Synodontis multipunctatus is a rather well known Synodontis hailing from Africa's Lake Tanganyika. Through articles in popular magazines, such as Tropical Fish Hobbyist, the public has been enlightened as to the unusual spawning behavior of this Rift Lake catfish which utilizes mouth brooding Cichlids as foster parents for their fry . S. multipunctatus has been classified in the family Mochokidae, which it shares with over one hundred other species of African Synodontis (Brichard, 472), including several Tanganyikan endemics which are very similarly
S. multipunctatus has a base body color that is golden beige when young, but this seems to get darker with age. The body is covered with dark black blotches that are randomly strewn across the body and head. Pectoral, dorsal, and tail fins are black with a white margin, although the dorsal fin's white margin is only on the posterior of that fin. Their undersides are creamy white, as are their six barbels. The upper pair of barbels consist of two single stalks while the lower four are comprised of four single stalks with many cilia off of either side of each stalk giving the feelers a feather-like appearance.
Fairly abundant in the lake, great schools can be seen swimming at depths of 40 meters or more, where the harsh cast of the sun is filtered to a dim light. Once thought only nocturnal, a more appropriate classification might be "light sensitive" (Brichard, 474), which becomes apparent in the aquarium as the species greatly appreciates the canopy lights to remain off. A hardy aquarium inhabitant, S. multipunctatus enjoy a variety of foods including various flakes and pellets and also frozen meats such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. A temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is adequate and large, weekly water changes and efficient filtration are needed as these fish produce a large biological load when fed their fill.
Unlike Cichlids, which will often spawn at one third their adult size, S. multipunctatus must be full grown for a period, possibly a year, before sexual maturity is attained. The road to adulthood is not a brief one, for the fish OR the anxious hobbyist! Three to five years is the time it takes for these catfish to mature from lowly wrigglers (eating their fill of Cichlid fry within the safe haven of the Cichlid's mouth), to storming the spawning pit of a pair of courting mouth brooding Cichlids, dropping, or fertilizing, their own eggs while gluttonously gobbling up as many Cichlid eggs as can be requisitioned!