Cory Catfish – Care Guide

cory catfish

Corydoras are a member of the neotropical fishes that have been determined to have the largest genus of over 160 species, they mostly inhabit the freshwater lakes and have a docile temperament.

Corydoras have a peculiar survival mechanism whereby they breathe both the water and atmospheric oxygen. Thus they have both the Labyrinth and gills for that purpose. 

Corydoras are among the bottom dwellers just like the loaches, but you will occasionally see them come up to the surface of the aquarium to seek fresh air. They are an omnivorous type of fish and don’t entirely depend on the food found on the substrate. At times they tend to move to the surface or midlevel of the fish tank to look for food. 

Characteristics of the Corydoras

Corydoras are the schooling type of fish and will be happy and content if kept with two or three of the same kind. They keep close company either in feeding or when resting and are a good sight to behold whenever they move around the tank, as they always have a synchronized dance-like movement.  


The appearance of the Cory is unique especially around the head area; the rear body part is similar to other types of fish, and the location of the mouth enables it to feed on food found on the bottom of the aquarium or in its natural habitat. You can also notice that it has barbells close to its mouth that are used to detect and sense the food particles that are close by. 


Corydoras is a hardy type of fish that can live with you for an astonishing 10years but under good care. Their body shape doesn’t really resemble that of the other bottom feeders, because they normally feature a flat belly whereas, the Cory cat has a slender body with the normal type of stomach. The Corydoras rarely goes past 2.5 inches even after reaching maturity, and the whole body features a triangle type of look. 

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tiger cory catfish

Water Requirements

Corydoras does well in community tanks and can survive a variety of water conditions but not in poorly maintained water tanks. High ammonia and nitrite levels will be detrimental to the fish and should thus be maintained at 0ppm. Water cycling or partial water changes should help keep the concentration of toxic chemicals on the low.

Cory catfish get used to their environment pretty fast and a sudden change might stress them out, rearrangement of the tank or stirring up the substrate may affect the fish and you will notice that it no longer feeds. In extreme cases, it would develop white patches around its mouth and barbell, which makes it hard for the fish to feed, and failure to feed will lead to death. 

However, the white patch condition is treatable, the water PH should thus be maintained between 6.0 to 8.0, and water temperatures of about 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Cleaning the water after every two weeks will provide a good living environment for the Corydoras. 

Aquarium requirements 

A 20-gallon tank should suffice for at least five cory fishes. Use a smooth substrate at the bottom of the tank to prevent the fish from hurting itself when scavenging for food. You could also, invest in smooth pebbles at the bottom of the tank and cover it with fine sand particles. Cory catfish tend to hide a lot between plants even in their natural habitat for safety, as it can barely defend itself. 

The same environment should be provided in the aquarium, including some dense vegetation so that they can hide when they feel threatened. Remember the labyrinth on the cory catfish’s body, well it is used for breathing atmospheric air, so in your tank, you will have to make accommodation for that, because the fish will want to go up in search of fresh air. 

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You might hear a snap sound as they breathe from the surface and will dart to the bottom just as fast as they came up, this shouldn’t alarm you because it is sort of a ritual and the faster you get used to it the better. 


When it comes to lighting the aquarium, the cory catfish doesn’t have too many demands and will do well in standard lighting that is almost similar to that of their natural environment. 

green cory catfish

Cory Catfish Feeding

This type of fish feeds on both plants and flesh, it will scavenge for leftovers at the bottom of the aquarium but should also be offered nutritious meals at least if you want it to achieve its full shelf life. The fish would, therefore, appreciate some fish pellets and flakes, or the bottom feeder tablets, vegetables will also suffice. Chunks of small pieces of meat, algae wafers, and blood worms will all contribute to its well being. 

The food should be given in moderation as we don’t want the cory being too fat and fail to move swiftly and efficiently while in the tank. 


During breeding you will have to alter the conditions of the aquarium, things like the gravel and rocks will have to be removed from the tank, feeding will increase up to about four times in one day, and you will also have to lower the temperatures to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the female and male fish should be kept in the tank, their differences are quite apparent and shouldn’t give you a hard time. 

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The male features a streamlined body whereas; the female has a compressed body. Remember to leave some space at the top of the tank and give the fishes time to acclimatize. The fish will later on spawn, and the female will lay the eggs. The adult cory are known for feeding on their own eggs, and you should thus remove them as they might as well eat them all. 

Use methane blue to prevent infection, you will also have to monitor the temperatures and increase them after every 6hours; the maximum temp for the tank at this time should be 72 degrees. In 10 days your fry should have arrived and you can feed them on brine shrimp until they are able to eat other foods. 


Corydoras will do well in an aquarium with fish of the same temperament such as the Tetras, the Swordtails, and the Otocinclus Catfish. The Amano Shrimp will be a favorable tank mate for the cory, some species of snails and other types of the cory fish.

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