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Sometimes in pet stores you can see a disturbing picture – a fish belly-up looking like a catfish. But anxiety is in vain, because som is a shifter that’s the way it prefers to spend most of its life.

An unusual charming fish from the rivers of tropical Africa in the middle of the last century was kept in aquariums around the world.

Interesting synodontic fish are representatives of a large family of peristose “bare catfish” – Mochokidae. The bodies of these fish are devoid of scales, bone plates.

Smooth, firm skin is covered with a protective slimy secret.

Fish have a characteristic structure of the jaws and teeth, which allows to obtain food both at the bottom and at the surface of the water. This feature gave the entire genus the name Synodontis – “fusion teeth”.

Synodontos have an elongated stocky body, slightly flattened on the sides. They have strong, equipped with prickly spikes, dorsal and pectoral fins.

Thorns need to beware, because, their injections are very painful. Synodontists study the world and search for food with the help of three pairs of sensitive tactile whiskers.

The most amazing feature of these catfishes is the manner of movement up the belly, for which they are called sovereign soms.

Unlike other fish, the color of the body of catfish is also “turned upside down”. They have a much darker abdomen, not the back.

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Catfish feed on insects that have fallen on the surface of the water. Fish easier to collect food in the belly-up position.

The position of the body allows you to notice the approach of underwater predators in time, and the dark abdomen makes the fish “invisible” for birds.

To date, there are more than 130 species of shifting catfish. Their sizes are from 10 to 26 cm.

The color is often gray-beige with dark spots randomly located on the body and fins. Some of the most popular aquarium synodonts:

  1. Nigriventris – “dark belly” (S. nigriventris). Brown or light brown “skin” with dark specks. The size of the fish is about 10 cm. Abdomen up holds up to 90% of the time. Successfully multiplies in aquarium conditions. Recommended for breeding novice aquarists.
  2. Veil (S. eupterus). Feather-shaped fins, especially the dorsal fin, give the fish an elegant look. The little body reaches 21 cm. Color gray with violet or yellow outflow and small dark specks. This is a very elegant catfish flip-flop, its content should not be combined with fish that can nibble its veil fins.
  3. The flag (S. decorus) grows to 23–25 cm. Its main decoration is the black long process of the dorsal fin, which eventually acquires a “pigtail”. The synodontis shifter has a light abdomen and a brown back. Light body with a silvery shade and large dark spots.

The life expectancy of a changeling fish in an aquarium is from 7 to 15 years.

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Virtually all synodontis prefer evening and nightlife, and during the day they hide in the decorations of the aquarium.

Catfish-shifters are schooling fish, it is better to contain more than one catfish. The content of one copy is possible, but undesirable. Pet will be bored.

Optimally get a flock of 2−5 individuals. In a flock of fish feel protected and behave naturally and interestingly.

For the maintenance of the changeling catfish, it is necessary to prepare the most comfortable home-aquarium.

The volume of the aquarium is chosen taking into account the size of the pets and their number. For 2–3 small synodontis nigventyntris the optimal volume will be 70–90 l. Veil catfish need at least 100 liters. And for even larger flag synodontis the volume of the tank should be at least 120 liters.

Aerating devices required – air compressors or specialized pumps. They will move the layers of water, as a result of which the aquarium water will be saturated with oxygen.

An internal filter, manifolds or pumps that create an artificial flow are required.

It is recommended that weekly replace a third of water with fresh. This procedure reduces the level of nitrates.

Comfortable for somikov temperature range is from 24 to 26 ° C.

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It is necessary to monitor the acidity of water. It should be between 6.5 and 7.5 pH. The acidity is determined by special paper tests.

Acidify the water can be defended with peat water. Reduce acidity will help soda stirred in a glass.

Water should be soft. The permissible range of stiffness – dH 4-15 °.

Water hardness can be reduced by adding distilled water.

When choosing the soil, it is necessary to remember that the catfish has a gentle antennae and mouth, which are easily injured. The primer coating must not contain any sharp and coarse elements.

The best choice is sea rounded pebbles, smooth gravel, river sand.

Have “thickets” at the rear wall of the aquarium. Somiki willingly gnaw algae, so grow plants in an aquarium is not worth it. It is better to plant already adult specimens with hard, dense, large leaves.

Perfectly suitable plants such as Java moss, naiad.

Plants with small leaves, for example, myriofillum or kabomba, should not be used also because they require bright light, and somas prefer twilight.

Som shifter does not like bright light. Its activity occurs in the dark, in the afternoon, he prefers to be located in the least lit areas of the aquarium.

The optimum backlight power in an aquarium is 0.5 watts / l.

Soma shifters are very fond of various types of shelter, especially hollow objects, where they can hide during the day. It is necessary to provide that for every catfish at least one shelter is necessary.

Thickets of plants, structures made of stones, snags, flower pots without a bottom, various hollow objects, decorative caves and grottoes can serve as shelter.

In such an aquarium, the fish will be comfortable, but if there are not enough shelters, then catfish are stressed, become lethargic, inactive.

Catfish – voracious fish. It feeds and hunts at night, but for food it is willing to get out of the shelter during the day.

It is recommended to arrange catfish fasting once a week to help them avoid obesity. But you can not force them to starve so that they do not begin to pursue neighbors in the aquarium.

The omnivorous catfish is easy to feed. He eats both live, and dry, and frozen food, collecting it from the surface or from the bottom.

Food should be varied. As feed suitable:

  • brine shrimp, bloodworm, shaker, minced meat;
  • dry food – granules, flakes, pellets;
  • as a treat, scalded with boiled water and finely chopped vegetables, for example, green peas, zucchini, cucumber.

Feed soms better late in the evening. This is the time when they wake up, begin to move actively.

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Somics have a good-natured and peace-loving disposition, but do not forget that they are predators. Compatibility of catfish-shifter with other types of fish varies.

In most cases, they really get along well with their neighbors. Some species of fish are even recommended to be kept in a company with catfish. Among them:

  • cichlids (dwarf, small mormilovye);
  • ancistrus;
  • African tetras;
  • speckled soma.

Pisces is better to choose about the same size with synodontis. But for large scalar and gur there is a great danger of being bitten by catfish.

It is better not to settle them together.

Small fish, for example, guppies, neons, pecillium, cannot be kept in the same aquarium with changelings – the somas will start hunting for them.

Fish that inhabit the upper or middle water layers are rarely touched by catfish. But fish that feed at the very bottom, for example, corridors and otzinklyusy, are potential victims.

Between themselves, synodontis, as a rule, get along. However, soma have a complex hierarchy.

The struggle for territory, the pursuit of a weaker and shallower relative can begin. Sometimes the only way out is the resettlement of someone from the fish in a separate aquarium.

It is possible to minimize the likelihood of such incidents if the aquarium is not tight and there are plenty of shelters for everyone.

The reproduction of synodontis in captivity is a difficult task, but still doable.

Begin preparation for the creation of conditions for spawning should be when the synodontis reaches puberty – it is the age of 2−3 years.

First, spawning is prepared – a separate aquarium with a capacity of 50 liters. It differs from the aquarium for its maintenance by hardness indicators – dH about 10 ° and pH acidity – about 7.0. Spawning, like a normal aquarium, is equipped with filters, floating plants, shelters.

You need to choose a male and a female. The male has a thinner body, bright color with a smaller speck, longer mustache.

On the abdomen, closer to the anus, it has a small appendix – the genital papilla, which is almost invisible in the female. The character of the males is more cocky.

The female differs in color – she has larger spots on her body. It is larger in size, “portly”, rounded. The antennae are shorter than the male.

The character is noticeably calmer.

Catfish are caught and set aside.

Changeling reacts to danger by spreading fins with spikes. Therefore, it is difficult to catch a net.

Sometimes catfish can “ruffle” in the net, and then it will be very difficult to get it out of there without damage. In this case, it should be lowered into a container with water and wait until the fish calms down and releases itself.

Experienced aquarists prefer to catch catfish using suitable-sized containers, such as cans.

Male and female must be kept apart from each other for two or three weeks. During this period, they must be intensively fed, the amount of plant foods increased to 30% of the total diet.

In nature, the “spawning environment” (a combination of climatic, hydrochemical, hydrological and other factors) contributes to a variety of changes in the body of the fish and stimulates spawning.

But in the case of synodontis, it is still unclear what exactly contributes to the desire of fish to breed. Therefore, aquarium ginadotropic preparation is given to aquarium synodontis.

Gonadotropic hormone acts on follicular cells. They begin to produce substances that stimulate the maturation and ovulation of oocytes.

Injection is more convenient to do in the back muscles, just below the dorsal fin. After the injection this place should be pressed with a finger and gently massaged.

Slime closes the hole.

After this, the fish are released into the spawn.

In the spawning, the male begins to pursue the female. At some point, both will die, and caviar will appear in the water.

At one time, the female lays from 450 light yellow eggs. After that, it is necessary to stop the flow of water.

The male and female from the spawning aquarium must be removed, otherwise they will harm the offspring.

The aquarium should be darkened, because the fry, which will appear in about 5-6 days, are very poorly tolerated by daylight.

On the fifth day, the fry are ready to eat. As food they are served by artemia, microworms.

Small synodontis swim in the usual position for all fish. Belly up they turn in 7−8 weeks.

Small fish grow slowly – this is normal.

Synodontis – strong and durable, suffer less often than other fish. To maintain their health will be enough simple and timely care, comfortable living environment and high-quality feeding.

The level of nitrates in the aquarium will negatively affect their health. You must ensure that their concentration does not exceed 30−40 mg / l.

The level of nitrates is determined by special tests that can be bought at the pet store.

Sometimes the color of catfish brightens. This means that the fish are nervous.

When she calms down, the color will become bright again.

If, however, som got sick, then you should not treat it yourself. For him, the destructive drugs that contain, even in small quantities, copper and salt.

Only a qualified specialist will be able to find the right medicine for the catfish that has fallen down.

Sinodontis are inquisitive fish showing an interest in what happens outside their glass house. They are not constraining and friendly, are amenable to training.

If a person caring for them causes confidence in somics, they will not only take food from his hand, but also allow him to stroke his belly.

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