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Corydoras catfish

The Corydoras Catfish, which is also popularly known as Cory Catfish, or Armored Catfish, are a well liked freshwater fish species especially when it comes to fish keeping. They are a favorite among numerous aquarists across every skill level, particularly for their gentle nature, gentle temperament, as well as unique traits.  

In this detailed guide, you will find out everything you should know about keeping, caring, and breeding Cory catfish. Let's dive in! 

Peppered CorydorasPeppered Corydoras


The Corydoras catfish are naturally peaceful fish species, and since they reside at the bottom of the fish tank in most cases, they can effectively live freely and independently without any interference.  

These fish belong to a distinct genus, the Corydoras, which comprises more than 170 defined and distinct Catfish species from South America. This genus also includes other numerous fish which, although not specified, are labeled using 'C' numbers.

Looking at the vast array of options, you can adequately find the right pattern, shape, as well as size for your fish tank. Usually, most species can live for about five years, although some are known to live much longer (some even up to 20 years). 

Typically, the more common Corydoras catfish species can be bought for just a few dollars, although some rare species like the Adolfoi or Weitzmani Cory catfish can cost anywhere between $ 30 and above. Ideally, the best specimen need not be thin, since Corydoras catfish need to be somewhat plump and boast bright patterns and colorations.  

Corydoras catfish Behavior

Primarily, Corydoras catfish naturally dwell in the bottom of the tank and usually prefer to rest or hide during the day, while when it comes to the evening - they typically shoal with the other fish.

Usually, you will find them leaving the bottom of the tank once they dart towards the surface to get  themselves some air. Since they have an adapted intestinal lining, Cory's are able to take in the oxygen from the atmosphere.

In essence, this characteristic was adapted to enable them to effectively survive within the waters  with relatively lower levels of oxygen.

However, they occasionally do such even in ideal  conditions. If you notice this behavior persisting, you can introduce some plants or perhaps an air stone to provide them with some more oxygen.

Each species is rather peaceful and will, therefore, co-exist harmoniously with their other tank  mates, and will usually hide if threatened.

As such, you can easily pair them up with most of the  universal community fish (although we will discuss this later).

Nonetheless, there are some poisonous species, and if severely stressed, they can subsequently  produce various toxins that can kill virtually everything found in the fish tank.

As such, they  need to be transported individually and withdrawn from the fish tank in case they appear somewhat stressed and placed promptly into quarantine.

Panda CorydorasPanda Corydoras

Cory Fish Types


Naturally, Corydoras catfish species are armoured and feature a relatively flat underside and short face. These fishes also feature pectoral fins that stick out and subsequently rest on their body surface.

They usually prop up themselves with these fins. As for their dorsal fins, they point upwards similar to a sail, although some varieties feature more rounded fins. Finally, their tail fins are usually forked, although height and length between species vary.

Similar to other Catfish, Cory's boast three barbell pairs located on their faces that are utilized in detecting food within the sand. Also, they have relatively wide eyes with a clear ring surrounding them, making them appear adorable and aware.

Numerous species also feature colors that effectively allow them to ideally blend into the riverbed browns, although some like the albinos are pale or are shimmering, such as the emerald Cory Catfish. In essence, with such a wide array of colours and species available, you are guaranteed to get the ideal one for your fish tank.

Size and types of Cory catfish:

Corydoras catfish species are naturally small in size, and most of them are approximately 2.5 inches long. The larger ones are about 4 inches long, and the smallest ones are slightly over one inch long.

There are more than 170 different Corydoras Catfish species, and most of them have not yet been  named. When selecting a species for your tank, there are some common ones.

Herein some of the common Corydoras catfish species:

  • Peppered Cory Catfish : These are among the most popular aquarium fish. They are also  known as spotted Catfish. They are peaceful and beautiful and easy to take care of. They are bronze and have black spots all over their bodies.
  • Panda Cory fish : This name is due to the black parts surrounding their eyes. Besides,  they have an orange or white base color that reflects a shade of green. They like cooler waters, and they need better quality water since their local rivers have melted water from the mountain's snow flowing directly into the mountain streams.
  • Pygmy Corydoras Catfish : These are the smallest among the Corydoras, and they grow up  to 1 inch long. It is necessary to feed them with smaller foods. They flourish with dim light, and they cannot have larger fish than tank buddies. They should be offered plenty of hiding places. Usually, they are at their best in more significant shoals without additional species in the tank.
Pygmy CorydorasPygmy Corydoras
  • Albino Cory Catfish : These are developed from peppered Cory. They also have red with pinkish-white eyes that glow relatively. These can only be found from breeders since they are not wild species.
  • Julii Cory Catfish: These are rare to find. They are short and feature small spots and reticulated patterns on the upper part of their bodies. They have sharp barbels beneath their eyes and in front of the dorsal fins. Also, they can move their eyes in a manner that looks like winking, and they are fascinating fish to keep.
  • Green Cory Catfish: These are medium-sized Cory, and they can have four different colors albino, bronze, green, and black. They tend to be active, but frequently shy as compared to other Cory's.
  • Sterbai Cory Catfish: This is a common species featuring white spots on its dark body. They usually have yellow rings and undersides surrounding their eyes, which give them a stunning appeal.
  • Emerald Cory Catfish: These fish feature a glistening green and pink highlight beneath. They are a superb option for beginners searching for that additional flare.

Corydoras Catfish Tank Set Up 

Ideal Habitat And Tank Conditions:

Generally, Corydoras catfish species originate in a region between the Andean mountains and the eastern  coast of the United States. Usually, they live in a relatively shallow stream that features slow-moving  water and soft sediment.

Naturally, the water in such settings is both warm and clear, something you should replicate in your tank. What's more, the wild areas where these reside, there are usually some plants and even  trees growing here, which offer little hideaways and sunshade, of course.

Ideal Temperature And P H:

Since they are tropical fish, Corydoras catfish requires moderately warmer waters with an approximate temperature of between 70 and 78°F. Also, these temperatures need to be consistent since dramatic changes may result in stress unless you are working to induce breeding.

The pH is also another essential factor to consider when setting up a tank for these fish species.

Usually, captive-bred Corydoras catfish will require the pH to be between 7.0 and 7.8, although when it comes to fish caught in the wild, the pH may need to be relatively lower, ranging between 5.5 and 7.0.

The waters in the tank need to have low levels of nitrate as high nitrate levels can stress the Corydoras catfish. As such, you need to continually monitor and maintain the levels of nitrate at approximately 0 ppm. Stress on these species can also result in barbel infections. Therefore, you need to effectively monitor the quality of water in addition to the behaviour of the fish.

Corydoras catfish species need soft sediments, and if possible, sand. Nonetheless, small rounded gravel may also serve as an alternative substrate. Refrain from using sharp gravel as it can result in infections and cuts.

Contrary to most people's assumptions, these fish species prefer slower inlets and streams in comparison to fast-flowing locations. The former affords them shelter from otherwise fast-moving waters. When you are setting up your tank, you should reflect these conditions by subsequently adjusting the tank's filter to a somewhat weaker setting.

Planted aquariums will usually break the flow of water, too, in addition to affording shade from light, and oxygenating the tank water as well. Some of the best plants to use for your tank include penny warts, amazon swords, dwarf, and crypts.

albino corydorasAlbino Corydoras

What is the ideal tank size needed?

When it comes to the ideal aquarium size, it depends on the particular species. Usually, these species can co-exist well in as little as an exclusive 10 gallon or subsequently bigger, especially if you want to stock large shoals or many species.

In essence, a 20-gallon fish tank is an appropriate tank size for beginners. You need to allow between 2 to 4 water gallons for every Cory Catfish you add.

Cory Tank Mates

Cory Catfish, in the wild, would be buddies with tetras, like neon or phantom tetra. Tetra fish feature amazing colors and can be livelier than expected. They are somewhat shy; therefore, pair perfectly with these calm fish.

Moreover, they can be tank mates with live-bearers like guppies, sword-tails, and mollies, which are also luminously colored fish which are easy to keep. Besides, Cory's can even live with other kinds of catfish like plec's and otocinclus, or different kinds of shrimps and snails.

Since they usually reside at the bottom of the tank, they can develop the ideal community fish and can live with other peaceful species. Although despite their armor, they should not be left with aggressive fish like cichlids and Oscar fish as they will try to eat or injure the Cory fish.

Keeping Cory Catfish Together:

These are schooling fish; thus, they need a group, and 6 is the recommended number. They will happily live together, and some are known to shoal with tetras of the same colour.

Julii CorydorasJulii Corydoras

Cory Fish Feeding

Generally, this fish species can feed on small insects, larvae sourced from the substrate. They can also eat veggies that have fallen into the water. They suck up the food using  their mouths from the ground, and at times they dig and have half their face buried.

They can consume most of the basic meals like flake food. They will also like bottom feeder tablets, algae wafers, and shrimp pellets. Daphnia, along with bloodworms, are tasty treats too.

Switching up their meals on a daily will ensure they get the various essential nutrients. The fish should be fed once every day, and should only be fed food they can eat between 2 and 4 minutes. They also feed on the small eggs of different species in the tank. Therefore check out for this if you want to breed any of their buddies.

Cory's will spend a lot of their busy time looking for food in the substrate, picking sand using their mouths then filtering it.

Cory Fish Care Guide

Corydoras need a well-kept habitat to flourish. The aquarium requires to be cleaned weekly, including  removing excess waste from the sand and wiping the aquarium glass. They usually shy away  when you are cleaning, but they will emerge once you are finished.

Ensure you do not stress them since this can lead to them releasing toxins that will kill their tank mates.

Also, you should change some water every week. Make sure you change at least 15 % of the water.

Ensure that you de-chlorinate the freshwater, and pour it slowly since distributing the substrate can result in ammonia spikes.

Frequently check the quality of the water by using home test kits, or visiting your local aquatic store.

Cory's tend to be sensitive to water perimeters, and checking the water quality will keep them contented. Besides, they are susceptible to several conditions like ICH or red blotch.

Sterbai CorydorasSterbai Corydoras

How To Breed These Fish

Naturally, Corydoras Catfish are essentially egg depositors and usually place their adhesive eggs  either among plants as well as on the tank's glass. Typically, spawning coincides either with  temperature or barometric drop, and numerous breeders usually induce the breeding of the fish  by doing some partial water exchanges before rainstorms with relatively cooler water.

Usually, most Cory fish owners desire to breed their Cory fish — fortunately, breeding these species is quite easy.

A crucial part of breeding Cory's success is having the proper setup-after all; the fish do not  usually spawn except when they feel both secure and comfortable. Some of the ways you can  successfully do this in the tank are:

First, you can set up a dedicated breeding tank. Usually, most fish breeding guides will outline that you must establish a dedicated breeding tank that is separate from the main fish tank.

These fish tanks are often bare and rarely contain any substrate (this makes it very easy to not only clean but also raise your fry here).

Basically, this strategy entails removing the breeding Cory group from the main tank and acclimatising them to the dedicated tank, subsequently encouraging the fish to breed.

After the spawning process is done, you can place Cory's back into the main fish tank, leaving the eggs in the breeding tank. By following this breeding approach, you can be sure to benefit from a high rate of survival for your fry.

Another option you can follow when breeding Cory Catfish is using a dedicated fry fish tank/aquarium. By following this option, you induce spawning of your Cory fish within the fish tank rather than transferring your fish to a separate breeding setup.

After the spawning has occurred, you need to move the eggs to a distinct fry tank where you can hatch and raise them. Such an installation is not only simpler but also less stressful for the adult fish, although this option decreases the survival rate of the fry compared to the other method mentioned earlier.


In general, Cory fish are typically easy to take care of, peacefully, and habitually, among the first  choice picks for any enthusiast. The Corydoras catfish undoubtedly live up to their unique and  dazzling reputation. Naturally found in distinct shoals in massive community tanks, these species  are a fantastic addition, and which consistently inspire personality to the tanks lower levels.

Furthermore, they may also aid in keeping your fish tank clean as they scavenge for their food.

With all this said, are Corydoras suitable for your fish tank? The simple answer is YES!

With their great personality and easy to take care of characteristics, they are undeniably a great fish selection for both experts and beginners alike. What is more, with such a wide array of types to select from, you will not miss one or two that appeal to you.

All you need to do is ensure that you can avail soft substrate, ideal water conditions, and places for them to shield themselves in a distinct community tank comprising other peaceful species.

Do this, and follow the tips on this guide, and you will have everything needed to set up an ideal and flourishing Corydoras Catfish tank.

Happy Fish Keeping!

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