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Maximum size : 10 cm

Upside Down Catfish - Synodontis nigriventris : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Prepare to be fascinated by the mesmerizing Upside-down Catfish, a small and peaceful species that exudes a unique charm. Renowned for their gentle demeanour and petite size, these remarkable fish are an exquisite addition to any community aquarium. Embraced by hobbyists with a penchant for the extraordinary, the Upside-down Catfish adds a touch of unparalleled intrigue to their aquatic haven.

Unlock the true essence of these stunning creatures by maintaining them in groups of at least 3 to 4 individuals. This communal setting fosters a sense of confidence and encourages their frequent emergence from hiding. Furthermore, observing them in small groups reveals the full breadth of their natural behaviours, offering a mesmerizing spectacle for aquarists and enthusiasts alike. While the Upside-down Catfish harmonizes seamlessly with peaceful species, it is vital to exercise caution when selecting tankmates. Aggressive species or those smaller than 3 cm in length may pose a threat, potentially preying on these delicate catfish. Ideal companions may include African Tetras, Dwarf Cichlids, Barbs, and Rainbowfish, ensuring a harmonious coexistence within the aquarium.

Create an idyllic aquatic setting tailored to the unique needs of the Upside-down Catfish. Envision an aquarium adorned with soft, dim lighting that accentuates the allure of their environment. A substrate of gentle texture serves as the foundation, complemented by carefully positioned pieces of driftwood and twisted roots that create enticing hiding places. Interspersing the landscape with strategically placed rocks adds a touch of natural elegance. Broad-leaved plants such as Anubias and Echinodorus contribute to the visual splendour while offering additional shelter. Finally, floating vegetation serves as a resting spot cherished by these remarkable fish.

Delight in the captivating beauty of the Upside-down Catfish as you observe their opaquely coloured bodies adorned with dark brown blotches of various sizes. Notably, their bellies exhibit darker hues compared to their backs, an adaptation known as countershading. Camouflage is further enhanced by lighter colours on their dorsal area and darker tones below, creating a clever defence mechanism. The lighter hues atop their bodies render them inconspicuous to predators when viewed from below, particularly when swimming upside-down. This remarkable species boasts a scaleless body, a prominent adipose fin, large enchanting eyes, a forked tail, and three pairs of barbels, distinguishing them as a truly remarkable aquatic marvel.

Prepare to be enthralled by the whimsical charm and distinctive allure of the Upside-down Catfish as they grace your aquarium with their mesmerizing presence.

Upside Down Catfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Upside-down Catfish can be accomplished with relative ease. Notably, the male exhibits a slimmer physique and a darker colouration compared to the female counterpart. However, it is important to note that traditional methods, such as examining genital papillae, prove ineffective due to their diminutive size. Alternatively, the discerning eye can identify key characteristics in the female, including lighter colouration and a more pronounced roundness of the body, particularly during the spawning period. These subtle differentiations provide valuable insights into the fascinating world of Upside-down Catfish gender identification.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameSynodontis nigriventris
Year Described1936
Other NamesBlotched Upside-down Catfish
OriginsCameroon Democratic Republic of the Congo
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asTrios
LifespanUp to 15 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 20
75 - 82
23 - 27

Natural Habitat

Embark on a riveting journey through the exotic realms of Central Africa, where the captivating Upside-down Catfish reigns supreme. Indigenous to the awe-inspiring Congo River Basin, this remarkable species grace the waters of the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon. Thriving amidst the vibrant tapestry of these pristine ecosystems, Upside-down Catfish offer a glimpse into the stunning biodiversity that resides within the heart of Africa.

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of these nocturnal adventurers. Under the veil of darkness, they navigate the labyrinthine networks of densely vegetated rivers, streams, and marshes. Eagerly embracing the shelter provided by lush vegetation, these catfish often remain near the comforting embrace of the shorelines. Their affinity for such habitats reveals a harmonious coexistence with the rich aquatic ecosystems that flourish within this vibrant region.

 Congo River - Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo Flag


The breeding of Upside-down Catfish in home aquariums has posed a fascinating challenge for aquarists, with limited available information on their successful reproduction. However, drawing insights from their natural habitat, it is observed that the onset of the rainy season triggers the breeding behaviour of these remarkable catfish. In an attempt to replicate this environmental stimulus, significant water changes accompanied by a slight reduction in water temperature can be employed, potentially inducing spawning within the home aquarium.

Breeding reports have indicated that Upside-down Catfish can lay a considerable number of eggs, with estimates reaching up to 450 eggs. These eggs are typically deposited in crevices such as PVC pipes, caves, or depressions in the substrate. After an incubation period of approximately 2 to 3 days, the eggs will hatch, and the fry will enter a free-swimming phase approximately four days thereafter. Notably, during the initial stages, the fry exhibits an upright swimming position before transitioning to their characteristic inverted posture after 7 to 8 weeks.

It is advisable to introduce appropriate food sources to provide proper nourishment for the developing fry. Baby brine shrimp or microworms serve as ideal food options, supporting their growth and development during these crucial early life stages.

While the precise intricacies of Upside-down Catfish breeding in a controlled environment require further exploration, these insights from their natural breeding habits offer potential avenues for successful reproduction within the home aquarium. Embrace the allure of these enigmatic catfish as you embark on the rewarding journey of understanding their intricate breeding behaviours.

Diet & feeding

The dietary preferences of the Upside-down Catfish showcase their versatility as omnivorous creatures, displaying a willingness to consume a variety of food sources. In addition, these remarkable fish exhibit an accommodating nature when it comes to feeding, readily accepting good quality dried food, as well as frozen and live options. Embracing a well-rounded diet, these catfish also derive enjoyment from plant matter, including shelled peas and cucumber, which they rasp at with their specialized lower jaw teeth.

Distinct from other members of their genus, the Upside-down Catfish exhibits a unique feeding behaviour. They often venture to the water's surface to feed in their characteristic inverted position, demonstrating their remarkable adaptability and captivating presence. This exceptional feeding style adds an element of intrigue and distinctiveness to their dining habits, further enhancing the allure of these captivating creatures.

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