All FishesMochokidaeMochokinaeSynodontis

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Scientific Name Synodontis nigrita  Valenciennes, 1840
Common Names False Upside Down Catfish
Common Syno, Common Synodontis, Falsk Rygsvømmermalle (Denmark), Lace Catfish, Nigerianischer Rückenschw. (schwarzwer) Kongowels (Germany), Syno
Type Locality Senegal River, Senegal.
Synonym(s) Hemisynodontis nigrita, Synodontis fascipinna, Synodontis ornatus
Pronunciation sin oh don tiss - nig reet ah
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. 
Hop to next section Species Information
Size 220mm or 8.7" 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.

Commonly misidentified in the trade. Contaminants often include S. nigriventris and small juveniles of many West African Synodontis species.
S. nigrita has a dark gray background with black spots on the body and fins, giving it a ''lace-like'' appearance, hence the common name: ''lace catfish''.
Humeral process ends in a point, sweeping up in a curve on the bottom edge.
Sometimes swims in an inverted position.
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 stuck (Which by the way, hurts like crazy!). 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 (And 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 An explanation is in order as to the status of the synonym, Synodontis ornatus. There is a paper by Pappenheim & Boulenger(1914) using Synodontis ornatus which shows a drawing of a fish that very much looks like a Synodontis nigrita, the fish shown in this paper is now considered a synonym of S. nigrita. A second paper by Boulenger (1920) using Synodontis ornatus shows a drawing of a fish that looks like the images that are shown for Synodontis ornatissima which this second ornatus is now a synonym of.
Hop to next section Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: Chad, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Casamance, Geba, Kolente and Volta basins; coastal rivers from Ghana to Nigeria, Nile basin; including the Bénoué.
African Waters, Casamance (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Geba (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Kolente (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Volta (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Gambia (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nile (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Nigeria Waters, Niger (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Sénégal (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Chad (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 2019.
pH 6.0 - 7.6
Temperature 21.0-26.0°C or 69.8-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters In nature, one of the most common of all Synodontis species where it congregates in pools and ponds by the side of large rivers, but is typically not found in the rivers themselves.
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Feeding Omnivore. Feed flakes and tablet food, supplemented by frozen and live food.
In nature, eats plant detritus and small crustaceans and insects.
Be careful not to overfeed. Has gluttonous appetite. Juveniles grow quickly.
Furniture Plants, driftwood, rocks.
Compatibility Relatively peaceful, though older specimens can become territorial.
Breeding In nature, breeding occurs during flood season. It is uncertain if bred commercially by hormone injection or if it has been bred in the aquarium.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Hop to next section Further Information
Reference Histoire naturelle des poissons v. 15, pp 265, Pl. 441.
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Last Update 2023 Jan 12 05:33 (species record created: 2001 Apr 21 00:00)