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

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis multipunctatus  Boulenger, 1898
Common Names Cuckoo Catfish
Mangeplettet Gøgemalle (Denmark), Vielpunkt-Fiederbartwels (Germany)
Type Locality Sumbu, Lake Tanganyika.
Synonym(s) Synodontis multipunctata
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss - mull tee punk TATT uss
Etymology Synodontis: From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos, meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth. multi- meaning many and punctatus meaning spotted.
Articles
Article - CotM 2002 July
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Spawning Synodontis multipunctatus & S. lucipinnis
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 220mm or 8.7" 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 base coloration is whitish grey, becoming a stronger brownish, often a very attractive golden bronze, on the head and upper body. The belly is whitish with or without spots. On the base color there are roundish dark spots of variable size, at most eye diameter and smaller on the head. In juvenile specimens spots are larger, irregular and sometimes confluent. Maxillary and mandibular barbels 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 base, posterior margins white in color. Triangles in this species may be completely solid or composed of closely spaced dots. Black triangles at base of pelvic and anal fins absent or poorly developed. Single black spot may be present at the base of these fins. Adipose fin with white dorsal edge. Both lobes of caudal fin with dark bar from base to tip, posterior margin of fin white. Axillary pore present, mandibular teeth 13-29, 8 pectoral fin rays, eye 44.9-62 % 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 in juveniles becoming wider in adults, elongated, granulous, possessing distinct ridge on its ventral margin in young specimens, ridge becoming indistinct in adults, dorsal margin concave, terminating in a sharp point.
Sexing Males have a higher dorsal fin. Females are generally plumper and more rounded in profile. As with other Synodontis, in male fish it is possible to distinguish a 3-4 mm genital papilla near the anus.
General Remarks S. multipunctatus and S. grandiops are most reliably separated by pectoral-fin ray counts with S. mutipunctatus having 1 pectoral fin spine with 8 soft rays and S. grandiops having a count of 1, 7 . 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. It appears a southern and northern (at least) tribe exist, with the northern being the ''regular'' form and the southern being generally paler with more spacing between the spots.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Common throughout Lake Tanganyika, Africa
African Waters, Western Rift Valley Lakes, Tanganyika (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Status Least Concern
pH 7.8 - 8.2
Temperature 25.0-26.0°C or 77-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Clean water low in nitrates appears to be important to keeping the fish in good health and inducing it to spawn.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Feeds on snails, crustaceans and insect larvae in the wild. Not a fussy eater in the aquarium, but prefers meat based over vegetable based food. Generally considered to be a specialized predator of Neothauma tanganyicense(a snail)
Furniture Natural habitat is littoral to benthic zones over shell, sand and mud bottoms, to a maximum depth of 170m (Coulter1991a). In aquaria caves formed by piling up calciferous rocks and Vallisneria. Porous rock also has the advantage of providing the fry with interstices in which to hide.
Compatibility A schooling fish that prefers the company of its own kind. We recommend keeping at least three and ideally five or more S. multipunctatus together. Prefers crepuscular lighting. Generally peaceful, but may eat very small tank mates. Can hold its own with most Rift Lake catfish and cichlids seen in the hobby. .
Suggested Tankmates Often kept with Tanganyika, Malawi and Victoria cichlids, but dedicated siluriphiles may wish to consider keeping Tanganyikan Synodontis in all Synodontis tanks.
Breeding See Catfish of the Month article (link below).
Breeding Reports There are 5 breeding reports, read them all here.
Jump to next section Further Information
References Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond.1898 (pt 3) - pp497.
Florida Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull. 46(4):99-154.
Seegers, (2008) The Catfishes of Africa pg.450
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Last Update 2014 Jul 15 18:43 (species record created: 2001 Apr 21 00:00)