10 Awesome Cory Catfish Types for Your Fish Tank (+Why Corys are Best)

By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise

10 Awesome Cory Catfish Types for Your Fish Tank (+Why Corys are Best

Cory catfish, also called corydoras or armored catfish is a group of surprisingly hardy freshwater fish. The fish are a popular add-on to tropical aquariums including community tanks.

Corydoras are lovable because they are easy going, adaptable, and being bottom dwellers, they leave the environment cleaner than before.

Even so, there are many different cory catfish types, all varying in size and color, though bronze corydoras are probably the most common.

For this reason, in this article we’ll look at 10 Best cory catfish species you’ll want to consider if you need new, easy to care for, and peaceful bottom dwellers in your aquarium.

Julii Cory (Corydoras julii)

The Julii Cory is a much sort after corydoras species, though it tends to be relatively rare in stores because the region where the fish comes from is not heavily fished commercially.

Therefore, it is common to see corydoras trilineatus incorrectly labeled as corydoras julii.

Generally, cory julii should have small spots, be smaller in size, and with a more shorter head and a rounded nose.

That said, the fish have stunning colors and are one of the most attractive of the cory catfish, plus like most of their relatives, the fishes are peaceful and make good additions to community tanks.

Keep your Julii corys in shoals of 6 or more, and make sure your tank is fully cycled with at least 20-gallons or more, though the fish are not too demanding.

Remember to use a non-abrasive substrate (play sand or aquarium sand) to keep your fish from injuring their barbels. However, these fish don’t necessarily require a heavily planted aquarium, but they should be provided with a cover to give them a sense of security.

Add floating plants and other decorations like caves if your tank is brightly lit and always remember good water quality is paramount when keeping corys.

Feed your Julii corydoras in the aquarium to keep them healthy even though they’ll constantly hunt for food in the substrate. Give them a varied diet of both live and frozen food plus tropical sinking pellets or flake food.

Blackworms are an excellent live food choice, and bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are acceptable as well.

Three Stripe Cory (corydoras trilineatus)

The three stripe cory is another small adorable corydoras that is stunning almost as much as the Julii. In fact, the species is sometimes called, false julii cory, as well as leopard cory, leopard catfish, three lined catfish/cory, three strike cory or trilineatus cory.

In case you don’t find a real julii cory in your local fish store (which are also more expensive), consider adding multiple three stripe corys in your aquarium for a reasonable price.

Like the corydoras julii, the three stripe corys have spotted bodies and large black spot on the dorsal fin, but unlike a true julii, they don’t have finer sports on the head that are not connected.

Having said that, like all cory catfish species, a tank with a soft substrate and plenty of hiding spaces, as well as some open spaces make three stripe corys the most comfortable.

Driftwood, plants, and dim lighting will compare to their habitat nicely.

Three lined corys can tolerate a range of water conditions but prefer soft to moderately-hard water with an acidic to neutral ph.

Maintain your three stripes in a school of 6 or more, and other small to medium sized companions such as danios, dwarf cichlids, gouramis, rasboras, tetras, and small peaceful catfishes.

The mainstay three lined cory diet in an aquarium should be a high-quality sinking pellets tablets or pelleted food. Frozen live foods will be appreciated when available,

Bronze Corydoras (Corydoras aeneus)

The bronze cory catfish (green corydoras, bronze catfish, light spot corydoras or wavy catfish) is a tropical freshwater fish of the armored catfish family.

It usually has a yellow or pink body, white belly and is blue-grey over the head and back. The fish is also yellow or pink and immaculate on the fins.

Bronze cories are found in quiet, shallow waters with soft bottoms that can sometimes be heavily polluted by a cloud of disturbed mud. But the fish also inhabit running waters.

These fishes are not particular about the composition of the water. They are one of only a handful of fish that thrive in stagnant water, and they do this by using their ability to breath air from the surface of the water.

Even in home aquariums, you will see them darting to the surface take a quick gulp of air and dive back down to the bottom.

Even so, bronze cory catfish prefer no less than 10-gallons and a larger tank is recommended. Add driftwood, a dark substrate, thick vegetation, and some suspended aquarium plants in the tank to replicate their natural environment, but make sure you leave enough swimming spaces for your fish

The substrate you use, other than having a dark color, make sure it is made up of smooth-edged gravel pebbles or sand to avoid damaging your cory fish barbels.

Bronze catfish are pretty peaceful and social, but they do get a little shy, so add a couple of hiding spaces using driftwood and plants.

Maintain these fish in a school of 5 or more either in a species tank or community aquarium. You can keep them with other corydoras species, but don’t expect them to school, each member will hangout among its own kind, even when the fish have strong resemblance.

Bronze corydoras are omnivores and mainly feed on small crustaceans, worms, and insects in the wild, and this diet should be reproduced as closely as possible in a home aquarium.

Feed your catfish a high-quality flake or pellet food and live or frozen food. Nonetheless, bronze corydoras are still scavengers that will frequently scale the bottom of the tank looking for leftovers.

Emerald Corydoras (Corydoras splendens)

The emerald green cory is a beautiful and interesting fish with a typically iridescent green body and pink highlights on the lower parts of the fish’s body. It is also called green cory or green catfish.

The emerald green is a common fish in freshwater aquariums is the most popular of three fishes that are known as Brochis catfish, which are very similar to each other.

Green corys are peaceful, undemanding and can be maintained under the same conditions as most corydoras species. Therefore, they are also not difficult to care for and great for beginners.

They, however, need to be kept in a group of at least 6 individuals and are happiest in a group of 10 or more.

A minimum tank size of 30 gallons with near neutral ph is recommended, though a 20-gallon would work for a single fish albeit the need to keep them in a group.

As opposed to most corys that need more subdued tank lighting, normal light works well for green corys as the fish are more likely to come out during the day.

Emerald catfish are omnivores that feed on worms, crustaceans, insect larvae, and plant matter in the wild. Thus, in an aquarium, they are easy to feed and will accept all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods.

To keep a good balance diet, give your emerald corydoras a high-quality sinking pellet or flake food every day, and offer them algae wafers and frozen or live food such as brine shrimp, bloodworms or daphnia as a treat.

Size: 3.5 inches

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 5.8 to 8.0

Panda Corydoras (Corydoras panda)

The panda cory comes from tributaries of larger rivers in central and South America and is a peaceful bottom dwelling scavengers. The fish is gold with black patterns covering the eyes, dorsal fin, and the base of the tail.

The panda corys require a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding spaces that provide relief from the light. They also enjoy dimmer lighting and smooth and dark sand or fine gravel substrate, which makes sure the fish don’t easily damage their barbels.

Like other corys, pandas enjoy being in numbers, so a small school of six should be the barest minimum.

The fishes also need good water quality with zero salts, ergo, perform regular water changes and add a powerful filtration system when keeping panda catfish.

Your aquarium water should be soft and slightly acidic to neutral in ph.

That said, panda corys are peaceful fish that not only enjoy the company of their own kind but are also sociable and are even tag along with other bottom-dwelling species, most notably clown loaches.

Small to medium sized tetras,danios,and rasboras are good companions but avoid large or boisterous fish and nippers like tiger barbs.

Other small catfish such as Aspidoras as well as any cory species are perfect tankmates.

Panda corys are great scavengers that swap up any food that fall to the bottom. However, in a community aquarium, make sure you add sufficient food that will reach the bottom of the tank for the corys.

Feed your panda corys an optimal diet that includes meaty food either live or frozen. They seem to be particularly fond of bloodworms, brine shrimp and daphnia.

Food tablets formulated specifically for corys are a great choice for the fish as well but remember the fishes are nocturnal, so consider dropping a few tablets in your fish tank just before turning off the lights at night.

Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus)

If you are looking for a peaceful schooling cory with lots of personality for your nano tank, then the pygmy (dwarf) cory catfish is your best bet.

These corydoras are small and rarely grow larger than 0.8 inches in length. Moreover, the species is particularly popular for shrimp tanks because of the peaceful nature.

Dwarf corys have shimmering bodies that are peppered with black and green spotting. They do best when kept in a group of 6 or more.

Your pygmy cory tank should have a smooth substrate, such as sand or fine gravel, as they tend to spend a lot of time at the base of the tank.

That said, these corydoras require a bit more attention to detail than the larger varieties because their small bodies make them more vulnerable.

Granted they are middle to bottom-dwelling fish, their primary food source will come from the substrate, so sinking foods such as pellets and tablets tend to work best. Pygmy corys also love frozen bloodworms or other tiny live worms.

Dwarf cory catfish are completely peaceful and safe to keep with other fish as long as the tank mates are peaceful too and similarly sized. They can be maintained with shrimp, snails, and plants as well.

Intrestingly, dwarf corys, apart from digging voraciously through the substrate, they have a unique ability to blink their eyes and shift them downwards!

Peppered Corydoras (Corydoras paleatus)

The pepper catfish also called peppered cory, or the blue leopard corydoras is a peaceful cory species native to Uruguay and Brazil and is one of the more popular corydoras to keep.

It’s body coloration is pale olive to tan with a green, iridescent sheen. The fish also has a network of dark green-black makings covering the body, and the dorsal fin has a dark-splotch on the first few rays.

Pepper corys can be kept in a group of 5 or more individuals in a tank as small as 10 gallons. But to provide them with the best environment, it is recommended you maintain them in at least a 20-gallon long tank.

Because like all corydoras the peppered species constantly look for food in the substrate, gravel, and other sharp substrates should be avoided.

Your tank should include numerous plants, driftwood, and decorations which create great hiding spaces for the fish.

Peppered corys are largely peaceful and rarely get aggressive even when breeding, for this reason, you can have them in a community tank with small to medium size and equally peaceful fish.

About the diet, this corys are not picky eaters and will consume almost anything you offer them. Besides, they mostly scavenge leftovers from the tank floor.

However, for a good healthy meal, offer them a high-quality sinking pellet every day, along with regular treats of live or frozen food.

Bandit Corydoras (Corydoras metae)

The bandit cory is an interesting, pretty little scaleless species that is very social and peaceful addition to a community tank.

Corydoras metae is native to rivers and creeks in Colombia and is named after (the scientific name) one tributary of the Orinoco river, the Rio meta where the fish was first found.

Even so, the more common name (bandit cory) is derived from the black band that runs from gill to gill going over the top of the fish’s head and covering both eyes like a mask.

As with most corys, a substrate with sharp edges is not recommended for your bandit corydoras tank. Instead, go for a soft sand base to keep your fish from hurting their barbels.

Add driftwood or bogwood as well as plants to provide your corys with hiding spots, but make sure the arrangement leaves enough swimming areas for swimming.

Also, your aquarium lighting should be dimmed.

Good bandit cory tankmates include small to medium, and equally peaceful species such as small tetras, rasboras, and small catfish. Plus keep in mind, corydoras should be kept in a group of at least 6 individuals.

Feed your fish flake food and sinking pellets or tablets for an everyday meal and meaty foods like brine shrimp and blood worms as treats.

Skunk Cory (Corydoras arcuatus)

The skunk cory is a peaceful hardy, armored catfish that will help keep the bottom of your fish tank clean while living socially with tank mates in a community aquarium.

Most skunk corys sold in the trade today are commercially bred, but the wild form is native to the upper Amazon River basin in Brazil.

Like other corys, the skunk is an armored catfish, which means instead of scales, the fish has overlapping bony plates and sharp spines on the fins.

The fish body is creamy- white colored, sometimes showing an attractive yellow-gold sheen. Also, there is a black stripe that starts at the skunk’s mouth and runs through the eye then arches along the back.

Consequently, this corydoras species is also called the arched cory catfish.

The fish does best in a planted aquarium, decorated with driftwood and other decorations that provide hiding places. Open swimming areas are also a crucial aspect of their habitat, so is a soft substrate (preferably sand) and dimmer lighting.

Mildly acidic and blackwater conditions are ideal for skunk corys, though very acidic conditions should be avoided, same as extra salts in the fish tank.

Group you arched corys with at least 6 individuals and maintain them either in a species or community aquarium.

Good tankmates include small to medium sized peaceful species like other catfish, dwarf cichlid, small gouramis, rasboras, and smaller tetras.

This species is omnivorous, ergo, the fish will accept a wide range of foods.

Feed them sinking live foods such as bloodworms, and brine shrimp, but they will also feed on frozen food or sinking pellets (good staple food) when live foods are not available.

Albino Corydoras

The albino cory catfish is a variety of corydoras that is developed in the aquarium fish trade from the darker bodied types.

They are mostly pinkish-white in color with bright red eyes.

Basically, there are two common variants: the albino aeneus cory developed from the bronze corydoras and albino paleatus made from the peppered cory.

Because of this, the care and maintenance of your albino cory will depend on the wild form from which it was developed. Even so, in the aquarium, keeping these corys is similar to keeping any other corydoras for the most part.

Now let’s see a couple of reasons why corydoras make good aquarium species, and why you should consider them.

4 Reasons Why Your Aquarium Needs a Cory Catfish

Just in case you considering, but not sure whether to add a corydoras species in your fish tank, here are a couple of reasons why you (and most hobbyists) will want to keep them.

#1— Easy to Keep

Depending on the type of cory catfish you’ll have, their size range anywhere from above 1 inch to 4.7 inches with the average somewhere around 2.5 inches.

This you will get a type that’s ideal for a wide range of aquarium sizes, with some even ideal for nano tanks(10 gallons and below).

Moreover, they are a peaceful species that like to graze at the bottom of the tank, meaning corys rarely get in the way of larger or quicker fish when maintained together.

Besides, corydoras are not aggressive hence pose no threat to smaller fishes; neither are they nippers. Usually, they will suck up foods with their mouth thus will never hurt tank mates whether intentionally or by accident.

Cory catfish species are also social in nature and are happy in a community tank as long as they are maintained with at least 3 members of the same species.

#2 — They are Adaptable

Cory catfish are native to small streams, pools, and shallows across all of South America except for Panama where corys are not present.

This means the fish inhabit a wide variety of water types, so in the aquarium, your fish will adapt to varying water conditions.

They, however, tend to prefer soft water, but will survive in either neutral, acidic or alkaline conditions without a problem. Corydoras can also sustain a wide range of water temperatures, anywhere from 68°F up to 82°F, and sometimes even temperatures cooler than tropical.

Nonetheless, it is important to make sure you acclimate your cory fish the right way including turning off your aquarium lights and allow the fish to float (temperature acclimate); you know, the whole shebang!

Feeding cory catfish is not hard either, they are omnivores that will feed on both meaty and green-foods. Only make sure you feed them sinking pellets, plus quick tank mates don’t eat all the food and starve your corydoras.

Besides, the corys are bottom feeders with scavenger tendencies and spend hours on end making their way across the tank base poking around for food.

#3 — Dependable Cleaners

Since cory catfish are bottom-dwelling, they will scavenge your aquarium floor for sunken leftovers cleaning after messier companions that feed at the surface and mid levels of the tank.

The fish will get food from small crevices and tight plant stalks that are not accessible to other fish.

To make it easier for your cory fish to di for stray bits of food, use a soft substrate in your fish tank.

All in all, having cory catfish in your aquarium will ensure your water remains cleaner and the quality better.

#4 — Easy to Breed in Captivity

At some point, most corydoras owners will want to breed their fish. Luckily, breeding corys in captivity is pretty easy. You only need to make sure your breeder is set up properly.

Like all fish, you cory catfish won’t breed unless they feel comfortable. So, to begin with, you’ll want to put up a breeding tank (usually bare and rarely have any substrate), and a fry tank for the eggs to hatch and new fry to establish.

Then you will need to condition your corys via temperature and lighting control, and feeding the fish live-food (inducers).

Good luck, and have fun keeping cory catfish (corydoras)

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