Synodontis Nigrita: False Upside Down Catfish Care Guide

Commercially Bred Synodontis Nigrita
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 20, 2024
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Synodontis nigrita, a beloved freshwater fish from Africa’s Niger River basin, delights aquarium fans with its striking beauty and unique behavior. This member of the Mochokidae family stands out with its **shiny black color** and long body speckled with white spots, adding a lively **touch to any fish tank**. Known for **being sturdy and adaptable**, Synodontis nigrita is perfect for both new and seasoned fish keepers.

Article Summary

  • Synodontis Nigrita is a freshwater aquarium fish native to West Africa, known for its unique appearance and behavior.
  • There is a commercially bred form of Synodontis Nigrita known as “Gold Nigrita Catfish” or other names like “Yellow” or “Mustard Catfish.
  • Synodontis Nigrita are hardy but sensitive to declining water quality, so regular water changes and stress management are essential for their well-being.

Species Overview

Synodontis Nigrita is a species native to the rivers and streams of West Africa. These catfish prefer slow-moving waters with plenty of hiding places like rocks, driftwood, and vegetation. They can reach a maximum length of 4 inches and have an average lifespan of around 10 years.

Synodontis Nigrita is a peaceful species that prefers to live in small groups or pairs. They are primarily nocturnal, being most active at night and often hiding in caves or crevices during the day.

Commercially Bred: Gold Nigrita Catfish

A new form of Synodontis nigrita is now being bred for commercial purposes. As a result, this species can now be found in stores under different names such as nigrita, “Gold nigrita catfish,” “Yellow,” “Mustard catfish,” or Custard catfish.

A Gold Nigrita Catfish Exploring The Tank
A Custard Nigrita Catfish Exploring The Tank

Synodontis Nigrita Appearance

The Synodontis nigrita, also known as the false upside-down catfish, has a distinct appearance that sets it apart from other fish species. One of the notable features of the Synodontis nigrita is its dark brown or black body coloration. This gives it a sleek and mysterious look. However, the lighter spots or stripes that adorn its body make it even more intriguing. These spots or stripes contrast its overall appearance and make it visually appealing.

Another striking characteristic of this medium-sized catfish species is its long, filamentous dorsal and pectoral fins. These fins give the fish an elegant and graceful appearance as they flow through the water. The elongated nature of these fins adds to their beauty and uniqueness.

Tank And Water Requirements

To provide a comfortable habitat for your Synodontis Nigrita, it’s important to consider the tank and water requirements. These factors play a crucial role in maintaining the health and well-being of this species.

Creating the right water conditions is vital for the well-being of the False Upside-down Catfish. They thrive in soft water with slightly acidic pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7. Maintaining these parameters helps replicate their natural habitat, promoting overall health and reducing stress levels.

Maintaining an appropriate temperature range is crucial for the comfort of Synodontis Nigrita. The ideal temperature falls between 75°F to 82°F (24°C – 28°C). This range ensures they can function optimally and exhibit their natural behaviors without discomfort.

Spacious Tank

This medium-sized catfish species requires a spacious aquarium that allows them to swim freely. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended to accommodate their active nature. Providing plenty of hiding places, such as caves or driftwood, is essential as these catfish enjoy exploring and seeking shelter. These hiding spots create a sense of security and mimic their natural environment.

Providing suitable tank and water conditions is essential for creating a thriving environment for Synodontis Nigrita. By offering ample space, hiding places, soft water with slightly acidic pH levels, and maintaining the recommended temperature range, you are setting up an ideal home for these fascinating catfish.

False Upside Down Catfish Health

False upside-down catfish, scientifically known as Synodontis nigrita, are generally hardy and disease-resistant when provided with optimal care. However, they can be sensitive to declining water quality, making regular water changes crucial for their well-being.

These catfish are prone to stress-related illnesses if kept in unsuitable tank conditions. Therefore, creating a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat is essential.

Hardy but Sensitive

  • False upside-down catfish are known for their resilience and ability to adapt to various water conditions.
  • They can tolerate a wide range of pH levels and temperatures. However, they are susceptible to declining water quality.
  • Regular monitoring of water parameters and maintaining good water quality is vital.

Stress Management

  • Providing hiding spots like caves or plants helps reduce stress levels in false upside-down catfish.
  • Avoid overcrowding the tank, as it can lead to aggression and stress among the fish.
  • Maintaining a peaceful community tank with compatible species is crucial for their well-being.

Disease Prevention

  • Quarantining new fish before introducing them into the main tank helps prevent the spread of diseases.
  • A balanced diet of high-quality pellets or frozen foods boosts their immune system.
  • Observing signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, abnormal behavior, or physical abnormalities, allows for early intervention.

False Upside Down Catfish Diet

False Upside Down Catfish, scientifically known as Synodontis Nigrita, are omnivorous species with diverse diets. They feed on plant matter and small invertebrates, making them adaptable to various food sources. Providing them with a balanced meal is essential to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Varied Diet for Optimal Nutrition

To meet False Upside Down Catfish’s dietary needs, offering them a varied diet is crucial. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Sinking Pellets: These catfish can be fed sinking pellets specially formulated for bottom-dwelling fish. These pellets provide essential nutrients and mimic the natural feeding behavior of the fish.
  2. Frozen/Live Foods: Adding frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia can benefit these catfish. These foods offer additional protein and simulate their natural feeding habits.
  3. Vegetable Matter: False Upside Down Catfish may consume vegetable matter, such as blanched zucchini or spinach leaves. This provides fiber and other essential nutrients.
  4. Algae Consumption: In addition to the food mentioned earlier, these catfish may also consume algae in the aquarium. Algae can serve as a supplementary food source while helping maintain water quality by reducing excess nutrients.

Providing Optimum Care

When feeding your False Upside Down Catfish:

  • Offer small portions of food multiple times daily rather than one large meal.
  • Monitor their eating habits and adjust the quantity accordingly.
  • Avoid overfeeding as it can lead to health issues like obesity and poor water quality.
  • Please remove any uneaten food from the tank immediately to prevent water pollution.

By providing a varied diet consisting of sinking pellets, frozen/live foods, vegetable matter, and algae, you can ensure that your False Upside Down Catfish receives the necessary nutrients for their overall health and vitality.

Temperament And Tank Mates

Synodontis Nigrita, the False Upside Down Catfish, is generally peaceful and non-aggressive towards other fish species. They have a calm temperament, making them compatible with most community aquariums. Choose their tank mates wisely to ensure a harmonious environment for everyone, as they feed on invertebrates and may consider ornamental invertebrates prey.

Peaceful and Non-Aggressive

The Synodontis Nigrita is generally peaceful. They rarely show aggression towards other fish in the aquarium. This makes them an excellent choice for community tanks where different species coexist. Their calm demeanor adds tranquility to the overall ambiance of the aquarium.

Compatible with Most Fish

Due to their peaceful nature, Synodontis Nigrita can be housed with various tank mates. They are generally compatible with other peaceful fish species, such as tetras, gouramis, rasboras, and corydoras catfish. These combinations create a vibrant and diverse aquatic ecosystem that is visually appealing.

Also called Julii Cory
Corydoras Julii at The Bottom of The Tank

Avoid Aggressive Tank Mates And Ornamental Invertebrates

While Synodontis Nigrita gets along well with most fish, avoiding keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping tank mates and ornamental invertebrates is crucial. Aggressive fish may stress out the False Upside Down Catfish and cause harm to its fins or overall health. Examples of aggressive species include certain cichlids or larger predatory fish. At the same time, ornamental invertebrates can get eaten by these catfish.

Consider their compatibility when selecting tank mates to ensure a harmonious environment for your Synodontis Nigrita. It’s always best to research each species’ temperament and behavior before introducing them into the same aquarium.

Breeding False Upside Down Catfish

Breeding Synodontis Nigrita, also known as False Upside Down Catfish, can be challenging in captivity due to their specific requirements. However, it is possible to successfully breed these fascinating fish with the right setup and care.

Specific Requirements for Breeding

Providing a separate breeding tank for the Synodontis Nigrita is essential to increase the chances of successful breeding. This tank should mimic their natural habitat and meet their specific needs. Maintain stable water conditions with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5 and a temperature around 77-82°F (25-28°C). Provide a spacious tank with plenty of hiding spots like caves or driftwood. Use subdued lighting to simulate their natural environment. Ensure efficient filtration while avoiding solid currents that may disturb the fish.

Spawning Process

The breeding process of Synodontis Nigrita involves conditioning both male and female fish by feeding them high-quality live or frozen foods to enhance their reproductive health. Once they are prepared, the male and female are introduced into the breeding tank together. Females then lay adhesive eggs on surfaces such as rocks or plants within the tank, and the males follow closely behind to externally fertilize these eggs by releasing sperm over them. The eggs are carefully monitored for approximately 4-7 days during incubation. Once hatched, the fry is removed from the breeding tank to a separate rearing tank with appropriate food and conditions.

Breeding Synodontis Nigrita can be a rewarding experience for dedicated fishkeepers. While it may require patience and attention to detail, raising these unique catfish can bring joy and satisfaction to any aquarium enthusiast.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big do Synodontis nigrita get?

Synodontis nigrita, commonly known as the false upside-down catfish, typically grows to a size of around 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) in length when kept in captivity. However, in their natural habitat, these catfish can sometimes reach slightly larger sizes, up to 6 inches (15 cm). It’s important to note that the size of Synodontis nigrita can vary depending on factors like diet, water quality, and tank conditions. Providing them with appropriate care and a suitable environment can help them reach their maximum potential.

What size tank do I need for False Upside Down Catfish?

The False Upside Down Catfish requires a minimum tank size of 30 gallons due to its active nature and potential growth.

Can I keep multiple False Upside Down Catfish together?

Yes, these catfish are social creatures and can be kept in groups of three or more individuals without issues.

Image Reference

  • Featured Image – Buntbarsche (2015, December 17). Synodontis Nigrita Yellow [Photo]. Twitter.
  • Content Image – Sweet Knowle Aquatics (2018, September 19). Custard Cat – Synodontis nigrita ‘Gold’ [Photo]. Facebook.
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