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.

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℃

Photos of the Cuckoo Catfish

Cuckoo catfish
Cuckoo catfish
Cuckoo catfish
Synodontis petricola
Cuckoo Catfish

Natural Habitat

The Cuckoo Catfish is found in Lake Tanganyika, one of the lakes in the Great Rift Valley system in east-central Africa. They inhabit freshwater rocky shores with depths of up to 65 feet with typically muddy, shells or sandy substrate.

Lake Tanganyika

What to feed the Cuckoo Catfish

The Cuckoo Catfish is most unfussy when it comes to feeding. However, they do prefer meat-based foods over vegetable-based food.

Live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, krill and plankton, as well as dried foods such as catfish wafers, flakes, pellets and granules are all accepted.

It also enjoys vegetable matter such as shelled peas, and cucumber, which it will grate at with the teeth in its lower jaw.

How to sex the Cuckoo Catfish

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.

How to breed the Cuckoo Catfish

The Cuckoo Catfish is a brood parasite. The smell of spawning cichlids stimulates these catfish into producing, and as the cichlids lay their eggs, the catfish will quickly move in and eat its eggs before the mother can collect them. While doing so, they also release and fertilise their own eggs.

The female cichlid will hastily attempt to gather up her eggs and, in doing so, will also collect eggs from the Cuckoo Catfish. 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 Cuckoo Catfish and allows them to breed again quicker.

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)
Spotted Hoplo Catfish(Megalechis thoracata)
View all Other Catfish
Date Added: 07/10/2020 - Updated: 22/11/2021 16:01:21