Guinea fowl catfish

The guinea fowl catfish (Synodontis angelicus) is a member of the Mochokidae family. Originally it comes from Africa, where it inhabits the rivers of the Congo basin.

What distinguishes the guinea fowl catfish?

The guinea fowl catfish has a characteristic appearance. Because of this it has several names, especially in English, including “Whitespotted squeaker” or “Spotted upside-down catfish”. They clearly reflect the striking colouring: white spots on a dark background.
By the way, the guinea fowl catfish is scaleless and can live up to 20 years. It lives in the lower part of the aquarium.


Haps, Synodontis angelica, CC BY-SA 3.0

The body of the guinea fowl catfish is stocky and laterally flattened. The total length of a full-grown animal in the wild can be up to 55 cm. In the aquarium the size average is 20 to 30 cm.

It has a greyish, brownish-grey or dark purple basic colouring. It is covered with large, round spots on the flanks, head and adipose fin. The colour of these spots ranges from white to reddish-yellow to light brownish. Towards the belly the spots merge together. A special feature: On the flanks the spots are bordered by dark purple.

The guinea fowl catfish has a very high dorsal fin and a deeply indented caudal fin. All fins are black and white striped.
The fish has an adipose fin and carries a scaleless skin. As typical for many catfish species, the guinea fowl catfish also carries barbels
on its head. 3 pairs in this case. The upper jaw barbels are slightly longer than the head and unfeathered.


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Gender differences

Female guinea fowl catfish are clearly more plump than the males. The body structure is visibly more massive, the males appear slimmer.

Water values

The optimal water values for guinea fowl catfish are

  • Water temperature between 23° and 27° C
  • pH value between 6,0 and 7,5
  • Water hardness between 5° and 19° dGH

Feed and nutrition

The guinea fowl catfish is an omnivore. It tolerates frozen food, fine live food, algae or food tablets.
In the wild it eats insect larvae, worms and small crabs.

The ideal aquarium

The guinea fowl catfish requires a large aquarium with at least 1000 l capacity. Since it is a group fish, several fish should inhabit the aquarium.

The substrate must be soft. It should offer many stones, caves and roots as hiding places. Also free-swimming water plants, spear leaves or sword plants should be present, because the guinea fowl catfish likes to sleep under them. The guinea fowl catfish is active at twilight, so the lighting should be dimmed accordingly. It hides in bright light.

Housing conditions

Briefly summarized, what should be considered with the guinea fowl-catfish:

  • warm, rather soft water
  • a large pool with little light and many hiding places
  • Living in a small group
  • easy feeding as omnivore

The guinea fowl catfish is not a fish for beginners, so it should only be kept by experienced aquarists.

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