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Down arrow Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis grandiops  Wright & Page, 2006
Common Name Common Cuckoo Catfish
Type Locality Mwakizega coastline, Lake Tanganyika.
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 large (grand=large) eyes (ops=eyes).
Down arrow Species Information
Size 111mm or 4.4" 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.

Light brown to beige on the flanks, with this base coloration becoming somewhat darker on the back and head. Belly white with or without spots. The dark spots on the posterior of the body are around iris to eye size, becoming smaller anteriorly. Spots larger, irregular, sometimes confluent in juvenile specimens. Maxillary and mandibular barbells white. Iris yellowish to copper colored. Dorsal and pectoral-fin spines brown to black, filaments white. Pectoral spine with thin, light stripe along anterior margin. Dorsal and pectoral fins with black triangles at their base, posterior margins white in color. Triangles may be completely solid or composed of closely spaced spots. Black patches at base of pelvic and anal fins absent or poorly developed, single black spot may be present at base of these fins. Adipose fin with white dorsal edge. Both lobes of caudal fin with black bar from base to tip, posterior margin of fin white. Large axillary pore present, mandibular teeth 17-26, 7 pectoral-fin rays, eye 64.2-81.0 % of snout length, premaxillary toothpad uninterrupted, secondary branches on medial mandibular barbel absent, papillae on skin of body absent. Adipose fin short, poorly developed, margin convex. Humeral process narrow, elongated, granulous, possessing distinct ridge on ventral margin, dorsal margin convex, terminating in 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 S. grandiops and S. multipunctatus are most reliably separated by pectoral-fin ray counts with S. grandiops having 1 pectoral fin spine with 7 soft rays and S. mutipunctatus having a count of 1, 8 . The soft pectoral-fin elements (i.e. the rays) are almost always branched (the only exception being the last one or two rays, which are sometimes unbranched) a ray is counted as one at its base before it branches out. Also keep in mind the larger adult size of S. multipunctatus.
Down arrow Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: Lake Tanganyika.
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
Feeding It is likely that these fish feed on small gastropods, as do the other species of Synodontis from the lake. Not a fussy eater in the aquarium, but prefers meat based over vegetable based food.
Furniture In Lake Tanganyika likely inhabits littoral to benthic zones over shell, sand and mud bottoms, as do most of the other Synodontis of the lake. In aquaria prefers the cover of stones and caves to dash into when feeling threatened.
Breeding There is a report in a thread on PlanetCatfish of a group of confirmed S. grandiops using the cuckoo method of spawning. It is also possible that egg-scattering would be used without a host fish present.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down arrow Further Information
Reference Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History v. 46 (no. 4), pp 109, Figs. 3C, 8-9.
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Last Update 2020 Oct 01 13:38 (species record created: 2007 Feb 19 17:32)