Synodontis multipunctatus

Synodontis multipunctatus, also known as the cuckoo catfish, cuckoo squeaker, or multipunk, is a small catfish from Lake Tanganyika, one of the lakes in the Great Rift Valley system in Africa. It is a brood parasite upon mouthbrooding cichlids. This species grows to a length of 27.5 centimetres (10.8 in) TL. This species is a minor component of local commercial fisheries.[2]

Cuckoo catfish
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Mochokidae
Genus: Synodontis
S. multipunctatus
Binomial name
Synodontis multipunctatus
Boulenger, 1898


Synodontis multipunctatus J. Green
Synodontis multipunctatus

Synodontis multipunctatus is one of a number of species of upside-down catfish in Lake Tanganyika, which is more famous for its cichlids. It gathers in large schools at depths of about 40 metres (130 ft) in the lake.

S. multipunctatus is notable for its breeding behaviour - it is a brood parasite, similar to the cuckoo from which it takes its common name. Lake Tanganyika is home to a number of mouthbrooding cichlids, which care for their eggs and young by carrying them in their mouth. S. multipunctatus uses these, particularly Ctenochromis horei and Simochromis babaulti, as unwitting caretakers for their children.

The smell of spawning cichlids excites S. multipunctatus into spawning, and as the cichlids lay their eggs the catfish will quickly slip in and eat its eggs before they can be collected by the mother. While doing so they also release and fertilise their own eggs. The female cichlid will hastily attempt to scoop up her eggs and, in doing so, will also collect eggs from S. multipunctatus. These eggs will then hatch inside the unwilling adoptive mother's mouth, and proceed to eat the cichlid eggs present before being released by the cichlid. This technique removes the burden of parental care from the S. multipunctatus, and allows them to breed again sooner.

In the aquarium

Synodontis multipunctatus are a popular addition to cichlid aquariums. They grow to about 15 cm, and can be bred in captivity provided suitable hosts are present(?). Some aquarists have had success with host cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria as well as those from Lake Tanganyika.[3] They can be very aggressive and territorial towards other synodontis species, they should be kept in groups over 3 to avoid competition between two, and proper cover and cave like structures should be provided. They seem to be active in the day as much as the night and can prove quite lively. If kept in larger groups territorial issues are less likely.

See also


  1. ^ Ntakimazi, G. (2006). "Synodontis multipunctatus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2006: e.T60815A12411850. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2006.RLTS.T60815A12411850.en. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Synodontis multipunctatus" in FishBase. May 2014 version.
  3. ^ "Maenam Shop" (in Thai). facebook. July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  4. ^ "Geologic Podcast - Episode 292". Retrieved 14 December 2012.

Further reading

External links

Data related to Synodontis multipunctatus at Wikispecies

Brood parasite

Brood parasites are organisms that rely on others to raise their young. The strategy appears among birds, insects and some fish. The brood parasite manipulates a host, either of the same or of another species, to raise its young as if it were its own, using brood mimicry, for example by having eggs that resemble the host's (egg mimicry).

Brood parasitism relieves the parasitic parents from the investment of rearing young or building nests for the young, enabling them to spend more time on other activities such as foraging and producing further offspring. Bird parasite species mitigate the risk of egg loss by distributing eggs amongst a number of different hosts. As this behaviour damages the host, it often results in an evolutionary arms race between parasite and host as the pair of species coevolve.

List of freshwater aquarium fish species

A vast number of aquatic species have successfully adapted to live in the freshwater aquarium. This list gives some examples of the most common species found in home aquariums.

List of least concern fishes

As of September 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 9131 least concern fish species. 60% of all evaluated fish species are listed as least concern.

The IUCN also lists 37 fish subspecies as least concern.

Of the subpopulations of fishes evaluated by the IUCN, 44 species subpopulations have been assessed as least concern.

This is a complete list of least concern fish species and subspecies evaluated by the IUCN. Species and subspecies which have least concern subpopulations (or stocks) are indicated.


The Mochokidae are a family of catfishes (order Siluriformes) that are known as the squeakers and upside-down catfish (although not all species swim upside-down). There are nine genera and about 200 species of mochokids. All the mochokids are freshwater species originating from Africa.They have three pairs of barbels, with the nasal barbels absent; sometimes, the mandibular barbels may be branched. The lips are modified into a suckermouth in Atopochilus, Chiloglanis, and Euchilichthys. The adipose fin is usually very long. The dorsal and pectoral fins have spines that are usually strong and with a locking mechanism. They range in size up to 72 cm (28 in) SL. This group contains many popular species among aquarists, such as Synodontis nigriventris, Synodontis angelicus, and Synodontis multipunctatus.


Mouthbrooding, also known as oral incubation and buccal incubation, is the care given by some groups of animals to their offspring by holding them in the mouth of the parent for extended periods of time. Although mouthbrooding is performed by a variety of different animals, such as the Darwin's frog, fishes are by far the most diverse mouthbrooders. Mouthbrooding has evolved independently in several different families of fish.


Synodontis is the largest genus of mochokid catfishes. It is the biggest genus within the 10 genera and 190 different species in the family Mochokidae. Synodontis has over 131 different species within the genera. Synodontis are also known as squeakers, due to their ability to make stridulatory sounds through their pectoral fin spines when handled or disturbed. Synodontis make a sound that sounds like squeaking by rubbing their spines together. They do this when they have been frightened or when they become angry. "Synodontis" may also squeak when they are taken out of the water. These catfish are small- to medium-sized fish with many species exhibiting attractive spotted markings. Some species are also known for naturally swimming belly-up, earning the name upside-down catfish. Some of these species are Synodontis contractus and Synodontis nigriventris. While some of these species are known to swim upside down, another species, Synodontis multipunctatus, is a brood parasitic cuckoo catfish.



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