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Upside Down Catfish
and other Synodontis Catfish
Click here now to buy Upside Down Catfish from us.
  This video shows the dark silhouettes of two Upside Down Catfish swimming under a piece of driftwood.
This video shows a Synodontis njassae catfish resting on a big rock.
Here is another Synodontis njassae catfish looking for something to eat.

Scientific Name
Synodontis nigriventris

All Synodontis Catfish are very good aquarium fish. They get along well with other fish, and they're energetic, healthy, and interesting to watch. Many of them swim upside down, when they are excited or hungry. The Upside Down Catfish, Synodontis nigriventris, swim upside down most of the time.
There are many species of Synodontis catfish and all of them are usually nocturnal, so they need a cave or a piece of drift wood to live under during the day.
Be sure the rocks or pieces of pipe and everything else you put in your aquarium will not contaminate the water. Click here to read about how to avoid contaminating your aquarium.
Picture Gallery
Upside Down Catfish for sale
Upside Down Catfish at, where you can shop online for a UD Catfish.
Upside Down Catfish at, where you can shop online for a UD Catfish.
Upside Down Catfish at, where you can shop online for a UD Catfish.
The Upside Down Catfish, shown above, is swimming around the aquarium upside down. Upside Down Cats are hardy and energetic, rarely bother other fish and are rarely bothered by other fish. They often live for many years. Click here for more details about buying Upside Down Catfish and other wild fish from us. A very good aquarium fish.  
Synodontis multipunctatus catfish at, where you can shop online for Synodontis cats.
Synodontis multipunctatus catfish at, where you can shop online for Synodontis cats.
Synodontis multipunctatus at, where you can shop online for Synodontis catfish.
Synodontis multipunctatus, shown above, whose ancestors lived in Lake Tanganyika in East Africa, but this fish was born and raised on a famous fish farm. About 3" in this photo and can grow to be about 11" in a large aquarium with good care. A very good aquarium fish.  
Synodontis eupterus catfish at, where you can shop online for Synodontis catfish.
Synodontis eupterus, shown above, which was imported as a wild fish from West Africa. This fish is now about 1.5" long and can grow to be about about 8" long in an aquarium. A very good aquarium fish.
Leopard Synodontis
So-called Leopard Synodontis that may be a hybrid. That's to say, it's parents were different species of Synodontis catfish.
Another  Synodontis that may be a hybrid. That's to say, it's parents were different species of Synodontis catfish.
Synodontis Catfish at, where you can shop online for a Synodontis.
The fish, shown above, was often incorrectly called a Synodontis decorus, which is close to the scientific name for this species. English words do have gender, do they?
But Latin words do, and the Latin word Synodontis is feminine, and so cannot be correctly paired with the masculine Latin word decorus.
So the correct Latin name for this species is Synodontis decora, and perhaps the common name should be the Decora Catfish, not Decorus.
By the way, whether an individual fish of this species is a male or female, the scientific name is still Decora. Confusing? Maybe so. Scientific names can be useful and helpful, but if they annoy you, ignore them!
Synodontis is a huge genus of catfish species, and most Synodontis are very good aquarium fish. Some grow so big that they'll eventually need a huge aquarium, which is not so good for most aquarists. But some Synodontis grow to only about 5" to 7". Decora Catfish grow to about 10", but some get as big as 12" long. That makes them too big for most aquariums, but about the right size for really big aquariums ... think 250-gallons.
Like many fish species, all Synodontis Catfish will eat small fish that fit into their mouths. I put one 5" long Synodontis in an aquarium with lots of rocky ornaments and lots of baby Mbuna Cichlids, thinking the babies would have lots of tiny places to hide. That night, when the lights were off, the Synodontis found and ate every baby Mbuna, and that was very disappointing! It also illustrates the fact that Synodontis tend to be nocturnal and search the aquarium at night for food.
But Synodontis usually do not bother other fish that are too big to swallow, and Synodontis catfish have sharp spines that discourage most other fish from biting or eating them, so Synodontis are often seen with aggressive fish like Cichlids in large aquariums, where they help by eating bits of leftover food.

Appropriate Home
An aquarium with at least 30-gallons of water, an exterior power filter with a BIO-Wheel, a maximum of 1/4-inch of gravel, and an aquarium heater adjusted to keep the  temperature of the water between 78 and 82 degrees F. Click here for more about warm water aquariums.

Cichlid Stones - Ceramic Aquarium Caves - Click on this image to buy Cichlid Stones.  
Synodontis Catfish enjoy Cichlid Stones, which are hollow ceramic aquarium caves that make ideal homes for Synodontis. Many Cichlids, Loaches, Eels, and Sharks also love these caves. Click here for more about Cichlid Stones.

Recommended Diet
Floating Flake Food for Tropical Fish. Click here for more about feeding fish. I feed these catfish a few live Black Worms every other day. Click here for more about Black Worms.


Upside Down Catfish enjoy being together, so it's best to keep a group of at least three of them together in the same aquarium. Elephant Noses, Baby Whales, African Black Knifefish, and other Synodontis Catfish are good tank mates.
 U.D. Cats are also kept in aquariums with Clown Loaches, large Gouramis, Tinfoil Barbs, Giant Danios, and a Plecostomus Catfish. Click here to read more about several other groups of compatible fish.


Size and Lifespan
Upside Down Catfish can grow to 4" and sometimes larger. They live for 10 years sometimes longer. A friend of ours, Mr. Frank Dayes, got some of the first Synodontis Catfish imported into the United States in the early 1950s and kept them for over 25 years.


Customer Comments

Hello, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me about the upside down catfish. We have had ours for almost 14 years, can you tell me how long or how old the oldest upside catfish in captivity is or how long we can expect ours to live. I know for us it won't be a pleasant experience when it does die, but was wondering how long we might have left?
Thank you for your help,
Mrs. Lee Ann L.
Reply. Hello Lee Ann. Thank you for reporting about your Upside Down Catfish (UDC). You've had it for 14-years, so it's older than that. It was probably at least one year old, when you got it. That is just an estimate. If so, your UDC is now over 15-years old.
As mentioned above, Mr. Frank Dayes, told me he kept some types of Synodontis Catfish for over 25-years, and I saw those Synodontis, but I was never sure what species they were. Your UDC is a Synodontis nigriventris. I think it may live for several more years and maybe for many more years.
Thanks again and good luck with your fish.
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This page was updated on May 11, 2015.