» Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Blog, Kristen R | Comments Off on 3 Interesting Synodontis Catfish That Won’t Get Bigger Than 8 Inches


3 Interesting Synodontis Catfish That Won’t Get Bigger Than 8 Inches

by Kristen Rigolizzo



                “Typical” catfish have an iconic and endearing appearance that’s hard not to visualize. Long whiskers, strange body shapes, and (often) cute faces make them hard to resist for some aquarists. However, many aquarists also know how big some catfish can get – and how quickly their tankmates can disappear.

                Fortunately, we carry catfish of many sizes and shapes. Synodontis, a genus of African catfish, includes many small to medium-sized species with beautiful appearances. Synodontis cats are found all over central Africa, form the Congo River and western streams to the rift lakes in the east. Most Synodontis sold at Absolutely Fish stay below 8 inches in length. Here are three examples of unique Synodontis cats that won’t outgrow popular freshwater aquarium sizes and won’t get big enough to eat most tankmates:


                The Upside-down Cat (Synodontis nigriventris):

                The upside-down cat is probably the most well-known catfish on this list. They are squat in shape and only reach about 3-4”. This catfish is adorable both in looks and personality. They are famous for their strange swimming behavior; they swim mostly upside-down. Originating from rivers of western Africa, they do best in peaceful aquariums at a minimum size of 20gal and a pH range of 6.0-7.5. Be sure to include hiding spots for these little guys and some friends too. They are least shy when other upside-down cats are present.


                The Cuckoo Cat (Synodontis multipunctatus):

                This attractive cat reaches 5-6” maximum length and, endemic to Lake Tanganyika, requires a high pH (7.8-9.0). The cuckoo catfish is named for its breeding tactic know as brood parasitism, made famous by cuckoo birds. The cats take advantage of mouth brooding cichlids’ good parenting by tricking their cichlid hosts into incubating their eggs for them. As a result, they are relatively easy to breed in captivity. The cuckoo cat is perfect for any African cichlid tank of minimum size 40gal, so long as you provide enough places to hide. This is another cat that does best in groups.


                Angel Catfish or Angelicus Cat (Synodontis angelicus)

                S. angelicus is probably the rarest catfish on this list and has an unforgettably beautiful appearance. This fish originates from the Congo River, and accordingly does best in soft water with lots of plants (but can do well in a wide range of pH: 6.0-8.0). This is a great unique fish for a peaceful aquarium, but reaches about 8”, so a tank of minimum size 55 gal should suffice for a full-size adult. Here’s a bonus: Angel cats will pick at algae as well as any sinking food you drop in the tank.


                The above cats easily accept sinking pellets, frozen/freeze dried treats, and flakes. These are just three of many amazing Synodontis species available at Absolutely Fish. Come in any time to ask about our Synodontis cats; our staff is always happy to show you what’s in stock and how to care for them!

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