Catfish of the Month Right May 1997

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

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded May 01, 1997.

The fish pictured here may appear quite different from each other, 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 eupterusA. eupterus - juvenile colouration

At one time I kept five 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. Happy days.

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

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Synodontis eupterus  Boulenger, 1901
Common Names Featherfin Syno
Featherfin Squeaker, Fjäderfenssynodontis (Sweden), Fjerfinnet Skægmalle (Denmark)
Type Locality Mouth of Lake No, White Nile, Sudan.
Synonym(s) Synodontis euptera, Synodontis macrepipterus
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss - you TERR ahh
Etymology According to Cuvier, Synodontis is an "ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile". It is not derived, as often reported, from syn-, together and odous, tooth, presumed etymology of the lizardfish genus Synodus and refers to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth of both genera. This specific epithet literally means beautiful (eu-=beautiful,good) wing (pteron=wing).
Down Species Information
Size 300mm or 11.8" 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.

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.
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.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: White Nile, Chad, Volta and Niger basins, including the Bénoué.
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)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2019.
pH 5.6 - 7.5
Temperature 22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters Undemanding.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Bloodworm, Sinking Catfish Pellets, Doromin User data.
Furniture Lots 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.
Compatibility Peaceful. Can be kept singly or in groups given adequate refuge for each individual. A large multi-branched piece of bogwood is ideal.
Suggested Tankmates Most 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.
Breeding Unknown
Breeding Reports There is but a single breeding report, read it here.
Down Further Information
Reference Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 7) v. 8 (no. 43) (art. 2), pp 11.
Registered Keepers There are 363 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
Wishlists Love this species? Click the heart to add it to your wish list.
There are 7 wishes to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 53 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2023 Jan 12 05:28 (species record created: 1997 May 01 11:22)

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