Catfish of the Month Right Arrow September 2000 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded September 01, 2000

Yellow Marbled Syno, Marmor-Fiederbartwels (Germany) - Synodontis schoutedeni   David, 1936

It always surprises me that members of the genus Synodontis aren't more "fashionable" in the hobby than they appear to be. Although they could perhaps claim a greater popularity in the 1980's, like many things that were popular in that decade, they did appear to have much demand at the turn of the millennium.

Odd really, there are around 115 species (which, after Barbus, makes them the 2nd largest genus in Africa freshwater fishes). All are suitable aquarium fish and many different varieties find their way into the shops either commonly or occasionally depending on species. If I were a gambling man I would put a little wager that the Synodontis (and indeed the 80's!) make a bit of a comeback in the next few years.

Anyway, stop thinking about where in the attic you stashed that rubicks cube and read on.

This particular species of Synodontis fits nicely into the available from time to time bracket. An attractively marked fish with a very variable pattern. If anything the pattern becomes smaller but more intense with age. Well conditioned fish will often develop a bold yellow base colouration which is quite striking.

Although a sociable species, fighting can break out among a group sub-adult and adult fish. Usually this is a turf dispute, but these fish have very good teeth and can make quite a mess of each others fins and flanks if you have got the environment wrong.

Often this aggression can be quelled by a good water current and the addition of a few more caves and retreats. Or you could go the other way, it is interesting that if kept without any hideaways at all (including an external filter and under tank heating) Synodontis don't appear to bother about each others company or the need for privacy.

Avoiding the classic combined heater/stats is a really good idea for these fish as they are infamous for jamming themselves against the glass and the heater element. This can lead to disaster, but more often the fish escapes with a nasty, permanent scar. One or two prized fish have fallen foul of this problem. The best way to avoid this either invest in under tank, external or undergravel heating systems. If your budget doesn't stretch to such things then you'll need to guard the heater in such a way that it can function safely but cannot be used as refuge. Green plastic garden mesh from your local garden centre can be used for this.

Method: Surround the heater element with the mesh, you will need to leave around and inch of water between the gauze and the heater to prevent fish from burning themselves. Use a few plastic cable ties to hold the contraption together. One end can be pulled tight against the thermostat part of the heater/stat but a cable tie. The other end can either be blocked off by an appropriately sized plastic lid or put a rock or aquarium wall against it.

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 schoutedeni  David, 1936
Common NamesYellow Marbled Syno
Marmor-Fiederbartwels (Germany)
Type LocalityKungungu, Zaire.
Pronunciationsin oh don tiss - shouted en aye
EtymologySynodontis: From the Greek syn, meaning together, and odontos, meaning tooth; in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth. 
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 127mm or 5" 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.

An attractively marked fish with a very variable vermiculated pattern. Similar markings can be found on several other species within the Genus. If anything the pattern becomes smaller but more intense with age. Well conditioned fish will often develop a bold yellow base colouration which is quite striking.
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
DistributionCentral Congo Basin
African Waters, Congo, Middle Congo (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
pH6.0 - 7.6
Temperature22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersMany specimens of S. schoutedeni have a tendency to bloat. The cause of this is not yet precisely known.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingOmnivorous. This fish is not a fussy eater.
FurnitureA big pile of rocks with plenty of spaces between the rocks or a jumble of pipes are best. These should be arranged so that the fish can rest upside down or vertically but rarely the ''normal'' way up.
CompatibilityTerritorial but, as Synodontis go, unaggressive.
Suggested TankmatesLarger barbs, rainbowfish perhaps and medium sized cichlids.
BreedingSee Shane's World article.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesRev. Zool. Bot. Afr.v. 28 (no. 3) - pp416
Registered Keepers(1) Birger (k: 5), (2) Trident2004, (3) Lornek8, (4) Oliver D. (k: 35), who also notes: "Spawned...", (5) Silurus, (6) CatBrat, (7) vriesea (k: 3), who also notes: "Purchase a young pair (2") from SVAC auction. Already had a single schoutedeni from a previous auction.", (8) GreenSynoMan, (9) synodont_fan (k: 2), who also notes: "I have the normal colored specimen and a yellow variant. They are reasonable active and non-aggressive. They seem to eat well, as the stomach often looks like they have swallowed a big marble. The swirly pattern is very nice.", (10) Redcatman, (11) Igowoof, (12) catfish_dude, (13) Walter, (14) Gump, (15) synosteve, (16) derrickrscott, (17) cathje (k: 3), (18) Moomoo, (19) toby (k: 3), (20) sonovue, (21) JoJo3131, (22) naturalart (p: 2, k: 13), who also notes: "My large male would chase my large female often. Mostly it was with courtship interest. I actually saw him wrap his body around her head. My large female released eggs one nite but I think they were all infertile. None hatched.", (23) judeblackburn (k: 2), (24) scotty105 (p: 2, k: 2), (25) Back, (26) drpleco, (27) Viktor Jarikov, (28) wimmels, (29) terrylen, (30) aquaoahu, (31) tomr (k: 3), (32) oneoddfish, (33) nötter (p: 2, k: 4), (34) miguel mitchel, (35) N0body Of The Goat, who also notes: "Grown in length and girth since purchase, very prone to "golf ball stomach," but seems to return to normal after a while when this situation arises", (36) langley01, (37) Bioaquatix (k: 45), who also notes: "I was keeping this fish for several years before i sold my stock to another breeder. I came to find out 2 years later that he was not able to produce any fry and offered them back to me. I am now working to get them back in heavy production again.", (38) chalamala, (39) kvnbyl (p: 2), (40) tep, who also notes: "Reclusive juvenile w/strong preference for driftwood over rock work ~5" TL Slow growing thus far, not an aggressive eater. More bloodworms please! :)", (41) Long Barbels (p: 2), (42) kwalker, (43) NeilB, (44) joshuasmith94, (45) dav1d, (46) Gulper, (47) WadeNCreeks, (48) Schall, (49) protopterus, (50) syorksaquarist (k: 5), (51) Chilo_glanis (k: 4), who also notes: "Inexplicably lost all 4 within a week. All other fish in the tank are still healthy.", (52) angerygrover, (53) jodilynn, (54) Coolcorycats.

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Breeding ReportsNone.
Article - Shane's World Reproduction Spawning Synodontis schoutedeni
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