Cuckoo Catfish

Regular price

Please contact store for availability as this item is not available all year round

Cuckoo catfish - Synodontis multipunctatus

Scientific name: Synodontis multipunctatus

Common name: Cuckoo catfish

Family: Mochokidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 13 - 15 cm (5.12 - 5.91 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 8 - 8.9

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 8 - 18°N (142.86 - 321.43ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 21 - 28 °C (69.8 - 82.4°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: Africa

Temperament to its own species: peaceful to males

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Bottom levels


Cuckoo catfish originate from East Africa, namely Lake Tanganyika.


Expected life span is 15 years.

Short description

This Syndontis is a lot more active in the daytime compared to other species. It is a peaceful fish but will fight for territories with other bottom dwellers. The cuckoo catfish should always be kept in small groups, as they reach an adult size of 6 inches they will require a decent sized aquarium to cater for the group. The minimum size should be at least 48 inches in length, this will give them space at the bottom of the tank and allow them to establish their own territories. Keep the lighting dimmed, bright lighting will spook these fish and make them hide a way a lot in the daylight hours. You should also keep them in a typical Tanganyikan set up with plenty of rocks but allow for plenty of open swimming space at the front of the aquarium. They are not classed as aggressive but small species of fish will be seen as a food source, they are best kept with other cichlids of a similar size and preferably from origins in lake Tanganyika.

They get their common name as just like the bird with the same name, they deposit their eggs in the batches of cichlid eggs fooling the parents to mouth brood them.

Food and feeding

The Cuckoo catfish does well on a diet of sinking pellets and quality flake foods. Once or twice a week they love a treat of blood worm or brine shrimp. Extra vegetable matter will also benefit these fish, this can be provided by offering blanched and crushed peas, chopped cucumber or zucchini, never overfeed as they have a voracious appetite and can easily fool the keeper into thinking that they are constantly hungry.


The only way to sex Synodontis multipunctatus is by looking at their vents underneath. Females will have a round papilla; the males will be longer and more triangular in shape.


The Cuckoo catfish well deserves its name as it will lay its eggs at the same time as its tank mates, normally members of the Haplochromis species. The female haps will take the eggs into her mouth with her own for incubation. The catfish eggs will hatch first and the fry will then consume the other eggs. The Hap will also protect the fry, thinking they are her own. For breeding purposes it is best to keep them with breeding cichlids as if they are kept on their own in a breeding tank spawning is a rare event.