Max Size: 27.5cm

Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis multipunctatus)

The Cuckoo Catfish is one of several species of upside-down catfish. These catfish are medium-sized, hardy and good looking but can be very aggressive and territorial towards other catfish species. This fish is quite sociable, so it is advisable to keep them in groups of three or more to avoid the rivalry between two. However, they are relatively peaceful and do very well in a mixed African Cichlid tank if given suitable cover and cave-like structures for them to hide.

They seem to be active both day and night and can prove quite energetic. If you keep them in larger groups, territorial issues are less likely.

The Cuckoo Catfish has an elongated body that is usually gold, white or tan with black patches that increase in size from the head, back towards the tail. Their pectoral, dorsal and caudal fins are predominantly black with white to transparent edges. The two anal fins are also pale, with small black triangles and are positioned close to the body. They have three pairs of sensory barbels which are typically white.


Cuckoo catfish
Cuckoo catfish
Cuckoo catfish
Synodontis petricola
Cuckoo Catfish
Quick Facts
Scientific NameSynodontis multipunctatus
Other NamesCuckoo Squeaker, Multi Punk
OriginsBurundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asTrios
Lifespanup to 15 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.5 - 8.5
GH15 - 35
74 - 81℉
23.3 - 27.2℃

Natural Habitat

Lake Tanganyika


In the home aquarium, the Cuckoo Catfish will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

It is relatively tricky to differentiate the males from the females. Females tend to appear fuller-bodied, and males are usually larger, more brightly coloured and develop a much higher dorsal fin. But usually, experts sex the fish by examining the genital papillae.

Other Catfish of interest

African Glass Catfish(Pareutropius debauwi)
Common Otocinclus(Otocinclus vittatus)
Flagtail Catfish(Dianema urostriatum)
Glass Catfish(Kryptopterus vitreolus)
Marble Sturisoma Whiptail Catfish(Sturisoma aureum)
Royal Whiptail Catfish(Sturisoma panamense)
View all Other Catfish
Date Added: 07/10/2020 - Updated: 22/11/2021 16:01:21