Cat-eLog Right Arrow Mochokidae Right Arrow Mochokinae Right Arrow Synodontis

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis rukwaensis  (Hilgendorf & Pappenheim, 1903)
Common Name
Type Locality Lake Rukwa, southwestern Tanzania.
Synonym(s) Synodontis maculipinna, Synodontis wamiensis, Synodontis zambezensis rukwaensis
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. Originating from Lake Rukwa.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 255mm or 10" 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.

The humeral process is long and triangular, running up to a pointed tip. The caudal fin is deeply forked. Juveniles have a white-yellowish base colouration with large dark spots or marbling.Irregular whitish bands extend vertically in front of the dorsal and adipose fins and behind the latter. Adults are olive-grey, the base of the dorsal fin is darker, and there may be a few dark spots on the head and body. Sexually active males sometimes have a reddish caudal fin.
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 stuck (Which by the way, hurts like crazy!). 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 (And 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 These fish prefer large calm waters.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Africa, Lake Rukwa drainage, Ugalla subdrainage, Malagarasi system, and theeastward flowing rivers of Tanzania south of the Pangani.
African Waters, Southern Rift Lakes, Rukwa (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Status Least Concern
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Studies of gut content showed small pieces of weed and vegetable debris, Odonata larvae, chironomid larvae, terrestrial insects, gastropod molluscs, fish scales, zooplankton, phytoplankton, plus some sand and mud. This wide diversity of the diet was confirmed by aquarium observations; the fish take all kinds of foods including flakes and pellets.
Breeding Unreported. In the Ruvu River, an eastward flowing coastal stream, the species seems to spawn in the rainy season and the young migrate into smaller affluents or the adults spawn at those places.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Jump to next section Further Information
References The Fishes of the Lake Rukwa Drainage,Seegers pg.248.The Catfishes of Africa,Seegers pg.485
Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin 1903 (no. 6)
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Last Update 2009 Dec 14 03:21 (species record created: 2008 Dec 21 04:59)