An upside-down catfish

What Do Upside Down Catfish Eat: Comprehensive Care Guide

Much like Alice plunging down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, you’ve embarked on a unique journey by becoming an owner of the Upside Down Catfish. Grasping their feeding habits, much like any other fish, is crucial for ensuring their survival and well-being under your care.

In this guide, we’ll explore the dietary preferences of these fascinating fish, highlighting the types of foods they thrive on and ones to avoid.

Key Takeaways

  • Upside Down Catfish should be fed a varied diet of high-quality flake food and sinking pellets.
  • Occasional servings of live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp are beneficial for their diet.
  • Including plant matter like zucchini, peas, and spinach in their diet is important.
  • Tailoring their diet to their needs and preferences is essential for their well-being.

Introduction to Upside Down Catfish (Synodontis Nigriventris) and Their Unique Behavior

an Upside Down Catfish mid swim

Diving into the fascinating world of the upside-down catfish, you’ll quickly notice their peculiar habits, most notably their inverted swimming style and distinct nocturnal behavior. The upside-down catfish, scientifically known as Synodontis nigriventris, is a captivating species that flips the script on traditional swimming patterns. 

A unique characteristic of this peaceful fish species is that they swim belly-up or ‘swim upside’, a quirk that sets them apart from most other aquatic life. But it’s not just for show – this peculiar style aids in efficient feeding and offers a unique defense mechanism against predators.

Their nocturnal behavior offers an intriguing glimpse into their survival strategy. When the sun sets, that’s when the upside-down catfish springs into action. While others rest, they take advantage of the quiet to hunt and explore, making the most of the freedom the dark provides. By understanding the lifestyle, needs, and habits, you as an aquarist can ensure that your upside-down catfish thrive in your care.

Essential Upside Down Catfish Care Guide for Healthy Pets

What Do Upside Down Catfish Eat featuring an upside-down catfish swimming

To ensure your upside-down catfish stays healthy, it’s crucial to understand the key elements of their care, including optimal tank conditions and regular health checkups.

  • Tank Conditions: Upside-down catfish thrive in tanks that mimic their natural habitats. A well-planted tank with plenty of hiding places and a soft substrate will give them the freedom they desire. The ideal tank size is a minimum of 20 gallons, with a temperature range of 72-79°F and a pH level of 6.0-7.5.
  • Feeding: Upside-down catfish should be fed a varied diet of high-quality flake food, sinking pellets, and occasional servings of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp.
  • Health Checkups: For your upside down catfish’s health, regular checkups are essential to detect potential illnesses early. Watch for any changes in behavior or appearance and consult a vet if you notice anything unusual.
  • Social Interaction: Upside-down catfish are peaceful and social creatures. They enjoy the company of their own kind, so consider having a small group in your tank.

The Upside Down Catfish Diet: What These Fish Can Eat

Upside Down Catfish in a clear aquarium

The upside-down catfish diet is diverse and balanced, covering both plant-based and meat-based foods. They prefer live food, which includes brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. These foods are packed with the essential nutrients your fish needs to thrive.

However, the upside-down catfish diet shouldn’t solely consist of live food. Balance it with high-quality pellet or flake food, which ensures your catfish get a well-rounded diet, full of the necessary vitamins and minerals for their growth and health.

In addition, it’s not unusual to see them munching on plant matter, as they’re omnivores. Including fresh veggies like zucchini, peas, and spinach, will contribute to their well-being. Remember, the question isn’t just ‘what do upside-down catfish eat?’, but also ‘what should they eat to be the healthiest they can be?’.

Setting Up an Ideal Upside Down Catfish Tank

an aquarium with upside-down catfish

Creating the perfect environment for your upside-down catfish starts with selecting the right size and type of tank, and balancing the conditions inside it.

  • Tank Size and Type: A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for these active swimmers. Make sure the tank is large enough to accommodate multiple hiding spots and plenty of plants.
  • Water Conditions: Balance the water’s pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Maintain a water temperature of 72-79°F. These conditions mirror their natural habitat and encourage healthy growth.
  • Decoration: Mimic their natural environment with plenty of plants and driftwood. These provide the upside-down catfish with a sense of security, and the freedom to swim and explore.
  • Lighting: Provide subdued lighting. Upside-down catfish are nocturnal and prefer dimly lit or dark conditions.

Can Bumblebee Catfish and Upside Down Catfish be Housed Together in the Same Tank?

Yes, Bumblebee Catfish and Upside Down Catfish can be housed together in the same tank. Both species are peaceful and can coexist peacefully. However, it is important to provide complete care for bumblebee catfish, which includes maintaining a clean and well-oxygenated tank environment, offering a varied diet, and keeping an eye on their behavior and health.

Co-living: Suitable Upside Down Catfish Tank Mates

Upside-down catfish with neon tetras and Corydoras in aquarium

Breeding these vibrant creatures requires you to recreate their natural environment, including maintaining stable water parameters, offering plenty of hiding spots, and providing a varied diet. Increase the water temperature slightly and feed them high-quality food to encourage spawning.

After fertilization, males guard the eggs until they hatch. However, upside-down catfish are not the easiest species to breed in captivity.


So, there you have it! You’re now well-equipped to provide excellent care and a nutritious diet for your Upside Down Catfish. Remember, your upside down catfish need to mimic their natural habitat, ensure you provide a varied diet to prolong their lifespan, and keep their tank clean.

With this knowledge of the upside-down catfish size and diet, your upside-down buddy will thrive and continue to mesmerize you with its unique antics. Just remember, your fish’s health and happiness are worth the effort. Enjoy your journey into the fascinating world of Upside Down Catfish care!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do upside down catfish eat?

Upside down catfish are omnivorous tropical fish and will eat a variety of foods including catfish pellets, sinking catfish pellets, and live or frozen foods such as baby brine shrimp.

What are the ideal tank conditions for upside down catfish?

Upside down catfish thrive in a tropical freshwater environment with moderately soft water and a gentle water flow. They also appreciate tank decorations and hiding spots to feel secure. This catfish need aligns with their natural habitat in Central Africa.

Can upside down catfish live with other fish?

Upside down catfish are very peaceful and can coexist with other peaceful species of fish. When contemplating potential tank mates, it’s important to ensure that they are compatible and the tank is large enough to accommodate fish species like the upside down catfish.

How to breed upside down catfish?

Breeding upside down catfish can be challenging and typically requires a separate breeding tank with specific water conditions and the introduction of spawning cues.

What are the common diseases in upside down catfish?

Considering the upside down catfish lifespan, they are susceptible to typical freshwater fish diseases such as fungal and bacterial infections. It’s important to maintain good water quality, monitor their behavior and health to prevent and address anything wrong with the upside.

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