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Scientific Name Synodontis afrofischeri  Hilgendorf, 1888
Common Names Victoria Synodontis
Nkolongo (Tanzania)
Type Locality Lake Ukerewe, Victoria Nyanaza [Kagehi or Kageyi, east of Kayenze, southern shore of Lake Victoria, Mwanza district, Tanzania, 2°23'S, 33°06'E].
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss
Etymology According to Cuvier, Synodontis is an "ancient name for an undetermined fish from the Nile". It is apparently not derived, as often reported, from syn-, together and odous, tooth, presumed etymology of the lizardfish genus Synodus and in reference to the closely-spaced lower jaw teeth of both genera. In honour of the German researcher Dr.G.A. Fischer, who collected the first species of fishes known to science from Lake Victoria and some other places within East Africa.
Hop to next section Species Information
Size 177mm or 7" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification All species in the genus Synodontis have a hardened head cap that has attached a process (humeral process) which is situated behind the gill opening and pointed towards the posterior. The dorsal fin and pectoral fins have a hardened first ray which is serrated. Caudal fin is always forked. There is one pair of maxillary barbels, sometimes having membranes and occasionally branched. The two pairs of mandibular barbels are often branched and can have nodes attached. The cone-shaped teeth in the upper jaw are short. S-shaped and movable in the lower jaw. These fish produce audible sounds when disturbed rubbing the base of the pectoral spine against the pectoral girdle.

Maxillary barbels reaching almost to the origin of the pelvic fin in some specimens and to the tip of the humeral process in others. Outer mandibular barbels with slender branches, inner pair with shorter, but slender branches. Marbled yellowish-brown (marbling is extremely variable, some individuals uniformly brown). A quite constant feature is a dark to black band from the eye to the mouth and two irregular light vertical bands anteriorly and posteriorly of the adipose fin. It is difficult to distinguish juvenile S.afrofisceri from juvenile S.fuelleborni by coloration only.
Sexing First lay the fish in your hand with its head toward your palm and the tail toward your fingers. Hold the dorsal spine between your middle and ring finger so the fish is belly up and you won't get punctured by the sharp fin spines (which hurts - be careful). The genital pore is in a small furrow of tissue (in healthy fish) and will be obstructed by the pelvic fins. Pull down on the tail gently to arch the fishes spine and the pelvic fins will stand and the furrow open to display the genital pore and the anus of the fish. The male has a somewhat ridged genital papillae on which the spermatoduct is on the back side, facing the tail fin. A gravid female will also show an extended papillae but the oviduct is on the ventral side of the papillae. It may also show a little redness if really gravid. A thin or emaciated female will have just two pink pores, the oviduct and the anus.
General Remarks Rarely grows to lengths greater than 15 cm SL. In the Piti River specimens at two occasions were caught between dense vegetation near the river banks. This species has adapted to a wide variety of habitats and thrives equally as well in the hard, alkaline waters of Lake Victoria as in the soft, acidic waters of swamps.
Hop to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: Lake Victoria, Lake Nabugabo, Victoria Nile, Lake Kyoga, Kagera River, Ihema Lake, Kingani River, Malagarasi (Nile Basin).
African Waters, Western Rift Valley Lakes, Victoria (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nabugabo (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nile, Upper Nile, White Nile (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nile, Upper Nile, White Nile, Kyoga (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Western Rift Valley Lakes, Victoria, Kagera (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Ihema (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Least Concern, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2015.
pH 6.0 - 8.0
Temperature 22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters dH 5-25.
Hop to next section Husbandry Information
Feeding Feeds on molluscs and insects, particularly chironomid larvae and Povilla. User data.
Furniture Historically (until the 1960s) this species was found throughout the Lake Victoria basin in a wide variety of habitats. Today, due to predation by the Nile Perch, they are primarily restricted to heavily vegetated swamps and feeder rivers that Nile Perch can not enter, as well as thick strands of reeds or hippo grass on the lake's margins. In captivity they will thrive in set ups as diverse as a rock habitat for Victorian Haplochromids to a Victorian papyrus swamp populated with Ctenopoma and larger killie fishes.
Compatibility A peaceful fish, but should not be kept with very small fishes which it may mistake for food.
Breeding Chapman, Kaufman, and Chapman (1994) Why Swim Upside Down? A comparative study of two Mochokid catfishes. Copeia. 1994 (1) pp 130-135. References that some of the S. afrofischeri used in their study were specimens obtained from a captive spawning in the Lake Victoria exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. No further details are given. Is thought to spawn in the Piti River or the Rungwa drainage at the beginning of the rains in November/December.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Hop to next section Further Information
Reference Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin 1888, pp 77.
Registered Keepers There is no registered keeper.
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Last Update 2020 Nov 08 06:37 (species record created: 2001 Apr 21 00:00)