Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

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Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by meghannne » Thu May 25, 2017 8:25 am

Hello there! I'm new to the forums, though not to fishkeeping. I had a bewildering experience recently with my Synodontis eupterus kiddos, though; I have two of these guys, each roughly 3.5" in length, acquired at the same time ~6 months ago. They both live in a 75gal community tank with some happy-go-lucky rams (a Bolivian, a golden, and a GBR) as well as a school of zebra danios and an African butterfly fish (whom the synos have obviously never even met; the butterfly never leaves the surface, the synos never leave the floor). Rams & synos ignore each other entirely; would be easy to conclude that they just pretend the others don't exist. I've never had any territory struggles between them. I also have a snowball pleco (L-102) in the same tank. I was cautious on that mixture, but it turned out kinda heartwarming... the two synos hang out in the same cave together maybe 50% of the time or so, but the other 50%, the "second in command" gets ejected to an inferior cave (lol - all the caves are cool) about a foot away, which is usually where the snowball is hanging out. They seem to enjoy each other's company (syno #2 and snowball), and happily share this cave together when they want. With lights on, I only catch ancillary glimpses of all 3 (both synos + snowball), though occasionally the synos get curious enough to come munch on catfish wafers (which I feed in addition to a couple other NLS products for the rams; whole other regimen for the top-swimming guys). I have literally never seen the snowball pleco come out and eat, but she must graze on leftovers after lights-out I suppose, as she's been alive and growing for nearly a year. :YMHUG:

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).
Syno #2 with his/her previously bald face

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Re: Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by Viktor Jarikov » Thu May 25, 2017 4:43 pm

Hey there newcomer! What a delightful first post! A pleasure to read. As for the color change, it appears to me one of those cases where it's hard to say. I am thinking of a few things.

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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Re: Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by unblinded » Thu May 25, 2017 8:50 pm

I agree with Viktor on the cleaners. I had several synos with patches that lost color and finally narrowed it down to a chemical or cleaner having oversprayed into the tank. I did a complete water change and they healed up after a couple of weeks.
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Re: Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by meghannne » Fri May 26, 2017 9:37 pm

Victor & unblinded - thanks so much for your replies! Such helpful notes, and it never crossed my mind to think about whether there are any airborne contaminants making their way in. #-O I can't think of an immediate culprit in terms of cleaners or anything like that, but at least now I have something to investigate and watch out for. I'll post back if I can catch the issue, and hopefully crack the case of these little upside-down baldies. :-b

Thanks again!!

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Re: Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by JamesFish » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:28 pm

Was it a bit like the white showing here?

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Re: Bald-faced synodontis eupterus cats

Post by naturalart » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:21 pm

Hi Meghannne, just wondering what you have observed/learned about your eupterus duo? My guess would be some intraspecies fighting. This occurs often with loner and gregarious synos. S. eupterus are generally gregarious, given enough space and resources. But they do set a 'pecking order'. Given that its not any of the other possibilities mentioned above, you could try providing a larger hiding space that might accomodate both synos comfortably? Depending on how these 2 fish develop this may or may not work over the long term. But its just a suggestion.

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