Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Mochokidae (Squeakers or Upsidedown Catfishes)

Genus/species: Synodontis nigriventris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Ground color khaki, small reddish to black dots cover the entire surface. The body is scaleless with large eyes, a large adipose fin, a forked tail, and three pairs of barbels. The head is flattened and the sides of the body are slightly compressed.

Length 9-10 cm (3-4 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central Congo basin of Africa. Found in freshwater streams in schools of hundreds to thousands.

DIET IN THE WILD: Omnivorous scavenger: Feeds mainly at night on insects, crustaceans and filamentous algae, plant debris, bowels of dead fishes. Grazes algae from undersides of cave ceilings or leaves with its little rasp-like teeth while in the inverted position, a posture also used while gleaning food from the water’s surface. Also locates food on the substrate among debris such as rotting plants.

REPRODUCTION: Egg layers, with the young swimming upside-down after they are approximately 2 months old.


REMARKS: Swimming “upside-down” (ventral toward surface) is normal for adults of this species, which often feed and breathe at the surface. One common name for the family refer to the group’s propensity to make squeaking noises, especially when netted and taken from the water.

CONSERVATION: IUCN least concern 2010


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Water Planet Surviving 2019



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