Last update: November 10, 2023

Cory Catfish 101: Care, Food, Breeding & More

Cory catfish are a friendly fish species. They look adorable and have a lot of unique features that make them almost essential for every household as they come at relatively affordable prices.

You will love having these fishes at home as they are playful, entertaining, and interactive and are extremely fun to keep!

These guys look like little darlings. The owners need to be prudent enough to know what other saltwater fish may be compatible or incompatible with these beautiful underwater creatures.

What Is a Cory Catfish?

Cory catfish care

Cory catfish, alias Corydoras, are native to South America and regions east of the Andes Mountains. This family is the largest group of freshwater aquarium catfish, with over 500.

They derive the name Cory from the Greek words Cory, or helmet, and doras, or skin. These aspects describe the fish’s most distinctive features.

Corydoras Catfish are a Hardy Fish 

Which makes them good community fish. They are small in size, generally reaching between one and three inches.

They do not like living with large aggressive or semi-aggressive fish like Cichlids. There is also some evidence that they may be sensitive to copper.

Cory Catfish Come in a Variety of Colors

The most common are green, tan, black, and orange. Albino (white/pink), Bronze (brown), Peppered (black), Julii (black with white spots), and Panda (black with white on its head) are some of the most popular types of Cory Catfish.

Cory Catfish Have Barbels On Their Heads

Barbels are long whiskers that help the fish find food on the bottom of a body of water. Cory Catfish move through the water with a “swimming” motion rather than a side-to-side fishtail motion.

They Like Hideouts

Cory Catfish Hideout

Cory Catfish will lie under objects such as rocks to hide from predators in the wild. They like to have places to hide when in a home aquarium too!

They Live for Five to Ten Years

The total lifespan of Cory Catfish is between 5-and 10 years. It is rare for them to live more than 10 years.

Types of Cory Catfish

Since there are different types of Cory catfish, each one having somewhat different characteristics, if you plan to keep them as a pet, it would be wise to educate yourself beforehand.

Green Cory Catfish

There’s a particularly famous kind of catfish called Corydoras Julii “Green.” It’s known for being peaceful fish, and it’s green. It’s a good fish for beginners because it’s easy to take care of.

Its shyness makes this fish especially attractive in some circles. But all types of Corydoras are relatively low-maintenance and good for an aquarium hobbyist who is just starting.

Albino Cory Catfish

Albino cory catfish

Albino Cory catfish are rather distinct, and it’s easy to tell them apart from any other fish species. Albino beings, in general, have bodies that take on pale colors, but it’s a pinkish white coloration for Albino Cory catfish.

This unusual appearance comes at a high price tag. Albino Cory Catfish sell at a steep price as they do not thrive in the wild due to their fragile nature and deformed skin.

Emerald Cory Catfish

The albino Cory catfish aren’t like most fish you might see at the pet store. They have pinkish or yellow-white bodies and telltale red eyes reserved for other animals with this condition.

The albino Cory catfish only exist in fish tanks and ponds specially bred to create them, unlike other types of Cory found naturally in parts of South America.

Panda Cory Catfish

Panda Cory

Panda Corys are very different from their cousins, the regular Cory fish. While they still boast the exact coloring and markings on their scales, their eyes appear to be black. These eye features give them the appearance of a panda bear.

Peppered Cory Catfish

Peppered Cory Catfish are one of the most popular catfish. They get their name from the brownish tone that their scales have, giving them a spotted appearance overall.

Pygmy Cory Catfish

Pygmy Cory Catfish are relatively small, with most adults reaching around an inch in length. Because of their size, they make perfect companions for smaller aquariums.

They also get along well with other peaceful bottom-dwellers but tend to be bullied by other fish in more “aggressive” tank environments.

Pygmy Cory Catfish is more vulnerable to external stresses than other Corydoras. You should therefore ensure they are entirely comfortable.

Tank Size for Cory Catfish Need?

Size of tank for cory catfish

No matter how hardy Cory fish are, they need to live in a tank that’s right for them. You should adjust the water parameters to a pH range of 7.0 – 8.0 and a temperature range of 72-803° F.

Since there are various species of Cory catfish, the tank size needs differ significantly. A 10-gallon tank should give suitable water conditions for one type of Cory alone. You will need tanks of between 20 and 30 gallons if you want to house two or more different types of Cory species in the same aquarium.

If you’re new to fish keeping and plan on getting a tank for yourself, we recommend at least 20 gallons of capacity for tanks that house five or more adult fish. If you have plans to keep adding fish numbers, you will need an extra 2-4 gallons per additional adult fish.

For Cory catfish, ideal conditions mean a span of temperatures between 72 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit. Any extreme variation from this range could result in health complications for the fish.

Cory Catfish Tank Decoration

Creating a naturalistic tank for cory catfish calls for special attention to several elements. A fine, smooth sand substrate of at least 2 inches depth is essential for these fish, as it allows for the natural sifting and foraging behavior that corydoras catfish are known for.

Broad-leaf plants such as Amazon sword and java fern serve multiple purposes; they offer a sense of security and help diffuse tank lighting. Adding driftwood, rocks, and cave-like structures provides excellent hiding spots.

The arrangement should ideally allow for open swimming lanes while also offering secluded areas for retreat. Subdued lighting often complements the ambiance of a cory catfish habitat.

Is Sand Substrate Needed?

Most Cory catfish thrive near the bottom of rivers and lakes. They’re scavengers which means they get most of their nutrition on the bottom of the water or the stream or lake floor.

You must have no less than 2 inches of substrate, including soft sand, at the bottom of your tank. Sharp gravel can hurt catfish’s long, sensitive barbells, fins, and bellies.

The Corydoras is a catfish and needs a nice shaded hiding spot. This fish likes caves or driftwood to crawl into for shelter. It will also use these whisker-like barbells to search out food. Introduce aquarium plants that make an excellent addition to their ecosystem.

Understanding Cory Catfish Behavior

Observing the behavior of cory catfish, including the albino cory catfish variety, reveals a fascinating range of activities. These fish are often seen making rapid, swooping motions as they forage for food in the substrate or navigate the tank.

Cory fish are social creatures that occasionally form piles or lean on tankmates when at rest. Their barbels—whisker-like sensory organs—constantly sweep the tank bottom in search of food particles.

Startling these creatures usually results in a quick dash towards a secure hiding spot. Moreover, they tend to be more active during nighttime, adding a different dynamic to the tank’s overall ecology.

Best Food for Cory Catfish?

Behavior of cory catfish

Cory catfish forage for worms, small insects, and larvae when in their natural habitat. In tanks, pellets that sink to the aquarium bottom are a suitable alternative because they allow them to scavenge.

As omnivores, Corydoras are never picky about what they eat. Hence, there is no limit to the types of food that catfish enjoy. Typically speaking, Corydoras will go for whatever fits into their tiny mouths best.

Cory Catfish Menu Options

Usually, Cory catfish like aquatic plants, snails, and other fish. If you want to feed your Cory catfish something new, you can try tubifex worms and bloodworms.

Other foods for Cory Catfish include brine shrimp, daphnia, beef heart, shrimp pellets, and sinking pellets. You can train your Cory catfish to eat frozen or freeze-dried foods, but they will grow faster if you give them live foods.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Algae? 

Cory catfish are a species of fish that do not feed on algae. However, they are excellent scavengers of detritus.

Corys can get along well in community fish tanks, provided that their tank mates are not fierce eaters. In such a situation, your Cory will waste away. You need to feed your Cory once a day. It usually eats within five minutes, after which you should quickly remove the leftovers.

Cory Catfish Diseases

Cory Catfish Diseases

Maintaining healthy Corys is pretty easy. The easiest way to make sure the water doesn’t become toxic is to do water changes every week. Make sure to change the water completely to remove any buildup.

Common Cory catfish diseases to guard against include:

Fin and Tail Rot

Tail rot is a common infection that affects fish with damaged fins and tails. The infection can spread to the body, but this is less common. The weight of your fish should be a good indicator as to whether it’s suffering from tail rot.

Pop Eye

Pop eye, also called exophthalmia, is an inflammation of one or both eyes. It can cause the eye to bulge outwards. Bacterial infections are often the cause of pop eye, although it can also stem from injuries or other health conditions.

Ich Disease

Ich disease comes from a protozoan parasite known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis — also known as “ich.” The “ich” parasite lives on the skin and gills of infected fish, causing them to lose their color and develop spots (white cysts). The parasites can eat away at the skin and gills if left untreated, eventually killing the fish.


Dropsy is a distended abdomen caused by fluid building up in the fish. A healthy fish will have a smooth belly, while an ill fish will have scales sticking out all over its body.

A fish with dropsy is usually at the end of its life. Dropsy is the most common cause of death in Cory catfish.

Indicators of Healthy Cory Catfish

Recognizing the signs of a thriving Corydoras catfish aids in preemptive healthcare.

shutterstock 2009001572

A healthy fish will display:

  • Vigorous foraging at the bottom of the tank
  • Sudden bursts of speed while swimming
  • Quick responses to stimuli
  • Fully extended fins that are not clumped or damaged
  • A gently curved body, without any concavity or swelling
  • Clear eyes without fogginess or protrusion
  • Eager responses during feeding times
  • Harmonious interactions with other tankmates
  • Regular breathing patterns, without gasping at the surface

Good and Bad Tank Mates

Cory catfish are best kept in schools of five and six, so it is ideal for keeping them with other like-colored Corys. It is also common for them to be kept in a community aquarium with shy fish that aren’t aggressive towards similar colored species, such as tetras.

While Corydoras is a peaceful fish, you must keep it with other peaceful fishes. Other peaceful tank mates include colorful fish like guppies, platies, and swordtails.

Aquarium catfish like plecos and otocinclus are also good choices as they would not be aggressive towards the Corydoras.

Violent fish have the potential to attack, injure or even kill Cory catfish. It’s best not to keep Corydoras in a tank with other mean fish and like to pick on them. Avoid fish like Oscars, Barbs, and Cichlids.

Can You Breed Cory Catfish in Aquariums?

Breeding of Cory catfish

The answer is yes. Most fish keepers discover that their aquarium Corydoras can breed randomly with little assistance. You can speed up Cory catfish breeding by feeding them many nutritious foods like bloodworms. Try making the water temperature a few degrees cooler to induce spawning.

In time, you’ll notice the fish occasionally dropping eggs around the walls of their environment. It would help to create a suitable breeding area, including sources of light, tall vegetation and shelter in the form of caves or ledges. We advise you to remove other types of fish that might compete with Cory fry for resources.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Their Eggs? 

All fish will gobble up their eggs if given the opportunity. To increase the likelihood of your little ones hatching and surviving, use your credit card to move their spawning ground to a different tank to nurture your baby catfish.

Behavior and Temperament

Behavior and Temperament

Cory catfish – when not in the presence of other small tank mates – are known for their friendly nature, which is one of the top reasons why they are so popular among aquarists.

Cory Catfish are Passive 

Cory catfish are excellent fish for community tanks because they’re very nonviolent. They don’t cause trouble with other fish and will happily stay away. Even though Cory cats are bottom feeders, they’ll leave other fish’s food alone.

The Cory Cat is a Bottom Feeder 

Because the Cory catfish feeds near the bottom of the tank, it’s best to keep them with other bottom-feeding fish like loaches, plecos, and dojo loaches. Although they won’t compete for space or food, these fish tend to have similar diets and habitat preferences.

They’re Social and Schooling Fish 

Like most catfish, Cory cats prefer to live in groups rather than alone. A group of Corydoras can also help keep your tank clean! A shoal of 6-10 Corydoras catfish is ideal for community tanks as well as larger aquariums where they’ll have more room to move around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common queries people have about cory catfish, including aspects related to cory catfish breeding and cory catfish size.

How often should cory catfish be fed?

Feeding should occur 1-2 times per day in small amounts, as cory catfish have small stomachs. Any food they can consume within 2-3 minutes is usually sufficient, and excess should be promptly removed to prevent waste buildup.

What type of water flow is ideal?

A low to moderate water flow is preferred for these fish. Strong currents are generally unsuitable, so gentle filtration methods are advised.

Can cory catfish cohabit with betta fish?

Yes, provided there’s adequate space—such as in a 20-gallon or larger tank adorned with plants and hiding spots—both species can coexist peacefully.

Do cory catfish require dietary supplements?

While not strictly necessary, supplementing the diet with vegetables and occasional treats like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia can offer improved nutrition. Blanched veggies like zucchini or spinach can be given 1-2 times per week.

Understanding these aspects of cory catfish care, including their natural behaviors and the signs of good health, can greatly assist in maintaining a thriving aquatic environment for these endearing bottom dwellers.


Cory Catfish are popular aquarium fish because they are easy to care for and get along well with most other aquarium fish. 

These guys are the perfect beginner fish. As long as you keep a few guidelines in mind, your new Cory catfish will be swimming and eating in no time!

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *