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FAQs on Mochokid, Synodontis Cats and More: Compatibility

Related Articles: Mochokid Catfishes

Related Catfish FAQs:  Mochokid (Synodontis...) Catfishes 1,   Mochokid Cats 2, & FAQs on Mochokid Cats Identification, Mochokid Cats Behavior, Mochokid Cats Selection, Mochokid Cats Systems, Mochokid Cats Feeding, Mochokid Cats Disease, Mochokid Cats Reproduction, & General Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Psycho Synodontis; beh., incomp.      9/26/13
Hello all. First off, I love this site; I've always gotten such great answers to my seemingly endless questions. Now for my latest long-winded question. For the last five or six years I've had an African cichlid tank with just the normal amount of aggression issues, with one Synodontis hybrid (what I like to refer to as Synodontis Petsmartus :-) who has always been able to hold his own. However, once he reached the 6" mark, he decided to become the tank bully. All of the cichlids cower in their hiding places when he comes out of his cave. I've contemplated rehoming him, but he's my son's favorite fish, and honestly he scares me (Side note/funny story: I had to move him once a while back and used a bowl to catch him in since his spines would have gotten tangled in a net. With a loud squeak he jumped out of the bowl at my face and fell 5 feet to the floor with no injury. I carefully scooped him up and put him back in the bowl and covered it, where he continued to squeak loudly in protest.
<Now you have full appreciation for the family Mochokidae's common name: Squeakers!>
 Scared the daylights out of me and earned himself the name Nightmare, as I had a dream that night of him trying to eat my face). So I'm considering alternative additions to the tank to spread out the aggression, but I'm not sure what would be the best direction. Would it be better to add several juveniles of the same hybrid variety, or possibly a trio of Synodontis nigriventris, or would he go after Synos with even more aggression?
<Only trialing will tell>
Or should I add more cichlids? Or target fish?
<These also>
Here's my tank info (and try not to cringe. I started this tank when I was first getting into fish keeping and was too dumb to educate myself properly. I now research the crap out of anything I put into any of my tanks): 40 gallon breeder with lots of rock and pH of 8.5. Fish are: 3 yellow labs, 1 Pseudotropheus acei, 1 zebra obliquidens, 1 black Calvus and 1 Neolamprologus tretocephalus (see, I warned you it was cringe-worthy).
Before the Syno reached maturity, everyone got along as well as any African cichlids can, and the only negative side effect of this inappropriate grouping, that my unprofessional eyes can see, is that the Calvus has never grown any larger than 5 inches. According to aquadvisor I have room to add a few more fish,
<Mmm, no>
 and I know that overstocking is ideal for cichlids to help spread out aggression. Would this concept work for my situation?
<I would only try adding more fish life here IF getting a much larger tank... at least a sixty... At the minimum>
I've tried him in my 75 gallon Rainbowfish/Bichir tank, but he went after my Bichirs. The only spare tank I have is a 20 gallon tall I use for a hospital tank, but that seems a bit too small for him, and my husband,
<Heeeee! Don't try fitting him in there!>
 who already just barely tolerates my aquarium addiction, would probably put his foot down on having a tank for just one fish. And there's no room for a larger tank for the cichlids. I can't put him down like a rabid dog, but I'm tired of this fish terrorizing his tankmates. Any suggestions for this terrible setup?
Thanks in advance,
<Really; someone or something has to go... I'd look for the larger tank...
Bob Fenner>

African Cichlids Anthony, Thanks for the prompt reply I will start setting up my shopping list. <quite welcome> Of the compatible fish, which would be the best to start with. Are there some that will tolerate the tank cycling process better than the others? <actually all are quite durable. Try to add more than one at a time to temper aggression> Also I was thinking of a Pleco and a couple small cats to help with the housekeeping. Any ideas? Thanks again for the really prompt reply. <Plecos and Corys are a bad choice for true African water... look instead at African Synodontis species... a little pricey for some, but beautiful. Anthony>

Fish Compatibility; Possible bully in the tank, Catfish Fever! Got a really cool catfish a couple of months ago, but I don't know what he is, I'm attaching a picture of him; maybe you could help identify him? <A Synodontis sp., maybe S. eupterus... An African Cat of the family Mochokidae... you can see a bunch of these by plugging in the genus or family name in Fishbase.org> We have a 29 gallon setup, with live plants (although they keep dying), with 2 angels, a cherry barb, a silver-tipped "shark", a red-tailed "shark", a Raphael, a pictus catfish, a Pleco (that's growing like a WEED) and the unidentified catfish mentioned above. <Wowzah... this is going to be a very (as in too much) crowded system... and you have a real mix of water-type and personalities here... You should investigate (on WetWebMedia.com, FishBase, the BB's...) what you have, how big they get, what water quality they prefer...>   They have 3 small rock-like things to hide in, but the unidentified guy might be getting a little testy, especially with the pictus and the Pleco (the Pleco??).  Also, our ph level slowly climbs from close to 7.0 up to 7.2 no matter what we do to try and stabilize it (we've added those fizzy tablets that are supposed to stabilize it, but > that works for about a day or two).  We have to add pH down stuff at least once a week to get even a slight handle on it. <Don't worry re this issue... this "point" and range is fine as is... for all you list for now> Also, the silver-tipped shark swims in constant circles at the top of the tank, is this normal? <Mmm, yes. An active (brackish to marine) species of catfish. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ariidcats.htm> All other tank conditions are good, temp OK, never any ammonia problems, nitrates ok, etc.  We do a 5 gallon water change every week without fail. <Good routine. Bob Fenner>

Synodontis note Hi Jeremy, Ananda is correct, some of these guys don't get along with other fish, mainly those similar in feeding habits, living space (substrate and under rocks and logs) like Pleco's, other Catfish. Best to find a different home for one or the other.  This is true of several of the cats, Plecos, etc. A group of two or three Synodontis is alright, but they will chase each other around too if it's too crowded or there is a pronounced size difference.  I got around some of these issues by feeding in separate locations.   Best of luck!  Craig>

Very aggressive Synodontis upside-down catfish (05/30/03) Hello, I have a question for you.   <Hi, Ananda here tonight...> I have a three year old Upside-down catfish that up until this point has been a very peaceful fish.  But a few days ago I noticed that the top of my spotted Raphael fish was white.  After watching for a little while I noticed that it was white because the Synodontis kept biting him there every time he saw him.  I moved him to another aquarium and he was fine for one day (hiding in a cave) but after that he began attacking all of my fish in that aquarium too.  I have been looking on the internet for possible reasons for this, and most sites I have seen have said that it should be compatible with every type of fish.   <The book I have says that some Synodontis species are compatible with other fish, while others aren't... do check out www.planetcatfish.com and try to find details about your particular species.> I was wondering if you knew what I could do to fix this problem.   <Hmmm... a new tank for the catfish, perhaps....> Any help would be greatly appreciated! -Jeremy Oh, and the first aquarium is a 29 gallon, the new one is a 55 in case that may help you. <How large is the fish? Some Synodontis species get to be a foot long, far too large for a 55 gallon tank. It may be that your fish is just feeling cramped for space. --Ananda>
Very aggressive Synodontis upside-down catfish
>He is about 5 inches long.  I wouldn't think that he would be to large for a 55 gal.  What size of an aquarium would you recommend for him? >>You have just aptly described the Synodontis, especially a character that large.  If he's in the tank with only a few other inhabitants (who are well-equipped to defend themselves), then, no, a 55 isn't too small for him.  If, on the other hand, you have smaller, less aggressive fishes, he very well could harass them to death.  Especially at night when you won't be watching.  Hope this helps!  Marina

Bullying Multipunctatus Catfish Thanks again for all of your priceless assistance. I am not sure what to do with my Synod Multis. In a Malawi 90 gallon I have 3 Synos- a Eupterus and 2 Multis. The slightly smaller (3.5"), but longer resident, Multi seems to chase the more recently introduced Multi a  lot. At first I thought, give it some time, but a few weeks later it is still going on as intensely. I have never noticed any scars or wounds on the Multi, just that lately it seems to rest more than usual  in strange positions, leaning on things at times. At feeding time, he still swims around the bottom and eats. I am not sure what the best course to take is. There are definitely enough caves, but the bully Multi almost seems to seek him out at times. I have read they are schooling fish somewhat, would adding another Multi or two help? I also have a 55 Tanganyikan tank where I could move him, except this tank is full of 1-2" juveniles, including a 2" Syno Angelicus (which is my favorite catfish of all and I don't want to endanger him). Any advice greatly appreciated. >> It will help to add more Multis. I would try to have a group of 5 fish that are around the same size. They will chase each other also, but not only one fish will be under constant stress. Good Luck, Oliver

Synodontis Catfish Bullying Cichlids I have had a four inch Synodontis petricola for about month now, this morning when I turned on the light she did something new. She chased all the Cichlids out of her cave, very aggressively. Normally she would basically ignore all the other fish in the tank. Then this evening when I fed her I noticed that her stomach was very bloated. I usually attempt to feed her with the other fish and then feed her specifically when I turn lamp out, it was after I turned the lamp out and fed her that I noticed her belly. She is still swimming around and she did seem to eat a little. Is she sick, what can I do? As for tank, it is a 30 gallon, 36 inch tank with an Emperor 400 filter. There are 8 small cichlids I believe they are all originally Malawian (4 of them came from my brother-in-laws tank--he has a fry problem,) they are all young the largest is maybe 1.5 inches. Then there is 1 common Pleco and the Petricola. The substrate is mixed coral and black pebbles. There are 3 Anubias plants, 3 Java ferns and a small piece of Amazon Sword. I keep the water at about 79 degrees, PH is 8, Nitrite and Ammonia are trace. I do weekly 7-10 gallon water changes. The tank finished cycling about a month ago and the fish were added a few at a time over a 10 day period. Until today everything seemed perfect. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks, Tony < In the wild, this catfish deals with cichlids all day long and doesn't back down very easily. I think what is going on here is the much larger catfish is pushing the smaller cichlids out of the way at dinner time. She is probably eating both during the day and at night. I would recommend just one feeding a day during the daylight hours. Fed only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. If your fish is not eating then it could be an internal bacterial infection that needs to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Breeding blue tetras and cichlid problems. Mochokid comp.   7/12/06 Hello. I was wondering what I would have to do to breed the blue tetra (Boehlkea fredcochui), also what are the sex characteristics. <Cochu's Blue Tetra... have no personal experience with... you might peruse this search: http://www.google.com/search?q=Boehlkea+fredcochui> I am also having problems with one of my cichlids (Melanochromis auratus) and a Synodontis nigrita. whenever my poor cat tries to come out to eat he just get beat up by the one cichlid until he goes back to his hiding place. I kept my poor Syno. in my 55 gallon tetra tank and he prospered. now he looks like he came out of a boxing match. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks CJ <I'd move this Catfish, pronto... back in with the Tetras or somewhere more easygoing. The situation with the Cichlid is not going to improve... it will kill this cat if they are not separated. Bob Fenner>

Plant sticks / golden apple snails / feeding... Synodontis comp., fdg.  7/5/06 Hallo. I think before I purchased three golden apple snails my plants were looking a little eaten / worn -  some more than others. All I currently have is two Synodontis nigriventris which I feed every other day with one to two pinches of flakes (morning and evening for example). <This small African Catfish species can make plants ragged... chew small holes. Generally at night> To add variety I include frozen bloodworm / peas and greens. I think that I am feeding them enough, better to give too little than too much? <Hard to so... Mochokid catfishes are so active that they seem to "swim off" any excess food> I have three plant sticks embedded in the sand - should I stick one underneath each plant, if that's the case then I had better use the others as I have around eleven plants in my 18.6 gallon. <Mmm, worth trying... though it may be that you have "too many foxes, too few hens"... that the catfish will still be too much for the volume of plant material present> I expect the snails will accelerate the plant munching though one of the reasons I chose them was because I was informed that they weren't a major problem in this respect. <Mmm, generally not... though Pomacea/Ampullaria species are individualistic...> Please advise me. Many thanks team. Steve. <Best to keep your eyes on all, consider moving the Synodontis. Bob Fenner>

Baby Eater, Guppies, Synodontis nigriventris comp.  3/19/07 Hi WWM crew, <Ben> I have a 46 gallon tank with two filters (I use charcoal) and an oxygen bubbler. I have assorted rocks and fake plants in my freshwater aquarium. Just yesterday I went to the fish store and bought 18 Guppies (8 male and 10 female). So now in my tank I have 1 Upside-Down Catfish, 2 Cardinal Neon Tetras <These are two different species> , and 18 Guppies. The Guppies always huddle at the top of the tank. I was wondering if once the Guppies had babies, if the Upside-Down Catfish would attack and eat them and if this is normal for an Upside-Down Catfish to do (even though it is usually unseen and hiding somewhere because it is nocturnal)? <Yes, might> I was also wondering if it would eat the adult Guppies. <Generally this small Synodontis doesn't bother such fishes, but it might, yes> My tank has very low pH and last night a Rummy Nose fish died suspected from a white growth (I don't know if this matters but it might help). <Need numbers... not opinions...>                                               Thank you for your time,                                                            Benjamin <Data please... water quality tests, maintenance routine, foods/feeding... Bob Fenner>

55 Gal Freshwater Synodontis Tank 12/15/2007 Hello, I have a 55 gallon freshwater tank that currently has a 6 inch common Pleco, 4 inch Bala, 2 spotted pictus cats appx 3"< and a young 3" horse face loach. I recently took a liking to The Synodontis species of catfish. How many could I put into my 55 Gal and which of the Synodontis get along with each other? I'd like to get 1 each of a couple different kinds. Thank you for your advice. <Greetings. Synodontis spp. vary considerably in size and temperament. As a rule, most species are very nocturnal, somewhat territorial, but not overtly aggressive. There are a few species that are particular about water chemistry. Synodontis multipunctatus from Lake Tanganyika needs hard, alkaline water to do well. But most are adaptable and will thrive at pH 6-8, 5-20 degrees dH. This being the case, you could choose a single specimen of one of the medium-sized, non-aggressive species. Synodontis angelicus has long been a favourite, but Synodontis eupterus, Synodontis decorus, and Synodontis flavitaeniatus are also colourful and peaceful. Some Synodontis thrive in groups provided there are adequate hiding places. Synodontis flavitaeniatus, Synodontis eupterus, and Synodontis nigriventris are particularly good in groups. I have a trio of Synodontis nigriventris in a community tank, and it is great fun watching them chase each other at feeding time. They will generally ignore other non-aggressive Synodontis species, but this varies, especially if the two fish fight over a hiding space. Other Synodontis are best thought of as one-to-a-tank fish, being short-tempered towards their own kind and other species of Synodontis; Synodontis nigrita is a good example of a species that can be territorial if crowded. Of all the Synodontis on sale, Synodontis nigriventris is probably the best all-round fish; at a modest size of about 10 cm when mature it is small enough to make maintenance in a big group viable. Four or five specimens work nicely in your tank and provide plenty of amusement. It is a very hardy, easy to keep species widely sold species. One last thing: Bala Sharks are schooling fish; please get your specimen a couple of pals. Cheers, Neale.>

Synodontis eupterus in the corner 05/19/08 Hi there, I recently set up my old 55 gallon again for the first time in a few years after a good scrubbing. My buddy had a 5 inch Synodontis he could no longer keep with his other fish and needed a home for. Anything too gross to salvage got replaced, and I'm picking up a full test kit on Friday since I can't find most of my old set. Anyhow, everything seems fine so far, and my Syno has a little Raphael buddy I picked up at the pet store whilst shopping for supplies. I haven't gotten around to getting him a full size cave yet or put any fake plants in there, but there's plenty of coral rock and a bunch of old stuff in there from when I had it up before. I know these are nocturnal fish, and I can tell he doesn't like when I turn the tank lights on, so I got a little LCD light set instead. For the most part he hides behind the rocks and such, but every once in a while I'll see him lean against the corner of the tank in backslash position, mouth in the corner... and will just sit there for a while... his breathing has seemed a little erratic at times, but for the most part he seems to do well as long as the lights are out. Just wondering if this is normal behavior or not really, or if I should hurry up with the testing to see if there's some kinda serious problem. Thanks a bunch. -Eric <Greetings. Synodontis generally are very hardy. Usually they're the last fish to get ill! So unless you can see things like skin or fin damage, or signs of parasites, I'd not be overly concerned about variations in breathing rate. By default, they press themselves against solid objects, and this is especially true if they feel cramped or exposed. Make sure they have lots of hiding places. Synodontis eupterus (and indeed Synos generally) become more outgoing the more secure they feel. Coral rock isn't quite the right thing because anything calcareous will harden the water and raise the pH, but plastic plants, flowerpots, slate, granite, bogwood, etc can all be used successfully. Synodontis eupterus are territorial, so the idea this species needs a "buddy" is erroneous. In fact the Synodontis eupterus will view other catfish as potential rivals for hiding places. On the other hand, Platydoras costatus is a gregarious species and does well kept in groups, even though specimens will jostle with one another over the best hiding places. Single specimens are notoriously shy. Cheers, Neale.>

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