Featherfin Synodontis also known as the Featherfin Catfish or Featherfin Squeaker is from a wide variety of habitats throughout the Chad, Cross, Kwa Ibo, Niger, Volta, and White Nile basins. This attractive bottom dweller has a beautiful colour pattern that changes as the fish matures; the reticulated markings gradually morphing into simple spots. A distinctive, high dorsal fin also develops with age, the first few fin rays becoming elongated and feathery, and when spread wide, it resembles an elaborate fan.
They have the ability to communicate with one another via a squeaking sound (thus the name Featherfin Squeaker). This aids them when they are in dark caves, in between rocky crevices and in and around submerged logs and tree roots. While this isn’t needed in the brightly lit home aquariums, it does make for an enjoyable quirk that many hobbyists find quite enjoyable and does set the Featherfin apart from other similar catfish species.
They prefer dim lighting (can be brighter if diffused by plants) and the aquarium should be spacious (at least 1.2m long for juveniles) with a soft sandy substrate in order to protect the long sensory barbels. It should be decorated with a good amount of bogwood, rocky caves/PVC tubes, and robust planting to provide shady areas, but you should also ensure that a roomy swimming space is left along the front of the tank. External canister filtration is recommended, as these fish are voracious eaters and can produce a fair amount of waste. The water should be well-oxygenated with a moderate current, and frequent partial water changes are a must to help keep nitrate to a minimum.
Community of medium sized fish only. More than one may be kept together providing that there is an abundance of hiding places and visual barriers within the tank, and they may often be observed resting in the infamous upside-down Synodontis position underneath plants or decor. Ensure that heaters are covered with heater guards to prevent these catfish from being burned when looking for dark crevices to rest against. Companions should be peaceful and larger than 5cm in length (otherwise they may be swallowed when resting at night). 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. They will often become territorial towards other Catfish when kept in smaller aquariums; however, when kept in larger aquariums (450 litres or more) they are generally pretty easy going towards their tank mates.
This fish is not a good species for the average community aquarium. For smaller tank set-ups it would be better to consider slightly more petite species such as the Upside Down Catfish (S. nigriventris) or Chocolate Catfish (Acanthodoras spinosissimus).
They are Omnivorous, so offer a variety meaty frozen foods such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp etc., along with some sinking catfish pellets/tablets/granules. Be sure to offer some vegetable matter such as cucumber, courgette, and shelled peas, along with occasional algae wafers. These are greedy fish, and are a little susceptible to bloating so take care not to overfeed, and go easy on the amount of dried foods given – avoiding all floating foods .
As typical of all catfish, Synodontis cannot tolerate salt or brackish water but they are not picky about their aquarium conditions. Little maintenance has to be done to keep them in good condition. Regular siphoning of the gravel is recommended to remove waste and keep the tank in a clean state. The recommended water change is 10 – 15% every other week to keep up with the bio-load. High nitrate levels can cause Feather-fin catfish to develop infected barbels; this makes it difficult for them to navigate and eat normally. It is recommended to maintain nitrate levels below 20 ppm.
Because they are a scaleless fish, catfish can be treated with API pimafix or API melafix but should not be treated with potassium permanganate or copper based medications. Malachite green or Seachem ParaGuard can be used at one half to one fourth the recommended dosage. All medications should be used with caution.
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|Adult Size:||up to 30 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Intermediate due to large size|
|Minimum Tank Size:||400 litres|
|Diet:||Omnivore, eats most foods, will overeat!|
|Lifespan:||Up to 20 Years|
|Water Flow:||Moderate Current|
|Temperature:||22 to 26°C|
|pH:||6.2 – 7.5|
|Hardness:||2-20 dGH (soft)|