Caring for Your New Upside-Down Catfish
Info from Aqualand Pets Plus on Synodontis nigriventris

 
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Upside-Down Catfish Factoids

Origin

Zaire river basin

Maximum Size

Four inches

Housing

20+ best, 10 okay

Security

Loves caves and arches

Temperature

72 to 82

Attitude

Good natured cruisers.  Eager eaters.

Foods

Loves all foods

Water

Undemanding – 6.5 to 8 pH

Life Span

Probably 10+ years

LA Pic
1.5" upside-down catfish doing what they do.


Latin Name:  Synodontis means “dog-toothed.”  (We don’t get it either.)  All the Synodontis have “root-like” whiskers and good ol’ catfish stabbers in their pectoral and dorsal fins.  Nigriventris means “black-bellied.”  They are usually lighter colored on what would be their top if they were not upside down.

LA Pic
Another upside-down catfish.

Common Name:  Lots of the Synodontis species swim upside down from time to time.  S. nigriventris swims upside down nearly 90% of the time – thus the name.

LA Pic
Give them a visible "cave."

Why Upside Down?  Some fish keepers have theorized that Synodontis nigriventris swim upside down to enable them to eat mosquito larvae that congregate at the water’s surface. 

LA Pix
Upside-downer on left.                                                Lace catfish on right.

Origins:  As far as we know, all upside-down catfish are still directly imported from Africa. They come from the Zaire river basin.

Water Conditions:  Don’t worry too much about pH.  We like to add one teaspoon of salt per gallon.  Some references insist catfish hate salt.  Lots of African catfishes come from high pH water with salt in it.

LA Pic
You see them for sale at 1.5 inches.

 

Appeal:  Who can resist a fish that swims upside down?  They’re flat out cute.  They mix well with other fishes.  They eat whatever you feed them.  And unlike many catfishes, Synodontis nigriventris come out during the day.  They not only come out, they very actively feed during the day – off the bottom and off the top.

Size:  You find them for sale at about two inches or less.  They grow up to average about three inches and occasionally reach four.

LA
If they find a location they like, upside- down catfish all try to pile up there.

Habitat:  Provide caves or ledges for your nigriventris to loaf in.  If you don’t, they will stack up behind your filter tube.  Better yet, give them an arching piece of driftwood.  They’ll line up along the underside of the wood arch like a Lionel railroad.  If you give them a ledge or cave, put it up front so you can watch these intriguing little characters.

Good Mixers:  Upside-downers don’t bother regular community fishes.  Oddly enough, they will also get along with some ol’ African cichlids, because they have enough sense to maintain a low profile when housed with bullies.  The lace catfish mix better with African cichlids, than S. nigriventris.

LA Pic

Scavengers:  Lots of people keep catfishes on their clean-up crew.  Upside downers will scavenge for food.  However, they also come right out front and compete with the other fish at feeding time.  They are not picky eaters or intimidated by most fish.

LA Pic
USD catfish just cruising.

Foods:   Upside-down catfish eagerly eat whatever you feed them.  They love foods with meat in them.  They also love live foods and frozen foods.  As you might expect, they go nuts for live California blackworms.  Their whiskers make them great “worm finders” – live, frozen, or freeze-dried.

Filtration Note:  Upside-down catfishes love to explore small places in search  of snacks.  That’s their job.  If you use a power filter, make sure you put a strainer on the end.  They will also explore your under gravel filter stems, if you leave out the carbon cartridges.

LA Pic

LA Pic
Head 'em up.  Moov'em out.

 

LA Pic
Upside-down catfish love the under surfaces of whatever they can find.

LA
Thee-inch adult Synodontis nigriventris -- much easier to photograph.

LA
Adult female upside-down catfish lighten up more than the males.

LA
Females also get larger bellies.

LA
S. nigriventris like to hang together.

LA
We'll see if they want to spawn.

Summary:  If you collect catfishes, you need one or more of these cuties in your collection.  If you want a scavenger, these guys will do the job.  If you like interesting fishes, you need at least one upside-down catfish.  By the way, they like to patrol in herds.  LA.

© 2002, © 2004, © 2005  LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

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