Corydoras Catfish

Species NameCorydoras
Common NameCorydoras Catfish, Cory Cats
Care LevelEasy
Lifespan3-5 years
Adult Size1-3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm), depending on the species
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Temperature72°F – 78°F (22°C – 25.5°C)
Water ConditionspH 6.0-7.8, Soft to moderately hard water

About the Corydoras Catfish – Species Summary

Native to the freshwater habitats of South America, the Corydoras Catfish, commonly referred to as Cory Cats, is a beloved freshwater fish species in the aquarium hobby. There are more than 170 recognized species of Corydoras, and their appeal lies in their gentle demeanor, playful antics, and efficiency as bottom feeders. With their armored plates and spirited barbels, they scour the tank’s substrate, acting as natural vacuum cleaners, making them as functional as they are decorative.

Corydoras Catfish Lifespan

Corydoras Catfish generally have a lifespan of 3-5 years in captivity. However, with optimal care and living conditions, some aquarists have reported their Corys living up to 10 years. Proper diet, a stable environment, and good tank hygiene are key factors in ensuring a prolonged and healthy life for these little scavengers.


Corydoras Catfish have a unique appearance that distinguishes them from other aquarium fish. Their bodies are covered in bony plates instead of scales, giving them an armored appearance. Most species possess vibrant barbels near their mouths, which they use to forage in the substrate. The variety of species under the Corydoras genus offers an array of patterns and colors, from the classic bronze cory with its shimmering, metallic hue to the intricately patterned and spotted julii cory.

Average Size

Depending on the specific species, Corydoras Catfish can range in size from 1 inch to 3 inches as adults. While some dwarf species might remain on the smaller end, others like the emerald cory can attain a more robust size.

Corydoras Catfish Care

Tank Size

A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for Corydoras Catfish, but larger tanks are preferable, especially if housing a school. Given their social nature, they thrive best in groups, and a spacious environment allows them to exhibit natural behaviors and reduces stress.

How To Set Up Their Tank

When setting up an aquarium for Corydoras Catfish, consider their natural habitat. Soft, sandy substrates are ideal as they allow these bottom dwellers to rummage without risking injury to their delicate barbels. Incorporate plenty of hiding spots using caves, driftwood, and plants. Live plants like Java Fern or Anubias not only beautify the tank but also offer additional shelter.

Lighting Requirements

Corydoras Catfish do not have specialized lighting needs. Standard aquarium lighting is sufficient. However, dimmer lighting or periods of subdued light can mimic their natural habitat and reduce stress.


A pH level ranging between 6.0 and 7.8 is suitable for Corydoras. It’s essential to keep the pH stable, as abrupt changes can be detrimental.


Maintain a water temperature between 72°F and 78°F (22°C – 25.5°C) for optimal health and activity.

Water Parameters

Soft to moderately hard water is best for Corydoras Catfish. Regular water changes, good filtration, and monitoring for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are fundamental to their well-being.

Disease Potential

While Corydoras Catfish are generally hardy, they can be susceptible to common fish diseases like Ich, especially if exposed to prolonged stress or suboptimal water conditions. Regular observation, quarantining new additions, and prompt treatment at illness onset are vital.

Food & Diet

Being omnivores, Corydoras have a varied diet. A combination of sinking pellets, live or frozen foods like bloodworms, and occasional vegetables such as zucchini will keep them nourished.

Behavior and Temperament

Renowned for their peaceful nature, Corydoras are active bottom dwellers. They are often observed darting around the substrate, foraging, or occasionally making a rapid ascent to the tank’s surface for a gulp of air, a unique trait stemming from their ability to absorb atmospheric oxygen.

Tank Mates

Corydoras Catfish are non-aggressive and can coexist harmoniously with a variety of tank mates. Ideal companions include tetras, rasboras, and other non-aggressive community fish. Avoid housing them with larger, aggressive species that might view them as prey.


Breeding Corydoras in captivity is achievable with some preparation. Providing a diet rich in live foods and mimicking rainfall through water changes can trigger spawning. Females lay their adhesive eggs on tank surfaces, which the male then fertilizes. With careful observation and a separate rearing tank, raising the fry to adulthood is a rewarding experience for dedicated aquarists.

Corydoras Catfish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)