Care Guide for Cory Catfish – The Perfect Community Bottom Dweller


Care Guide for Cory Catfish – The Perfect Community Bottom Dweller

You are looking for a quiet beginner fish that has lots of personality and is easy to handle? Look no further! Corydoras or corycatfish is a popular fish in the community. They are happy-go-lucky and easy-to-breed. In this care guide, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this adorable bottom dweller.


What is Corydoras?

The South American catfish genus includes over 160 species. Several hundred more are in the process of being classified. Ranging from 1 to 3 inches long in the aquarium hobby, they’re named after the bony plates of armor on their body. For protection against predators, these little catfish also have sharp spines in their fins that can sometimes produce a mild venom when stressed (in other words, don’t try to catch them with your bare hands).

Depending on the species, most cory catfish enjoy temperatures between 72 and 82degF. For example, peppered cory catfish (Corydoras paleatus) and julii cory catfish (Corydoras julii) are found on the cooler end of the spectrum, whereas sterbai cory catfish (Corydoras sterbai) can live in higher temperatures. They prefer pH levels between 6.5 and 7.8.

In the wild, corydoras have been observed in large groups numbering from 20 to hundreds of the same species. They are most active during daylight hours, peak activity taking place at dawn and dusk. The most sought-after varieties in the pet trade are the bronze and albino corys (Corydoras albino), panda corys (Corydoras panada), emerald corys (Corydoras splendens), pygmy (Corydoras piygmaeus).

Pygmy cory catfish are one the smallest species of corydoras and love to swim in the middle of the tank, not just the bottom.

What Size Tank Do Cory Catfish Need?

For dwarf species, a 10-gallon aquarium may be suitable, but we recommend 20 gallons or more for most other varieties. A corydora is a group of 6 or more fish that are all the same species. This is because they are small and need safety. These peaceful bottom dwellers can be kept alongside any fish that doesn’t attack or eat them. You should not keep corydoras in a tank with goldfish. These fish can grow quite large and will inhale everything that gets in their mouth.

If you’re looking for fish stocking ideas, a 20-gallon aquarium could house a school of cory catfish swimming at the bottom, a school of small tetras swimming in the middle layer, and a centerpiece fish like a honey gourami. Add some lush aquarium plants and you’ve got a miniature ecosystem in your living room!

Cory catfish like to shoal together (or swim loosely in a group), so get at least six of the same species so they feel safe and comfortable.

Are Cory Catfish Require Sand Substrates?

Corydoras have whiskers and wispy barbels that help them find food. So smooth sand is preferable. (That being said, our CEO Cory McElroy visited their natural habitat in the Amazon and found the substrate to be quite sharp, as seen in this video.) It is a good idea to feed large foods such as Repashy gel food and worms that can sit on top. This will prevent them from getting trapped between cracks.

In the wild, corydoras can be found on sharp substrate, so if their barbels start to erode, it may be caused by other factors like poor water quality.

What should I feed my Cory Catfish?

Speaking of diet, corydoras are not picky eaters and will eat anything small or soft enough to fit in their mouths. They are fond of all kinds of worms. So, they love frozen blackworms, live blackworms, and Hikari Vibra Bits (tiny food sticks that look just like bloodworms). Repashy gel foods and sinking wafers are also favorites.

They are not primarily algae eaters, so you will need to specifically feed them to make sure they get enough nutrition. Cory catfish can become overwhelmed by more aggressive predators and waste away easily during feeding times.

Corydoras do not eat algae and must be fed regularly to ensure a healthy, long-lived life.

Can You Breed Cory Catfish in Aquariums?

Yes, very easily! Many fish keepers find that corydoras can breed spontaneously without any effort. Males have a smaller and thinner profile, whereas females are rounder and larger to hold all the eggs. You can condition them or prepare them for breeding by giving them lots of nutritious food, such as frozen bloodworms and live blackworms. You can also induce spawning by introducing cooler than normal water (by a few degrees) during water changes to imitate the rainy season. Soon you will find sticky round eggs covering your tank walls and decor.

If you wish to breed catfish in the same aquarium they live in, you will need to provide plenty of cover. If given the chance, all fish (including parents) will happily eat eggs. For a higher survival rate, you can remove the eggs (with your fingers or a credit card) into a separate aquarium to raise the fry. Feed the baby catfish plenty of live baby brine shrimp and powdered fry food, keep on top of the water changes, and enjoy a whole new generation of corydoras.

We wish you the best for your new cory fish!