Upside-Down Catfish Doesn’t Care What You Think


There is nothing wrong with your television
set. Do not rotate your phone. You’re looking at the upside-down catfish. Seven different species live in the Nile and
Congo Basins of Central Africa. You might expect it to be anatomically different
from a regular catfish. But it’s exactly the same. So why does this catfish swim all topsy turvy? Maybe a better question is: How do fish stay
right-side up in the first place? Well, they have an internal air sac that they
inflate or empty to go up or down. It also keeps them upright. When they want to rise, they draw air from
their blood into this swim bladder, and release it to sink. This discus fish has swim-bladder disease. That’s why he’s having a hard time with
which way’s up. Our flipped catfish has a swim bladder too. And it CAN swim like your standard fish — if
it wants to. It turns its belly to the nearest surface
to probe with its sensory barbels — those catfish whiskers. So what’s the point of being upside-down
all the time? Well, near the surface of the water, fish
normally run into a problem called wave drag. Check out these regular catfish. It happens when their own movement disturbs
the water — making it harder to swim. But if a fish swims with like this, it doesn’t
shake up the water as much. That lets this upside-down-er graze without
getting so tired…and save its energy for evading predators. There’s also more oxygen in the water near
the surface, so it’s easier to breathe. And check out how this fish has a dark patch
on its stomach. Its name, “nigri – ventris,” means black
belly. That’s the reverse of most sea creatures. From above, that dark coloring camouflages
the fish, helping them blend in with the depths. It’s called countershading. So for these fish, life inverted… just feels
right. And we know they’re not the only ones who
work an unusual angle… Whether that’s tilted, sideways, or diagonal
Sometimes to get by, it doesn’t hurt to be a little different. Take another look at this anglerfish. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research
Institute filmed it way off the California coast, at 4000 feet. …Upside down. Surprising, these beauties aren’t usually
found alive. If you’re looking for even more perspectives,
try Above the Noise, from KQED and PBS Digital Studios, the series that cuts through the
hype of today‘s headlines with science. Thanks for watching – and subscribing – to
Deep Look.

100 thoughts on “Upside-Down Catfish Doesn’t Care What You Think

  1. Hi, I'm Elliott, the producer of this episode. This time we're flipping the script a bit…And we do care what you think! 🙂 Please leave your comments and questions.

  2. At 1st when watching this in full screen i thought my phone orientation isnt correct. I rotate my phone twice

  3. Like a blue sea slug, for it also swims upside down lol.

  4. Keep 'em in an aquarium furnished with spindly driftwood & you'll see how such atypical swimming behavior is a boon! I tell you, these catfish will hover around & beneath overhangs, perfectly hidden from danger.

  5. Catfish simultaneously look like they possess infinite knowledge and like they just have the Mii theme playing in their heads non-stop

  6. I have a couple of plecostomi that swim upside down on the water's surface and at the bottom of the tank on the substrate. They even will roll a marimo moss ball on their bellies as they swim with their backs on the sand.

  7. I used to one of these babies as a pet! His name was Hay Hay. He was hilarious to watch swim around. Sadly he died from a horrible ICH outbreak from a new and infected fish.

  8. It might care what I think, given that I have a particular fondness for eating catfish. Fried catfish+french fries+hush puppies+cole slaw=yummy! Add to that some weissbier to wash it down and things are wonderful.

  9. I heard somewhere that floating fish food can actually contribute to swim bladder disease in aquarium fish, though I'm not exactly sure how that works.

  10. Doing things upside down doesn't work with us. We aren't made in a buoyant medium but our blood flows down into our feet which are made to handle the higher pressure being on the bottom so we don't feel it.

    We can be different but it's being wrong that we should never be.

  11. Imagine if somehow ALL fish did this and there was just one poor species that was stuck "right side up"

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