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Down arrow Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis melanostictus  Boulenger, 1906
Common Name
Type Locality Lofu, Lake Tanganyika.
Synonym(s) Synodontis melanostica
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss
Etymology According to Cuvier, Synodontis is an "ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile". It is apparently not derived, as often reported, from syn-, together and odous, tooth, presumed etymology of the lizardfish genus Synodus and in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth of both genera. This specific epithet refers to its black (melas=black) spots (stictus,-a=spots).
Down arrow Species Information
Size 320mm or 12.6" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification All species in the genus Synodontis have a hardened head cap that has attached a process (humeral process) which is situated behind the gill opening and pointed towards the posterior. The dorsal fin and pectoral fins have a hardened first ray which is serrated. Caudal fin is always forked. There is one pair of maxillary barbels, sometimes having membranes and occasionally branched. The two pairs of mandibular barbels are often branched and can have nodes attached. The cone-shaped teeth in the upper jaw are short. S-shaped and movable in the lower jaw. These fish produce audible sounds when disturbed rubbing the base of the pectoral spine against the pectoral girdle.

Axillary pore absent, body with small spots, All rayed fins with small, black spots, similar to those found on body,black triangles absent, fin spines brown, 9-10 pectoral-fin rays. Humeral process triangular, wide at base tapering to sharp point.
Sexing First lay the fish in your hand with its head toward your palm and the tail toward your fingers. Hold the dorsal spine between your middle and ring finger so the fish is belly up and you won't get punctured by the sharp fin spines (which hurts - be careful). The genital pore is in a small furrow of tissue (in healthy fish) and will be obstructed by the pelvic fins. Pull down on the tail gently to arch the fishes spine and the pelvic fins will stand and the furrow open to display the genital pore and the anus of the fish. The male has a somewhat ridged genital papillae on which the spermatoduct is on the back side, facing the tail fin. A gravid female will also show an extended papillae but the oviduct is on the ventral side of the papillae. It may also show a little redness if really gravid. A thin or emaciated female will have just two pink pores, the oviduct and the anus.
General Remarks The only species of Synodontis found in the lake not endemic to the Lake Tanganyikan Basin. S.melanosticta lacks the rayed fin colouration common to almost all its Tanganyikan congeners. Inhabits littoral to benthic zones over shell,sand and mud bottoms to a maximum depth of 150 m.
Down arrow Habitat Information
Distribution East central Africa: Lake Tanganyika and its tributaries.
African Waters, Western Rift Valley Lakes, Tanganyika (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Not Evaluated
Down arrow Husbandry Information
Breeding Unreported.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down arrow Further Information
Reference Transactions of the Zoological Society of London v. 17 (pt 6, no. 1), pp 553, Pl. 34.
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Last Update 2019 Oct 09 05:03 (species record created: 2008 Mar 08 03:38)