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Catfish / Mochocidae / Upside-down Catfish

Upside-down Catfish
Synodontis nigriventris


Synonyms: None
Physical description: The Upside-down Catfish is scaleless and slightly laterally compressed. It has three pairs of barbels; one long pair on the upper jaw, and two small feathered ones on the lower. The adipose fin is long, while the caudal is forked. Most of the fins are flesh colored with brown spots. The body coloration is fleshy brown to light brown. The body is covered in black to brown patches that occur randomly on the body. The belly is darker than the back, giving the fish an unusual appearance. This pattern makes the Upside-down Catfish hard to detect from predators lurking above; birds, larger fish, and mammals.
Size/Length: To 4" (10 cm)
Similar species: Big-nosed Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis contractus), Poll's Upside-down Catfish (Synodontis polli)
Habitat: Western Africa; along the banks of rivers with heavy vegetation in Zaire (Congo) River Watershed; especially the Zaire (Congo), Kasai, and Oubangui Rivers.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: 28" (70 cm) or 20 gallons (75 L) Use a well planted tank with many hiding places. The lighting should be dimmed by a cover of floating plants.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.5 (7.0), 6-20 dH (8), 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Social behavior: A hardy, peaceful community fish. Keep in groups. May occasionally nibble undersides of smaller fishes if not fed sufficiently.
Suggested companions: Corydoras, Pelvicachromis, Hemichromis, African and South American tetras, Angelfish, Gouramis, Barbs, Rasboras, Danios
FOOD: Live; Tubifex; mosquito larvae, crustaceans; tablets
Sexual differences: The female is fatter and lighter in color
Breeding techniques: The eggs (up to 450) are deposited in a depression made in the bottom. Parents look after the brood. The yolk sac disappears after 4 days. After 7 to 8 weeks, the fry change from spending all their time swimming like normal fish, to the standard swimming position of the Upside-down Catfish of about 50% upside-down, 50% right-side up. Will forms schools while young.
Breeding potential: 8. A difficult fish to breed.
Remarks: This fish swims upside-down so it can see predators that approach. The Upside-down Catfish also swims in this manner for feeding on the underside of leaves and fish. Lockable spines make it difficult to remove from a net. Often this species will hide during the day.
Difficulty of care: 2. A hardy fish, whose diet should occasionally include live foods.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com