The upside-down catfish is one of the smallest Synodontis species. It is aptly named for its unique and mesmerizing upside-down swimming habits. This allows for the fish to more easily graze at the water’s surface.
Though they swim upside-down, there is nothing wrong with these fish. Often, when a fish is having trouble “staying upright” the first cause for alarm would be swim bladder issues, but with these wonderful fish, it is just a development of evolution. They enjoy swimming either upside-down or upright.
When sexing upside down catfish, there are easy tells for males and females. Female upside down catfish are going to be larger, paler in color, and have a more rounded body shape than the males(particularly when ready to spawn). Males, on the other hand, are smaller, darker, and have a much more streamlined body shape.
When keeping an upside down catfish, a minimum tank size of 20 gallons is necessary, but larger aquariums would be better An African biotope with a sandy substrate (CS6630), rock, driftwood (ZM2000), and live plants, both floating and planted is the perfect set up with water parameters of 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH ranging from 6.5-8.0. Upside-down catfish are schooling fish, so keeping them in a group of three or more would be best.
These are a peaceful fish, but will eat other very small fish because they will be seen as food rather than tank mates. Do not keep with fish that may try to eat them because their spines will be lodged in the throat of the predating fish. Feeding the upside down catfish is much like any other aquarium fish. They will readily take flake foods (AL165) or floating pellets (NL100), but feeding live black worms or frozen brine shrimp would be the best nutrition for them.