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January 9, 2015

Good afternoon! The holidays are past and we’ve resumed normal shipping operations. I would like to take a moment to remind you all of our Winter shipping parameters - Overnight lows during transit must be above 20°F at the departure location (here in Portland, Oregon), the destination (where the fish will be delivered), as well as at the UPS hub in Louisville KY (unless the destination is West of the Rocky Mountains, in which case it will be routed locally).

Anthony is not the only fan of catfish amongst this crew and also not the only one that finds their moustaches (technically barbels) absolutely endearing. The Synodontis genus is no exception when it comes to cute moustaches and the intricate spotted patterns seen in many species make the Squeaker Cats a long-standing aquarium staple.

For example, Synodontis ocellifer “Large Spot Syno” or “Ocellated Syno” from West Africa sports a buff to grey body with few distinct black spots. In mature specimens, each of the spots has a pale center. This has brought about their scientific name of ‘ocellifer’, meaning ‘Having little eyes’. These fish are suited for community tanks only when young – when they begin to approach their adult size of nearly eight inches, they will begin to predate smaller fish that will fit in their substantial mouths. This particular species prefers a bit more protein in their diets than other Synos, but is still considered an omnivore.

Synodontis ocellifer

Synodontis multipunctatus “Cuckoo Catfish” of Lake Tanganyika, on the other hand, has a pale silvery body that fades to white over its belly and a beautiful bronze coloration over its head. It is marked from white-barbeled snout to caudal peduncle with numerous deep black spots. The spotting continues over the base of its other unpaired fins, though its pectorals, dorsal and caudal fins are pitch black and rimmed in brilliant white. S. multipunctatus is a definite schooling fish and, with an adult size of nine inches, will require quite a sizeable tank to house a group.

Synodontis multipunctatus

Finally, Synodontis lucipinnis “Dwarf Petricola” or “False Cuckoo Catfish”, also of Lake Tanganyika, looks almost identical to S. multipunctatus with a slightly bronzer body color and white first dorsal and pectoral rays. However, the Dwarf Petricola will only grow to four inches in length, making it much simpler to house. It is also a social fish, though not a schooler like the Cuckoo Catfish, and may be kept singly or in groups. Given the small adult size, this fish is suitable as a tankmate for all but the smallest fish – any over one inch should be safe – and its broad tolerance for water chemistry allows it to be housed in nearly any community aquaria.

Synodontis lucipinnis

Thank you for reading! January is National Hobby Day and we would like to thank you all for helping us support the home aquarium hobby. Likewise, next Wednesday is “Dress up Your Pet Day” – while it’s a bit tricky to put an outfit on a fish, we’d love to receive pictures of your aquascaping or unique aquarium ornamentation.

Jessica Supalla