Skip to Content

Cory Catfish Care Guide for Beginners

Cory Catfish Care Guide for Beginners

Share this post:

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cory catfish are often talked about as good community fish tank choices. These fish occupy the bottom of the fish tank and generally get along well with their tank mates.

If you’re planning on buying some cory catfish sometime soon, then you’ll benefit from learning as much as you can about them. Whenever you’re adding new fish to a tank, it’s imperative to get as much information as you can find about their care requirements.

Below, you’ll learn all of the basics about cory catfish care. You’ll feel as though you have all of the information that you need to succeed when caring for these fish.

Keeping cory catfish can be an excellent experience when you approach things the right way. After reading all of the information below, you’ll be able to ensure that things go well.

Cory Catfish Types

There isn’t just one type of cory catfish. There are actually well over a hundred types of cory catfish that have been discovered.

So many cory catfish types exist that there are large numbers that have yet to be given scientific names. Therefore, it’ll just be wise to learn about some of the common ones that you’ll see in pet stores.

Bronze cory catfish are probably the most common ones that you will find. These are hardy fish that are easy to take care of.

Albino cory catfish are a variant fish that is based on the bronze cory catfish. These fish are very pretty and they’re just as hardy as the bronze cory catfish.

Peppered cory catfish have an interesting look. They have dark markings that make it look as if they have been peppered.

For the most part, care requirements are going to be the same for cory catfish. They’re fish that are very similar in terms of what they need.

The information below should help you to care for common types of cory catfish that you can buy at pet stores. If you want specific information about the type of cory catfish that you own, then you can always dig into the details further by researching that individual fish.

Cory Catfish Temperature

Even though cory catfish aren’t considered to be delicate, it’s important to get the water parameters right. One of the most important things to keep an eye on is the water temperature.

To keep your cory catfish healthy, it’s recommended to keep the temperature of the water between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be an ideal temperature range for all common cory catfish types.

For the best experience, try to buy fish from the pet store that were bred in captivity. These fish have an easier time acclimating to fish tanks.

Keeping the temperature in the right range will require a heater. Ensure that you have a good heater for your fish tank that will keep the water at the right temperature.

Cory Catfish pH Balance

The pH balance is even more important than the temperature. Both are crucial aspects of keeping cory catfish healthy, but the pH balance being thrown off can kill the fish faster than you might think.

You see, cory catfish are especially susceptible to issues with poor water oxygenation. When the nitrate levels in the tank get too high, it’s going to have the potential to kill the fish.

This is why you need to maintain a good pH balance. The pH balance should stay between 7.0 and 8.0.

Keeping the pH balance in this range isn’t difficult, but it will require you to pay attention. You will need to test the water every so often to ensure that things are going fine.

If necessary, you’ll need to adjust the pH balance using special chemicals. It’s just about remembering to use your pH balance testing kit often enough.

Remember to keep the water clean so that the pH balance doesn’t get thrown off too bad. Regular water changes and responsible tank maintenance should be enough to make this easy.

What to Feed Cory Catfish

Feeding cory catfish will be decidedly simple. These are fish that will eat pretty much whatever and they aren’t going to be picky.

Of course, you still need to feed them the right things to ensure that they’re getting enough nutrients. Cory catfish are omnivores that will enjoy many standard types of fish food.

Since they’re bottom feeders, it’ll be wise to give them sinking fish food. You can buy algae rounds and nutritional pellets that will sink right to the bottom of the tank for these fish.

Cory catfish also love to eat shrimp pellets. Rotating the diet will keep the fish happy and healthy.

When feeding the fish, you don’t want to go overboard. You should only feed them as much as they can finish within two minutes.

Feed the cory catfish twice per day and they will do very well under your care. To have an easier time, it’ll be wise to set alarms on your smartphone to remember when to feed the fish.

Consistency helps to keep the fish as healthy as they can be. Try not to miss feedings even if the fish can technically survive for a bit without being fed.

Normal Cory Catfish Behavior

When observing cory catfish, you’ll find that they always stay at the bottom of the tank. Cory catfish are considered to be bottom feeders, and this means that they like to hang out near the substrate.

Bottom-feeding fish dig through the substrate looking for food. Sometimes they’re referred to as cleaners because they clean up the scraps that other fish leave behind.

They’re peaceful fish that usually don’t bother any other fish in the tank. The peaceful nature of cory catfish will make them perfect additions to many community fish tanks.

Under normal circumstances, cory catfish prefer to live in groups. They aren’t very big fish, and being kept in groups will help them to feel more comfortable.

Most enthusiasts say that you should keep at least six of them together. This will ensure that they feel safe and act normally.

Some cory catfish are going to be a bit shy. You might see them hiding among aquatic plants that you have placed in the aquarium.

They like to have little hiding spots at the bottom of the tank. Plants are important to keep in the tank to make the cory catfish feel that everything is safe and normal.

Cory Catfish Substrate

Getting the substrate of the tank right is going to be imperative when caring for these fish. If you use a hard type of substrate, then the cory catfish might wind up getting hurt.

You see, cory catfish are bottom feeders that like to swim around near the substrate. They often dig in the substrate to look for bits of food to eat.

This is normal behavior for bottom feeders that you have to get used to. If you have the wrong type of substrate, then things aren’t going to go well for the fish.

Thus, it’s recommended to use sand as the substrate material. This will ensure that the cory catfish will be happy, and you’ll be able to know that they will stay safe while scrounging for food.

Can You Keep Cory Catfish on Gravel?

Using gravel as the substrate material for your tank is not a wise choice. This is going to be quite dangerous for the cory catfish.

Gravel isn’t a good material that will allow the cory catfish to sift through the substrate. Sifting through substrate is normal behavior for these fish, and they might injure themselves trying to do normal things if you have gravel in the tank.

Often, people who put gravel in the fish tank complain about problems with the cory catfish getting bruised or suffering mild abrasions. You shouldn’t put your fish in this situation.

The only acceptable substrate material for cory catfish in an aquarium is sand. You need to get aquarium sand that the cory catfish will be able to sift through easily.

Cory Catfish Natural Habitat

Typically, you’ll find cory catfish occupying small streams of water and rivers when in the wild. They might also be found in ponds, marshes, and even backwaters.

These fish like to live in water that is relatively clear. Cory catfish prefer slow-moving water that is shallow in the wild.

You’ll find that the bottom of the environment will almost always be sandy. It could also be made up of detritus.

The shorelines of their natural habitats contain dense plant growth so that the fish will have cover. It’s common for cory catfish to hide among plants.

You should note that these fish are used to natural habitats with soft water that has a low pH balance. It’ll be best to try to replicate such conditions when caring for the fish in captivity.

Is Breeding Cory Catfish Difficult?

Some types of cory catfish will be difficult to breed. Others will be much easier.

Many of the common types of cory catfish will breed in captivity easily enough. Others might be a lot harder to get to breed.

Generally, cory catfish will deposit their eggs on plant leaves. In captivity, it isn’t uncommon for these fish to stick the eggs to the glass of the fish tank.

It’s said that you can try to coax these fish to breed by doing water changes with slightly cooler water. For the best results, this should be done just before it rains.

This is because spawning seems to coincide with drops in temperature as well as barometric pressure changes. You can replicate this by doing water changes.

If you’re not worried about breeding the fish, then you shouldn’t bother with this. The fish will either breed naturally or they won’t.

How to Take Care of Baby Cory Catfish

Taking care of baby cory catfish will be easy enough. It’s recommended to keep the babies in a separate tank to care for them and help them to grow.

The eggs will hatch in three to five days after being laid. When the eggs hatch, you can separate the parent fish from the babies.

Adult fish don’t actually care for the babies. They don’t look after them or protect them in any way.

After hatching, the babies will first become wrigglers that are attached to the yolk sac. The sac will eventually be absorbed, and you’ll then need to feed the babies yourself.

These small cory catfish need to be fed tiny types of food that can fit in their mouths. Microworms and freshly hatched brine shrimp will be the best options.

Overall, it isn’t that hard to care for these baby fish. You’ll just have to keep feeding them and looking out for them as they grow.

Eventually, you’ll be able to feed them commercial fry food, and then they will be able to eat crushed-up food that you would normally give to cory catfish. It’ll take time for them to reach full size, but they will get there with proper care.

Cory Catfish Tank Setup

Setting up a fish tank for cory catfish will be easy. These fish aren’t all that big, and this means that you don’t have to get a house fish tank for them.

Most types of cory catfish will do best in 30-gallon fish tanks. This is because they like to live in groups and you want to give them enough room that they won’t feel crowded.

Some of the smaller types of cory catfish might be fine in 10-gallon fish tanks. It just depends on how many fish you plan to buy.

When setting up the tank, you should ensure that you have a good filter. Cory catfish need to have tanks with good filters to help keep the tank clean.

Since they’re so susceptible to oxygenation problems, filters are going to be important. You’ll also need a heater for the tank.

Other pieces of equipment that you will need include bubblers and pumps. Pick a good spot for the tank and you’ll be able to get things going swiftly.

Most types of cory catfish can be added to relatively new fish tanks. You’ll usually just need to wait about four weeks before putting the fish in the tank.

Are Cory Catfish Nocturnal?

You can sort of consider cory catfish to be nocturnal. It’s a weird situation when compared to many other fish that makes it hard to answer this question definitively.

Cory catfish are indeed more active during the night. However, they don’t strictly sleep during the day.

These fish will sometimes be active during the day. They just sleep whenever they feel the need to.

Unlike other fish that sleep at specific times, cory catfish sleep when necessary. A cory catfish might decide that it needs rest and then it will take a nap for ten minutes.

This is how cory catfish do things. They just nap at different intervals instead of having a clear day and night cycle.

Do Cory Catfish Sleep?

As mentioned above, cory catfish do sleep. They sleep in intervals and they don’t stay sleeping for long periods of time.

These fish will take five or ten minute naps at various points during the day. Sometimes they will nap during the day, but they might also nap at night.

Do Cory Catfish Breathe Air?

Cory catfish are fish that will go up to the surface of the tank to gulp some air every so often. You’ll notice them doing this sometimes if you observe the fish regularly.

Does this mean that they breathe air? Sort of, but it’s really a process known as aerial respiration.

When a cory catfish gulps air from the surface, it’s able to use its posterior intestine to extract oxygen that it can then use. It’s able to pass oxygen through its blood to get it where it’s needed.

This is a type of genetic adaptation used by fish that live in low-oxygen environments. You must ensure that your cory catfish have access to the surface since they have to go up to gulp air every so often.

Are Cory Catfish Hardy?

You’ll find that cory catfish are considered to be quite hardy. These fish are easy to take care of even for beginners.

There are problems that you can encounter when raising cory catfish, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t hardy. These are fish that should be able to survive in your tank for a long time so long as you’re trying to care for them properly.

Some types of cory catfish might be hardier than others. Most are considered to be at least fairly hardy fish.

These fish will do well in your fish tank if you use the information from earlier about recommended temperature ranges, pH balance ranges, and feeding. Just continue to look after your fish and they will do just fine.

In fact, cory catfish have the potential to live between five and ten years in your fish tank. They will only live that long if you do your job and take care of them, though.

Do Cory Catfish Need a Heater, Filter, Pump, or Bubbler?

Cory catfish will need all sorts of equipment to be able to thrive in a fish tank. You won’t be able to just place them in the water and call it good.

Heaters are going to be crucial when you want to ensure that the temperature of the water remains steady. Fluctuating water temperatures can be very harmful to fish since they can make them feel shocked.

As mentioned earlier, you want to keep the temperature of the water between 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This will only be possible when you’re using a heater.

Filters are imperative because you need to keep the fish tank clean. Without a good filter, the fish tank would have oxygenation issues due to rising nitrate levels.

This is something that could kill your fish. Avoid this and get a high-quality filter that can get the job done.

Most fish are going to need to have some type of pump in the fish tank. This keeps the water moving and ensures that the oxygen levels are where they need to be.

Of course, cory catfish usually don’t like strong currents. This means that you should try to avoid making the current too strong in the tank.

You can blunt the force of a current by putting plants and other decorations in the aquarium. Cory catfish prefer to have aquatic plants in the tank that they can use to hide anyway.

Using a bubbler for the fish will be important, too. Bubblers help to provide consistent oxygen levels in the tank and they keep the cory catfish safe.

If you don’t have enough cash to buy everything that you need, then you should wait to get the cory catfish. Set up the tank properly ahead of time and then get the fish.

Is Aquarium Salt Safe for Cory Catfish?

Cory catfish are much more sensitive to aquarium salt than most other fish. This means that using aquarium salt is usually not a good idea.

You already know that cory catfish are freshwater fish. They don’t need aquarium salt to be able to survive.

Some people use aquarium salt as a treatment option when fish get certain diseases. It might be better to steer clear of using aquarium salt just to err on the side of caution.

It is said that you can use aquarium salt to help cory catfish under very strict conditions. You must use no more than one teaspoon of aquarium salt per one gallon of water.

Going overboard could wind up seriously harming the fish. Now that you know this, you’ll be able to avoid making mistakes.

Final Thoughts

You should feel confident that you can take care of cory catfish now. The information above has helped to answer many common questions that people have about these fish.

Learning the basics about water parameters and what to feed the fish will help a lot. You’ll know how to approach things even as a newcomer to the hobby.

Just do your best to keep the fish tank clean and watch the water parameters. If you do this, you’re very likely to see the cory catfish thrive under your care.

Share this post: