This leads me to my question. My darling synos both made appearances a week or so ago, and their visages completely startled me - their normally dark, velvety faces had both gone white. It totally looked like someone just rubbed all the skin off on their faces til they went bald, or perhaps if they themselves had been itchy, they did it on their own? I attached a photo of syno #2, the only one who would sit still long enough for a photo op (still a bit blurry tho, sorry - they live to evade pics, apparently). Syno #1 had even more face-baldness than that, close to double (s/he lives in a cooler house with less options to get photos, though, so I can't show you). Both synos acted totally normal whenever I observed them, though. No actual itching; casually floating around upside down & exploring the caves; standard curiosity around the chips they like to eat; normal level of shyness tempered by occasional audacity. The rest of their bodies had totally normal coloring/texture, just those weirdo bald faces. I stared at the other fish in the tank for hours (I'm a fish nerd, I often stare at them for hours...) looking for abnormalities, and saw nothing except for the bald faces of my synos. All the other fish in there were 100% normal in behavior and color.
So, as we do when we are in doubt... I immediately did a water change (a little extra and early; about 25%, a couple days sooner than the planned weekly change). Params continue to read 0/0/5ish, which are normal for this tank (cycled ages ago, lots of filtration, no new fish/plants/decor within the last several months). pH = 7.5, temp hovers within a degree or two of 78. Those are all standard readings for this setup, where my synos have been living for a year or so. I'm struggling to identify anything that changed which would alter the color of their faces?? I haven't done anything differently. I've also never heard of variations in catfish face color.
The good news is, within about 3 days of my noticing their creepy little bald faces, everything is back to normal. My synos are appropriately dark and velvety all over. I feel crazy, but I have photos! It really happened. I just have no idea why, and no context to understand how serious it was or how to prevent it happening again. I can't find anything on this online, so I'm here to poll the masses. Any idea what happened? Can I prevent it happening again? I try not to pick favorites in my tanks, but for real, my synos are just the most delightful little dudes. I'd be devastated if anything happened to them, especially if it was my fault for overlooking something about their care/requirements/habitat
Any and all feedback is welcome! Thanks in advance, both from this suddenly-anxious fishkeeper as well as these nifty little cats (who are currently scaling all over the caves upside down, like they're on some kind of mission - LOVE THEM).
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They could have fought a bit - synos do that to reshuffle or enforce dominance order or they could have been trying to get a particularly desirable morsel of food stuck in a cranny out of their reach. Physical damage. But usually this results in tattered fins and abrasions and bite marks on the body. So this kind of damage would be highly unusual IMHO, unless again caused by gluttony...
Another thought is they may have piebald in their genes. I don't think I've ever saw it in eupterus but it's been seen in other synos, like lace syno nigrita where piebald specimen are offered for sale.
Finally, weird things can occur when some chemicals make it into a fish tank, like sprays, cleaners, furniture polishers, air fresheners, etc. I recall one such case with a tiger shovelnose catfish that went little by little white because keeper's wife used a cleaning spray to clean the stand and around the tank.
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