Corydoras: The Complete Care Guide

Corydoras sterbai

Corydoras (Corydoras Paleatus), who are also often referred to as cory fish, are a species that have originated from the waters of Uruguay and Brazil. These fish are loved by many aquarists due to several factors making them ideal in many aquarium settings.

Keeping Corydoras may not be challenging, but some guidelines will help you provide a thriving environment for these fish. This article will discuss everything you need to know about Corydoras in detail.

Anatomy and Behavior

Corydoras aeneus

Corydoras can reach a size of about three inches, making them relatively small-sized fish. When considering its physical appearance, its body structure is somewhat similar to a clown loach, but not in size and color. Over a hundred and sixty types of Corydoras have been discovered, which makes them a species with an enormous number of variations.

Some of the most popular varieties of Corydoras are Sterba’s cory, three stripe cory, pygmy cory, Adolfo cory, and bronze cory. Their colors and size depending on their type, which implies that they come in various colors. A common feature of catfish is its barbels which visibly look like whiskers. Corydoras also have these barbels, giving them the classical catfish look. This species of fish is equipped with strong scales that act as body armor to help protect themselves from certain predators.

The genus name Corydoras was introduced by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in his 1803 book Histoire naturelle des poissons, tome cinquième. It was derived from the Greek words kóry, meaning “helmet,” and “thorax,” meaning breastplate and cuirass. The former probably had a pre-Greek substratal origin.


Corydoras are peaceful species of fish that do not cause any harm to other fish. Typically, they are not the fastest swimmers, but they, nonetheless, are very active.

Corydoras will appear shy when newly added to an aquarium, but they tend to adapt over time. In the early stages, they prefer to hide, which helps them to relieve stress, but once fed and feeling safe, they’re personalities.

When Corydoras appear inactive, it is possibly because they are active at night. This may not always be the same as it depends on one tank to another. So there are possibilities that some corydoras are inclined to be more active during the daytime than at night. These fish are known to be bottom dwellers, meaning they spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank and only swim occasionally on the middle and top columns in their aquarium.

Recommended tankmates 

Their calm and non-aggressive temperament allows aquarists to keep them with various fish. This is probably one of the reasons for the popularity of Corydoras, as aquarists can enjoy keeping them along with other types of fish they desire to have. When considering tankmates for these fish, the most vital factor to look into is the aggression of the fish.

As specified earlier, Corydoras have an armored body which helps to minimize physical threats caused by their predators. Despite their strong scales, aggressive fish may frequently chase them, which cory fish would find overwhelming if there are no adequate hiding spots. When cory fish are being chased by other fish continuously, they are likely to develop stress, which can harm them.

Therefore, selecting tank mates with a similar temperament is favorable. Some suggested tank mates for this breed of fish are: tetras, barbs, platies, rasboras, and danios. Most other types of nano fish are also compatible, making them a great addition to community tanks.

Tank requirements and water conditions

Tank size

The ideal tank size for Corydoras is a ten-gallon tank which can house up to three fish of this species. A common misconception about these fish is that they can be kept in small tanks below five gallons. Even though the fish might fit in, it’s improbable that they would thrive in such small environments. Therefore, a five-gallon tank would be the minimum tank size, while it’s recommended to go for anything larger as it would ensure a healthy environment. Another vital factor to note is that it’s inexpedient to house large numbers of these fish as it can overcrowd the aquarium, increasing the likelihood of the Corydoras developing stress and other diseases.

Water parameters 

Regarding the optimum water parameters for Corydoras, a Ph ranging from 6.0 to 8.0 is desired. Meanwhile, they require a temperature between sixty-one degrees to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature should not be too low or too high as both could cause harm to the fish. Therefore, installing an aquarium heater, which measures the temperature and gives a reading so that the temperature can be managed to match their requirements.

It’s vital to regularly test for ammonia, which could be done using an aquarium test kit and ensures that ammonia levels are always at zero. This is because ammonia could adversely affect the longevity of any fish, including your adorable Corydoras.

Aquarium Set Up

Corydoras rabauti

Corydoras do well in planted tanks as they don’t cause any harm to plants or decorations. Therefore, they make a great addition to planted aquariums, and their composed behavior matches the concept of these aesthetic tanks.

If you’re new to the aquarium hobby and want to learn how to set up and maintain a healthy and beautiful aquarium, our How to Set Up an Aquarium guide is the perfect place to start. From selecting the right tank and equipment to stocking and maintaining your aquarium, our guide provides helpful tips and advice to get you started. We’ll show you how to choose the right fish and plants for your aquarium, maintain water chemistry, clean and filter water, and keep your aquarium healthy and thriving. With our step-by-step guide, you’ll soon be enjoying your own aquatic paradise!

One factor to note is that since cory catfish are bottom dwellers, they have a habit of messing up the substrate. Generally, they don’t dig holes in the substrate and don’t unroot plants, which is the main concern. Since their barbels frequently rub against the bottom of the tank, it’s beneficial to use a fine substrate such as sand instead of gravel chips which could cause harm to them. Aeration is essential for these fish, which emphasizes the need for an air pump.

Moving on, filtration is another key requirement as it helps to maintain the water quality, which would influence the health of the fish. Ideally, a sponge filter would be fine. Still, it’s ideal to invest in a filter with both mechanical and biological filter media, which helps to maintain healthy amounts of beneficial bacteria. When decorating the tank, placing ornaments, rocks, and wood branches would be favorable as they produce hiding space for the cory fish.

Feeding and diet


Although they may enjoy clearing leftover food from other fish, Corydoras are not a scavenger species and are not effective algae eaters.

To provide the necessary nutrition for cory catfish, it is possible to provide them with a balanced diet that would include all the nutrients required for healthy growth. A few types of food that can be provided are sinking pellets, krill, algae wafers, and bloodworms. These are just a few types of food that can be included in their diet and not just limited to.

Feed them not more than twice a day and observe. After feeding, scoop off any remaining food particles they do not seem to be consuming, as they could dissolve in the water, causing foul odor and discoloration.

Diseases and treatment

Similarly to other species, cory fish are prone to several diseases, which should be treated to prevent any major complications. Most of these diseases are associated with poor water conditions, so it is vital to ensure the tank is maintained timely. Below are some of the illnesses that cory fish can get, followed by methods of treatment;

White spot disease

Finding a few white spots near cory’s mouth can occur. This is a form of parasite which can grow progressively while causing harm to the fish. Pet stores offer medication for parasites and infections, which could be used to cure this illness. It’s crucial to start treatment immediately after symptoms have been diagnosed to ensure the infected Corydoras’s survival.

Fin rot

Fin rot is a common disease amongst many types of fish, including Corydoras. Symptoms are fairly easy to identify as their fins appear worn out. This disease is also related to bad water quality. The most effective way to prevent fin rot is by maintaining good water quality and monitoring water parameters. Corydoras, who have already been infected, can be provided with anti-bacterial medications, proven effective when used with the correct dosages.

Final Remarks

Corydoras can be undeniably adorable, and keeping them is an enjoyable experience. They are great for starters due to their hardy nature, but experienced aquarists also adore them. Since they are compatible with a large variety of fish, they are ideal to be featured in community tanks with assortments of different fish species. By following the procedures mentioned above, it is easy to have a happy and healthy school of Corydoras that will live long and peaceful lives.


wdt_IDImageCommon NameScientific Name
1Pink corydorasCorydoras axelrodi
2Atropersonatus CorysCorydoras atropersonatus
3Blacktop corydorasCorydoras acutus
4Adolfo's catfishCorydoras adolfoi
5Bronze corydorasCorydoras aneus
6Skunk corydorasCorydoras arcuatus
7Blackstripe corydorasCorydoras bondi
8Xingu CorydorasCorydoras albolineatus
9Tailspot corydorasCorydoras caudimaculatus
10Spotback corydorasCorydoras blochi
11Corydoras gosseiPalespotted corydoras
12Sands's corydorasCorydoras davidsandsi
13Salt and pepper catfishCorydoras habrosus
14Mosaic corydorasCorydoras haraldschultzi
15Dwarf corydorasCorydoras hastatus
16Leopard corydorasCorydoras julii
17False bandit catfishCorydoras melini
18Peppered corydorasCorydoras paleatus
19Panda corydorasCorydoras panda
20Pygmy corydorasCorydoras pygmaeus
21Rusty corydorasCorydoras rabauti
22Bannertail corydorasCorydoras robineae
23Schwartz's catfishCorydoras schwartzi
24False network catfishCorydoras sodalis
25Emerald catfishCorydoras splendens
26Sterba's corydorasCorydoras sterbai
27Leopard catfishCorydoras trilineatus
28Twosaddle corydorasCorydoras weitzmani
Common NameScientific Name


Corydoras definition & meaning (no date) Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Available at: (Accessed: December 18, 2022).

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