The Featherfin Catfish (Synodontis eupterus) originates from the White Nile, Volta and Chad river basins and surrounding feeder rivers and tributaries. They live in areas where the bottom of the river has an abundance of rocks and wood and relatively sparse vegetation. The Featherfin patrols inside every rocky cave and crevice and around submerged logs and roots for any type of edible plant, algae or meaty item that it can find. While in their native river habitats it is not unusually for this species to grow upwards of 31cm in length, aquarium specimens rarely exceed 25cm in length with a max size of 20cm being much more common.
Featherfin Catfish do best when kept with African Cichlids, New World Cichlids or moderately sized community fish. They will often become territorial towards other catfish when kept in smaller aquariums; however, when kept in larger aquariums 500 litres or more, they are generally pretty easy going towards their tank mates.
The Featherfin colour pattern changes quite a lot between its juvenile and adult stage, the juvenile having a body of attractive lines of black and white intervened with irregular spots revealing a “zebra” appearance, only to lose that to a more dull gray/brownish coloration with spots on the body at the stage of adulthood, though keeping a more “lined” appearance at his tail. The feature that makes this catfish unique in its own right is its wonderful dorsal fin, that when raised with all its filaments extended resembles a moving fan and when that is accompanied by its adipose dotted fins, it is certain to make eyes turn.
While it is not necessary to keep this species in a river biotope, it is important to provide them an aquarium environment that has plenty of water flow, quality water conditions and lower levels of dissolved nitrate. It is recommended to use a powerhead or high-end canister filter in order to provide adequate additional water flow.
Synodontis eupterus will appreciate a soft substrate like sand or rounded, small gravel as they enjoy rooting around and digging in the substrate in search of food items. They also need plenty of rocks and submerged wood or tree root in which swim in and about and search for leftover food items. They will see larger rocks and submerged wood as a major part of their territory, thus the more of this type of decor will afford them a suitable amount of territory without trying to claim the entire aquarium. This is especially important if you plan to keep the Featherfin Catfish with other Syndontis or similar sized Catfish species.
As this species originates from the river systems connected to Lake Malawi, they make excellent additions to African Cichlid aquariums. They enjoy the same water parameters and aquarium design as African Cichlids and they are robust enough to easily handle the somewhat aggressive nature of many of African Cichlid species.
Provide a mix of sinking foods like pellets and wafers designed for omnivores, along with some plant based foods like algae wafers or foods with spirulina included in them. Additionally, the Featherfin will be more than happy to scavenge for any flake, freeze-dried or frozen foods that make their way down the substrate of the aquarium. Provide daily direct feedings, with additional feedings being determined by the amount of food they are able to scavenge and supplement their diet and the overall girth of the fish.
- Species – Synodontis eupterus
- Common Name – Featherfin Catfish
- Origin – Africa, Zaire, Chad, Cameroon
- Diet – Omnivore
- PH Range – 7.5 – 8.5
- Temperature – Tropical 24°c – 29°c
- Breed Type – Egg Layer but very difficult to breed in the aquarium
- Current Size – approximately 7cm (Grows to approximately 20cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed