Catfish of the Month Right Arrow February 1998

Albert's Syno, Alberts Synodontis (Germany), Bigeye Squeaker, Bigspotted Squeaker, Storøjet Rygsvømmermalle (Denmark) - Synodontis alberti   Schilthuis, 1891

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded February 01, 1998.

"Albert" was probably my favourite individual Synodontis that I have as yet kept. This is a difficult choice to make, but as a species S. alberti have a lot to offer the catfish enthusiast. The photo above is a separate individual which clearly shows this fishes unique (among Synodontis) long barbels. They also have unusually large "cute" eyes and an endeaing clownish manner. I've only ever seen S. alberti for sale sporadically since I first clapped eyes on one in 1985. On the subject of eyes, this species larger ones points to its very nocturnal existance, this is something of a shy Synodontis but, therefore, not a bad one for a more social aquarium.".

Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis alberti  Schilthuis, 1891
Common Names Albert's Syno
Alberts Synodontis (Germany), Bigeye Squeaker, Bigspotted Squeaker, Storøjet Rygsvømmermalle (Denmark)
Type Locality Kinshasa, Stanley Pool, upper Congo River, near Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss - al BERT ee
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. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 160mm or 6.3" 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.

Easily distinguished from other Mockokids by its long maxillary barbels and, relative to head size, large eyes.
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.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Democratic Republic of the Congo around Stanley Pool; Kinshasa; Ubunghi-Banziville; Lukulu river, Katanga
African Waters, Congo (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Congo, Lukulu (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2009.
pH 6.0 - 8.0
Temperature 21.0-25.0°C or 69.8-77°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Sinking catfish pellets and bloodworm. The fish will also use the teeth in its lower jaw to scrape algae from rocks and the aquarium glass. Not a prolific algae eater however.
Furniture Needs a rounded substrate. This species prefers wood to rocks. Plants are not required but seem to encourage daytime forays out with the mandatory cave / refuge.
Compatibility Reportedly a loner, but so seldom available in numbers it would be difficult to establish a group in the aquarium. Will not eat healthy smaller fish, tankmates at around 1'' are safe with an adult. Will fight other catfish for a secure and dark refuge.
Suggested Tankmates Most medium sized community fish. Will investigate and likely stress timid species with its unusually long barbels during the night.
Breeding Unreported.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Jump to next section Further Information
Reference Tijdschrift der Nederlandsche Dierkundige Vereeniging, Ser. 2 v. 3, pp 88.
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Last Update 2019 Sep 17 13:43 (species record created: 1998 Feb 01 11:22)

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