site logo

Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > Misc species > Upside Down Asian Catfish
16 visitors reading profiles


This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

  comment form.  
This months profile was written by superpap56 an active contributor to the site.



Mystus Leucophasis
All Photos courtesy of Aqualand pets plus

Mystus leucophasis


    Seldom seen and when available very expensive the Giant Black Upside Down Asian Catfish can for some be a great choice for a specimen tank. Provided with the proper living conditions they will provide years of pleasure and companionship.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: May grow up to 5 inches (12.5cm fishbase) (1)
    Tank: 55 gallons /4 foot length for one fish
    Strata: Bottom, Middle, Top
    PH: 6.0-7.0
    Hardness: 5° - 25° dH
    Temperature: 73°F to 81°F (23°-27° C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Family: Bagridae
    Genus: Mystus
    Species: leucophasis


Common name:

    Giant Black Upside Down Asian Catfish


    Badmans' Forum

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Asia: Sitang River, Myanmar (Burma)

Mystus Leucophasis
General Body Form:

    Mystus Leucophasis has the typical large catfish look with 3 sets of Barbels the longest of which are 1/2 to 3/4 the fishes body length. Long flowing tailfin with top section noticeably longer than the bottom section.

    Mystus Leucophasis

    Black with silver specks in random patterns along the side. From a distance the fish appears totally black. The silver specks can be numerous enough that as it grows the area will appear to be lightly dusted with flour.


    Because this fish is an active swimmer (with gained trust-daylight as well as nocturnal ) in my opinion they are not good for a planted tank as plants will be uprooted and knocked around. Not really suited for a community tank with anything other than the recommended tankmates. Makes a perfect specimen for a single species only tank. Mystus leucophasis is best suited for an experienced aquarist and and is not recommended for beginners. Water parameters are not overly important for this species, but should ideally be soft and neutral. Appreciates good current. A very strong jumper so be sure to use a well fitting lid. Always provide at least one "cave" for each Leucophasis. If you wish -pvc pipe sections make perfect "caves". If you choose to go the community route tankmates could be some of the more boisterous Cichlids -including Mbuna, Larger Loracariids, Large cyprinids including Tinfoil Barbs.--NO slower moving fish. Being one of the scaleless fish if you must medicate only use malachite green medications in half doses -or better yet use a med designed for scaleless and sensitive fish. Feeding is not a problem as they accept all flake and frozen foods, loves freeze dried bloodworms and eats just about any offerred food.

    Mystus Leucophasis

    Adults inhabit rivers.


    Females are longer and heavier. Males have a prominent elongate genital papilla just in front of the anal fin. Breeding has not been reported yet in home aquaria-but is mass bred commercially.

Personal notes:

    I have found this fish a pure joy to keep. I have been able to encourage it to raise it's head out of the water and take food from my hand--when she (not I) chooses to do so. I am permitted at times to actually pet this fish with 2 or 3 fingers. This fish swims almost entirely upside down except when foraging off the bottom and uses the entire tank for swimming. Swims also with its belly and sometimes its back against the aquarium wall. Does exact repetitive laps and then will change it's course and continue repeating the new course until it chooses to change course again. The fish sleeps and rests inside it's "cave" hanging upside down from the inner top surface of the "cave". The Asian giant upside down black catfish is pretty hard to find at any petstore or lfs. All that I have checked locally and online extensively respond that they cannot get this fish.(I have actually had to send pictures to verify that I have 1.) I have however had 4 others which I passed on to fellow fish keepers as young specimens. I have seen this fish at fish auctions selling for 50 dollars or more. Some authorities say this fish is vicious, that may well be true overall-but my experience hasn't been that-as until the fish was 3 inches or more long I kept it with platys(I had no choice up to that point)and they got along fine. Nnever place a full grown Mystus with something that it could consider food. I would never ignore it's reputation as a predator. Because I value this fish so much-I dote on her. She is kept as a specimen only fish in her own tank and since the information available is so conflicting I do not risk either her or other fish by combining them. It's a personal choice But if kept with others -pay attention to and choose the listed tankmates. I must tell you that the Asian Giant Black Upside Down Catfish is one fish I have no complaints about maintaining a separate tank for. She is a lot of fun to watch.

    1, Planet catfish lists 11.9 inches with females being the slightly fatter and larger of the sexes.I have found referances stating max size as 7 inches ( 9 inches -and the planetcatfish size .

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Vivien
I have had my Mystus leucophasis since 1985 when I was given a tank by an old lady who was giving up fish keeping. He is called Gonzo and is very active in the tank. He loves playing with a small ball. I had to keep him separately because although not aggressive, he used to knock out any small fish with his Flipper impression. He was fully grown when I got him so have no idea how much longer he will go on. Out of water he looks wet and slimy, but in the tank he looks like brown velvet.
From: Peter
I have had one of these for maybe 6-7 years. Shadow was in a 75 gallon with an elephant nose, each had their own castle. I never saw him. Getting tired of this, I recently moved him and his castle downstairs to a 120 gallon, divided in half by a Plexiglas wall on the other side of which is an aging severum. Now shadow is out all the time, usually hanging out in the front by the tank divider with his new friend the severum. It's like a new fish, and I cannot figure out what made the difference. Maybe it's because the new home is more out of the way, with less noise and vibration (basement location on the concrete floor)
From: Davie
I have one of these guys that's about 12in in my tank with 2 angels 2 clown loaches 1 panda cory 1 geophagus jurupari and 1 African leaf fish. The catfish has no issues with the smaller guys, even the panda cory wich is less that 1in.
From: Me Myself
I recently rescued, what I now believe is a giant upside down Asian catfish. He/she is 12+ inches long. he/she is currently in a 90 gallon tank with good water movement. However, he/she has not stopped swimming (and I mean not stopped at all) for over 3 days now. I have a cave made out of a half of a giant clay pot, but the fish shows no interest in it. He either swims upside down at the surface of the water allowing the outtake spray him or he swims against the side of the tank, near the intake portion of the filter, as if trying to wedge himself there. He lets me pet him with two fingers, but I have yet to see him eat anything. I'm afraid that his constant swimmming might eventually lead to exahustion/death, but i can't find any research that would confirm if this is normal behavior for them. he does not stop moving. ever.
From: Agent416
I have an Asian upside down catfish and it is seven inches long, it's with an eight inch oscar five Channel catfish the same size and a bullhead catfish the same size in a 125 gallon and I never see them fight, they are doing just fine. Ha I must have gotten a good one.
From: Alice G.
I own a giant Asian hybrid catfish as well. I greatly enjoy his presence in the room and a great conversation starter if there is anyone new over my house. I am upgrading his tank in two weeks and I do love him. I sometimes waste what seems like 20 minutes watching him glide about his tank gracefully. I have had him for as long as I can remember and his name is George. He is around 8 1/2 inches this year. He is owner responsive because he only lets me touch him and feed him. If anyone else even tries he will flare his fins out and lash around trying to scare them of(and it usually works). On the other hand when I approach and actually put my hand within the water he turns into a baby and will swim up next to me and lean against my hand tapping it with his barbels. He is a real sweetie Pie to me. I also plan to get him a friend and move his tank into my room. I have taken care of him since I was 6 and I am now 13 years old. I think if I could I would marry him I love him so much. Overall, you cannot go wrong with this species of fish. They are the perfect fish for everyone. They are really beautiful creatures.
From: Josh
I bought one of these around 2 years ago to replace my deceased Achara cat. At the time it was around 4 inches, but its grown to about 9 inches. Despite his size, however, he is very peaceful. He is kept with larger fish (Oscar, Salvinii, Silver Dollars, 2 slightly smaller synodontis cats) which might deter any urges to be nasty. He is very fun to watch at feeding time, and is always one of the first to hit the food. A really cool catfish if you have a larger tank with larger tankmates.
From: Ashley
I have to say, amazing as this fish seems, I'm extremely disappointed with it. I bought the fish approx. a year ago and it has grown 4 times its size (about 5 inches long now. I believe it's a male). It's entirely true: these are meant to be a single species tank dweller. I have housed mine with fish both smaller and larger than itself and it ate the smaller and ripped the lager's fins to shreds. He just yesterday completely destroyed my poor fiddler crab who molted (without my knowing, or I would have isolated him until his shell hardened). I will never buy another Asian upside down again. They are entirely too aggressive and I enjoy housing more than one fish at a time.
From: Tabetha
I purchased one of the amazing fish a few years ago. The fish told me that he would not eat any of my community fish. They were wrong in a six - eight month period he grew from 2in to 12 inches. He ate all of my rummy noses, any fish of similar size to a large tetra, including my Kuli loaches. I think he would have eaten everything in my tank had I not taken him back to the store. I was very upset that I was misinformed at the fish store I really liked this fish and it was not cheap replacing what he ate. I would recommend one if kept with fish his size or larger.
From: Abhishek
Hi All, I have also kept this catfish, but the main problem that I have found out with this catfish is that when they will grow bigger in size they will eat other small fishes, so its better not to keep any small fishes with them.
From: Rich
We bought this fish about 5 years ago. He was about 2 inches in length and very amazing. We put him in our 45 gal. hexagon tank where he lives with 2 jeweled cichlids,1 African cichlid,2 puffers,a pleco,and a striped catfish. He is now about 7 inches long and truly a joy to watch. He is definitely a cave dweller and usually comes out at night or early morning waiting for me to feed him. We have learned the hard way not to put fish any smaller than 2 inches in the tank with him because slowly but surely they dissapear.Overall he is a great addition to the family.
From: Greg
I bought two of these from the petstore thinking that they would be the peaceful type like the others and they have yet to prove me wrong. They are all black and one has some small specks of silver on its side. They are currently being housed in a 55gallon tank along with multiple swordtails, 2 midsize Angelfish, 3 flying foxes, one rainbow shark, a pearl gourami, and a Bolivian ram. They're only about 4 inches long now but have yet to bother or eat any fish even a < 1" swordtail. The aquarium is planted with hardy plants and the catfish don't seem to bother any of them. Time will tell whether or not these fish will become a problem.
From: Jaime and Joey B.
We bought a small one, maybe an inch, long from our local petstore for $10 bucks two years ago. She is currently about 8 inches long and 4 fingers fat hence her name (BIG BLACK). she loves her buddies in the tank.. 4 parrot fish one small regular algae eater, a Boeseman's Rainbowfish , a crayfish in which she couldn't care less about, two small black tipped shark catfish , a tetra and a Chinese algae eater. and a snail about 3 inches long. She is very fun to watch when she decides to come out of her shipwreck...she actually swims with our other fish.. However we seem to be missing 3 of the 4 Chinese algae eaters.. We are down to the biggest one, (only about 2 inches long)she also ate all three of our plateys which where about half her size.. She now seems to be content with the feeder fish, flakes and algae pellets we put in the tank. Big black is one of our favorite fish and don't mind she eats some of our inexpensive fishes... although its sad when we wake up and are short one fish.. lol.. She hasn't eaten anymore in a few months.. Although she does chase our parrots out of the shipwreck cave when they venture in there. Big Black is amazing and lived most of her life in a very small cave in a 30 gallon tank which we don't know how she fit in and out of. She now is in a 75 gallon beautiful tank in which she seems very happy with. She has this beautiful row of perfectly straight diamond spots down both sides. I wasn't quite sure what we were up for when we bought her.. But I am glad we did as we spend much of our time sitting in front of our tank watching her..
From: Alicia
I recently bought this fish from my local independent fish store sold as just "upside down catfish". I put this fish in with 4 pink zebras, 7 neons, an angel, and a yoyo loach. I think he is fantastic... however I noticed that my neons and zebras were dwindling in numbers with no evidence of what happened to them. I had looked up the upside down catfish on the web and although the information I found said that they are peaceful; I never found pictures that looked like my black one. Until now on this site. I already figured out that he was eating my schoolers at night and now I will be giving him to my boyfriend who has a tank with barbs and sharks where he will not be a threat and I can still visit and enjoy his antics. Thanks so much for having such a variety of info on fish!
From: Stephan
Ok for what its worth I have 2 of these fish in my 1400L tank and they are sharing it with 3 oscars 3 convicts 2 cigar sharks 3 tinfoils 2 albino tinfoils 2 silver dollars 2 parrots 2 rainbow cichlids and 3 Malawian 2 albino pangasius and a leopard synodontis I haven't had any trouble yet with aggression I'm from South Africa and the price they go 4 here is 8USD for a 15cm specimen.





Privacy Policy | Contact Badman's Tropical Fish
Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this website's content is forbidden without written permission.