8 Popular Types of Cory Catfish For Freshwater Aquarium

Types of Cory Catfish

Some of my very favorite fish from my first aquarium was a lovely little shoal of Peppered Corydoras. Their cheerful demeanor and sympathetic habit of regularly cleaning the bottom of the tank for me had me grinning ear to ear.

With so many other species of Corydoras out there, though, choosing the right one could seem overwhelming. Here we take a closer look at eight of the finest Cory species to make things clearer.

1. Peppered Cory (Corydoras paleatus)

Peppered Cory
  • Maximum Size – Males 2.5 inches, Females 3 inches
  • Temperature range: 72 – 78°F 
  • pH range: 6.0 – 7.0
  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Tankmates: Other easy going, community species

Peppered Corys are one of the most commonly kept species of the family. A personal favorite of mine, they are very robust and easy to care for – perfect for first-time fish-keepers. Their inquisitive, benign nature immediately makes this fish very endearing. 

This Cory species is also one of the easiest to breed in captivity – making them a good choice for the breeding enthusiast. They are fairly easy to sex owing to their slight difference in size – males only reach a maximum of 2.5 inches long, whereas females can often reach 3 inches. 

Feeding of live foods such as blood worms can help induce courtship, but ideally, a specialist breeding tank is recommended for the highest success rates in raising their offspring.

2. Bronze Cory (Corydoras aeneus)

Bronze Cory
  • Maximum Size: 3 inches
  • Temperature range: 72 – 80 °F 
  • pH range: 5.5 – 7.5
  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Tankmates: Peaceful, community species

Also known as Green Corydoras, the Bronze Corydoras has iridescent emerald flanks on its otherwise pinkish body. An easy-going catfish, they will thrive in any well-maintained aquarium of a 20 Gallon capacity or more, as long as they have companions of their kind. 

An endearing trait about all Corydoras is their funny habit of ‘blinking.’ In fact, they are simply turning their eyes downwards and then quickly back up again. This is especially apparent in this species, as their plainer markings make their eyes more conspicuous than some of the other Corys. 

3. Emerald Green Cory (Corydoras splendens)

Emerald Green Cory
  • Maximum Size: 3.5 inches
  • Temperature Range: 68 – 82 °F 
  • pH Range: 5.8 – 8.0
  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Tankmates: Any reasonably friendly companions – this is a robust Cory!

This species has only recently reclassified as a true Corydoras and is often simply known as the ‘Emerald Catfish.’ It is the largest member of the genus that you’re likely to find in your local aquarium store. It is a gentle giant, though, and will get along swimmingly with most other schooling species, including other Corys.

Like other Corydoras members, it will tolerate most substrates, including regular aquarium gravel. Their real favorite, though, is aquarium sand, as this emulates the slow-moving stream and river bed environments they originate from in South America.

Treated well, and given the 40-gallon + tank that they deserve, this catfish can live up to a staggering 13 years. Certainly, one of the longest-lived members of the genus!

4. Bandit Cory (Corydoras metae)

Bandit Cory
  • Maximum Size: 2 inches
  • Temperature Range: 72-79 °F 
  • pH: 6.5 – 7
  • Level of Care: Easy: Intermediate
  • Tankmates: Other smaller, peaceful schooling fish

Bandit Corys have a special charm of their own. The iconic black stripe across their eyes have earned them their affectionate name that is certainly nothing to do with their temperament! They are equally as calm and gentle as the other members of their genus. A second black stripe runs all the way from the base of their tail right up to their very pronounced dorsal fin, giving them a rather distinguished appearance. 

This is a smaller member of the genus, and they also have a slightly more specific temperature and pH requirements compared with some other species, making them slightly less suitable for the beginner. 

5. Pygmy Cory (Corydoras pygmaeus)

Pygmy Cory
  • Maximum Size: 1.3 inches
  • Temperature Range: 70 – 78 °F 
  • pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Level of Care: Intermediate
  • Tankmates: Delicate. Be sure to accommodate with only the most gentle of fellow species.

This unique species of Corydoras is the smallest of the subfamily. At only around 1 inch long at maturity, they make a great choice if you’re looking to host a school of catfish in a small aquarium. Even a 10-gallon tank should be room enough to house half a dozen, providing the aquarium has an adequate surface area.

It is essential, however, that they are kept only with other peaceful species. Boisterous tankmates, particularly those of the barb clan may persecute this little gem of a catfish, who’s a curious habit of occupying the mid-water may make them vulnerable to other inhabitants of that layer. 

6. Panda Cory (Corydoras panda)

Panda Cory
  • Maximum Size: 2.5 inches
  • Temperature Range: 68-79 °F 
  • pH: 5.8 – 7.0
  • Level of Care: Intermediate
  • Tankmates: Other gentle schooling species.

The Panda Cory is a very handsome member of the family, charmingly adorned with black patches around their eyes, which has won them their popular name. 

This catfish requires slightly more skill from the fishkeeper in that they prefer a more dimly lit environment and a carefully thought out design. Plenty of caves and ideally some dense foliage will ensure this shy catfish feels safe and at ease.

It is very friendly with its kind and also seems to enjoy the close company of clown loaches! To keep your Panda Corys in an optimum state of health, regular helpings of bloodworm or brine shrimp will help keep them looking at their glorious best.

7. Three Stripe Cory (Corydoras trilineatus)

Three Stripe Cory
  • Maximum Size: 2.5 inches
  • Temperature Range: 72 – 78 °F 
  • pH: 5.8 – 7.2
  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Tankmates: Other peaceful community species.

Often mislabeled in shops as the Julii Cory, this species is far more commonly available than its rarer counterpart. Whereas the true Julii has more distinct spots, the Three Stripe Cory has more continuous, meandering markings, with three stripes down its central flanks. It is a very beautiful catfish in its own right, and surely deserves wider praise, as well as correct labeling!

It is another very under-demanding Cory, whose simply needs are merely the company of its kind and a basic minimum level of care. In return, they will do you a remarkable service in helping to keep your tank’s substrate clean – Corys do play a significant role as living hoovers in the community aquarium!

8. Skunk Cory (Corydoras arcuatus)

Skunk Cory
  • Maximum Size: 2 inches
  • Temperature Range: 72-79 °F 
  • pH Range: 6.8 – 7.5
  • Level of Care: Easy
  • Tankmates: Other peaceful community species.

Also known as the ‘Arched Cory,’ this clues us to the beautiful shape of this particular species. It’s elegant, broad curved back and long black stripe running down its entire length make this Cory stand out. Quite a small catfish, one might easily describe them as being ‘cute.’ 

An unusual behavioral trait of this species, as with other Corys, is their occasional impromptu dash to the water’s surface to gulp down a bellyful of air. This evolutionary adaptation helps them to survive in stagnant waters during periods of little rain in their natural habitat. This is quite normal and should be of no cause for concern about your water quality, although more frequent bursts to the surface could conceivably indicate low oxygen levels. 

Combining the Different Species of Cory

In their natural setting of shallow South American river margins, streams, and ponds, many different members of the Corydoras family group together quite happily, and all of the members mentioned here will do the same in the community aquarium without any problems. 

However, the more advanced social behavior and schooling habits of Corys can generally only be conducted with members of their species. Deprived of this essential interaction, Corydoras will become sullen and lonely, making them vulnerable to potential disease or even bullying from other fish. 

The Golden Rule is to always accommodate a minimum of six of any one species of Cory in your aquarium. For the sake of their health and happiness and your viewing pleasure, we’d strongly urge you not to try accommodating any less!

Now You Know Your Corys…

Choosing the right Cory variety might have seemed a little bewildering at first, but we hope that after having read our guide, you will be able to make the perfect choice for the particular needs of your aquarium. Whichever species you decide to go for, these lovely little fish are bound to fill you with many, many years of happy viewing to come, as well as a cleaner tank to boot!

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