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Fish of the Month
Issue: October 2008

Synodontis angelica

SCHILTHUIS 1891

FOTM 1008

John O'Malley

Common Names: Angel squeaker, angelicus cat, angelicus syno, angel cat, black clown catfish, pearl squeaker

Type Locality: Stanley Pool, near Kinshasa

Range: Congo River Basin

Taxonomic Troubles: This is the original name. For a long while it was known in the trade as S. angelicus, but the gender of the generic name has been declared feminine, so the name goes back to the original.

Size: 25 cm (10 inches) TL.

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical freshwater. Found naturally in a wide variety of habitats, so it is adaptable to different water chemistries.

Difficulty: A hardy catfish, as long as water quality is maintained and the fish has a large enough aquarium. Territorial. Some individuals will not tolerate congeners. Its size and spines usually enable it to hold its own in a community, even with large cichlids.

Tank Setup: Caves or other hiding places are required. This is a nocturnal fish that will usually learn to come out during the day to feed, but it must have a place to hide out. Tankmates should be large enough not to become meals and should not include other Synodon

Feeding: Omnivorous. Will consume just about any food offered. You should feed them after lights-out unless you are absolutely certain they are getting enough food.

Breeding: Reports of spawning with hormone injections exist. This species may be involved in the rash of catfish hybrids being produced commercially.

Description:

A highly variable fish. Juveniles show the most intense markings, but adults retain the basic pattern of dark (black to violet to brown) background with light (white to yellow) spots and irregular stripes. Fins are striped.

 

Notes: Once rarely imported and very expensive, this syno cat is now readily available at a reasonable cost. Its color pattern was such a sensation that the name “angelicus” became associated with it and is sometimes applied to other polka dotted species; for example, Botia kubotai was originally called the angelicus loach. Like most large Synodontis, it is solitary and territorial but peaceful, and like almost all Synodontis, it will occasionally be found upside down, especially in its home cave. One of the biggest problems with these fish is getting their rigid spines caught in a net—this often requires cutting up the net to free them, which can cause injury to the fish. When you have to move almost any catfish, it is best to catch them in a jar or other rigid container rather than a net.

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