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FAQs on Mochokid, Synodontis Cats and More: Identification 

Related Articles: Mochokid Catfishes

Related Catfish FAQs:  Mochokid (Synodontis...) Catfishes 1,   Mochokid Cats 2, & FAQs on Mochokid Cats Behavior, Mochokid Cats Compatibility, Mochokid Cats Selection, Mochokid Cats Systems, Mochokid Cats Feeding, Mochokid Cats Disease, Mochokid Cats Reproduction, & General Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Need help on Syno's. ( I love my catfish :) )  Mochokid ID      11/5/13
Any way, I love my catfish, and I recently lost my favorite catfish who was a Synodontis Nigriventris or commonly known as an Upside down catfish, which * not naming any store names* was sold to me as a Lace Catfish.  He *assuming it was a boy* was quite loved, liked to goof around and for the most part swam upside down. His name was Sqeeky ( because I thought he originally was a Squeaker, since he did some times squeak, then again so does my Squirt), and liked to do play like he was a dolphin when I eat Mac and Cheese in hopes he get some. *he never did, he all ways got shrimp pellets instead.* I bawled when it died needless to say. Any way, I have decided it would do me some good to get two more of the little guys.
<Neat animals>
How ever I have ran into a little set back.
I had purchased what I thought was another so called Lace catfish * Synodontis Nigriventris*, back when I had Squeeky, thinking he would like a little friend. Which we named Squirt. She *assuming she is a girl* looked a lot like Squeeky.
She is currently right now, and possibly still growing mind you, 5inches long.
<Ah not S. nigriventris at this size>
From nose to tail tip. Ware Squeeky barely made it to four inches and was full grown. Which is why for the longest time I though Squirt was a female. Since in the catfish world Females are larger.
<Often; yes>
Squirt doesn't hardly ever swim upside down, She is also quite buff for a upside down dwarf.  So I am starting to believe that she is a Synodontis Eupterus, which would mean, that store tripped me up again. By yet again selling me a so called Lace Catfish.
<A few Mochokids are sold as such>
Which would also mean, that Eupterus and Nigriventris babies are swimming in the same tank under the same Lace catfish label. Joy I know.
As much as I love squirt and her "Guarding of the Bridge { aka her driftwood} and playing now you see me, now you don't. I much would rather have at least one Nigriventris. Is there any way when they are little babies, to tell the poor fishes apart?
<Not easily... though the "real" Upside Down cat tends to be more yellow colored... both have about the same body shape/conformation; and clustering behavior when young>
Thank you for helping me out. And don't worry if you don't have a sure answer. I will figure it out when the poor things get older.
P.S.  I love both fish, Squeeky all ways came when called. Squirt kinda only does that when I turn out the lights. :)  I also have two Cory cats.
Corry and Specks. They are funny little guys. One of them has a deformed eye, but seems to be able to see out of it. *Corry is his name* They also got along with both catfish, but were moved due to Angle fish problems.
One of my Angle fish, attacked and killed their little friend * its a Leopoldi Angle fish, and is probably full grown,*. It was promptly moved, no one hurts my catfish :)
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Need help on Syno's. ( I love my catfish :) )      11/5/13

Thank you for confirming my suspicions, my Grandmother was calling her the mutant for a while now.  Thanks, also for that tid bit of information, I will keep my eye out for anyone that has a yellowish appearance. Also it would possibly help if one swam upside down *probably not going to happen*, thank you so much, for confirming that Squirt is. that helps a lot.
Also thanks, they are/were pretty neat fish.
<Ah yes; and the whole family does swim inverted at time... some species much more than others. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Mysterious meyersi deaths     11/7/13

I noticed that before they die they are sticking there heads completely out of the water like they are trying to get air. Do you think that gill parasites could cause a loss like this?
<Could; yes>
 Because I can break the tank down but I don't want to transfer whatever it is to another tank.
<Perhaps whatever (if it is a biological agent) it is has a complex life cycle... You might well break it>
 I can set up a tank specifically for the loaches.  I am treating the whole tank for parasites right now.
<... w/o knowing what if any there are? Not wise>
 It has been 3 days. Today was the first day with no deaths so that is good. I don't want to move them till the treatment is done though.
I'm just beside myself with this
<Take the long read on WWM re FW parasitic disease, treatments. B>
Re: Mysterious meyersi deaths     11/8/13

Thank you. I know at the very least they are all most likely infected with intestinal parasites. Due to weight and the look of there excrement. So I figured it was best to treat the whole tank in case anyone else was exposed. I am using Prazi which coincidentally treats gill flukes.
 So if that's what is going on I hope this will help.
I'm off to read that article. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
<And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: rainbow /red finned / ruby shark + EEK I need a bigger tank!  11/11/10
Hi Neale
So much for not being able to make a mistake..... But I can blame the aquarist I had no faith in in the first place: Having taken in the information you kindly provided me with about a month ago, I thought I knew what a dwarf upside down catfish looked like, and went back to the aquarist I bought the ruby shark from. He had a tank labeled with Upside-down Catfish, and there was one in it, resting upside down on a plastic plant. Very pretty, quite dark, with stripes/ spots that I took to be the white markings you had referred to.
I even asked if it was a Dwarf Upside Down catfish, and was given the reply I wanted to hear. He was about 3 cm long at that time, and now in hindsight I realise that probably with a fish so small it could have been any number of catfish.
<Does indeed happen that small S. nigrita get sold as young S. nigriventris, but this is MUCH less common these days than it was in the past.>
Anyway, I was happy, as I had a lovely fish. And it gets along Ok with the ruby shark, they seemed to draw each other out of hiding and often they would be seen both out at once.
<Cool. Synodontis nigriventris is a gregarious species. I'd recommend keeping at least three. I have one female and two males, and they're very fun to watch. The female looks like big egg with fins, she's so round! The males are paler and have brighter markings.>
Having done more research I thought I should have more than one upside down catfish. I went back to the first aquarium shop, which is the sort of place where you don't get receipts and they only take cash. It is primarily a garden centre, and dare I say it, looks like it is part of a gypsy site. Their tank labeled Upside Down Catfish had been restocked, and had bigger, browner, spotty catfish in it.
<Their colours do change with age, overall becoming darker. Unfortunately, there are dozens of Synodontis species that are "brown with spots" so that doesn't help much!>
I asked if they were Dwarf, and was told "I don't know love, the wholesaler sends us a mix of catfish, all upside-down." I wisely walked away. About a week ago I went to a real aquarist, one where the staff know the scientific names (!!), and asked by name for the Synodontis nigriventris. I was impressed by this aquarists knowledge as he took me straight to them.
<Good work!>
I told him the fish I had already, and he said also that they do best in groups. So I bought 3, about 3 cm long.
I also bought a very lovely Centromochlus perugiae.
<What I still call Tatia perugiae.>
(What a lovely little fish).
<Yes, one of the nicest South American catfish. Very shy! Quite social, I believe, so if you have the funds, get a few. Males and females are different, especially in the shape of the anal fin. They perform internal fertilisation, like guppies, but lay eggs about a day later. Very odd little fish.>
I had an informative chat to the young man who served me as he was so helpful and knowledgeable, and I told him that I wanted eventually to have other catfish in my tank. He recommended the glass catfishes, as they are mid tank swimmers.
<Is indeed the case. Watch them chasing Daphnia is fun!>
(I do like this idea but wanted to do the setup slowly and carefully and will leave buying any more fish until I have more room.) So, a few days ago I put the 3 new upside down catfish and the oil catfish in with the first 2 fish. They get along fine by the way. Today I stripped most of the decor out whilst I did some cleaning and a partial water change. I noticed that the first Upside-down catfish I bought, now bigger, looks very different to the 3 new catfish arrivals. Much more like the 'browner, spotted ones' mentioned earlier at the first aquarium shop.
<Do be aware boys and girls look different. Females are more uniformly brown and have much rounder body shapes when mature. Males tend to have more of the pale squiggles on their flanks and fins.>
Having looked this fish up in my book - Catfishes by Les Finley - and having looked up pictures on the internet of juveniles and adults, I fear I have a Featherfin Squeaker, Synodontis euptera.
<A fantastic fish!>
Eventually all these fish will be in a bigger tank, about 29 gallons max, but will this be big enough?
<Not ideal, but rehoming it, should you need to, won't be difficult. These are VERY peaceful fish albeit territorial towards their own kind. Great community fish for peaceful cichlids, non-nippy barbs, loaches, etc.>
And will the Squeaker be OK with the others?
<S. nigriventris is gregarious while S. euptera is territorial, so there may be tussles over hiding places. Plan around that, so everyone has space. S. nigriventris adore floating plants or floating leaves, while S. euptera is more a cave-dweller.>
(I like the name squeaker, though I have yet to hear it squeak.)
<They squeak when removed from the water. Not all species do this though, and since you have to scare them, I wouldn't recommend trying. As it happens, South American talking catfish such as Humbug Catfish are much more "talkative".>
Some pages I have read online state that it is aggressive and territorial.
<Almost all the larger Synodontis are territorial, but they rarely molest fish that keep out of their way. So provided everyone has their on turf, Synodontis can work extremely well in communities. I'd not keep more than one specimen of the larger species in small aquaria though.>
How will this go down with the Ruby Shark when they are all adult?
<I'd expect them to occasionally chase each other, but the Shark will be much too fast for the Synodontis to harm.>
Will I be able to keep glass catfish as well with this set up?
<Should be okay, though the S. euptera are towards the big end of the fish I'd choose to keep with Glass Cats. On the whole Glass Cats are happiest with small, docile tankmates like tetras.>
Any help with positively identifying it?
<Need photo!>
All I am going on is that they change from juvenile - stripey, to adult - spotty. Your thoughts/help/recommendations all appreciated.
Ruby Shark and friends
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Upside-down Catfish Hello WWM crew, <Hello, Gage here, your friend in catfish.> I recently purchased a black upside down catfish that I have yet to identify online nor on your site.  I just saw it swimming upside down in my LFS.  They labeled it black upside down catfish.  It is about 3.5" long and has 5 tiny spots on its side.  It is not aggressive at all.  The funny part:  I have a semi-aggressive bumblebee catfish about the same size, and before I introduced the black ud cat I mixed the deco and land around to eliminate any territory of the bumblebee.  When the ud cat went in, the bumblebee immediately went after it, however, it did not seem like it was attacking it.  I kept watch for a good hour and all they did was what looked like nuzzling.  No quick movements against each other, but just swimming in unison next to one another.  What is going on? <They are probably just checking each other out, no worries.> They do look similar in appearance except one is striped and the other is black and swims upside down.  Any ideas as to what is happening?  To my knowledge, bumblebee's don't mate in captivity and I still have no idea what kind of ud cat the black one is.   <Most likely some sort of Synodontis, possibly nigriventris, contractus, or batensoda.  Check out fishbase.org and the link below to help with the ID, Best Regards, Gage. http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/mochokid/synodont/g_thumbs.htm   >

What Kind of Catfish? Stick not Poisonous, but Does Hurt Like the Devil! I bought a fish which I was told was a Synodontis from the pet shop recently. He is completely black with a sort of catfish mouth and likes to hide amongst the plants and wood in my aquarium. He looks really sleek and unusual and swims the right way up! He has a spiny fin which the pet shop said was poisonous and would feel like a bee sting if I touched it. When I looked up Synodontis I realized there are hundreds of them. I wondered if there is any way of knowing what type this is so I can check how big he will grow, what he likes to eat etc.?  He is about 1 1/4 ins at the moment. Also will his poisonous spike kill my other fish as they brush against it a lot? < Go to Planetcatfish.com There you should be able to find your catfish. The spines may be covered with bacteria that can cause an infection but freshwater catfish do not have poisonous spines.-Chuck> 

FW fish ID's Dear Bob      I am having a problem identifying two fish in one of my tanks. One I have narrowed down to being a member of the family Crossocheilus or possibly a pencil fish. the other I know is a member  of the family Synodontis I think it might be a Synodontis nigita. I have included a picture of each due with them as you wish. <Mmm, the first fish is definitely a mochokid... maybe a Synodontis nigrita (note spelling), or S. nigromaculatus. The second little fellow I believe is a Characidium fasciatum. Bob Fenner>

Need information about an Upside-down Catfish   12/31/06 Hey guys, <<Greetings and Happy New Year! Tom here.>> Hope your holiday is going good!   <<And yours as well.>> I'm really stumped here.  I just purchased a pitch black upside down catfish of some sort.  He's about 8" long and swims upside down. <<The Mochokidae family is occasionally referred to as the Upside-Down Catfish family even though Synodontis is only one genus in the group. Not the only genus in the family to display this swimming behavior.>> No where could I find any information on him all over the web and forums. <<There's tons of information regarding Synodontis nigriventris, which is the most common and popular Upside-Down Catfish among hobbyists, but I would suggest that your fish is likely another member of the family. Eight inches long would be about double the typical size of this animal, usually topping out at four to five inches.>> Are you familiar with this catfish and can it go with African Cichlids? <<I don't have any first-hand experience with this group but they're African in origin and my research suggests that, yes, most will go with African Rift Cichlids, West African Cichlids and African Tetras. Larger varieties may make a meal of small fish, though.>> I hope he's not too aggressive for my smaller 3" Mbuna.   <<As does your Mbuna, I'm sure.>> The guy at the pet store told me he was a true Synodontis upside down catfish, but like I said, I can't find any info on him at all.   <<As I said, it could very well be of the Synodontis group but doubtful that it's a 'true' Upside-Down Catfish as we commonly know them.>> Help me out...............please!!! <<If you're using Google as a search engine, I don't know how you couldn't find at least some information on your fish. Check this site out and see if it doesn't give you a leg up on what you need: http://fish.mongabay.com/mochocidae.htm.>>   Thanks <<You're more than welcome and enjoy the holiday. Tom>> Re: Need information about an Upside-down Catfish  1/2/07 Thanks Tom.   <<No problem, Jay. (It is Jay, isn't it?) >> The most info I found on google that seems to be the catfish I have is the Asian upside down catfish or giant upside down catfish.   <<Let's go with what we suspect to be the appropriate species: Mystus leucophasis. (I'm torn between the usage of the scientific names and common names as both can be confusing for our readers depending on the context of the post.) Regardless, this guy (gal?) seems to fit the bill based on your description.>> What do you know about this species, there is only one article on it all over the web believe it or not. <<True enough. Lots of 'chatter' about them in various forums but not a lot of hard information.>> Can you share your knowledge with me on this species?   <<In this case, I'm going to plead a certain degree of 'ignorance'. This fish has been in the hobby for quite a while but its nature/behavior hasn't made it very popular among most but the hardcore Catfish enthusiasts. If we're correct in its identity, smaller tank mates don't fare well including species such as Corys that shouldn't present themselves as 'feeders', let alone others without the same built-in 'defense' characteristics.>>   It says it's rather aggressive is this true? <<From the little that I know of this particular fish, yes, it is aggressive. It seems to be at odds with the upside-down swimming behavior which is thought to be a trait evolved to protect it from predators. Given its somewhat notorious reputation for devouring its smaller tank mates (not a heck of a lot smaller, by the way), you might wonder why they bother to swim upside down at all. (Actually, it might revert to an upside-right position and stay that way depending on the foods that are fed. If it -- hopefully -- dines on foods that sink, it may not continue its upside-down swimming activity.) Doesn't mean that it won't go hunting for other 'food', though. >> Thanks <<You're welcome but I confess to being caught short on this one. You might consider taking this fish back to the store. You weren't given good information from the LFS folks to begin with and, personally, I don't like introducing 'trouble' into my tanks, which is what this fish sounds like to me. Best of luck however you want to go but I'd take it back. Tom>>

Upside Down Catfish I.D.-ing, Questions & Tip Requests  12/22/08 Hi I just purchased a fish earlier today that they had labeled as an upside down catfish. He/She (well we call it 'he') swims upside down (a lot but he'll also swim right side up) like his name says, but he's all black (with possibly a grey dot in between his eyes, he moves a lot so it's hard to tell but I'm almost positive it's there). Is he still an actual upside down catfish or is he a different breed? The lady at the store referred to him as an upside down catfish and he looks like a catfish but I haven't found any pictures of a black upside down catfish so I was wondering if he was a different kind of fish? <There are well over 100 species of Synodontis, and most of them look very similar. It is true that the majority don't swim upside-down, at least not when mature. But several do, and some of these are notorious look-alike species. In England for example, baby specimens of the large (20 cm) and rather territorial species Synodontis nigrita are quite commonly included in batches of Synodontis nigriventris, the true dwarf upside-down catfish. I'm one of the people who's fallen into that trap, and ended up with a "dwarf" catfish that just growed like Topsy! Your best bet is to go through the excellent gallery of Synodontis species at Planet Catfish: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=29 Just in the off-chance its one of the related and similar genera, take a look at Brachysynodontis or Hemisynodontis: http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=219 http://www.planetcatfish.com/catelog/genus.php?genus_id=95 Synodontis nigriventris itself is relatively unusual in being gregarious and needs to be kept in groups of three or more. The other Synodontis species range from essentially gentle giants like Synodontis eupterus through to quite waspish species like Synodontis nigrita, so it's important to try and put a name of your fish. Not many species are uniformly coloured grey or brown, so you might look at Synodontis schall and Hemisynodontis membranaceus (a species with oddly webbed whiskers). Juvenile Synodontis nigriventris do have white spots, but usually all over their bodies, and the basic colour is mottled brown. Synodontis angelicus is black with lots of white spots; it's an expensive fish, and lovely, but unlikely (unless you have the luck of the devil!) to turn up in a batch of Synodontis nigriventris.> He's also acting weird in that he will lay on the bottom of the tank, not really in the corner but where the bottom meets the wall and then appear as if he has trouble swimming and seems to struggle a few moments before he completely rights himself (well upside down but you get my point) and then he'll be fine until he does it again. Is this normal for him being in the new tank? <Fish do sometimes behave oddly for a short while when moved to a new tank. But an issue with at least some Synodontis is that they're riverine fish used to fast-flowing water with lots of oxygen. All Synodontis need a reasonably big tank, certainly above 25-30 gallons even for the dwarf species, and 40 gallons or more for the regular size species. A decent filter, moderate temperature, and good water quality are all important.> And also I would appreciate care tips for him where I own two Betta fish (a crown tail and a regular one, each in their own 1 gallon tank) and have had little experience with other types of fish. I had had a 5 gallon tank last year but it was contaminated because it killed any fish I put in there (which resulted in about 10 or so dead fish) including 2 Betta fish (different times, one died and I replaced it) which the first Betta I had put in there had thrived in his old tank (one of the two 1 gallons my new Betta are currently in) and died a couple weeks or so after I changed him to the 5 gallon. <5 gallons is just fine for a Betta, and in all honesty 1 gallon is too small for anything but cut flowers. I have no idea why [a] people sell them and [b] why anyone buys them. They're useless.> So right now I have him in a little 1 gallon tank with only the water he came in (there was no room for more water the way this tank is designed) and I read on the site that he needs a little hide out (which I actually have a fish decoration kinda cave thing sitting on my desk which I can give him once I rinse it off) but what else does he require? <He's go one fin in the grave and another on a banana skin! Seriously, 1 gallon isn't even a bucket. Assuming he's some sort of unidentified Synodontis of average size, then your starting point is a 30 gallon tank. Nothing smaller; anything smaller would be a waste of your time/money because there's a good chance this catfish will outgrow it. Install a reasonably brisk filter that offers turnover of not less than 4 times the volume of the tank, and ideally (by which I mean, maximising the chance of success and reducing the chance of disease) turnover 6 times the volume of the tank is a good base line. So for a 30 gallon tank, the filter needs to be rated at 6 x 30 = 180 gallons per hour. This may sound a lot, but trust me, it isn't, and the few dollars extra it'll cost will be AMPLY repaid by the savings in dead fish, medication, and the option to add more fish without the tank being overloaded.> I believe I still have a fake plant or two that I could put in his tank and I'm sure my Betta wouldn't mind if I gave him the floating fake flower from each tank. Should I put some little marble rock things in his tank (they're like colored glass rocks) like I did for my Bettas or should I leave the bottom bare? <He doesn't want marble rock things. What he wants is a proper, regular-coloured (black, brown) cave, some soft sand or fine gravel, and lots of water current. He NEEDS space in the tank, and 1 gallon doesn't even begin to cover this.> Also, my Bettas eat TetraColor Granules extreme (they refuse to eat flakes for some reason), will he be ok to eat them? <They're fine, but supplement with other things. Hikari Algae Wafers and any catfish pellet of your choice would combine to make a good, balanced diet.> They do sink to the bottom of the tank after a short period of time. <Unless this fish gets a MUCH bigger tank or is returned to the pet store, it's unlikely to see the New Year. So with that in mind, I think we know what your Christmas gift from Santa needs to be! Cheers, Neale.>

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