Featherfin Squeaker (Synodontis Eupterus)

Featherfin Squeaker

Last updated on August 31st, 2022 at 12:33 am

Many catfish enthusiasts know about the featherfin squeaker (Synodontis eupterus) as an extremely hardy, easy to care for fish that can thrive even in aquariums with little water movement and filtration, despite its typical habitat of mud-bottomed swamps. This species has many other great qualities, including its attractive patterning, its ability to be kept in groups or in pairs, and its gentle nature when kept with larger tankmates.

It’s no wonder that the name of this catfish species, synodontis eupterus, sounds like featherfin squeaker—after all, that’s precisely what these types of fish do when they feel threatened or are trying to communicate with other members of their species. And thanks to their relatively small size (2 to 3 inches long), featherfin squeakers are one of the most popular species in the hobbyist aquarium trade.

Featherfin squeakers are named after their unique call. Their scientific name, Synodontis eupterus, literally means beautiful swimmer. They live in Africa, where they prefer shallow rivers and streams, but have also been found living in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. They are not social fish, preferring to live alone or in pairs rather than forming large schools or groups. They are also popular with fish keepers because of their peaceful disposition and long lifespan, sometimes reaching up to 25 years old!

Here’s everything you need to know about featherfin squeakers!

About Featherfin Squeaker

Featherfin Squeaker

The Featherfin squeaker, or synodontis eupterus, is an omnivorous fish that can reach about eight inches in length. Males have a slender body shape with black horizontal stripes along their length. The species are distributed throughout Lake Tanganyika and in parts of Congo Basin and Burundi. The diet of these fish consists mainly of algae and benthic organisms such as invertebrates, snails, and crustaceans.

They live in groups of up to six individuals during adulthood. This species gets its name from its ability to make squeaking sounds by rubbing various parts of its body against each other. This behavior helps them defend themselves when they feel threatened. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for certain fish to vibrate rapidly by pumping water through special holes within their bodies called swim bladders; most common among characins like tetras and catfish, swim bladder vibration happens when they are agitated or threatened.

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Origin and description

The Featherfin squeaker was described by Schultz in 1932 and named for its dorsal fin, which squeaks when rubbed. The name eupterus is from Ancient Greek meaning bright or fair-winged. Although much less frequently seen than some of its congeners, it is one of Synodontis most popular aquarium fish.

Their tiny size, peaceful temperaments, and bright colors make them an attractive choice for aquarists of all experience levels. However, they are also delicate fish that require attentive care to thrive. They should only be kept in a well-established tank with soft, acidic water between 72°F to 77°F (22°C – 25°C). This can be accomplished through regular partial water changes and frequent aeration.

Species profile

Featherfin Squeaker

The featherfin squeaker, also known as Synodontis eupterus, is a fish species from Africa. It lives in Lake Tanganyika and feeds on zooplankton and small insects. In nature, it can reach a length of about 20 centimetres, with an average size of 15 centimetres. It is thought to be harmless to humans.

Synodontis eupterus is commonly called African featherfin squeaker, black synodontis, or giant squeaker. They are very aggressive when breeding, so keep them single-sexed if possible or have them alone during breeding time.


Found in blackwater streams, rivers, and swamps of central Africa, these fish are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions but prefer water that is soft, acidic, low in salts, and with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. They are usually found at depths between 4 – 20 meters.

Featherfin squeaker size

The average size of the featherfin squeaker is 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inches)

Featherfin squeaker tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for synodontis eupterus is 50 gallons

Tank setup

The featherfin squeaker can live comfortably in a 50-gallon tank size. It is best to keep only one fish per tank because they are aggressive, though it might be okay to have two as long as there is plenty of room. Because of their aggression, these fish need large amounts of space and multiple hiding places.

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Provide several sunken or floating plants for cover. Rocks and wood also make great decorations. Use an under-gravel filter since featherfins like strong water currents. Featherfins should be kept at around 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. A 40 – 60% water change every other week is ideal.

Feed them many different types of meaty foods such as shrimp, snails, bloodworms, and tubifex worms. Do not feed freeze-dried food or any food containing high levels of calcium or fat. If you choose to let your featherfin go without eating it could starve slowly due to its inability to store energy reserves such as fat.

Featherfin squeaker tank mates

The featherfin squeaker is a pretty peaceful fish and can live happily with most non-aggressive species like tetras, gouramis, zebra danio, Rasboras, and plecos. The biggest threat to it will be territoriality, they can be very territorial and aggressive towards members of their own species. If you’re keeping more than one of these in your tank, make sure you provide them each with their own space so they don’t end up fighting.


Featherfin Squeaker

The male will clean a flat rock or other surfaces on which to lay his eggs. He then uses his mouth to pick up a female, who releases her eggs as he deposits them onto the flat rock. The male will then use his mouth to fertilize them and scatter them across a greater area with light movements of his head, sometimes as far as 10 cm away from where they were originally laid.

The eggs are relatively large for fish of their size and look very much like small grape seeds. The two parents will repeat these actions several times until all of their eggs have been fertilized. They may also guard and aerate them by fanning them gently at intervals during incubation. These actions can be observed through breeding tanks containing both adults and young in captivity.

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When spawning is complete, both adults should be removed so that more delicate newborn fries do not get eaten. It is important not to overfeed young fry; food should only be given once every three days to prevent damaging swim bladders, which tend to become enlarged in response to overfeeding.

Are Featherfin squeakers aggressive or peaceful?

This fish is a fairly docile species. It can be kept with other peaceful community fish in a large tank, but it is important to observe them first to see how they interact with others. If you plan on keeping more than one, it may be wise to have an under-gravel filter. In fact, even with only one, an under-gravel filter will make sure that there are no excess nutrients released into your water.

Featherfin squeaker care

Featherfin Squeaker

The featherfin squeaker can be difficult to care for, but with proper research and acclimation, it is possible. The first thing you need to do when planning to care for a featherfin squeaker is to prepare a large tank. The tank should have at least 20 gallons of water per inch of fish.

It is also recommended that you have several caves and/or rocks for them to hide behind in order to give them a sense of security. They are not usually kept as community fish because they are timid around other species and will easily get bullied by more aggressive species. They also tend to get stressed out rather quickly if there are too many individuals in one tank, so try not to keep more than one or two individuals together.

Featherfin squeaker diet

This cichlid is an omnivore. They eat both plant and animal matter, favoring insect larvae, but will also eat mollusks and crustaceans. Additionally, they are opportunistic scavengers and have been known to eat dead fish if available. Featherfins in the wild tend to consume a variety of things depending on their location, but most aquarium specimens should be kept on a diet of meaty foods like bloodworms or live brine shrimp.

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Water parameters

Featherfin Squeaker

The ideal water condition should have a pH of 6.5-7.8, dH range of 5-25, and a temperature range of 25–28°C. Featherfins prefer to be kept in groups of three or more, with either other featherfins or mbuna; they are best housed in at least a 15’/4 m tank if not kept in schools of five or more.

Featherfin squeaker lifespan

Their average lifespan is between 8 and 10 years.

Parasites and diseases

Featherfins are likely to be attacked by various types of parasites, such as external and internal protozoa and worms. Some of these parasites can severely damage their health, so careful prevention measures should be taken. Antiparasitic treatments will help ensure that any existing parasite problems do not get out of hand. Diseases such as Hole-in-the-Head disease or infectious catarrhal fever can also spread among fish tanks if proper precautions are not taken.


Many larger species of fish and birds are predators, including Large Mouth Bass, Goliath Tigerfish, Silver Catfish, Osprey, and others. Humans also hunt featherfins for meat and for sport.

Do Featherfin squeakers make good pets?

Yes. If you’re looking for a unique addition to your fish tank, a featherfin squeaker may be just what you need. They’re also known as the catfish of pleasure and are docile, easy to care for, and fascinating to watch. While they can make good pets, however, they are not without their challenges.