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 amongst hobbyists that prefer unique 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.


Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish
Upside-down catfish
Quick Facts
Scientific NameSynodontis nigriventris
Year Described1936
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℃


In the home aquarium, the Upside Down Catfish will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Sexual Dimorphism

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. Females, on the other hand, have lighter colouring and more rounded bodies, which become even rounder when they spawn.

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: 06/09/2022 17:01:43