Cory Catfish Complete Care Guide 2024

The Cory Catfish is a fish widely used in aquaristics. Due to its peaceful character, it is a good addition to many tanks. It is easy to keep even for beginners and requires little prior knowledge.

In this article, we would like to answer all the important questions about keeping Catfish because a good attitude is extremely crucial for the fish’s long and healthy life.

Therefore, we go into this article on aspects such as water values, feeding, socialization, but also breeding and diseases. Last but not least, we will help you to answer the question if the Cory is the right fish for you.



Scientific name


Care Level





Many colors possible


Up to 10 Years


up to 3 inches





Minimum Tank Size

20 Gallons

Water Type


Water Temperature

70 °F - 80 °F

pH Level

6.0 – 8.0

Possible Tank Mates

Other peaceful community fish (Tetra, Guppies)

Cory Catfish Overview

There are several species of Catfish, including Aspidoras, Brochis, but also Corydoras, which we will discuss in this article. The species is also known as Cory Cats or Armored Catfish. The genus Corydoras is characterized by 6-8 very large dorsal fins. More than 160 different species are known, some of which differ only slightly in color and body shape.

In the wild, Corydoras can be found mainly in South and Central America. There they live mainly in calm and tropical waters. Also, the fish itself belongs altogether to the rather calm species. The fish live in shoals, which must also be taken into account when keeping them in aquariums.

Appearance of Cory Catfish

The name Armored Catfish comes from their armored skin, which is typical of the genus. The bone plates are reminiscent of roof tiles, which lie on top of each other and protect the fish. Overall, the body shape is very stocky. The rounded and flat head is also very striking.

Typical for Catfishes, the armored Catfish also has two barbels on the upper lip. Among the fins, the mostly triangular dorsal fin is most noticeable. They also have a very large adipose fin, which is maintained by a ray. Armored Catfish are one of the smaller Catfish species and only grow up to 3 inches in size, while other genera reach up to 12 inches.

Cory Catfish Lifespan

The life expectancy of Armored Catfish is significantly greater in an aquarium than in the wild. While the fish only reach up to 5 years in the wild and usually live just 2 years, they can live up to 10 years or more if kept properly. Important for this, in addition to a good diet, is a suitable environment with appropriate water values and a stress-free living situation.

Fish, in general, are very susceptible to stress, which is why you should always make sure to keep only peaceful fish together. Also, regulated processes and constant conditions are essential.

Typical Behavior

Corydoras are very calm fish, which have an extremely peaceful character. They avoid fighting with other fish and retreat when exposed to too much stress. For this reason, they are also very suitable for community tanks. They can be kept in a tank with the most peaceful ornamental fish without further concern.

In general, Catfish tend to stay at the bottom of the tank. What to consider when setting up the aquarium? We will explain in more detail later. Only for breathing they shoot lightning fast to the water surface to take up oxygen. In the evening hours, the fish usually become more active and swim wildly around, while during the day, they usually hide.

How many Cory Catfish should you get?

In the wild, Cory Catfish live in large schools. Therefore, you should never keep a single Corydora in an aquarium. For species-appropriate husbandry, we recommend always keeping at least 10 Cory Catfish together. However, this should also be considered in the size of the tank. The tank should hold at least 20 gallons. For each additional fish, about 3 gallons should be added.

Aquarium Conditions

To do justice to the natural habitat and the behavior of the Catfish, you should consider a few points when setting up the tank. First, it is important to know the space requirements of the fish. As mentioned earlier, Armored Catfish should never be kept in a tank smaller than 20 gallons, and about 3 gallons should be added for each additional one.

This is because Cory Catfish are very quiet and hide, but at the same time love to swim wildly through the tank. Therefore, care should be taken to use more planting in areas of the tank than elsewhere. This way, the fish have an area where they can hide and rest during the day but also have enough space to swim later. Decorations with openings where the fish can retreat are also very good.

The bottom of the tank should be made of soft material. As already mentioned, the fish tend to stay at the bottom during the day and burrow in the bottom of the tank. Sand or fine gravel should be used so that they do not injure themselves.

As far as the technical aspects are concerned, a rather weak filter system should be chosen, as the fish do not like strong currents. Also, in the wild, they tend to live in calm waters. The lighting should be adapted to the normal time of day since the Armored Catfish are more active in the evening hours. At dusk, the light can be turned off a little earlier.

Water Parameters for Cory Catfish

The optimal water conditions of CoryCatfish are rather tropical due to their natural habitat. Nevertheless, they are relatively resistant and viable in many water environments. Only fluctuations should be avoided. If one has found optimal water conditions, these should be maintained to avoid stress to the animals.

Water temperature should be in the range of 70 °F to 80 °F. The pH may be between 6.0 and 8.0 but is optimal at 7.0. More detailed parameters are shown in the following table.




70 °F - 80 °F 


0 ppm


0 ppm


< 25 ppm


6.0 - 8.0


5 - 10 dGH (89 - 178 ppm)


3 - 10 dKH (53 - 178 ppm)

Varieties of Cory Catfish

As with almost all ornamental fish, numerous different breeds have evolved over the years. In total, one speaks of about 170 different species of Corydoras. These differ in points such as color, size, or even body shape, particularly the fins. Important with the different species is that the optimal water conditions can also differ. For this reason, it should always be clarified with the breeder how the animals feel most comfortable.

Cory Catfish Diet and Feeding

The diet of fish has as great an influence on their health as it does for us humans. Therefore, a species-appropriate and qualitative diet is extremely important.

Natural Diet

In the wild, Catfish feed on whatever they can find. This includes small insects and worms as well as small plant parts. They find their food mainly in the bottom of the water and constantly dig around in it.

What should I feed Cory Catfish?

When feeding, almost all common food sources can be used for Cory Catfish. To meet their natural diet, sinking pellets should be used so that the fish can find food from the bottom. Live food can also be used from time to time as a supplement. During the day, the fish will also spend time searching for food scraps at the bottom of the tank.

How often should I feed Cory Catfish?

Cory Catfish should be fed once a day. For fish, the time it takes them to eat everything is a good guide to the amount. For Armored Catfish, the time is around 5 minutes. They should not eat more than this in a day.

One way to feed the same amount of food automatically every day is to use an automatic feeder. These feed a preset amount automatically at a programmed time into the tank. A detailed comparison of different automatic feeders can be found here.

How long can Cory Catfish go without food?

Fish, in general, are very resilient animals that can survive without food for long periods of time. They need this ability, especially in winter when the water is frozen. Then the animals can reduce their metabolism very much and consume only a fraction of the energy.

Therefore it is no problem for the fish in your aquarium if you forget to feed them one day. Adult Cory Catfish can survive 1 to 2 weeks without food. However, since this is high stress for the animals, you should pay attention to regular feeding.

Read more about it here: How long can Fish go without Food?

Cory Catfish Tank Mates

When setting up a community tank, Corydoras Catfish is a very good option. They are one of the most peaceful fish and are compatible with almost all other peaceful species. The only fish that should be avoided are aggressive or significantly larger fish that may attack the Catfish.
Suitable tank partners are, for example:

Should be avoided, for example:

  • Cichlids,
  • everything bigger than the Cory Catfish,
  • aggressive species.

Breeding Cory Catfish

If you want to breed your own Corydoras, you need a second small breeding tank. Important for breeding is a suitable group of Armored Catfish. There should always be more males than females in the breeding tank. A good group consists of either five males and three females or three males and one female.

A protein diet is important in advance to prepare the females for the process. Mosquito larvae, for example, are suitable for this purpose. In addition to the diet, water also plays a special role. So that the quality is right, the water should be partially changed daily. The optimal water conditions in the breeding tank should be between 78°F – 86°F for the temperature and 7 for the pH.

Common Cory Catfish Diseases

To ensure a long life for the fish, it is important to pay attention to the health of the animals. To create good conditions for this, the water parameters should always be suitable and above all the same. Strong fluctuations cause stress in the fish, which can also be a trigger for diseases.

You should also change the water regularly, at least once a week. If you want to introduce new fish into the tank, they should be placed in a separate tank for a few days to prevent diseases from spreading. The same should be done with a sick fish. This should be removed from the pool immediately to prevent it from spreading.

There are the same typical diseases for the Cory Catfish as for most farmed fish in terms of diseases. Ich and white spot disease are typical diseases in an aquarium. We have clearly shown in the following table which diseases there are and how you can best deal with them.




Suggested Action

Fin Rot

Injuries to the fins of the Fish.

Transmitted by parasites, which can enter the aquarium through new fish.

A diseased fish should be separated immediately and the tank cleaned so that the disease does not spread further.


White spots on the body and the fish rubs against hard objects.

Is transmitted by bacteria, which often come into the tank through new fish.

A fish should therefore be immediately separated and the tank cleaned. Also an Ich drug should be applied.

Bacterial Infections

Symptoms include a white irritation of the skin and cloudy eyes.

The bacteria are in almost every tank, but only attack weak and stressed fish.

When the disease breaks out, the water should be changed frequently and the stress of the fish should be reduced. Also an bacterial drug should be applied.

Swim Bladder Disease

The fish swims sideways and upside down.

The disease can be genetically predisposed.

The fish can not be cured. Sometimes it disappears again on its own.

Conclusion – Is the Cory Catfish the right fish for your tank?

In conclusion, how can you answer the question of whether the Corydoras is the right fish for you? The Cory is a really easy fish to keep. It is ideal for beginners who want to build up a community tank. Due to its character, it is compatible with many other fish and has few requirements.

Even if it does not have the greatest visual impact on the tank, it is very beautiful to look at. And also, its behavior is always great to observe. At the same time, it also allows gaining first experiences in breeding. Breeding your own Corydoras succeeds with only little effort. The Cory is a good addition for almost every tank and a clear recommendation.


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