Cory Catfish – Types, Care, Feeding, Breeding and Details!

Cory catfish, also known as Cory cats, armored catfish, Corydoras catfish, and Cory fish, are a classic addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are bottom dwellers, preferring to keep to themselves without causing any disruption.

The Corydoras genus, which these fish belong to, consists of over 165 named species. These fish are native to South America, with their habitat extending from the east of the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Greek words ‘kory,’ meaning helmet, and ‘doras,’ meaning skin, inspired the genus name Corydoras, perfectly capturing two of the fish’s most distinctive traits.

Cory catfish, with their unique appearance and friendly nature, are a favorite among aquarists.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with a deep understanding of Corydoras and the necessary steps to ensure their longevity and happiness.

Quick Stats About Cory Catfish

Scientific name: Corydoras paleatus
Common names: Cory catfish, cory, cory fish, corydora catfish, corydora, armored catfish
Distribution: Regions across South America
Size: 1–4 inches
Life expectancy: 3–5 years
Color: Black, white, or brown, with dark spots or an orange stripe
Diet: Omnivore
Temperament: Peaceful
Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
Temperature: 70–78°F (21–25.5°C)
pH: 5.5–7.0
Hardness: 5–10 dGH
Care level: Easy
Breeding: Egg-layer

Appearance of Cory Catfish

Cory catfish, also known as Corydoras catfish, present a unique and fascinating appearance that sets them apart in the world of freshwater fish.

Their size varies according to species, typically ranging from 1 to over 4 inches in length, with older females often exceeding 3 inches.

One of the most distinctive features of Cory catfish is their armored bodies. They are protected by bony plates that run along the length of their bodies, giving them a robust and sturdy appearance.

This armor is not just for show; it serves as a protective layer against potential threats in their environment.

Their faces are short and feature wide, endearing eyes. Three pairs of barbels, which resemble whiskers, are located on their faces.

These barbels are not just ornamental; they serve a crucial function in helping the Cory catfish find food in the substrate.

The coloration of Corydoras varies among species, ranging from pale or albino to iridescent, with many in shades of brown that help camouflage them in the substrate.

This variety in coloration adds to their appeal and makes them a vibrant addition to any aquarium.

Popular Types of Cory Catfish

Cory catfish, or Corydoras, is a genus of freshwater catfish that includes over 165 recognized species.

These fish are beloved for their peaceful nature, unique behaviors, and fascinating variety. Here, we’ll explore some of the most popular types of Cory catfish.

Peppered Cory Catfish (Corydoras paleatus)

The Peppered Cory catfish is one of the most common and widely available species. It gets its name from its speckled, pepper-like coloration. These fish typically grow to about 2.5 inches in length and are known for their hardiness, making them an excellent choice for beginners.

Bronze Cory Catfish (Corydoras aeneus)

Also known as the Green Cory, the Bronze Cory catfish is another popular choice for aquariums. Its body color can vary from bronze to green, depending on the lighting and the fish’s mood. Bronze Corys are robust and adaptable, making them suitable for a variety of tank conditions.

Panda Cory Catfish (Corydoras panda)

The Panda Cory gets its name from its distinctive black and white markings, reminiscent of a panda bear. These fish are smaller than many other Cory species, typically reaching about 2 inches in length. Panda Corys are peaceful and active, making them a lively addition to any community tank.

Albino Cory Catfish (Corydoras aeneus)

The Albino Cory is a color variant of the Bronze Cory. These fish have a pinkish-white body and red eyes, giving them a unique appearance. Like other Corydoras, Albino Corys are peaceful, social, and easy to care for.

Julii Cory Catfish (Corydoras julii)

People often mistake the Julii Cory catfish for the Leopard Cory due to its small size and intricate, spotted pattern. While these fish are rarer than other Cory species, their striking appearance makes them highly desirable.

Pygmy Cory Catfish (Corydoras pygmaeus)

The Pygmy Cory is the smallest of the Corydoras, typically reaching only about 1 inch in length. Despite their small size, these fish are active and social. Unlike most Corydoras that prefer the tank’s bottom, these fish exhibit a unique behavior of swimming in the middle of the water column.

Sterbai Cory Catfish (Corydoras sterbai)

The Sterbai Cory is easily recognized by its dark body and bright, white-spotted fins. These fish are hardy and adaptable, capable of tolerating higher temperatures than many other Cory species. This makes them a popular choice for discus tanks.

Each of these Cory catfish species brings something unique to an aquarium.

Whether your preference leans towards the classic Peppered Cory, the eye-catching Sterbai Cory, or the diminutive Pygmy Cory, these fascinating fish will bring a peaceful and engaging presence to your aquarium.

Natural Habitat of Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are native to South America, where they inhabit slow-moving, shallow streams and inlets.

They are bottom dwellers, preferring to keep to themselves without causing any disruption.

Their flat underside is well-suited for life at the bottom of the water, allowing them to comfortably rest on the substrate.

Their natural habitat is rich in soft sand substrate, which is ideal for their scavenging lifestyle.

They also prefer areas with plenty of hiding spots, such as driftwood or caves, and a weak filter setting that mimics the slow-moving waters they are accustomed to.

Origin and Distribution of Cory Catfish

The Corydoras genus, which these fish belong to, consists of over 165 named species.

These fish are native to South America, with their habitat extending from the east of the Andes Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.

The genus name Corydoras is derived from the Greek words ‘kory,’ meaning helmet, and ‘doras,’ meaning skin, aptly describing two of the fish’s most distinctive characteristics.

Cory catfish are widely distributed across South America, with each species having its own specific range.

Some species are found in specific regions, while others have a more widespread distribution.

Despite their wide distribution, Cory catfish have adapted well to life in captivity and are a popular choice among aquarists worldwide.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are relatively small fish, with sizes varying according to species. On average, they range from 1 to over 4 inches in length.

Older females often exceed 3 inches, making them slightly larger than their male counterparts.

Cory catfish are known for their hardiness and longevity. In the wild, they have a lifespan of five to seven years.

However, under ideal conditions in captivity, they can live for over 20 years.

This extended lifespan is a testament to their adaptability and resilience, making them a rewarding choice for both novice and experienced aquarists.

Cory catfish are a fascinating and rewarding addition to any freshwater aquarium. Their unique appearance, peaceful nature, and hardiness make them a favorite among aquarists.

Cory Catfish Behavior and Temperament

Cory catfish are renowned for their peaceful and friendly temperament. They are non-aggressive, preferring to keep to themselves and avoid conflict.

They spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, scavenging for food or resting.

These fish are also known for their social nature. They enjoy the company of their own kind and are happiest when kept in groups.

Observing a school of Cory catfish moving in unison can be a truly fascinating sight.

Despite their peaceful nature, they are also known to be active and playful, often engaging in what appears to be playful behavior with their tank mates.

Detailed Cory Catfish Tank Setup

Creating the perfect environment for your Cory catfish involves several key elements.

Here’s a detailed guide to setting up a tank that will help your Cory catfish thrive.

Tank Size

The size of the tank required for Cory catfish depends on the specific species and the number of fish you plan to keep.

As a general rule, a 20-gallon tank is suitable for a small group of Cory catfish. However, if you plan to keep a larger group or multiple species, a larger tank will be necessary.


Cory catfish are bottom dwellers and spend a lot of their time scavenging in the substrate.

Therefore, it’s essential to choose a substrate that is soft and won’t damage their delicate barbels. Fine sand or smooth gravel is ideal.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Cory catfish appreciate having plenty of hiding spots in their tank. This can be achieved with the use of decorations such as caves, driftwood, and plants.

These not only provide shelter but also contribute to a more natural and comfortable environment for the fish.

Water Parameters

Cory catfish require specific water parameters to thrive. The water temperature should be between 70°F-80°F, with pH levels between 6.0-8.0 and alkalinity levels between 3-10 dKH.

Regular testing of the water for nitrate levels is essential.

Filtration and Aeration

Good filtration is crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for Cory catfish. A high-quality filter will help keep the water clean and free of harmful toxins.

Additionally, Cory catfish appreciate a well-oxygenated tank, so an air pump or a filter that creates surface agitation can be beneficial.


Cory catfish do not have specific lighting requirements. However, they do prefer lower-light conditions, similar to their natural habitat.

LED lighting is an excellent choice as it can be adjusted to create the perfect environment for your fish.

Tank Mates

Cory catfish are peaceful and get along well with many other species. Ideal tank mates include other peaceful fish such as tetras, guppies, and mollies.

Avoid aggressive fish that may bully or harm the Cory catfish.


Cory catfish are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods. They enjoy sinking pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp.

It’s important to feed a balanced diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Understanding the behavior and temperament of Cory catfish, along with providing the right tank setup, will ensure these charming fish thrive in your care.

Maintaining Cory Catfish Tank

Proper tank maintenance is crucial for the well-being of your Cory catfish.

Regular water changes, cleaning, and filter maintenance, along with monitoring the health of your fish, can ensure a thriving environment for your aquatic pets.

Water Changes

Water changes are a fundamental part of Cory catfish tank maintenance. These changes help maintain the water quality by removing waste products and replenishing essential minerals.

You should aim to replace 10-20% of the tank water every week. Make sure the new water is dechlorinated and matches the tank’s temperature to prevent causing stress to the fish.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Cleaning the tank and decorations helps prevent the build-up of algae and harmful bacteria. Use a gravel vacuum to clean the substrate and remove any uneaten food or waste.

Decorations and artificial plants can be cleaned with a soft brush under warm running water. Avoid using soap or detergents as these can be harmful to fish.

Filter Maintenance

The filter plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment in your Cory catfish tank. It removes waste and toxins and helps circulate and oxygenate the water.

Regular filter maintenance ensures it functions efficiently. Rinse the filter media in tank water during water changes to remove debris but preserve beneficial bacteria.

Replace the media as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Monitor Fish Health

Regularly observing your Cory catfish can help you spot any signs of illness early. Look out for changes in behavior, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or unusual swimming patterns.

Also, check for physical signs of disease, like spots, discoloration, or damaged fins. If you notice any signs of illness, consult a fish health professional for advice.

Maintaining a Cory catfish tank involves regular water changes, cleaning, filter maintenance, and monitoring the health of your fish. These practices will help ensure a clean, healthy environment for your Cory catfish to thrive.

Acclimating Cory Catfish: A Step-by-Step Process

Acclimating Cory catfish to a new tank is a crucial process that ensures the fish can adapt to their new environment without undue stress.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to acclimating your Cory catfish:

  1. Float the Bag: Start by floating the sealed bag containing the Cory catfish in your aquarium for about 15 minutes. This allows the water inside the bag to gradually match the temperature of your tank, reducing thermal shock.

  2. Open the Bag and Add Aquarium Water: After 15 minutes, open the bag and add a cup of aquarium water to it. This helps the fish adjust to the water parameters of your tank.

  3. Wait and Repeat: Wait another 15 minutes, then repeat the process of adding a cup of aquarium water to the bag. Do this every 15 minutes for about an hour.

  4. Gently Release the Fish: After an hour, use a net to gently transfer the Cory catfish from the bag to your aquarium. Try to avoid adding the bag water to your tank, as it may contain contaminants.

Cory Catfish Diet and Feeding

Cory catfish are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. Their diet in the wild consists of worms, small insects, and plant matter.

In an aquarium setting, they require a balanced diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. Here’s a detailed guide on what to feed your Cory catfish:

Commercial Foods

  • Sinking Pellets: Cory catfish spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, so sinking pellets are an excellent choice for them. These pellets are designed to sink to the bottom of the tank, allowing the Cory catfish to feed in a way that’s natural for them.

  • Flakes: While Cory catfish prefer sinking food, they will also eat flakes. If you choose to feed flakes, make sure they sink to the bottom of the tank where the Cory catfish can find them.

  • Algae Wafers: Algae wafers are another good option for Cory catfish. They provide the plant matter that Cory catfish need in their diet.

Live and Frozen Foods

  • Bloodworms: Bloodworms are a favorite among Cory catfish. They can be fed live or frozen, and they provide the protein that Cory catfish need.

  • Brine Shrimp: Brine shrimp are another good source of protein for Cory catfish. They can also be fed live or frozen.

  • Daphnia: Daphnia, or water fleas, are a great addition to the diet of Cory catfish. They can be fed live or frozen.

Feeding Schedule

Feed your Cory catfish once or twice a day, offering only as much food as they can consume in 2-3 minutes.

Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality, so it’s important to avoid leaving uneaten food in the tank.

Acclimating your Cory catfish properly and providing a balanced diet are key to their health and well-being.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your Cory catfish thrive in their new home.

Cory Catfish Tank Mates

Cory catfish are peaceful and sociable fish, making them compatible with a variety of tank mates.

Here are some species that make excellent companions for Cory catfish:

Ideal Tank Mates for Cory Catfish

  1. Tetras: Tetras are peaceful, schooling fish that coexist well with Cory catfish. Species like Neon Tetras or Cardinal Tetras are good choices.

  2. Guppies: Guppies are small, peaceful fish that won’t bother Cory catfish. They also add a splash of color to your aquarium.

  3. Mollies: Mollies are another peaceful species that get along well with Cory catfish. They are hardy and easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginners.

  4. Platies: Platies are peaceful, easy-to-care-for fish that make good tank mates for Cory catfish.

  5. Dwarf Gouramis: Dwarf Gouramis are peaceful, slow-moving fish that won’t compete with Cory catfish for food.

  6. Rasboras: Rasboras are small, peaceful schooling fish that are compatible with Cory catfish.

  7. Plecos: Plecos are bottom-dwelling fish like Cory catfish, and they can coexist peacefully.

  8. Freshwater Snails: Freshwater snails are non-aggressive and won’t bother your Cory catfish.

Tank Mates to Avoid

While Cory catfish are compatible with many species, there are some fish you should avoid keeping with them:

  1. Cichlids: Many Cichlids are aggressive and can bully or harm Cory catfish.

  2. Oscars: Oscars are large, aggressive fish that are not suitable tank mates for Cory catfish.

  3. Barbs: Some Barbs, like Tiger Barbs, can be fin nippers and may harass Cory catfish.

  4. Bettas: While some Betta fish can coexist peacefully with Cory catfish, others can be aggressive and should be avoided.

  5. Large Catfish: Larger species of catfish can see smaller fish like Cory catfish as food and should be avoided.

Breeding Cory Catfish and Fry Care

Breeding Cory catfish can be a rewarding experience.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to breed Cory catfish and care for the fry:

Breeding Cory Catfish

  1. Set Up a Breeding Tank: Set up a separate tank with soft, sandy substrate and plenty of hiding spots. The water temperature should be slightly cooler than in the main tank.

  2. Choose Healthy Adults: Choose healthy adult Cory catfish for breeding. A ratio of two males to one female is often recommended.

  3. Feed a High-Protein Diet: Feed the fish a high-protein diet to encourage spawning.

  4. Simulate Rainfall: Simulate rainfall by performing frequent water changes with cooler water. This can trigger spawning.

  5. Look for Eggs: After spawning, the female will lay eggs on the glass, plants, or decorations. The eggs are adhesive and will stick to the surfaces.

Fry Care

  1. Remove the Eggs: Once the eggs are laid, they should be carefully removed to a separate tank to avoid being eaten by the adults.

  2. Maintain Clean Water: Maintain clean water in the fry tank to prevent fungal growth on the eggs.

  3. Feed the Fry: Once the fry hatch, they can be fed infusoria or commercially available fry food. As they grow, they can be fed finely crushed flake food or baby brine shrimp.

  4. Water Changes: Regular water changes are crucial in the fry tank to maintain water quality. Be careful not to disturb the fry while changing the water.

In conclusion, Cory catfish are peaceful fish that can coexist with a variety of tank mates. However, some species should be avoided due to their aggressive nature.

Breeding Cory catfish can be a rewarding experience, and with the right care, the fry can grow into healthy adults.

Signs of Stress in Cory Catfish

Stress in Cory catfish can manifest in several ways. It’s crucial to recognize these signs early to mitigate any potential health issues:

  1. Erratic Swimming: If your Cory catfish is darting around the tank or swimming erratically, it may be stressed.

  2. Loss of Appetite: A stressed Cory catfish may lose its appetite and refuse to eat.

  3. Color Changes: Stress can cause Cory catfish to lose their vibrant colors and appear dull or pale.

  4. Hiding: While Cory catfish do enjoy having hiding spots, excessive hiding can be a sign of stress.

  5. Gasping for Air: If your Cory catfish is frequently rising to the surface and appears to be gasping for air, it may be stressed due to poor water quality.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Cory Catfish

Cory catfish are generally hardy, but they can still be susceptible to certain health issues:

  1. Ich: Also known as white spot disease, Ich is a common ailment that can affect Cory catfish. It manifests as white spots on the fish’s body and fins. Treatment typically involves raising the tank temperature and using an Ich treatment medication.

  2. Fin Rot: This is a bacterial infection that causes the fins to appear ragged and torn. It’s usually caused by poor water quality. Treatment involves improving water conditions and using a suitable antibacterial medication.

  3. Fungal Infections: Fungal infections can cause fluffy white growths on the fish’s body. These can be treated with antifungal medications.

  4. Barbel Erosion: This condition affects the catfish’s barbels, causing them to shorten or disappear. It’s often caused by rough substrate or poor water quality. Treatment involves improving water conditions and providing a soft, sandy substrate.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

Maintaining a healthy aquarium is key to the well-being of your Cory catfish.

Here are some additional tips:

  1. Regular Water Testing: Regularly test your water parameters to ensure they are within the ideal range for Cory catfish.

  2. Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding can lead to poor water quality and increased stress for your fish. Ensure your tank is appropriately sized for the number of fish you have.

  3. Provide a Balanced Diet: A balanced diet is crucial for the health of your Cory catfish. Provide a mix of commercial foods and live or frozen foods to meet their nutritional needs.

Should You Get a Cory catfish for Your Aquarium?

Cory catfish are a fantastic addition to many freshwater aquariums. They are peaceful, hardy, and easy to care for, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Their unique behaviors and social nature can add a new dynamic to your tank.

However, like any pet, Cory catfish require a commitment to their care and well-being.

Before deciding to get a Cory catfish, ensure you can provide the appropriate tank conditions, diet, and care that these delightful fish need to thrive.

Conservation Status

Cory catfish, belonging to the genus Corydoras, encompass over 165 species, many of which are popular in the aquarium trade.

While some species are abundant, others face threats due to habitat loss and pollution.

The IUCN Red List does not list most Cory catfish species as endangered or threatened. Always make sure to check the most recent conservation status and confirm that your fish purchases come from sustainable sources.

Availability & Pricing

Cory catfish are widely available in pet stores, aquarium shops, and online. Their popularity in the aquarium trade means you can find a variety of species to choose from.

The price of Cory catfish can vary depending on the species, size, and coloration. Common species like the Peppered Cory or Bronze Cory are typically more affordable, while rarer species or color morphs may command higher prices.

Always purchase from reputable sellers to ensure you’re getting healthy, ethically sourced fish.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cory Catfish

1. How many Cory catfish should be kept together?

Cory catfish are social creatures that prefer to live in groups. A minimum of five or six Cory catfish is recommended, though they will be happier in larger groups.

2. Can Cory catfish live with bettas?

While some bettas can coexist peacefully with Cory catfish, others may be too aggressive. It’s important to monitor their interactions and separate them if necessary.

3. What do Cory catfish eat?

Cory catfish are omnivores. They will eat a variety of foods, including sinking pellets, flake food, and live or frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

4. How long do Cory catfish live?

With proper care, Cory catfish can live for 5 to 7 years in captivity, though some have been known to live even longer.


Cory catfish are a delightful addition to many freshwater aquariums. Their peaceful nature, unique behaviors, and hardiness make them a favorite among aquarists of all experience levels.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first fish or an experienced hobbyist seeking to add some diversity to your tank, Cory catfish are a fantastic choice.

Remember, your reward for providing them with the necessary care and environment to thrive will be years of aquatic enjoyment.