Cory Catfish Care and Breeeding Guide

Cory Catfish Care and Breeeding Guide

The Cory catfish is a popular tank pet known by a number of names including Corydoras catfish, Cory cat and Cory fish. An inhabitant of freshwater lakes, the fish is a hardy type that can survive a number of environments. It boasts of a peaceful temperament, rarely standing up to defend itself against aggressive fish species.

Despite their peaceful nature, the Cory is quite entertaining. They are active swimmers that enjoy wading through the water in groups. To make their stay more enjoyable at the aquarium therefore, it is imperative to keep at least three or four of them in a tank. Nothing excites like seeing them swim together, making their comical moves.

Appearance of Cory Catfish

The Cory fish has a unique appearance too. While the rest of the body resembles that of most other fish species, the head is completely different. Just like the name suggests, it has a catlike head. On both sides of the head are two huge eyes that appear to pop out. On both sides of the mouth are outstretched barbels.

Owing to the size of the head, the fish almost appears triangular in shape. It has a slender body with a long almost flowing tail. On this body are regular dotted patterns of white and black. These extend to the whole body.

The Cory is in the category of small fish that hardly grow beyond three inches. Most of them are between 1.5 and 2.5 inches. Very few go beyond this size even after reaching maturity. If well cared for in captivity, the Cory fish can live to 10 years or more.


The Cory is native to South American streams and lakes. In its natural habitat, the fish lives in between many plants. It is small sized and is usually predated upon by bigger fish and other animals. It therefore stays close to plants and bottom of streams where it can easily hide when it spots predators.

Cory is a bottom dweller fish that prefers fine sand. It avoids coarse gravel that can hurt its barbels and fins. It also inhabits waters with a high flow. These characteristics should be emulated in its tank.

Tank Requirements

Cory catfish are community fish that enjoy each other’s company. Stock at least four, five or more to offer them an enjoyable stay at the tank. Depending on the number, a hobbyist needs at least a 20 gallon tank for five of them. Other tank needs include:

  • High water flow.
  • A soft substrate of fine sand. Smooth pebbles can be placed at the bottom before fine sand is added at the top.
  • Add plenty of plant life as they often hide behind plants. There is no worry about plants being uprooted as they are relatively small-sized and will rarely interfere with the plants anchorage.
  • When pouring water into the tank, do not fill it to the brim. Allow some space where the fish will have a gulp of air. This is a ritual that is quite common with the Cory cat.
  • Standard lighting that mimics that of its natural environment.
  • Add plenty of decorations to spruce up the tank. It is quite entertaining to watch fish dart around these.

Water parameters

The Cory has a high sensitivity towards ammonia and nitrite. Same applies to the nitrate. The tank water should not have them for the safety of the fish. Other requirements are:

  • Water temperature of between 70 and 80F
  • A pH of 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water alkalinity of 3-10dKH

Change the water after every two weeks. Leaving food particles in the tank for a long time may pollute the water, leading to disease.

Feeding the Cory Catfish

Cory fish is an omnivore. It feeds on both plants and flesh. Being a bottom water dweller, the Cory is often referred to as a scavenger. This may be misconstrued to mean the fish only deserves leftovers. While it can happily eat most leftover, it also requires a balanced diet. Foods that can help the Cory stay healthy include:

  • Fish flakes
  • Bloodworms
  • Algae wafers
  • Chunks of meat
  • Vegetables like shredded lettuce and cabbage leaves

The fish is known to scour the tank for any leftovers under the substrate. This makes it a great tank cleaner, and may be stocked with peaceful poor feeders. While at it, do not over-feed the Cory. This may prevent it from moving swiftly in its tank to clear leftovers.


Breeding the Cory catfish requires certain conditions. The tank has to be adjusted accordingly. This includes:

  1. Lowering the water temperature up to 67F
  2. Removing all gravel, rocks and ornaments
  3. Feed a variety of pellets, live and frozen foods. Do this at least 4 times a day
  4. Infuse a vibrator pump into the tank
  5. Fill the tank up to 50%. Do not fill it to the brim
  6. Place the male and female catfish into the tank. They are pretty easy to distinguish as the males have a more streamlined body. The females have a compressed body. Their bodies are thicker around their middle.
  7. Let the fish acclimatize for at least a few days.

When all the conditions are just right, the fish will spawn. The female then lays the eggs all over the tank. At this point in time, it is important to remove the adult fish from the tank as they may eat all the eggs. After that, do the following:

  • Turn up the air in tank full blast
  • Put methlene blue to help prevent any infection
  • Increase the temperature by 2 degrees after every six hours until it hits 72 degrees
  • After about 10 days, fry will be swimming in the tank
  • Feed them baby brine shrimp until they are able to eat more advanced foods

Tank mates

The Cory catfish is quite sociable and will rarely interfere with other fish species. As a schooling fish, they are very friendly with each other. They can also tolerate other fish species like the tetra, various shrimps, snails and swordtails.

While stocking the Cory with other tankmates, remember they hardly stand up for themselves. Therefore avoid placing them in the tank with aggressive tank mates. Owing to their size, do not put them in the same tank with bigger fish that may eat them up.

Other important facts to remember

The Cory fish is quite hardy, but may suffer serious damage when its barbels are nipped. Ensure the tank is safe for the fish. All in all, this fish is lovely and can really be entertaining.

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