Corydoras catfish, often simply referred to as "cories," are a popular and group of freshwater aquarium fish for beginners and experts. They belong to the family Callichthyidae and are known for their peaceful nature, distinctive appearance, and their habit of spending a lot of time on the bottom of your tank, scavenging for food.
Corydoras catfish are known by their armored appearance, with rows of bony plates covering their bodies. They usually have a flattened body shape and a downward-facing mouth that they use to search for food. Their most notable feature is the barbels around their mouths, which they use to help locate food by touch. Corydoras come in various species, each with its own unique coloration, pattern, and size. Here are some that we'd suggest for your aquariums:
- Tank Size: Corydoras are relatively small fish, but they are active and social. A tank of at least 10 gallons (38 liters) is recommended for a small group of them.
- Tank Bottom Material: Use a fine-grained substrate like sand or smooth gravel. Avoid sharp substrates that could damage their delicate barbels.
- Water Parameters: Corydoras prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. The temperature should be maintained around 72-78°F (22-26°C).
- Filtration: A good quality aquarium filter is essential to maintain water cleanliness. Avoid strong water currents that could stress them.
Tankmates: Corydoras are peaceful and sociable fish that do well in community aquariums. Some compatible tankmates include other peaceful fish like tetras, guppies, rasboras, and small peaceful cichlids. And while their barbs usually keep them safe from most other fish, avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive fish that might harass or outcompete them for food.
Feeding: Corydoras are omnivores and have a unique feeding behavior. Place a small shallow reptile dish Repti Gear Rainforest Reptile Water Dish filled 1 cm deep with sand or fine grade gravel in the bottom of the aquarium and bury foods in that substrate. They sift through the substrate looking for food particles. Provide them with a balanced diet of high-quality sinking pellets Cobalt Aquatics Select Shrimp Pellets, wafers, and occasional live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.
Social Behavior: Corydoras are shoaling fish, which means they prefer to be in groups. Keeping them in groups of three or more individuals is recommended to promote their well-being and reduce stress. Cories will quite often playfully chase each other in the ‘school’. Single individuals or small groups will be shy and hide.
Habitat Enrichment: Provide hiding places like smooth natural rocks, artificial caves and decorations made of poly-resin, live or artificial (plastic or silk) plants, and driftwood where the catfish can retreat and feel secure. They also enjoy exploring their environment, so offer various textures and surfaces for them to explore.
There are many popular varieties of Corydoras catfish, each with its own unique coloration, pattern, and characteristics. Here are a few well-known and commonly kept varieties:
- Corydoras Paleatus (Peppered Cory): This is one of the most commonly available and recognized Corydoras species. They have a silver-gray body with scattered black markings that resemble pepper specks. They're a great choice for beginners.
- Corydoras Aeneus (Bronze Cory): These catfish come in various color morphs, including bronze, green, and albino. They are often recommended for their adaptability and ease of care.
- Corydoras Panda (Panda Cory): These catfish have a distinct panda-like appearance, with their black patches around the eyes resembling a panda's eyes. They are smaller in size and very charming.
- Corydoras Julii (Julii Cory): Often confused with the similar-looking Corydoras trilineatus, the Julii Cory has a more delicate pattern of spots and lines along its body.
- Corydoras Adolfoi (Adolfo's Cory): Adolfo's Cory is known for its vibrant orange coloration on the tail and dorsal fin. They are slightly less common and can be a bit more challenging to find.
- Corydoras Pygmaeus (Pygmy Cory): As the name suggests, these are very small Corydoras species. They are peaceful and suitable for nano tanks. Their unique appearance and behavior make them popular among aquarists.
- Corydoras Schwartzi (Schwartz's Cory): These catfish are recognized by their black and white markings, with the black extending onto the dorsal fin. They add a contrasting touch to the aquarium.
Corydoras catfish are a wonderful addition to a peaceful community aquarium. They are easy to keep and provide a comical addition to any aquarium. Their unique behavior and charming appearance make them a favorite among hobbyists. Remember to ask your Petland counsellor for specific species you are interested in to ensure you are able to meet their specific care requirements.
Paul Brissette has been with Petland for over 40 years and is an avid aquarium enthusiast. Paul has written articles for many aquarium magazines and has helped thousands of clients find joy in the fish hobby.