Max Size: 10cm

Upside Down Catfish (Synodontis nigriventris)

The Upside-down Catfish is a small, unique and peaceful species. Their small size and gentle demeanour also make them an excellent choice for the community aquarium. These fish are a favourite among people who prefer oddball fish in a community setting.

You should maintain these fish in groups of at least 3 to 4 individuals; This will make them feel more confident and encourage them to come out more often. Keeping them in small groups will also inspire them to display more natural behaviours.

You can successfully combine Upside-down Catfish with the most peaceful species; however, you should not house them with aggressive species or species that are smaller than 3 cm in length as they may be predated on. Ideal tankmates could include African Tetras, Dwarf Cichlids, Barbs and Rainbowfish.

The ideal aquarium setup for the Upside-down Catfish would be a dimly lit aquarium with a soft substrate, pieces of driftwood and twisted roots arranged to form hiding places and some rocks. In addition, broad-leaved plants such as Anubias and Echinodorus are recommended as well as some floating vegetation as these fish like to rest under these.

The Upside-down Catfish has an opaque coloured body that is covered with different sized dark brown blotches. The bellies of the Upside-down Catfish are darker than their backs, and this is a form of countershading.

In addition, these fish have lighter colours on the dorsal area of their bodies and darker colours below used for camouflage. The lighter colours on the top of them make it harder for predators to see these fish when looking upward but only when the fish are swimming upside-down.

The Upside-Down Catfish has a scaleless body, a large adipose fin, huge eyes and a forked tail, as well as three pairs of barbels.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameSynodontis nigriventris
Other NamesBlotched Upside-down Catfish
OriginsCameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asTrios
Lifespanup to 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 20
75 - 82℉
23.9 - 27.8℃

Photos of the Upside Down Catfish

Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish

Natural Habitat

Upside-down Catfish are endemic to the Congo River Basin in the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon in Central Africa. These fish are primarily nocturnal and inhabit densely vegetated rivers, streams, and marshes, often remaining close to the shore.

What to feed the Upside Down Catfish

The Upside-down Catfish is an omnivore and are not picky when it comes to feeding. Good quality dried food, Frozen and live are all accepted. These fish also enjoy vegetables such as shelled peas and cucumber, which they will rasp at with their teeth in their lower jaw. Unlike most other fish in this genus, they will often feed on the surface in their typical inverted style.

How to sex the Upside Down Catfish

It is relatively straightforward to differentiate between male and female Upside-down Catfish. The male is thinner and darker in colour than the female. However, they cannot be sexed using the genital papillae method as it is too small. In contrast, the females have lighter colouring than the males and a more rounded body, which becomes even rounder when spawning.

How to breed the Upside Down Catfish

While many aquarists claim that this is the only species of Synodontis that are relatively easy to breed in the home aquarium, unfortunately, the information on how to reproduce this species is limited.

However, the rainy season marks the beginning of the breeding season in their natural habitat; therefore, it is possible to simulate this through significant water changes with slightly cooler water. This will help to trigger spawning in the home aquarium.

Breeding reports suggest that these fish can lay up to 450 eggs in crevices such as PVC pipes and caves and depressions in the substrate.

The eggs should hatch within 2 or 3 days and will become free-swimming around four days after that. The fry initially swims upright before moving to the typical inverted position after 7 to 8 weeks.

It would be best to provide the fry with baby brine shrimp or microworm as their first food.

Other Catfish of interest

African Glass Catfish(Pareutropius debauwi)
Common Otocinclus(Otocinclus vittatus)
Cuckoo Catfish(Synodontis multipunctatus)
Flagtail Catfish(Dianema urostriatum)
Glass Catfish(Kryptopterus vitreolus)
Marble Sturisoma Whiptail Catfish(Sturisoma aureum)
View all Other Catfish
Date Added: 27/10/2021 13:14:41 - Updated: 12/04/2022 13:33:39