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Catfish / Mochocidae / Pygmy Leopard Catfish

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


Synonyms: S. petricolor
Physical description: 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 body and 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 transparent edging.
Size/Length: To 4" (10 cm)
Similar species: Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus), Synodontis dhonti, Poll's Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis polli). Most commonly confused with S. polli.
Habitat: Eastern Africa; Tanzania, tributaries of the Malagarsi River, a river that flows into the Northeastern side of Lake Tanganyika, and the rocky shore areas of this rift lake.
S: bottom
Aquarium: 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 or sandy bottom.
Water chemistry: 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 75-82°F (24-28°C).
Social behavior: Combine with Lake Tanganyika mouth-brooder Cichlids, from rocky areas. Also a good community catfish. The cuckoo catfish can be kept in groups of 2-6 fish. Adults become solitary. Do not keep with small fish under 1" (3 cm).
Suggested companions: Rock dwelling, mouth brooding cichlids from Lake Malawi and Tanganyika; Rainbowfish; Livebearers
FOOD: Live; snails, crustaceans, insect larvae, Tubifex; fish eggs; tablets
Sexual differences: Females may be plumper during spawning season.
Breeding techniques: As for S. multipunctatus. If no mouth-brooding cichlids are available, the eggs are scattered above rocky areas.
Breeding potential: 8. This species is most easily bred when combined with spawning mouth brooding cichlids.
Remarks: A hardy fish. Not readily available to hobbyists.
Difficulty of care: 3. This hardy species has interesting spawning habits.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com