Table of Contents
Important facts about the feathered catfish in brief:
- The most popular species are the back-swimming Congo catfish, which swims in a supine position, and the cuckoo catfish, which comes from Lake Tanganyika and has a very special breeding behaviour: it distributes its eggs to mouth-breeding cichlids.
- Dwarf pinnate catfish are ideal for small aquaria. The marbled feather-bearded catfish, on the other hand, reaches a final size of 25 centimetres and requires considerably more space.
- The feather-bearded catfish is between 11 and 30 centimetres in size and has an average life expectancy of 12 years.
- Leaf miner catfish are found in Africa
- Pinnated catfish should be kept in groups of at least 5 animals
- Do not be frightened by growling and crackling noises. This is triggered by the feathered catfish with its pectoral fin.
Portrait of the most popular feathered catfish species
The high-finned pinnate catfish (Synodontis eupterus)
The high-finned feather-beard-catfish is also called feather-fin or jewelry-fin-feather-beard-catfish. It belongs to the genus Synodontis and is with 22 centimetres the largest among the breed. Whether the catfish is a male or female is difficult to tell. The high dorsal fin is a typical trademark of the feather bearded catfish. The hard rays in the front area are very long and therefore the dorsal fin appears triangular.
The young animals have a white and wavy line on the caudal fin. Also on both sides of the fat fin. The white lines are surrounded by a dark seam. The older the fish, the more the lines become blurred in spots.
Adult fish have small, dark spots all over their body. The basic colour of the fish is olive brown.
The dwarf pinnated catfish (Microsynodontis batesii)
The dwarf pinnate catfish is the smallest representative among the Mochokinae. It only reaches a size of about 9 centimetres and usually lives near the ground. Externally the animals show a relatively dark basic colouring, which stands out by some circular, golden drawings.
Where do feather catfish occur?
The feather bearded catfish originates from Africa and is widespread there. It can be found in the river basins Niger, Volta and the middle course of the Nile. Since 1990 it is also represented in the aquarium culture.
Which water qualities does the feather beard catfish prefer?
Featherbeard catfish are divided into two groups when it comes to water parameters. The West African animals prefer the following water parameters:
- Water temperature: 23° C – 28° C
- pH value: 6.0 – 7.0
- Total hardness: 2° – 25° dGH
While the East African types prefer rather hard water:
- Water temperature: 23° C – 28° C
- pH value: 7.0 – 8.5
- Total hardness: 2° – 25° dGH
Feather-beard-catfish therefore prefer partly soft, partly hard water. In any case the origin of the animals should be considered when socializing in the aquarium, as many of the ornamental fish available in pet shops prefer soft water.
How to keep feathered catfish in an aquarium?
Featherbeard catfish should be kept in groups. A group should have at least 5 animals – the more feather-bearded catfish are used, the more pronounced their social behaviour can be observed.
In any case, the aquarium should have sufficient hiding places, because many of the feather whiskered catfish are nocturnal and need shelter for the duration of the day. For this purpose, bogwood roots or stones/boulders, which also occur in the natural distribution area, can be used. In addition, one should rely on dense border planting, in which the animals can hide.
If the animals are not offered a sufficiently delimited aquarium with many hiding places or if the animals are kept in too small aquariums, they are not able to mark out territories and become aggressive among themselves.
High-finned pinnate catfish
The high-finned feather-bearded catfish prefers the floating supine position. It also likes to hide under tree roots. The aquarium of the catfish should be at least 2 meters long. The feather beard catfish belongs to the group of Synodontis. They are calm and peaceful fish that can be kept with other ornamental fish. However, you should not choose ornamental fish that like to pluck at fins, such as the Sumatran barbels.
Dwarf pinnate catfish
Dwarf pinnate bearded catfish or back-swimming Congo catfish can already be kept in an aquarium with an edge length of 80 centimetres. Larger species require a minimum length of 1.20 metres. The aquarium should be populated with plants if possible. Also hiding places like wooden bowls, coconut shells or stone buildings are highly recommended. The ground can be covered with sand.
The back swimming Kongowels loves overhangs of stones and roots. The fish love to swim backwards along the stones. The Congo catfish may be kept with other peaceful fish species. However, these should not be too small.
Further details on the keeping of feathered catfish
A sufficient filter for the aquarium of the Mochokinae is mandatory in any case. It must be checked and cleaned regularly. In addition, the weekly partial water change of at least 30% should be carried out in any case.
The temperature, ammonia content, pH, total and carbonate hardness and nitrate should also be checked regularly. A simple test set from a pet shop is sufficient for this.
The health of the animals should also be checked regularly during feeding. Skin changes such as spots, red spots or coatings must be noticed immediately. Also fin changes and hectic movements are a sign of illness.
Featherbeard catfish and which fish?
The peaceful feather bearded catfish can be associated with almost all peaceful ornamental fish, which can adapt to the water values they inhabit. Especially the East African species, which need relatively hard water, should only be associated with typical species from Lake Tanganyika.
West African species can be associated with most South American and Asian species, which love soft water. For the socialization are for example calm tetra/bearblings, like red neon or the wedge-finned teddybear. Care should be taken to avoid species that tend to nibble on the fins of other animals.
How can you tell the sex?
Females which are sexually mature are usually fuller. In front of the anal fin is the genital papilla. It is more visible and more pointed in females than in males.
What do featherback catfish eat?
Feather-bearded catfish are omnivores, but primarily they feed on animal food. Live and frozen food should be on the menu. Flake food and food tablets are also suitable. Suitable live food includes red and black mosquito larvae, water fleas and brine shrimps. More details about the different types of aquarium fish food can be found here.
Pay attention to a moderate feeding since the catfish are very greedy. Also fasting days are recommended for this fish species.
The nocturnal feather-bearded catfish should preferably also be fed in the evening.
How do I accustom feathered catfish?
In order for Mochokinae to settle in well, the aquarium lighting should remain switched off for the time being. Place the transport bag on the water. This way you can adjust the temperature. The whole process should take about 10 minutes. Open the bag and add aquarium water in the same proportion to the liquid in the bag. Now you can slowly insert the Mochokinae.
Do you already have fish in the water? Then distract them by feeding them during the insertion. Leave the light out until the next morning so that the animals can settle in perfectly.
How to breed feathered catfish in the aquarium?
A breeding has not yet been successful. Pinnated catfish which are available in pet shops come from Eastern European hybrid breeding. In this case the animals are hormone treated.
Conclusion: Keeping the feathered beard catfish in the aquarium
The keeping of feather beard catfish in the aquarium is certainly not difficult. It is important to inform yourself about the species in advance. It should be found out whether it is an East or West African species, because they have different demands on the water.
In addition, the pool should be large enough in any case. It must have a good structure and many hiding places, consisting of roots, stones or clay tubes. Dense border planting can also be used.
The animals are omnivores, which feed preferably on animal food. They should be fed a varied diet and in any case regularly with live food.