Some time ago a small Synodontis appeared in the hobby, which is called “White Polli”. But the “White” has little in common with the actual Synodontis polli. The dorsal fin spine of “White” is bicolor, black in the lower half, white in the upper half. This species is distributed in the hobby almost exclusively as offspring. The strain goes back to animals imported by the Dutchman René Krüter from Lake Tanganyika near Mpulungu in Zambia. Krüter bred the animals with good success and spread them in this way.
The “White Polli” remains small, it hardly grows beyond 8-10 cm in length and is not a cuckoo catfish, but reproduces “normally”. Although there is hardly any doubt that it is a scientifically undescribed species occurring in the wild, it has also undoubtedly been heavily bred in recent years and selected for very light, even white body color, which is why the offspring look only very little like the original wild specimens. Adult specimens show a small occipital hump, which caused Erwin Schraml to call the animals “Humphead Synodontis”. Probably, however, the name “White Polli” (or the other way around, “polli White”) cannot be eliminated.
We currently offer the “White Polli” as a cute offspring in 3-4 cm length. You should always keep these fish in company of conspecifics, because they are really very sociable!
For our customers: the fish have code 185701 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply only wholesale.
The most popular squeaker catfish (Synodontis) by far is the upside-down catfish (Synodontis nigriventris) from the Congo. It is not the only species of the genus that often (by no means always) swims on its back, but it remains small (under 10 cm) by squeaker catfish standards and is one of the most peaceful representatives of this genus. It is important to keep it in groups of preferably more than 10 individuals, because the species is very social. Among each other these fish even communicate with creaking noises, which they also make loudly protesting when you catch them and lift them out of the water with the net.
The big eye indicates it: these catfish like it twilight. The aquarium should therefore not be lit too brightly, otherwise the fish will hide.
Concerning food and water values, upside-down catfish are unproblematic, they eat any usual fish food and feel comfortable in any tap water suitable as drinking water. The water temperature should be between 22 and 28°C. There are hardly any external sex differences. In animals of the same age the females are bigger and fuller from the time of sexual maturity (with 5-6 cm length). Upside-down catfish spawn hidden, they are free spawners, these fish practise no brood care.
For our customers: the animals have code 183402 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
One of the most beautiful squeaker catfish (Synodontis) comes from the Congo: Synodontis decorus. The slender species grows about 20-30 cm long and is relatively peaceful. One must always consider that all squeaker catfish have a hierarchy among each other, where “social biting” is absolutely necessary and not alarming, since it only comes to superficial, quickly healing wounds. One should therefore care for squeaker catfish in groups if possible; individual animals can (but don’t have to) become a plague for other fish if they try to take these as substitute partners. Small fish that fit in the mouth are also seen as food supplements by omnivores, so possible tankmates should not be too small. In the wild, adult S. decorus typically live in groups of 10-50 individuals, while juveniles up to about 8 cm long are solitary. Synodontis decorus is a diurnal species, which makes it particularly recommended for aquarium keeping. The animals live in rivers, but not in areas with strong currents.
The conspicuous pennant, i.e. the extended dorsal fin ray, and the very contrasting striped caudal fin are, it is assumed, a signal to conspecifics and serve the swarm cohesion. Small young animals under 8 cm length do not yet have an extended dorsal fin ray. In the Congo, larger Synodontis decorus are so common that they became a preferred prey of fin-eating characins of the species Eugnathichthys eetveldii. The Eugnathichthys have even developed an almost identical coloration as mimicry, which allows them to sneak up on the squeaker catfish unnoticed. On the Congo’s edible fish markets one rarely finds larger S. decorus with intact caudal fins, that’s how effective the Eugnathichthys are. Conversely, Synodontis juveniles are almost always undamaged, so hunting these loners is probably not worthwhile for the fin-eaters.
Externally recognizable sex differences are not known for Synodontis decorus, females are only more corpulent at spawning time. The spawning behaviour has not been reported so far, they are probably free-spawners without further care for their brood. In the aquarium, which should be a large one according to the final size of these animals, the animals are easy to care for, they do not make any special demands on the water composition and eat any commercial ornamental fish food. The water temperature should be between 22 and 26°C, occasionally a little above or below does no harm. Even if the animals are diurnally active, they should have as many roots etc. as possible at their disposal where they can seek cover.
For our customers: the animals have code 176502 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
We obtained a very rarely offered squeaker catfish from the Congo: Synodontis soloni. The species is medium sized (for squeakers): 20-25 cm long specimens can be called real big ones. The large caudal fin and the slender body give hints that this is a rheophilic species. Against conspecifics our specimens, which are currently 12-15 cm long, are quite peaceful. Obviously these fish live in dark places, as they eyes have strongly reflecting zones. This leads to funny artefacts in pictures taken with flashlights. We have added one picture to that post – a portrait – in which we left the artefact. In the others we have removed the „red-eyes-effect“ in a way that the fish look like one observes them with the bare eye.
There are two scientifically described, exrtremely simlar species that originate from the very same region and differ from S. soloni only by a few minor differences (eye diameter, shape of the humeral process, shape of the adipose fin, proportions of the body, shape of barbels). These species are named as Synodontis smiti and S. camelopardalis. However, in our import (35 specimens) many intermediate animals are respresented in respect of colouration, so we feel unable to assort them in a senseful way. Possibly S. smiti and S. camelopardalis are only synonyms to S. soloni. In any case the latter is the earliest described species (soloni 1899, smiti 1902, camelopardalis 1971).
For our customers: the fish have code 186804 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
There does exist a good number of species of Synodontis that tend to swim upside down. The best known species is without any doubt the upside down cat, Synodontis nigriventris from the Congo. Now we were able to import the very rarely offered Synodontis batensoda from Nigeria, which shows a similar behaviour.
It seems to be quite unimportant for the fish in which position it swims actually. But one can see from the very dark coloration of the belly that the upside-down postion is very often used. Species of fish with a “normal” swimming behaviour have light bellies, so they do not contrast much with the sky. Many predatory fish hunt from below, so this coloration is necessary.
S. batensoda attains usually a length of about 25 cm (maximum size recorded is about 50 cm) and should be kept in larger aquaria. The species is quite social and should be never kept alone. S. batensoda will eat small fish, but is usually very peaceful against larger, other species. Formerly S. batensoda was placed in the monotypic genus Brachysynodontis.
For our customers: the fish have code 103003 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer