Care Guide for Cory Catfish – The Perfect Community Bottom Dweller

Care Guide for Cory Catfish – The Perfect Community Bottom Dweller

Are you looking for a calm beginner fish with lots of personality? Look no further! The cory catfish, or Corydoras catfish, is one of the most popular community fish because they’re so happy-go-lucky, easy to breed, and helpful as a clean-up crew. We answer the most common questions about this cute bottom dweller in this care guide.


What are 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. These tiny catfish are protected against predators by having sharp spines in the fins. This can sometimes cause mild venom if stressed.

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.

Corydoras can be seen in large groups of up to 20 species. They are most active during daylight hours, peak activity taking place at dawn and dusk. The most common varieties in the pet market are the albino and bronze cory corys, Corydoras corys aeneus, panda (Corydoras Panda), panda (Corydoras Panda), emerald-green corys and the pygmy Corydoras Pygmaeus.

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 does Cory Catfish need?

For dwarf species, a 10-gallon aquarium may be suitable, but we recommend 20 gallons or more for most other varieties. They are a small fish and crave safety. Therefore, a group of six corydoras (all the same species) is recommended. These peaceful bottom dwellers can be kept alongside any fish that doesn’t attack or eat them. (For instance, don’t keep corydoras with goldfish, which get rather large and will inhale anything that fits 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 wispy barbels or whiskers to help them find food, so smooth sand or gravel is preferred. Cory McElroy, our CEO, visited the Amazon to see the substrate in action. In general, it helps to feed larger foods like worms and Repashy gel food that can sit on top of the substrate and not get trapped in between cracks where the corys can’t reach them.

Corydoras in the wild can be found on sharp substrate. This means that if their barbels start eroding, it could be caused by 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 love worms of all types, so try live blackworms, frozen bloodworms, and Hikari Vibra Bites (tiny food sticks that look like bloodworms). Repashy gel foods, sinking Wafers and other sinking foods are all favorites.

They are not primarily algae eaters, so you will need to specifically feed them to make sure they get enough nutrition. If housed with more aggressive eaters, it can be easy for cory catfish to get outcompeted during feeding times, causing them to waste away.

Corydoras are not algae eaters and therefore must be regularly fed in order to live a long, healthy life.

Can You Breed Cory Catfish in Aquariums?

Yes! Many fish keepers find that corydoras can breed spontaneously without any effort. Males have a shorter profile and are smaller in size, while females are larger and more robust to hold all their eggs. Condition them (or prepare them for breeding) by feeding lots of nutritious foods, such as live blackworms and frozen bloodworms. To mimic the rainy season, you can induce spawning by making your water cooler than usual. Soon, sticky eggs will be all over your tank walls.

If you wish to breed catfish in the same aquarium they live in, you will need to provide plenty of cover. All fish (including the parents themselves) will happily eat the eggs, given the chance. 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!