Catfish of the Month Right Arrow May 1997 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded May 01, 1997

Featherfin Syno, Featherfin Squeaker, Fjäderfenssynodontis (Sweden) - Synodontis eupterus   Boulenger, 1901

The fish pictured above may appear quite different from the one below, do not adjust your sets! The fish below however displays the blotchy spots and tail stripe patterning of the juvenile form of this fish. The adult pictured above displays a regular spotted colouration, the brown or grey background colour is constant throughout the fishes development.

Synodontis eupterus At one time I kept 5 Synodontis eupterus and was raising them together in an attempt to learn more about their behavior and (hopefully) reproductive habits. Unfortunately around that time I had to make a few difficult decisions about which fish to move to my tanks at work and which to sell. Basically I kept fish that would be hardest to replace for one reason or another. The Featherfins are relatively easy to find and so went on the "for sale" list.

On a positive note, I kept these 5 individuals for nearly a year and grew them up from less than 2" to the largest which, when sold, was at least 6" standard length with the magnificent dorsal fin extensions found in this species of Synodontis. I also learned about the social habits of these fish among their own species. One reason that so few catfish have been bred in the aquarium is people tend to buy individuals and collect as many species as possible rather than collect the same species. Also, many catfish available to the aquarist are too big or territorial to house a number of individual under the same hood.

If the care of a rare or new fish is undocumented then it usually makes sense to initially purchase an individual in an attempt to keep it alive and learn about its preferred diet, habitat etc. However with a well known species like Synodontis eupterus, the next stage is surely understanding conspecific interaction and, ultimately, breeding requirements. This seems to be the aproach taken by current day aquarists and has seen many new species of catfish spawnings being recorded and reported.

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 NameSynodontis eupterus  Boulenger, 1901
Common NamesFeatherfin Syno
Featherfin Squeaker, Fjäderfenssynodontis (Sweden)
Type LocalityMouth of Lake No, White Nile, Sudan.
Synonym(s)Synodontis euptera, Synodontis macrepipterus
Pronunciationsin oh don tiss - you TERR ahh
EtymologySynodontis: From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos, meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth. This specific epithet literally means beautiful (eu-=beautiful,good) wing (pteron=wing).
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 222mm or 8.7" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationAll 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.

Juvenile colouration is quite different from that of the adult. The change begins when the fish reach about 40mm and gradually continues until they pass the 100mm mark.
SexingFirst 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
DistributionWhite Nile, Chad Basin, Niger, Africa
African Waters, Chad (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nigeria Waters, Niger (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nile, Upper Nile, White Nile (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
pH5.6 - 7.5
Temperature22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersUndemanding.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingBloodworm, Sinking Catfish Pellets, Doromin
FurnitureLots of rock caves and bogwood. Likes open spaces to patrol in the twilight / dark. Ensure the fish do not hide near a heater; they can burn themselves which leaves a nasty scar.
CompatibilityPeaceful. Can be kept singly or in groups given adequate refuge for each individual. A large multi-branched piece of bogwood is ideal.
Suggested TankmatesMost medium or large community fish. Although commonly available as such, not a good species for the small community tank. Anything smaller than 3foot / 1 meter long, go for Synodontis nigriventris instead.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesAnn. Mag. Nat. Hist. (Ser. 7)v. 8 (no. 43) - pp11
Registered Keepers(1) TP (k: 4), (2) xingumike, (3) snowball, who also notes: "I have had this fish since 1990.", (4) synoguy (k: 2), (5) Ak Viking (k: 7), (6) zenyfish, who also notes: "Hardy. Robust.", (7) dorycora, (8) Travis_Conklin, (9) Persephone, (10) Trident2004, (11) caudalis, (12) Lornek8, (13) Oliver D. (k: 3), (14) jenny, (15) gage, (16) Coach, (17) phaedraeos, (18) saphphx (k: 3), (19) LookVideos, (20) funkyj1313, (21) Slider, (22) azfisher (k: 2), (23) GreenSynoMan (p: 2, k: 2), (24) synodont_fan, who also notes: "I have two. The largest is about 6 inches, and has more of a black body color than the pictured specimen. Very robust body and extremely active. The high, large dorsal fin is very attractive.", (25) VirgoWolf, (26) bramftm, (27) Freakdaddy (k: 6), (28) KenyanSandBoa, (29) Marsdinho, (30) vriesea (k: 2), who also notes: "Bought single at San Francisco Aquarium Society on 6/1/07. Bought 2nd eupterus at SVAS on 6/2/07.", (31) woofess, (32) Daragh, (33) ranmasan (p: 2, k: 2), who also notes: " This is my very first catfish, NoNo, and even with his "territoriality", he's still my favorite ^_^. ", (34) catfish_dude, (35) spot86t, (36) Threefingers, who also notes: "Purchased sometime early on in 2004 as ~2" juvenile with information that this species would not grow much larger. As of 2007/07/12 he/she (nicknamed 'Finn') has grown to ~7" excluding fins. Despite this larger size, 'Finn&", (37) carrgirl, (38) teknikAL, (39) amygoodness, (40) Plank, (41) Benjamin (k: 5), (42) VancouverBetta, (43) Plecofanatic1989, (44) V, (45) orspearo666 (k: 2), who also notes: "beautiful catfish. very capable of taking care of itself. doesnt like african brown knife fish", (46) Carp37, (47) Landlubber, (48) kvnbyl (k: 3), (49) bslindgren (k: 2), who also notes: "Easy to care for and relatively visible. Particularly when feeding. Grows fast! Mostly peaceful, but was aggressive towards my Corydoras sterbai, for some reason. They are now living happily in a 120 gal tank at my job, and have grown to about 5 inch", (50) Pseudospecialops (k: 2), (51) irshprncsk, (52) bob, who also notes: "Eats anything. Omnivorous(?) Doesn't like being petted, but does allow me to touch him. Eats from my hand, and doesn't bite. But he'll nibble sometimes. Base color is very dark brown.", (53) GoGoCactus, (54) Colin Keightley (p: 2, k: 4), (55) unblinded, (56) mouseninja, (57) Katy, (58) moi_eater (k: 2), (59) Kara, who also notes: "Very very hardy.", (60) Junttis, (61) DragonRubyFire, (62) Lostiniowa, (63) glyde, (64) jordant, (65) johnny1073, (66) alderfish, (67) jippo, (68) Scandi, (69) theonetruepath, (70) jb92, (71) Plunt (k: 2), (72) synodontisjack (p: 7), (73) synosteve (p: 2, k: 2), (74) Moosipher, (75) CubCariboo (k: 2), who also notes: "Name: "Batman & Robin" One now 33% larger than tho other. Both like to hang (usidedown) under the driftwood (although at opposit ends of the tank). "Robin" seems to be in Love with my Pleco "Dirt". Eatwell and active in the shade of wood or when ligh", (76) derrickrscott, (77) kellygirl (k: 2), (78) Marduk, (79) JDogg, (80) Bartman (k: 4), (81) Kampfer, (82) zedogz (p: 6), (83) ozzykatt, (84) speedy231278 (p: 2, k: 4), (85) blurock, (86) Shovelnose, (87) ray_c, (88) Auscat17 (k: 2), (89) flowaz, (90) doesdavid, (91) iam1ru12 (k: 3), (92) nvcichlids (k: 4), (93) dragonfish, (94) Moomoo, (95) Khalid, (96) pmbooper (k: 2), who also notes: "one 3 inch featherfin in 65 gal and one in 40 gal. ", (97) sonovue, (98) chralis, (99) fishmosy, (100) dwblackman, (101) Raz, (102) chemma (k: 2), (103) emperorted, (104) AI27, (105) synofreak (p: 2), (106) andywoolloo, (107) Mandrake, (108) carolynkline, (109) Camaroahopp, (110) mrfox90, (111) Syno_Eupterus. (p: 13, k: 6), (112) cherylp, (113) Lenna (k: 4), (114) shadowcat, (115) chalky76, (116) oliv67 (k: 310), (117) SoCalDiscus, (118) jrodriguez, (119) dbhewitt63, (120) b.price, (121) jeffa711, (122) smokymcjoe, (123) mightymaki, (124) jprp, (125) Derzel, (126) flappinganimal, (127) raymond, (128) wschug (k: 2), (129) Burgess, (130) naturalart, (131) elle_1313, (132) tcarrier, (133) Ozcattie, (134) judeblackburn, (135) Kyleonfire, (136) Back, (137) pickles4601, (138) canuck, who also notes: "lateral line disaese", (139) dannyrawlins, (140) Viktor Jarikov (k: 2), who also notes: "One is shy, peaceful, named Rabbit, ~8.5", deformed head, mouth, birth trauma? The other is ornery, bold, feisty, territorial, named Franz; smaller ~5". Chases others but not viciously.", (141) shazarna, (142) Bloodywertzie, (143) dpk2313, (144) drplec, (145) oli (k: 5), (146) cichlidman16yearsold (k: 5), who also notes: "free fish i got after buying $125 in other fish", (147) d3n2 (p: 2, k: 3), (148) Miss Dib Dabs, (149) cmoney, (150) theviper06 (p: 2, k: 2), who also notes: "Syd", "Euro", (151) TheFishGuy, (152) bonibaru, (153) Bisclavret (p: 2), who also notes: "This fish hasn't been named yet, but I hand feed it bloodworms and pieces of krill. It's very friendly when it sees me, but hides for everyone else.", (154) chubbikins, (155) mrfishydude, (156) L number Banana (k: 3), who also notes: "Size is approx.", (157) tijani, (158) klink5, (159) Ughmental, (160) Steen (k: 2), (161) riceni01, (162) Mezel (k: 2), who also notes: "These are my Tank bosses, very good at there jobs as well. Very cute when they have an upside downy syno under there pec fin.", (163) GoldenFeather, who also notes: "Nui is the most incredible Syno Eupterus in the Universe! He's survived Hell & is on his way back... He was raised in a 10 gal & was abandoned for several months without food, water or care... 'till recently. But he's a trooper, he's a Hero... this handsome wonderful fish of fishes.", (164) ad8, (165) john_d, (166) danlinn, (167) Sciencehero, who also notes: "We call him Bob.", (168) Profiel310 (k: 3), (169) Taz (k: 2), (170) Buddiechrist, (171) bahid, (172) loginthesand, (173) maynard1982, (174) Hellcatt, (175) slayer5590, (176) Cyberdragon, (177) bluestbluedog (k: 2), (178) arapaimag (k: 4), (179) scrup, (180) Starfish42 (k: 2), (181) clydeboy (k: 2), (182) browny85, (183) sasdrum (k: 4), who also notes: "I LOVE these fish! They are so cool! They usually stay in my log with my Rainbow Shark til 9 a.m. then they come out and explore the tank til about 10:30 when the sunlight hits the tank and they duck back into the log til around 5 p.m. I feed about quarter til but they seem to like to wait for the pellets to dissolve some. They stay out about til midnight. To be honest I wanted Pictus, but I stumbled upon a situation where I could get some free fish and the Pictus looked awful, but these little guys had been there for about a week and were still looking good. Walmart had advertised them as Lace Catfish (They're now calling some Orange Squeakers Lace cats. Haha!) I normally avoid Walmart fish but needed a Molly for school, but since they were still alive I figured they were pretty healthy. I've had them two weeks now and they've grown a 1/4 of an inch. In that time, I have become a fan. They don't swim around the tank constantly, in fact they seem to prefer hanging out in/on some of my false plants (I have a mix of life and fake). I have to say that the hardest thing to get used to is that they will sometimes lay upside down under the plant leaves. Initially, I thought they were dying and stuck my hand in there to make sure that was not the case. Now I'm much more accustom to it and I think these quirks add the draw of this breed. I'm currently working on getting everything set up for a 55 gallon tank. Since this tank will be staying at my school's science department (can't have it in the dorm) for the next four years, I'm working to create a habitat that will be a cross between their natural African rivers and my shark's Aisan river basins. I should have this tank started on the cycling process no later than the end of January. :)", (184) Crazysosa, who also notes: "Hangs Out Vertically most Often", (185) Maccus (k: 6), who also notes: "List of mysteries: - Strange behavior, huddling in corner. - Sudden fighting after years of getting along. - Refusing food after fights. - Water quality perfect/daily water changes not solving problems. - Nobody on the internet able to find source of problems.", (186) Seagirt, (187) milosz (k: 2), (188) catfishkemp, (189) arcsb, (190) simon g, who also notes: "My Synodontis Eupterus has survived in 1 inch of water following a cracked tank, and our house being completely destroyed by fire (thatched roof).", (191) Sargy60, (192) spinyoldbrian (k: 2), who also notes: "Currently trying to split these two up; only rooming together out of necessity.", (193) Catfish freak, who also notes: "Raized from 5cm juvenile, to 30cm bad boy. ;)", (194) james gilbertson, who also notes: "Shy fish, but very grumpy, this one always chases his counterparts", (195) Bruton, (196) airlik73, (197) catfish-pigeon, who also notes: "Just got this one, have kept several over the years, definitely one of my favorites!", (198) Mcjlance, (199) donk, (200) CichlidMatt, (201) lasteeves (k: 3), (202) Brisch, (203) mjh712, (204) victoriaz24, (205) auz_legend, (206) TankTheHoplo, who also notes: "We call her Petunia. Has grown from about 1 inch to about 4.5 inches in a little less than five months. This is my third Synodontis, probably my favorite catfish.", (207) elessar, (208) AvengedKombat, (209) guardianfyre, (210) Anthony King, (211) kwalker, (212) James.feenan, (213) lazymonsterboy, (214) santor, (215) Jass, (216) mrsjdean, (217) mcaquatic, (218) jodilynn, who also notes: ""Leo" is just gorgeous, magnificent fins, beautiful deep grey-brown body, lots of inky black polka-dots, happily tolerates a pesky Botia Kubotai who wants to constantly be rightnext to him, just adore him, went out a purchased a 55 gallon just for him and his loachy friend", (219) rizla75, (220) minipol, (221) aseroner, (222) Rummage, (223) summoner2183 (k: 2), (224) Dark Rose, (225) Baked Wafl3, (226) Synofan1222, (227) Josiemetzner, (228) BlackCanopus, (229) BlackSouL, (230) Stefan2013 (k: 2), (231) crazy4bettas, (232) TimO93, (233) Bobcat, who also notes: "We really like our catfish "Bob" - he's a real character. He interacts with us, comes out and looks at us. We talk to him, and he responds. He gets really excited every time his tank is cleaned and checks out the placement of everything, zooms around what looks like very happily, checking everything out. He loves his rock cave. Now that we know what kind of catfish he is, we know that we'll eventually have to upgrade the size of his tank. Presently it's 10 gallon. His tankmates are one Siamese Fighting Fish (who keeps clear of Bob who is the boss) and 12 neons. Bob is pretty peaceful with the other fish, but he does show the Siamese Fighting Fish who's boss every once in a while by occasionally chasing him away (but he doesn't bite at or nibble the other fish). Bob was 2.5" (64 cm) long when we first got him (or her)? and now he's 6" long.", (234) Divinehammer, (235) wax32, (236) ejma, (237) Natey22, (238) Heyguy74, (239) fi5thelement, (240) Igor Hotasi Simamora (k: 3), (241) langley01, (242) CarlDeller, (243) KGlo, (244) Shipmonkey, (245) Katking, (246) sleepyhead, (247) greenterror66, (248) fishdoc, (249) bekateen, (250) Dragonrat, (251) chalyeo, (252) Corvis, (253) rcbows, (254) tep, who also notes: "Skittish but less reclusive as time goes by", (255) stine, who also notes: "Was a ill-treat fish so I took him away from this situation and took him in a hospital tank trying to rescue him ! I'm preparing for a new tank especially for him. I never had a catfish before him.", (256) Tanganyikafreak (k: 7), (257) Anthonyck (k: 2), who also notes: "These are two among about 6 I had over 2-3 years. The first 4 were sold back to the shop after insanely fast growth while in the 29 gal. The two present at the time of the move are remaining and we'll in the 75 gal.", (258) Skitz407, (259) PurecoYSS (k: 11), who also notes: "What a great pet fish!", (260) monsterfishkeeper, (261) NeilB, (262) Sugeknight, (263) QuantumManiac, who also notes: "Name: Namu (after the Sumerian goddess of the primeval sea). Beautiful fish. I love her dorsal fin. Not particularly aggressive in general, but she WILL NOT TOLERATE corydoras catfish. I keep her with my Malawi cichlids. As of right now, she's the undisputed tank boss. Never starts a fight, but she's more than happy to finish one. She was almost full grown when I got her and I'm pretty sure she was never given live food. She left ghost shrimp alone for over a month and was terrified by a live nightcrawler. However, she has no problem eating small tankmates.", (264) MEGADETH1111, (265) flatdog (k: 2), (266) JoeyP (k: 2), (267) cowturtle, (268) pokemonrange, (269) Brittrdh, who also notes: "Smooth river rock bottom, many caves and logs to hide in. Kept at 75f. Tank mates: adult green sunfish, two juvenile angelfish and two juvenile gold gourami.", (270) pleconut (k: 2), (271) faxling (k: 2), (272) Wingostar (k: 2), (273) Aynethol, (274) WadeNCreeks, (275) Schall, (276) porinocoense, who also notes: "Large syno, full of personality, some aggressive, some passive. Often sold as upside-down catfish.", (277) pictuswhiptail, (278) ejmal, (279) protopterus, (280) 1Opsophagos, (281) BADGUYSKI (p: 2), (282) Redhairedsniper, (283) Domaku, (284) Weirder_weird, (285) Waschiewoo, (286) caninesrock (k: 999), who also notes: "I don't currently own any but its on my wishlist.", (287) Zakqary, (288) amberanneb, (289) troi, (290) MSull, (291) JDenman (k: 4), (292) angerygrover, (293) substratesifter (k: 2).

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Last Update2015 Feb 15 04:56 (species record created: 1997 May 01 11:22)

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