|Distribution||Cameroon, Congo, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Mature females fuller bodied and paler compared to the male.|
|Maximum Size||9.6cm (3.8")|
|Temperature||22-28 deg C (72-82 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||pH: 6.0-7.5, dH: up to 18 degrees.|
|Lighting||Dim (can be brighter if diffused by plants).|
The Upside-Down Catfish is known from the Congo River basin and drainages of the Kasai and Ubangi. Here they inhabit the densely vegetated areas adjacent to the riverbanks, where they form large shoals whilst searching for food in their favoured inverted position. The aquarium should be spacious with a soft sandy substrate in order to protect the sensory barbels. It should be decorated with a good amount of bogwood, rocky caves/PVC tubes, and robust planting to provide shady areas, but you should also ensure that a roomy swimming space is left along the front of the tank. Efficient filtration is recommended, as these fish are voracious eaters and can produce a fair amount of waste. The water should be well-oxygenated with a moderate current, and frequent partial water changes are a must to help keep nitrate to a minimum. These fish are most comfortable in aquaria with subdued lighting, and the use of blue-moon type illumination is highly recommended so that you may observe a few hours of the nightly goings-on in an aquarium containing these catfish. A gregarious species, S. nigriventris should be kept in groups of 5 or more, and they may often be observed resting in the infamous upside-down Synodontis position underneath plants or decor. Ensure that heaters are covered with heater guards to prevent these catfish from being burned when looking for dark crevices to rest against. Companions should be peaceful and larger than 3cm (1.2") in length (otherwise they may be predated upon); good tankmates could include medium sized tetras, barbs, rainbowfish, or some of the more robust dwarf cichlid species. The specific epithet "nigriventris" is in reference to the reversed colour pattern of this fish; with a darker belly and lighter dorsal area, which is used for camouflage when spending the majority of its time swimming upside down. This is a quirky and entertaining community species, which is an ideal introduction to oddball fish for the beginner.
Omnivorous. Offer a variety meaty frozen foods such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, Mysis shrimp etc., along with some sinking catfish pellets/tablets/granules. Be sure to offer some vegetable matter such as cucumber, courgette, and shelled peas, along with occasional algae wafers. These are greedy fish, and are a little susceptible to bloating so take care not to overfeed, and go easy on the amount of dried foods given - avoiding all floating foods.
The Upside-Down Catfish has been bred in the home aquarium, but details are few and far between. As this fish migrates to flooded areas to breed during the rainy season, it is likely that a large, cool water change may encourage well-conditioned fish to spawn, as if they were undergoing seasonal environmental changes. Breeding reports suggest that some 400+ eggs were laid both in crevices (PVC pipes, caves etc) and on another occasion, in a depression in the substrate. The eggs should hatch in 2-3 days, and will be free-swimming after a further 4 days. It takes approximately 2 months for the young to start swimming in the characteristic upside-down position.