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Synodontis decora

Clown Synodontis

Classification

Mochokidae

Distribution

Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Republic of Congo.

Habitat

It is usually found in slow moving areas of rivers and flooded zones.

Maximum Standard Length

12″ (30cm).

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

48″ x 18″ x 15″ (120cm x 45cm x 37.5cm) – 200 litres.

Maintenance

Provide an aquarium with soft substrate, rocks, pieces of driftwood and twisted roots arranged to form hiding places suits. Floating vegetation is also recommended in order to diffuse the light entering the tank. Other planting is beneficial but not essential.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 71-81°F (22-27°C)

pH: 6.0-8.0

Hardness: 3-25°H

Diet

Synodontis are omnivorous and are most unfussy in terms of feeding. Frozen, live and dried foods are all accepted. It also relishes vegetable matter in the form of shelled peas, cucumber etc., which it will rasp at with the teeth in its lower jaw.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not recommended for the general community due to its large adult size. It is quite peaceful with fish it cannot swallow however, and makes a good bottom dweller for a larger community tank. It is not as territorial as many Synos and can even be maintained in a group in a suitably sized tank. Good tankmates include larger barbs and characins, large cichlids and Loricariids. Do not keep with any species that may nip its dorsal filament.

Sexual Dimorphism

Adult male fish are slightly darker in colouration and are smaller than females. It can also be sexed by examining the genital papillae. This is not for the amateur however. The fish should be held ventral side up in the palm of your hand. The dorsal fin should be taken between your middle and ring fingers in order to avoid being pierced by the sharp dorsal fin rays. The genital area you are looking for is concealed beneath the pelvic fins. This can be exposed by pulling (gently) on the caudal fin. A male fish will exhibit an extended papillae which should be pointed and ridged. The spermatoduct can be seen on the caudal side. Females also have a clearly visible papillae but this is more rounded and the oviduct is on the opposite side to the male’s spermatoduct.

Most species of medium/large Synodontis can be sexed using this method but it should be noted that most species take 2 years or more to reach sexual maturity.

Reproduction

Not achieved under natural conditions in aquaria although captive breeding has occurred in Eastern Europe via the use of hormone injections. Many of the young fish that come onto the market may have been produced in this way. In nature S. decorus breeds in areas of seasonal flooding that are rich in micro-organisms. They are egg scatterers and exhibit no parental care.

NotesTop ↑

Also known as both the Clown Squeaker and Decorated Synodontis, the first ray of the dorsal fin is greatly extended in this species. It is one of the more secretive, nocturnal Synos and if you wish to observe it regularly we recommend the addition of a ‘moon’ light or a red bulb timed to come on for a couple of hours after the main tank lights go off. If some food is added to the tank under these lighting conditions it should emerge to feed.

This is one of only 3 members of the genus to exhibit filamentous maxillary (outer) barbels, the others being S. flavitaeniata and S. clarias. It is one of the most attractively marked Synos and makes a stunning addition to the larger aquarium.

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