non-cichlids of Lake Malawi there are a few species
that can be kept together with our most beloved
Mbuna, Aulonocara and Haplochromis. One of them is Synodontis
njassae. Being part of a large family of African
catfish this Synodontis that belongs to the group of
Mochokidae, is endemic to the lake (=lives only in
Lake Malawi). There are two variants: one with few
large spots and another with many small spots.
It is the variant with the many little spots that
swims in my tank.
attractive but very shy fish can grow up to 20 cm
and live 6 years or longer. They are mostly active
during the night, when they can disturb other
sleeping cichlids. During the day they hide in caves
or dark places which they only leave for feeding.
The picture below shows a Synodontis swimming in
open water something that happens very seldom. Mostly they stay in touch with the sand or
rocks with their barbels to feel and smell their
environment rather than seeing it, something confirmed by my observations. When I'm sitting close
to the tank while feeding they come out of their
hiding places not bothered by me. When I make a
sudden move they flee back to their caves. This
shyness sharply contrasts with my Cichlid's behavior:
when they see me coming the haps swim towards me in
the hope of getting food.
A Synodontis swims in open
water - a very rare sight.
nature they probably eat insects and their
larva, crustaceans and invertebrates during
the night. In the aquarium, food is taken
from the bottom which means that they will
eat all sinking pellets, flakes and tablets.
Also cichlid eggs are a welcome snack. Some
time ago I saw the mating of Pseudotropheus saulosi.
The Synodontis was never far away from the
breeding couple. He regularly disturbed them
by swimming through their mating territory,
searching for fresh eggs he just smelled. He
didn't have a chance to steal eggs on
the spot but was lucky to find one floating
away - which was quickly eaten. I have
no experience about them eating fry but
Francesco said he got no fry remaining in a
tank which housed them with cichlids. Maybe
the Synodontis catch them from their hiding
places at night when they're sleeping?
These photo's show from left to right the mating
of Ps. saulosi. The third one shows the Synodontis
disturbing the love couple. The fourth pic shows
that in the end the female's mouth almost bursts
from the eggs so not too many of them were eaten.
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