SS : Big-nosed Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis contractus), Poll's Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis polli)
HAB : Western Africa; along the banks of rivers with heavy vegetation in Zaire (Congo) River Watershed; especially the Zaire (Congo), Kasai, and OubanguiRivers.
S : bottom, middle
TANK : 28" (70 cm) or 20 gallons (75 L) Use a well planted tank with many hiding places. The lighting should be dimmed by a cover of floating plants.
WATER : pH 6-7.5 (7.0), 6-20 dH (8), 75-82F (24-28C)
SB : A hardy, peaceful community fish. Keep in groups. May occasionally nibble undersides of smaller fishes if not fed sufficiently.
SC : Corydoras, Pelvicachromis, Hemichromis, African and South American tetras, Angelfish, Gouramis, Barbs, Rasboras, Danios
FOOD : Live; Tubifex ; mosquito larvae, crustaceans; tablets
SEX : The female is fatter and lighter in color
B : The eggs (up to 450) are deposited in a depression made in the bottom. Parents look after the brood. The yolk sac disappears after 4 days. After 7 to 8 weeks,the fry change from spending all their time swimming like normal fish, to the standard swimming position of the Upside-down Catfish of about 50%upside-down, 50% right-side up. Will forms schools while young.
BP : 8. A difficult fish to breed.
R : This fish swims upside-down so it can see predators that approach. The Upside-down Catfish also swims in this manner for feeding on the underside of leavesand fish. Lockable spines make it difficult to remove from a net. Often this species will hide during the day.
DC : 2. A hardy fish, whose diet should occasionally include live foods.

White-Barred Synodontis [
Synodontis ornatipinnis

SYN : S. zebra
PD : An elongated catfish with a large, forked tail. Three pairs of barbels extend from the mouth, including one long pair that are pointed downward. The basebody color is white to light gray with swirling patterns of black markings. This pattern continues on all flanks. The head is dotted with small, black spots. TheWhite-barred Synodontis has a large adipose fin.
SIZE : To 12" (30 cm), although not usually more than 6" (15 cm) in aquaria.
SS : Brichard's Synodontis (S. brichardi), Decorated Synodontis (S. decorus)
HAB : Western Africa; turbulent waters of the Zaire ( Congo) River.
S : bottom, middle
TANK : 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (210 L). The tank should have a strong current and have a dark, fine gravel substrate. Only use tough, robust plants forthis fish digs. For this reason an undergravel filter should not be used. This lighting should be dim. Provide open swimming areas and hiding places in thecorners of the tank.
WATER : Use well-filtered water with a pH of 6-7.5 (7.0), dH 8-18 (12), 72-79F (22-26C)
SB : An aggressive, intolerant fish which is highly territorial and preys on small fish. Keep only one fish per 40" (102 cm) of tank. Should only be combinedwith other robust fish. A nocturnal species.
SC : West African cichlids, African tetras, Knifefish, Mormyrids
FOOD : Live; fish, snails, Brine Shrimp , mosquito larvae, Tubifex , crickets, other insects; tablets
SEX : Unknown
B : Unknown
BP : 10. Breeding has not been accomplished in captivity.
R : The colors of this fish fade with age.
DC : 5. A large fish that will eat small tank mates. Its diet must include live foods.

Cuckoo Catfish, Even Spotted Synodontis, Pygmy Leopard Catfish [
Synodontis petricola

SYN : S. petricolor
PD : An elongated catfish whose body color is copper-yellow to gray and belly is white. Its color may change to lighter shades with age. Black spots cover the bodyand the dorsal fin. The mouth is located on the underside of the head and has three pairs of barbels. The tail is forked and is black in color with a transparentedging.
SIZE : To 4" (10 cm)
SS : Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus), Synodontis dhonti, Poll's Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis polli). Most commonly confused with S. polli.
HAB : Eastern Africa; Tanzania, tributaries of the Malagarsi River, a river that flows into the Northeastern side of Lake Tanganyika, and the rocky shore areas ofthis rift lake.
S : bottom
TANK : 40" (100 cm) or 45-55 gallons (170-209 L). The tank should have a rocky set-up with caves and plenty of other hiding places. Use fine gravel orsandy bottom.
WATER : The water should be clean and nitrate free with a pH of 7-8.5 (8.1), a water harness of 10-35 dH (16), and a water temperature of 75-82F(24-28C).
SB : Combine with Lake Tanganyika mouth-brooder Cichlids, from rocky areas. Also a good community catfish. The cuckoo catfish can be kept in groups of 2-6fish. Adults become solitary. Do not keep with small fish under 1" (3 cm).
SC : Rock dwelling, mouth brooding cichlids from Lake Malawi and Tanganyika; Rainbowfish; Livebearers
FOOD : Live; snails, crustaceans, insect larvae , Tubifex ; fish eggs; tablets
SEX : Females may be plumper during spawning season.
B : As for S. multipunctatus. If no mouth-brooding cichlids are available, the eggs are scattered above rocky areas.
BP : 8. This species is most easily bred when combined with spawning mouth brooding cichlids.
R : A hardy fish. Not readily available to hobbyists.
DC : 3. This hardy species has interesting spawning habits.



By Rhett Butler







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