Corydoras Catfish – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

The cory catfish are aquarium favorites, thanks to their peaceful temperament and janitorial abilities. There are over 160 species in the Corydoras genus, and aquarists of all skill levels can easily choose between them.

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The most popular cory is the bronze variety, which comes in different color morphs, including black, green, and bronze. Other common corys are the bandit cory, Julii cory, panda cory, pepper cory, and three-stripe cory.

Corydoras Catfish Appearance

With so many species in the Corydoras genus, one can only expect many colors and patterns. Corys range in size between 2.5-4 inches. They are sometimes called armored catfish because of the bony-like plates on their bodies. The fish has a flat underside, short face, and a forked tail fin.

When buying a cory, ensure that their fins and tail are not damaged because they are sometimes kept in display tanks with fin-nippers. Corys have three pairs of barbels on every side of the mouth.

Barbels resemble little whiskers, and the fish use them to detect food. Cory catfish also have clear rings around their wide eyes.

Corydoras Catfish Natural Habitat

Corydoras are indigenous to lakes and streams in South America, with the largest population in the Amazon basin. They are adapted to shallow rivers with vegetative banks.

Corys shoal in murky waters with an abundance of leaf litter and mulm. They will forage in the sandy or muddy substrate in search of vegetable matter, insects, worms, and insect larvae.

The fish prefer soft water with a neutral, slightly acidic, or slightly alkaline PH. The cory catfish, unlike most nocturnal catfishes, are active during the day.

Corydoras Catfish Tank Requirements

When keeping corys you need to take in consideration a few things, such as tank size, type of substrate you are using, decoration and plants as well light:

– Tank Size

Corys are relatively small, and you can house one in a 10-gallon tank. The fish, however, likes to shoal, and you should keep five or more of them in a single tank. You can raise five corys in a 20-gallon tank.

– Substrate

Sand is the most-preferred substrate when it comes to corys. Their barbels are sensitive to damage, which rules out coarse gravel and other rough substrates.

– Plants and Decoration

You can include penny warts, amazon swords, java ferns, and crypts in a cory tank. Floating plants will diffuse the light, and you can also select varieties that do not require a lot of light. Live plants have the added benefits of boosting oxygenation and breaking up the water flow.

You can use decorations like bogwood to present the cory with hiding spaces.

– Lighting

Cory catfish like subdued lighting, and you can add floating plants in the aquarium. Provide plenty of hiding spaces for the catfish to retreat if they want to escape the light.

Corydoras Catfish Water Conditions

You can keep most cory catfish in a temperature range of 72-82 °F. Some species like the sterbai cory prefer higher temperatures, while others like the julii cory thrive in cooler environments.

Whichever species you keep, do not expose them to drastic temperature changes. The ideal PH range is 7.0-7.8, with a water hardness between 3-10 dKH.

Corys need stability more than they require perfect water conditions. Ensure that the parameters do not fluctuate, and you will have yourself happy fish.

The cory catfish are especially susceptible to nitrate levels, and you should test the water frequently to ensure they are at 0ppm. When kept in poor water conditions, it is common for the fish to develop barbel infections that manifest as white spots around the mouth.

You will need an efficient filtration system to keep up with the nitrate levels and perform bi-weekly water changes. Avoid stirring the substrate too much during cleaning so that you don’t release a lot of organic matter to the water.

Corydoras Catfish Diet and Feeding

Wild Corydoras feed on aquatic organisms, worms, and insects, and the occasional vegetation. They are bottom-feeders and are not fussy about eating anything that can fit in their mouths.

Provide pellets, flakes, algae wafers, and bottom-feeder tablets. Corys are skilled scavengers, and they will forage around the substrate for any leftovers. Do not assume that the fish are getting enough from scavenging, as they also require specialized nutrition.

It is also easy to overfeed corys, and you should only give them meals that they will finish in 2-3 minutes. Keep in mind that Corydoras are sensitive to ammonia and nitrates, and you should not let organic matter accumulate in their tank.

Corys also like worms, and you can offer bloodworms, blackworms, and daphnia. Rotate their meals every few days so that they get a variety of nutrients.

Corydoras Catfish Tank Mates

The peaceful temperament of Corydoras makes them perfect for community tanks. Keep corys in groups of five or more to experience their endearing schooling behavior.

The shoals spend a lot of time foraging around the bottom for food and ‘playing’ with each other. Corys also thrive when there are more males than females.

Cory cats are timid, but they will swim together with other peaceful tankmates like tetras, platies, angelfish, gouramis, and danios. You can pair Corydoras with other catfish species like plecos and ottos, as well as with snails and shrimp.

Species to avoid include cichlids as they will eat corys. Barbs are notorious as fin-nippers, and they will stress your cory cats.

Corydoras Catfish Breeding

It is easy to breed corys, and it is common for them to breed randomly in the aquarium. keep in mind that the fish reproduce when they feel comfortable.

You can choose to breed them in the main tank or a separate set up. The latter approach is suitable if you desire a high fry survival rate.

You will need more males than females in your aquarium. Male corys have a more streamlined body when compared to the thicker bodies of the females.

Provide a high-protein diet that includes high-quality flakes and live foods. Feed them small quantities 4-5 times a day.

If you condition them well, you should see the females become plump with eggs. Perform 25-50% water changes and use water that is about 2-3 °F cooler than the one in the tank. Wild corys breed during the rainfall season, and cooler temperatures will mimic these conditions.

Remove the eggs since corys can eat them, and they will hatch in 3-6 days. You can start feeding them after they become free-swimming.


Corydoras are fascinating bottom-dwellers for any peaceful community tank. You can select between the over 160 Corydoras species available, depending on which patterns and colors you want.

The fish are nitrate-sensitive, and you should be careful not to overfeed them as they forage around for food.

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