Fun Featherfin Squeaker Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 11, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Learn about a popular catfish with these featherfin squeaker facts.

The featherfin squeaker (Synodontis eupterus) is a species of catfish of the family Mochokidae and the genus Synidontis. Also known as the featherfin catfish (Synodontis eupterus) or simply the featherfish, this fish is found in the Chad Basin and the Volta, Niger, and White Nile rivers in Africa.

In addition to their distribution in these natural freshwater bodies, the featherfin (Synodontis eupterus) is a common catfish species kept in aquariums.

The featherfin (Synodontis eupterus) has the generic part of its scientific name (Synodontis eupterus) rooted in two Greek terms: 'syno' which means 'close' and 'odontis', meaning 'tooth', referring to the closely spaced teeth of the fish in its lower jaw.

The species name (eupterus) is also a Greek word meaning 'beautiful wings', referring to the striking dorsal fin of the catfish.

The catfish featherfin squeaker has a remarkable ability to change color when transforming from the juvenile stage to the adult stage. This tropical fish has a kind of a zebra-like appearance with body stripes in the juvenile stage that change to a spotted appearance when the fish enters adulthood.

Furthermore, this beauty of a fish has a magnificent spotted dorsal fin which, when raised and extended, looks like a moving fan and is sure to make heads turn!

Are you intrigued by the squeaker featherfin catfish (Synodontis eupterus)? Then read on for more interesting and fun facts about the squeaker featherfin catfish!

If you like reading about the featherfin squeaker, you may also find facts on the cherry salmon and bonito fish interesting.

Featherfin Squeaker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a featherfin squeaker?

The featherfin squeaker (Synodontis eupterus) is a species of catfish mostly found in freshwater rivers or kept in an aquarium.

What class of animal does a featherfin squeaker belong to?

Featherfin squeakers belong to the class of ray-finned fishes (class Actinopterygii).

How many featherfin squeakers are there in the world?

The exact population size of featherfin squeakers is not known. However, this African tropical fish is a popular aquarium fish species, and hence, their global numbers are believed to be abundant.

Where does a featherfin squeaker live?

In the wild, featherfin squeakers are mostly found in moderately fast-flowing rivers. This African catfish species can also be kept in an aquarium or tank.

What is a featherfin squeaker's habitat?

The featherfin squeaker is common in countries in central Africa, including Cameroon, Niger, Mali, Ghana, Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria. The species originates in the Central Congo River Basin and is found in the Volta, Niger, and White Nile river systems of Africa.

In their natural habitat, these species of African catfish dwell in the rocky or muddy bottoms of freshwater rivers with plenty of hiding places and an abundance of food like algae and insect larvae.

The aquarium maintenance of this catfish is quite elaborate. When kept in an artificial habitat, a full-grown featherfin catfish requires at least a 50 gal (227 L) aquarium or tank with lots of hiding places, twisted roots, and driftwood.

The driftwood offers a secure dwelling place for the catfish when it is not chasing its tankmates through holes and tunnels.

This catfish also favors porous rocks that are often kept in the tanks of African cichlids.

Since this fish is a bottom-dweller, the substrate of the tank or aquarium should consist of smooth gravel or sand to avoid damage to the barrel of the catfish.

Plants inside the aquarium must be tough and hardy, and the lighting should be subdued, with moderate water movement and adequate water conditions in terms of the temperature, pH, and hardness.

Who do featherfin squeakers live with?

Featherfin squeakers either live alone or in groups. Even though this catfish has an overall peaceful temperament, it can be very territorial and aggressive towards members of its own species and shows compatibility only with specific aquarium creatures.

When kept in an aquarium or tank, the companions of the catfish should be peaceful fish that are larger than 2 in (5 cm) to avoid being swallowed up by the featherfin.

Since this species of fish originates from the rivers connected to Lake Malawi, they have good compatibility with African cichlids, requiring the same water conditions as these cichlids.

The featherfin (Synodontis eupterus) is robust enough to accommodate the aggressive nature of African cichlids too.

Other than these cichlids, featherfin squeaker catfish are compatible with silvertip tetras, silver hatchet fish, serpae tetras, sailfin mollies, rosy barbs, red eye tetras, platies, Kuhli loaches, head and tail light tetras, the harlequin rasbora, flame tetras, emperor tetras, Buenos Aires tetras, dwarf gouramis, danios, and other species of upside-down catfish.

How long does a featherfin squeaker live?

The lifespan of featherfin squeakers can range between eight and 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

Sufficient information is not available regarding the breeding behavior of this catfish. In their natural habitat, featherfin squeaker fish are seen breeding in seasonally flooded areas that are rich in microorganisms. This fish species is an egg scatterer and does not engage in parental care.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of Threatened Species, the Synodontis eupterus (featherfin squeaker) is of Least Concern.

Featherfin Squeaker Fun Facts

What do featherfin squeakers look like?

Featherfin squeakers have starkly different body colorations and patterns during the juvenile and adult stages of their life. Juveniles have a zebra-like appearance with a body marked by black and white lines interspersed with irregular spots.

As the fish enters adult life, the color changes to a dull gray or brown with spots on the body and lines on the tail.

The underside is flattened, and the flank is triangular with a sharp spiny dorsal fin that develops lace-like extensions in an adult. When fully extended, the dorsal fin looks like a moving fan and is indeed a sight to behold. The adipose fin of these fish is dotted.

Pectoral fins, caudal fins, anal fins, and pelvic fins are present as usual. In addition, featherfin squeakers have flexible and pronounced barbels that help the fish to seek food and warn competitors. Females usually have a larger girth than males.

How cute are they?

While the pouty mouth of this popular aquarium catfish gives them a cute appearance, their polka-dot patterned and delicate lacy fins, particularly their fan-like dorsal fin, make them look extremely beautiful underwater.

How do they communicate?

With the help of its pectoral fins, the featherfin catfish makes a squeaking sound during spawning as a signal to competitors and predators. The fish has grooves on its shoulders into which it rubs the spines of its pectoral fins to produce these squeaks.

How big is a featherfin squeaker?

The length of featherfin catfish can range between 6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm) in an aquarium or tank. In their natural habitat in rivers, they may grow up to a length of 12 in (30.4 cm). In terms of body length, the featherfin squeaker can grow to twice the size of its close relative, the upside-down catfish (Syndotis nigriventris).

How fast can a featherfin squeaker swim?

The exact swimming speed of the featherfin squeaker is not known. Being territorial, it does chase around other inmates of its tank or aquarium, especially if the enclosure is small.

How much does a featherfin squeaker weigh?

The weight of a featherfin squeaker can range between 0.9-2.5 oz (27-72.6 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female featherfin catfish do not have any distinct names.

What would you call a baby featherfin squeaker?

Like other fish, a baby featherfin squeaker may be called a fry or fingerling.

What do they eat?

The featherfin catfish is omnivorous and feeds on a wide range of foods, including insect larvae, algae, and any aquatic animal smaller than itself, including snails and small fish. They are voracious eaters.

When kept in an aquarium or tank, they can be fed foods like algae wafers, brine shrimps, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and sinking catfish pellets, as well as vegetables like shelled peas and cucumber.

Are they poisonous?

The featherfin squeaker is not known to be poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, featherfin squeakers are popular aquarium pets but they do require strict maintenance conditions and careful feeding.

While it is not necessary to mimic their natural habitat, it is essential that your aquarium maintenance is up to scratch with adequate water flow, suitable water conditions, and an abundant supply of foods such as algae wafers, insect larvae, brine shrimp, and other suitable meaty frozen foods.

Did you know...

Belgian-British zoologist George Albert Boulenger first described the featherfin squeaker in 1901.

A characteristic feature of the Synodontis catfish is that they are seen swimming and resting in the upside-down position. When kept in an aquarium or tank, this fish may be seen resting underneath aquarium plants or decor in an upside-down stance. Further, this upside-down swimming posture makes surface feeding easier for the fish.

For a featherfin squeaker kept in an aquarium, the ideal temperature range is 71-78 F (22-26 C) and the ideal pH is between 6.2-7.5.

The squeaker featherfin catfish has three pairs of barrels. Other catfish species with three pairs of barbels are the Synodontis flaevitaeniatus, Synodontis clarias, and Synodontis decorus.

The featherfin squeaker is not born with the characteristic feathery dorsal fin, this develops with age.

Aquariums with featherfin squeakers are often supplied with floating vegetation to diffuse any light entering the enclosure.

Are featherfin squeakers aggressive?

The featherfin squeaker is not normally aggressive towards anything larger than itself unless it is a potential predator. However, these fish are quite aggressive towards smaller fish or members of their own species.

How did featherfin squeakers get their name?

Like many other animals, there is a reason behind the common name of the Synodontis eupterus fish. In its common name, 'featherfin' refers to the feathery and lacy dorsal fin of the fish, and they are called squeakers because of the squeaking sound they make while communicating with predators and competitors.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish from our fluke fish facts and swai fish facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable featherfin squeaker coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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